Ironic Punishment Department

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #167 for 6th August, 2010

Strains of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” floated into the room.

Patrick Johnson listened as the dial tone engaged the number and began to ring.  His quickly scanned the table of brochures whilst seated at the Rock and a Hard Place Café.

“Hello, Ironic Punishment Department, please hold the line,” said a gravelly voice like tombstones sliding together.

Patrick began to mumble, “That’s okay,” before he was cut off and the strains of Bobby McFerrin crackled out of the receiver.  Patrick nodded his head to the rhythm of the song and began to sing along.  He was a verse and half in and was about to whistle along when he was interrupted.

“I’m sorry for the delay,” said the voice, “how can I be of assistance?”

“Well, I’m new down here and I was investigating the possibilities of where to spend eternal damnation,” said Patrick. “I was looking through the brochures and I wanted to know about the Ironic Punishment Department.”

“The Ironic Punishment Department specifically tailors purgatorial situations based on your individuality and personality.  For example, what was your occupation on the Earth above?” said the voice that would cause Linda Blair to be cleaning peas off the ceiling for a week.

“I was a teacher, a high school English teacher,” said Patrick.

“In that case, an ironic punishment would be that you had to take a substitute class on the last day of the school term, probably a PE lesson, and no matter how much you wish, that final bell will just not sound your release.  Just for kicks, we could make the day rainy and windy and have a full moon.”

“Oh I see,” said Patrick.

“And what was your favourite food?” said the voice like a hammer on nails.

“Strawberry iced doughnuts.”

“We could either send you on a quest for the perfect strawberry iced doughnut, and you never find it, or force-feed you until you can take no more.  Alternatively, you take a bite and it tastes like broccoli or boogers or something,” the voice like fingernails down a chalkboard continued.

“Did you play an instrument in your life above?  Because if you did, we have a special songwriter’s workshop about how to write lyrics that are ironic.” asked the voice with an edge of brimstone.

“Or how about that awkward moment when you give your mother-in-law a farewell embrace and you suddenly gain an erection? Perhaps not ironic, but certainly uncomfortable.  Do you remember ever having that dream where you realise that you are naked and you hope no one notices? ”

Patrick murmured a hesitant and nervous, “Yes.”

“That can also come true, should you wish,” said the voice of a fiery furnace.  “We also have a special Mother Won’t Be Happy To Hear What You Have Done program where you relive your childhood misdemeanors in front of your mother.  All those things that you denied doing, they have a way of coming back to bite you on the bum.  Do you have any questions?”

“No, I don’t, but you’ve given me a bit to think about.”

“The Ironic Punishment Department takes pleasure in your discomfort.  Please don’t hesitate to call if you need any more information,” said the voice that wouldn’t have been out of place fronting a death metal band.

“Thank you very much for your time,” said Patrick. He returned to his brochures and began absentmindedly to whistle the refrain of the hold music.

24 responses to “Ironic Punishment Department

  1. Oh Adam that’s great, I actually laughed out load a couple of times. Such a brilliant idea.

  2. Heh, that’s an interesting story. It’d be a hard choice to make- I wonder what his other options are!

  3. The hold music is “Don’t Worry Be Happy” in the land of damnation, LOL

    You’ve got so many great lines in here I don;t know where to start. I laughed every time to describd the womans voice. It just kept getting better and better. And the punishments, fantastic stuff.

    Well done

  4. itallmeanssomething

    Super story! A real pleasure to read. Love the very interesting concept-made me want the story just keep going and going. I love the way you keep expanding on the voice. Makes you think and laugh. Bravo!

  5. yearzerowriters

    Very clever and witty piece. Loved the way you kept coming up with new ways of describing the cal centre operator’s voice from hell!

    Marc Nash

  6. The Four Part Land

    Hilarious. Love the idea and the story.

  7. that is hilarious and very creative! keep up the good work. 🙂

  8. This is so good and had me well and truly giggling!

  9. Too funny, Adam. I really enjoyed this one. You had me smiling the whole way through.

  10. I loved this. And when the main character said he was a high school english teacher, I thought “OK, this is Adam writing about Adam. How convenient.” This was too funny. I laughed all the way through it. Such ironic and imaginative punishments. Great writing!

  11. Ironic hold music and great descriptions of the voice! I’m curious about the other brochures…

  12. I just bookmarked you. Oh my goodness. That was very very funny. I’m not ashamed to say that the mother-in-law bit was my favorite.

    holy cow. Still giggling.

  13. I couldn’t find an email for you to send you a note …I try not to point out typos publicly,[the editor in me sees all *sigh*] but since you have comment moderation on I can offer you a “d” for “engaged” and then you can delete this second comment. win/win… You’re a funny funny guy. Loved the bit. Thanks for stopping by my place so I could track back to yours.

    Patrick Johnson listened as the dial tone engage the dialed number

    • Thanks for the pick up. The basic rule of Write Anything’s Fiction Friday is no editing, but my “all thumb hands” don’t