The Best of Times Short Story Competition

Spring 2012 Results

I'm Better Known Than Marlon Brando

Copyright © Denise Probert 2012

It squatted grey, fat and solid on the floor. In dim light it lived. A giant clam, it slammed its lid down. It turned on its ocean green light and examined itself like Buddha contemplating his navel. It knew it was big. Bigger and fatter than Marlon Brando. A real star. The hub of an audience. And it could be bloody well temperamental whenever it liked.

It was incensed with what it found. Scratches, some pitting and a couple of dark spots. These sorts of things could become cancerous and kill it insidiously.

In its anxiety it took a few sheets of stuff from its tray and stuffed them into its mouth. It nearly choked and began coughing. Nobody was around to rescue it from suffocation. It sat fuming and brooding. Half eaten matter was caught in its throat and entrails.

It would be such a waste of intellect if it should cark it now. The late afternoon was warm and a breeze blew around its possie, it couldn’t die now.

It knew nearly everything. How the organisation ran. Who made up all the anonymous dirty jokes and pranks. Everybody’s social and private lives. Who was trying to leave the place to work elsewhere. Real ages, and real names from birth and marriage certificates.

Everybody knows that little children shouldn’t be fed peanuts. Lately some callous clumsy fools had been feeding it a staple diet. It would be blinded and scarred in the prime of its life. A lesson needed to be taught.


When the cleaner found Harold who was always first to arrive at the office, he was lying on his back. There was a terrible red welt across his face. Harold’s eyes had been melted and fused to his lids. He looked as if he had been reaching out for the power point. Harold’s hands were crusted with yellow and brown burns. The sleeves of his grey shirt had jet coloured powder streaking up to his armpits.

There was no pulse or respiration.

The photocopier hummed away to itself in the corner. Its cassette paper trays lay on the floor.

Poor slow old Harold had never really known how to work it.

The consensus of the organisation was that he must have got a shock reaching in to unjam the thing while the high voltage power was still on.