Corporate will try anything to improve efficiency so long as it sounds exotic and off the walls. Throwing money at such things is much better than just paying their employees. And so enter special guest speaker, Kickaha of the Art.
Motivational Workshops Guaranteed to Transform Your Workplace
“What do you mean he hasn’t shown up?” The Boss, who had a name but no one had ever bothered to learn it, slammed his hands on his desk. Everyone -did- have names for him, but none of them were very flattering, so he was simply Boss when within earshot of him. He was a large heavyset man, the type you suspected had likely been an athlete in high school or college, but time had started to take its toll on his body. His balding head still had wisps of black hair on either side and his blue eyes almost seemed to become gray with age. He always dressed for the job though, which was to say he always wore suits meant to look expensive and custom tailored but were obviously cheap low-quality fabrics. But this was to be expected. He would describe himself as a frugal man, responsible with money. Which was why, despite having a six-figure salary, he felt like he was struggling to make ends meet. Owning and maintaining two yachts was expensive! And the summer house wasn’t going to keep itself clean all year without staff. So, he had to cut costs everywhere he could. Especially at work, since a large part of the money saved on each project became his bonus check.
“I mean he hasn’t shown up.” Sam, or as he was more commonly referred to by the Boss as Sum (It was exceptionally frustrating to have his boss not only be unable to remember his name, but call him by something that wasn’t even a name) was the Boss’ long suffering assistant. He was a scrawny man, with shaggy brown hair and wore a pair of glasses and a suit that seemed two sizes too big. In theory, he was second in command of their department. But in reality, this meant the only real power he had was taking the fall any time the Boss made a mistake. Sam hated his boss, but sadly had no choice but to put up with him if he wanted to continue putting food on the table for his family. It helped if he just thought of his job as being a babysitter. A babysitter to a very bratty child prone to temper tantrums. The best he could do was cut off those tantrums before they began.
“Well he’s got to be here! The company paid a fortune for him!” The Boss was furious. They had hired a motivational speaker to transform the workplace and increase productivity. Not that things like that did any good. Usually it was just someone shouting a bunch of buzzwords, and then they collected a check and nothing around the office changed. However, the company had hired this specific speaker at the Boss’ personal recommendation. And he had recommended him because said speaker was his cousin and the Boss owned 30% of said cousin’s company. “Get him here right now Sum!”
“That’s… Not something I can physically do.” Sam grimaced. “Every contact number we have for him has been disconnected… And when I tried to find out more about him, turns out the name he had given us belongs to a person who does not actually exist. I think it’s safe to say, he’s not coming.”
“How could you let this happen?” The Boss demanded, truly believing in his head that it was Sam’s fault. The fact that he had hired his cousin, who he knew to be flaky, and might have had to disappear from time to time due to committing light treason to make a little extra money, was all irrelevant. “You need to fix this, now! If we don’t get a speaker in here to synergize or revolutionize or whatever our workplace, then the higher ups are going to want someone’s head on a platter! And I think we both know whose head it’s going to be.”
“Yes sir.” Sam sighed. This was going to be a very bad day.
“Look at you, absolutely pathetic, no idea how to fix a problem on your own.” The Boss huffed. “I guess I have to do everything.” He reached into his pocket and produced a wallet, and then brought out a single twenty-dollar bill. “Have to pay out of my own pocket to fix this.”
“I’m sorry?” Sam wasn’t exactly sure how $20 was going to help.
“The workshop starts in one hour right?” The Boss asked. “So, here’s $20. Find us a new speaker to take his place so the higher ups are happy.”
“For $20.” Sam just stared. The company had spent over $100,000 to have the planned speaker come, including the cost for ‘materials’ for the training exercises which were also never delivered.
“Do I have to repeat myself?” The Boss’ face was turning red. The tantrum was coming on. “Get out of my office right now, and I don’t want to see you back till you have us a new speaker!”
“Y-yes sir.” Sam grabbed the $20 bill and quickly rushed out the door before the Boss could get even angrier. This one, this one was a bad situation. He realized there was a very real chance he wasn’t going to have a job at the end of the day.
And why? Because his boss was incompetent and only thought about how to further line his own pockets. Not that the higher ups were any better. Surely, all of them knew this entire motivational workshop thing was a scam. Despite having had them four times a year, nothing in the company had ever changed. Sam could practically give the workshop himself; all he had to do was shout a bunch of meaningless words, do a few lame icebreakers or trust activities, and then say that the workplace was now synergized. Anyone could do it! But of course the higher ups would never accept it if it was someone in the company. Then the fake nonsense wasn’t real.
But… Anyone could do it! Suddenly, Sam seized on to a hope. $20 wasn’t enough to hire a professional motivator, but he might be able to find someone on the streets who was either desperate enough or bored enough to do the job for $20. If he explained the situation maybe they’d even take pity on him. Heck, Sam’s job was at stake. He’d go by the bank and withdraw what little he could afford. He was sure he could get some random person to play the part for a day.
Except no, it wasn’t something any normal person could do. Why? Because everyone knew what was actually needed to increase productivity. Shorter hours, paying the employees better, better working conditions in general. Everyone already knew that was what it took, but the higher ups threw a lot of money into these workshops to ignore these facts and pretend it was just that the employees weren’t synergized enough. If Sam made the mistake of bringing in a sensible person who made actual good suggestions, he’d be gone for sure. Though the higher ups would probably be so angry both he and the Boss would get canned. Silver lining.
Sam stepped out the front door of the office as he thought. What he needed was someone completely unreasonable. Someone eccentric. Someone who could make suggestions that defied all logic. Someone who would suggest something so insane that all the higher ups would proclaim it brilliant rather than admit they have no idea how it affected anything. He needed-
“Excuse me could you stand about three feet to the left?” A voice sounded from somewhere below Sam. When Sam looked down he saw a very curious looking creature. It was a fox! Wait… No, something similar. But he had rust colored fur with a white belly, a yellow stripe separating his belly from the rest of his fur, and second stripe on his tail. There was a single brown mark of fur on the creature’s white chest and he had yellow eyes that seemed to radiate mischief. But, he wasn’t a fox. No, Sam knew enough about animal anatomy to recognize that. Also, the fact that the animal in question had just talked, was standing up on two legs like a human, was three feet tall and wearing a green cloak were also pretty big hints that he was not in fact some common forest animal.
“Um… Sure?” Sam moved as asked. The creature then made a box with his fingers and looked through them as if measuring something on the other side of the street. Then he knelt down next to a small object Sam had failed to notice until just now. It looked like a tiny catapult, roughly the size of a single brick. There was a tiny lever sticking out of it, and the creature currently had one finger placed over said lever and was staring across the street very intently. And then he was silent and still. “What are you-“
“Shhhh.” The creature responded. “We don’t want to spook it.”
“Spook wh-“ Sam tried to ask and got hushed again.
Sam knew he had a situation to deal with. However, said situation was likely doomed and he had just come across a strange sight. An animal he couldn’t identify aiming a mini catapult at something on the other side of the street. Sam knelt down next to the creature and tried to look at where he was staring. It took him a few moments, but he saw a rat crawl out from a hole in the wall. Said rat sniffed the air cautiously, and then came further out. As it did, it noticed a single slice of pizza laying on the sidewalk. The rat paused, as if sensing danger and sniffed at it.
“Come on.” The creature muttered. “Take the bait, just a little closer.” Sam at this point knew better than to speak up and interrupt. Instead, he just watched as the scene unfolded.
The rat finally threw caution to the wind and went for the pizza slice. Then the creature flicked the lever with his finger. The catapult fired a small rock, but it went nowhere near the rat. Instead, it flew halfway across the street striking a traffic light. The light shook, and a golf ball that had been precariously balanced atop said light rolled along the edge of it before falling down and landing on a wooden plank partially raised by a triangle-shaped block of wood. On the other end of the plank was a toy army man soldier, and the impact from the golf ball sent him flying into the air. A parachute came out as he glided the rest of the way across the street before the parachute got caught on a lamppost. The toy soldier bounced against the lamppost dislodging a marble that had been held in place with very flimsy tape. The marble fell from the lamppost, bounced along the ground three times before landing properly, then rolled right past the rat into a tin can. The can had a string attached to it, and had been set directly above on the edge of an open sewer grate. It tipped over and fell through the grate. As it fell down, the string tugged on a second tin can lifting it up into the air all the way to the roof of a building. There it hit a storm drain and the impact tipped the can over releasing a tennis ball. It rolled across the roof before finally bumping into a wooden block with a matchstick sticking out of it. A strip had been placed above the matchstick, and the friction was enough to light it up, as the matchstick was moved out from beneath the strip to be directly beneath a length of yarn. The yarn caught fire, and the fire spread all the way across the length of it down a flagpole in which a single cage was hanging from the pole by the yarn. The yarn burnt up, and the cage fell from its spot. It fell down towards the rat, but as it fell shifted slightly in the air and landed on its side right next to the rat. The rat, thoroughly spooked by the falling cage, grabbed the pizza slice and quickly ran back to the hole in the wall dragging it through.
“Ahhh! I forgot to account for wind resistance on the cage.” The creature rubbed a hand on his forehead in frustration. “Going to be a pain to set up again… But if I check tomorrow’s weather forecast I should get him next time.”
“What was that all about?” Sam stared at the creature in wonder.
“That was my lunch getting away.” The creature gave a weary sigh. “I put a lot of work into that contraption too.”
“That seemed… Excessive.” Sam traced the path all the objects had taken.
“Kind of the point.” The creature responded. “I could have just pounced him and had him, but doing the same thing every day gets boring. It’s fun to mix things up a bit, try something from an unusual approach.” Then the creature let loose a low growl. “But if I lose that Spherical Mouse Simulator I’m going to make that rat pay.”
“O… kay… That is all… Very strange… And I am talking to an animal.” Sam slowly stood up.
“Well, I am too, but I’m not making a big deal about it.” The creature teased, humans were technically animals.
“You’re right, I was rude. I’m sorry.” Sam looked ashamed. This caught the creature off guard, as it was not the reaction he expected. “But… I think… After witnessing that, you might be exactly what I need.” He knelt down again to be eye level. “Please, I really need your help.”
“Huh…” The creature stared at Sam in surprise. He had heard humans with the sounds of desperation in their voice before. It often involved him running away and people holding pitchforks. He had also had humans well… Maybe not humans at the time, begging him before… But this was different. “Maybe you should start by telling me who you are and what’s going on.” If nothing else, the human’s desperation had caught the creature’s attention.
“Oh I’m Sam and um well… I need to find a motivational speaker to run a workshop for my company within the next hour or I’m probably out of a job.” From here, Sam explained how the Boss had hired his own cousin, who had failed to show up, and then placed the burden on Sam to fix the situation, and ultimately if it proved impossible it would be Sam that suffered the consequences. “So unless I can find someone who can run a workshop that will, and I quote, ‘transform our workplace,’ I’m in trouble.”
“And you’re asking me?” The creature was taken aback. “I’m sorry, it’s just… Usually I don’t get approached for this, I just kind of come across it. Give me a moment…” The creature began to dig around in various pockets in his cloak till finally he found something. A small business card.
Kickaha Of the Art
Magical Foxyote Trickster
Have Pun, Will Travel
“My card.” Kickaha explained. “And it turns out I might just be uniquely positioned to assist in your situation.”
“Foxyote?” Sam looked at Kickaha, was that what species he was. He hadn’t known foxes and coyotes could breed. This was likely because they can’t.
“I guarantee you, I can absolutely transform your entire workplace, and meet every requirement you may have.” Kickaha grinned cheekily.
“I see… Um… I hate to ask this but…” Sam looked at the complex trap the foxyote had set up. “If it’s not too much to ask, could I ask the workshop be run in the most roundabout nonsensical way possible?”
“Sam.” Kickaha put a paw on Sam’s shoulder. “I think we’re going to get along fine.”
“Well, there might be one problem…” Sam grimaced. “The Boss only gave me $20 to hire someone. But if you give me some time I can run by my bank and withdraw-“
“$20 is fine.” Kickaha interrupted. “Actually, instead of the money, I’d much prefer if you’d go and pick up lunch for me. $20 should be enough to get something for both of us actually. It’s on the corner of seventeenth and fifth, can’t miss it. Best value meal they have is like $2 a piece.”
“I can do that!” Sam felt help swelling in him.
“In the meantime, direct me to what room this workshop is to take place in and I’ll start getting things set up.” Kickaha grinned.
“Right! I’ll do that, then go get your lunch!” Sam couldn’t believe his luck. Was it fate, or someone watching out for him? But a talking animal who went about things in a ridiculously roundabout fashion. That was the type of thing corporate would eat up and brag about how successful it was, even if it didn’t have any impact. Actually, there was the very real chance this might wind up being the start of a trend. He had no idea if the foxyote actually knew what he was doing or not, but as long as it was strange, people would buy into it. And he advertised himself as a magical trickster? Was he some kind of stage magician? A magic act would certainly liven up the usual motivational nonsense.
Sam had no idea just how right he was at the time.
Just under an hour later Sam made it back to the office carrying a paper bag in his hand. He headed to the conference room, and found that Kickaha had moved all the tables to the corners of the room leaving a ton of empty space in the center which a circle of chairs now surrounded. Sam assumed that space was going to be used for some activity but… He looked down at the three foot nothing foxyote.
“How did you move all those tables on your own? They’re not exactly light.” Sam would have needed help from at least three other people to move one.
“Magic.” Kickaha replied simply. “You got the stuff?”
“Yup.” Sam nodded. “That was a really good value, I’d never been there before.”
“Well most humans don’t appreciate the delicacy that comes with-“ Kickaha paused as he was handed the bag and looked inside and saw it was full of tacos. “Oh.”
“Took me a moment to find the place, but turns out I was just on the wrong side of the street.” Sam grinned sheepishly. “I almost went into a pet store first by mistake.”
“Bless your heart, you tried.” Kickaha gave a weary sigh. It wasn’t a good lunch, but it’d have to do. “Alright, soon as everyone is in here, we’ll begin and…” Kickaha paused. “And… What exactly is it that you do here anyway?”
“Oh we’re the accounting department.” Sam explained.
“Accounting department, of what kind of company?” Kickaha gestured with his hands trying to get Sam to continue.
“Oh! Right, you need to know that so they think you know what you’re talking about. We do health insurance.” Sam rubbed the back of his head. “That’s information I really should have given up front.”
“An insurance company?” One of Kickaha’s eyes just had the slightest of twitches. “Yes… I do think I can help make some changes here.”
Slowly the room began to fill with employees. There were many who paused and did a double take upon seeing the foxyote standing in the center of the circle of chairs, but it didn’t last long. Many assumed, and rightfully so, that corporate had just decided to try some new completely insane scheme that would eat up hours of their time, get them behind on work and force them to work overtime later.
“Good afternoon everyone!” Kickaha wagged his tail eagerly as he greeted everyone. “My name is Kickaha, and while I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but this time, I guarantee you that this workshop will transform both you and the way you do business.” This was met with groans from people who had heard all this before at the last ten workshops they went to. “But… I thought we’d start out with a bit of an ice breaker… So…” Kickaha threw a paw up into the air and began to cast a spell. A cone of snow and ice erupted from the edge of his paw until there was a giant ice block which then landed in the circle next to him. “Who wants to give it a go first?”
“Huh…” Sam, who had been watching, suddenly got a strange feeling. The card that read Magical Foxyote Trickster. There wasn’t anything set up in the room to make that ice block… But… It couldn’t have been actual magic. Magic didn’t exist. That would be as silly as…
As a biologically impossible to exist animal walking on two legs giving a motivational workshop at an insurance company.
“Oh. I… May have erred.” Sam froze up from the corner where he was watching this. The sudden realization of what was actually going on was certainly stunning. However, he was taking it better than most people who had their expectations of reality completely shattered. At least he was accepting the truths before his eyes rather than trying to explain them away.
“Come on, anyone give it a try!” Kickaha gestured to everyone sitting around in the circle. “Surely one of you wants to be the first to break the ice.” This met him with several stares as if he was crazy. People were trying to figure out if this was a comedy routine or what. “I see, a few shy people here! Hey Sam! Come give me a hand over here!”
“Uhhhh…” Sam, not sure what else to do, stepped through the circle of chairs and next to Kickaha. “What do you want me to do?”
“Break the ice.” Kickaha rolled his eyes. “I feel like I’ve been pretty clear on that up to this point.”
“Okay um…” Sam looked around. “Don’t really have an ice pick or sledgehammer, maybe if I tried hitting it with a chair…”
“Don’t need that, just try to break it yourself. Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.” Kickaha smirked. “Well actually, you probably shouldn’t trust me, but I am going somewhere with this and I get the feeling you’re in too deep to stop now.” Then his smile became more reassuring. “But for what it’s worth, I have no intention of harming you.”
“O… Kay…” Sam took a deep breath, and then he punched the ice as hard as he could. “GAH!” He withdrew his hand. It was sore from the punch, and the ice was quite frigid. “Cold, cold, cold….”
“Alright, take a second to warm up.” Kickaha reached up to pat him on the back. “Now, I know this seems pointless, and maybe even completely insane… And the latter one might be true. But! This is a lesson about perspective, using the right tool for the job, and how a little change can help you make it through your day. Alright, Sam, we’re going to try again but this time I’m going to help you.”
“O… Kay…” Sam once more had no idea of what to do other than obey.
“So, you’ve been told in the past to transform your business, you need to synergize, actualize and other buzzwords that the people using them don’t actually understand. Well, I’m here to explain to you today all of that is nonsense.” Kickaha grinned. “If you want to transform the way you do business, the only way to do it is to transform.” He grabbed Sam by the hand. “Sam, do you trust me?”
“To be honest… No. I don’t think I do.” Sam avoided his gaze.
“That just means you’re above average intelligence.” Kickaha grinned cheekily. “But will you go along with this anyway for the sake of the demonstration? It’ll be a bit shocking but it won’t hurt, and I think you’ll take a liking to it once you get used to it.”
“Well…” Sam took a deep breath. “As you said, I’m in too deep.”
“Alright everyone, give Sam some encouragement!” Kickaha shouted. “His bravery of going first should be appreciated… And to honor such bravery, I’ll make sure you still have thumbs when this is all done.”
“Wait what does that-“ Sam didn’t get to finish asking before a strange sense of energy flew from Kickaha’s paw into his own hand. It was warm, even pleasant, and flowed through his entire body. Suddenly, several of the people watching gasped. Some fell back out of their chairs or stood up and backed away. Others seemed to become more eager, leaning in to watch. Sam didn’t understand at first, then as Kickaha released his hand he looked down at it and saw that it wasn’t a hand anymore. Or at least… Not a human hand. There were pads on the palms of his hands and his fingertips and claws on the tips of his fingers. Then there was white, almost silver fur all over his hand, going up his forearm with black spots.
Sam looked down at himself, and realized his entire body was changing. The silver and black spotted fur was growing in everywhere. Then, there was something wrong with his ears. He couldn’t tell but when he reached his hands up to touch them he found they were on top of his head instead of at the side and kind of roundish. Then, he could see his own nose, but it was black and pushed out from his face. Suddenly, his clothing began to loosen on him, his pants and underwear fell around his ankles, and it was good timing because it was at this point he sprouted a tail that could only be described as ridiculously fluffy. He felt sharp pain coming from his feet and realized they were growing larger and his shoes were squeezing. He quickly sat down to try to free his feet and stop the pain, and while he got his shoes off, his socks were pretty much destroyed by his new animalistic paws and their sharp claws. But at least free of both shoes and socks the pain stopped. The changes had stopped, and Sam slowly stood back up, his shirt slipping off him in the process.
“W-what?” Sam looked around the room. Everyone was a lot bigger now… He looked over to Kickaha, the foxyote was still shorter, but only by like half a foot now.
“You’re a snow leopard.” Kickaha explained. “As I mentioned, transformation and such.”
“But… Shouldn’t I be bigger?” Sam was stunned, and so was asking the less obvious questions rather than freaking out about the fact he had changed species.
“You’d think that but turns out the average size of a snow leopard is only three and a half feet.” Kickaha patted him on the shoulder, it was a lot easier now. “It’s unfortunate everything is made for taller people… But, you’ll have a lot more muscle on you now despite your smaller size, and the use of claws… Try breaking that ice again.”
“Um… Okay…” Sam slowly stood up. As he did he adjusted his glasses, the one thing that had stayed on him. As if in a trance he walked forward and tried to punch the ice block again. He made a few cracks, and his new fur protected him more from the cold, but he didn’t actually break it.
“Come on! Those claws aren’t just for show!” Kickaha cheered. “Everyone give him some encouragement! You should always be supporting your coworkers when they’re trying to get the job done!” The stunned silence disappeared as a few people started to cheer for Sam.
“Um…” Sam was still somewhat stunned, but as more people began to encourage him he felt more confident. He brought out his claws, slashed against the ice as hard as he could. He was surprised to discover just how much stronger he was like this despite being smaller, and after a rapid succession of slashes the ice lay in fragments on the floor.
“Okay, now that we’ve gotten a chance to break the ice and get a better understanding of each other, I think we can move on to actually making some more significant changes!” Kickaha grinned.
“Um… Kickaha. I’m a snow leopard.” Sam interrupted.
“Yes…. Yes you are.” Kickaha nodded.
“Okay… Just checking…” Sam was having trouble focusing. One part of him wanted to panic; he had just magically changed species… But another part of him, having that level of power and strength was exhilarating, and the idea of going back to his scrawny even if taller human self was scarier. “Kickaha?”
“Yes Sam?” Kickaha asked patiently.
“I’m kind of naked now…” Sam sounded embarrassed.
“An excellent point!” Kickaha snapped his fingers. “I was going to bring this up later in the workshop, but this is a good segue. Let’s discuss the first barrier to an efficient workplace. Pants. Dull, boring, regulation pants. Why are you wearing them? The customers don’t care; this is accounting! What’s the point of a dress code in accounting? You’ll work more efficiently if you’re comfortable, so you should dress, or not dress for your personal comfort! Now, I know not everyone wants to rock the naked look, I mean, no pockets. I get that. But!” Kickaha spun around displaying his cloak. “I believe you will find that cloaks can prove to be a very versatile outfit that are always in season, and you can sew pockets into them to carry your wallet, keys and other important things.” This was met with awkward silence.
“Kickaha maybe we should… Move on with the workshop?” Sam wasn’t going to fight it. He had brought an actual magical creature into his workplace and now he was a snow leopard, he wasn’t wearing pants, and he was starting to kind of like it. It was time to just roll with it. Besides, his kids would probably get a kick out of his new stature and want to wrestle with him. He’d need to be super careful about the claws though.
“Very well. So the demonstration with Sam wasn’t pointless.” Kickaha continued. “He couldn’t accomplish the task in his previous state, now he can… And as an added bonus now he can outrun an Olympic athlete.”
“I can?” Sam had a very strong desire to test out what his new body was capable of.
“Stay focused Sam.” Kickaha did his best not to laugh. “So, we need to look at what changes we can make not just to the workplace, but to all of you. It’s not just about increasing efficiency, but also personal satisfaction. People who enjoy their time at work produce better results! It’s that simple! So, let’s see what we can do to make you better at your jobs and happier people!” Kickaha looked around the room then pointed at a woman sitting in a chair. “You. Hello. What’s your job here?”
“I mostly file paperwork…” She replied. “And data entry.”
“Hmmmm.” Kickaha thought aloud. “So you need to carry heavy files but also still have the finesse to type quickly. And with the endurance to get the job done and still have energy to enjoy the nightlife. Two felines in a row is kind of boring though… Got it! Wolf! Perfect! Not too big a breed, fingers small enough to handle the keyboard, but strong enough to do the job and enjoy it. And so many fur colors to choose from! Very fashion-forward. You can step right out of the office and into a fancy party. I may actually be good at this!”
“You want to turn me into a wolf?” She shrunk back into her chair.
“Let me ask this… Have you ever had an argument with a coworker who looked down on you and had an overly dismissive attitude?” Kickaha suspected he knew the answer.
“All the time.” She sighed.
“How much more seriously do you think they’d respect you if you were physically capable of biting their head off if they angered you?” He grinned.
“They would…” She stood up. “Let’s do it.”
“Alright, you’re going to get a bit bigger, and as you saw with Sam certain things may not fit, but like I said, fur is better than clothing anyway. It handles any occasion.” Kickaha gently grabbed her hand as he transferred another spell into her. As promised she swelled in size, though not by a whole lot. It was enough to tear the seams of her pantsuit and rip most of it off. Having seen Sam’s transformation, she quickly tore her shoes and socks off before her new paws came in to avoid any unpleasantness there. When she had become a fully humanoid wolf, she stood up, and couldn’t resist the urge to let out a howl.
“Sorry.” She apologized but her tail wagged implying that she enjoyed it.
“Hey, you should have fun at work! Nothing to apologize for!” Kickaha grinned. “The office is like a jungle, you gotta do what you gotta do to stay sane and survive!” He wagged his own tail.
“You’re referring to it as a jungle because none of us are leaving this workshop human, huh?” Sam asked.
“At this point, does that actually bother you even a little?” Kickaha asked.
“Yes.” Sam paused. “No.” He paused again. “Maybe a little. I feel like this might end poorly with the Boss.”
“Ah yes. You mentioned him.” Kickaha grinned. “Well, while you may be a bit shorter, I feel I should remind you that you currently possess four sets of claws and very sharp teeth, and he just has a very loud yelling voice.”
“You’re not suggesting I hurt him?” Sam seemed taken aback.
“No, but I am saying, based on personal experience, that a measured display of multiple pointy ends can do a simply remarkable job of defusing a confrontation.” Kickaha grinned. “Especially since as someone who skipped the meeting he’ll be the only one left in the office who’s stuck with human levels of strength and speed.” This comment got a lot of people’s attention. It turned out even those who were frightened by these changes, or reluctant, were suddenly way more open to them once they realized how it might impact their boss.
If you’ve ever worked for an unfeeling corporation that sees you as nothing more than an easily replaceable cog, you’ll understand. If not, just note that the only people that hate corporations more than their customers are their employees.
“Now, let’s go around the room, I want to find out what everyone’s job is, how we can make it easier for you, and how we can make you personally more comfortable!” Kickaha was having a blast. It was a very rare occasion for human adults to play along like this. He suspected a lot of that was owed to Sam. Volunteering and keeping his cool throughout the transformation probably opened the eyes of quite a few. And seeing him walking around, still himself despite his new form, and far stronger and faster from it too, likely make the idea less unappealing. It was strange; he was so used to them refusing to believe in magic even when it was right in front of them. This was a refreshing change. At this point, he didn’t even plan to play any more tricks, and was just going to focus on transformations that would be physically helpful, or ones that people requested.
Besides, the Boss coming back to find his entire collection of employees to be a zoo was likely more than enough of a trick. Kickaha suspected there’d be a slight change in the power dynamic here. And who knew, maybe it actually would improve efficiency. Technically none of what he had said was made up.
“Okay! Do we have anyone that works in the mailroom!” Kickaha asked. “Some of you might want smaller forms, I know it sounds counterintuitive, but think about how fast you can climb around all those shelves to get things put into the right places as squirrels. Also, is there anyone who has had trouble with the copy machine in the past and wishes they had the strength to toss it out the window? It’s a good way to get the company to finally replace it, and no one is going to hassle the grizzly bear that ripped up the copier.” Slowly more and more people were volunteering to be transformed.
Some transformations were to make people better suited for their jobs. Others turned out to be for more personal interest, but as Kickaha had pointed out, A comfortable employee was going to be happier and more willing to work. And so he happily turned a few into rabbits even if that wasn’t going to actually help accounting work. Sure there was a saying about rabbits, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t referring to math. Though, they’d be faster and could get around the office a lot quicker so there was that.
“Alright, we’re almost out of time, but I think everyone’s gotten the idea!” Kickaha grinned as he looked around the room. There wasn’t a single human left, nor was there a single person who looked even mildly upset. “I’ll be sure to leave a few cards if you know anyone else who needs my services. And just so you know, if any of you find city life stressful, it’s a bit of a commute, but the forest has lots of real estate free for the taking, and you can dig your own little mansion. You might find the peaceful atmosphere is worth the longer commute to work…” He paused. “Especially the few of you who could probably run faster than your cars to get to work since you don’t have to worry about traffic.”
“So… I guess the workshop is over…” Sam stared in awe. “I think that was a success… It’s definitely different. And that tends to be what corporate cares about the most.” Suddenly Sam burst out into a laugh.
“I didn’t even get to throw in a witty closing pun yet! , What’s so funny?” Kickaha asked.
“When I first met you, you seemed so strange. And with everything crazy they do to increase efficiency without ever actually doing anything, I thought we might wind up starting a trend. Now I’m thinking about what it will look like if we actually do start said trend.”
“Well this isn’t my usual line of work, there tends to be more trickery involved, more karmic justice.” Kickaha looked around at all the happy transformed employees in the room. “But there is more to karma than just punishing the bad. Sometimes it’s about rewarding the good or giving them the break they need. I don’t think I’ll do this full time, but I’ll come back every now and then if you ever need another workshop.”
“Heh… Thanks.” Sam held out a paw to shake Kickaha’s. “For everything. Heh… I can’t believe I’m thanking you for turning me into an animal.”
“You were already an animal, I just made you a better one.” Kickaha grinned.
“Though explaining this to the Boss is still going to be interesting.” Sam rubbed his chin.
“Remember, you’re the one with the teeth and fangs!” Kickaha patted him on the back. Go get him tiger! Erm, leopard!”
“Right!” With that Sam strode out of the conference room ready to see the boss, filled with a lot more confidence that he wasn’t going to take the usual levels of abuse anymore.
“He’s a good guy.” Kickaha pulled his cloak up over his head so he could easily make his exit without being noticed. “I’ll have to treat him to lunch sometime. A real lunch.” He then remembered his earlier project. “Now… I need to go calibrate that cage drop for wind resistance…” And with that he was off to his other projects, leaving the company behind, and for the first time ever leaving them with a project that truly transformed their business.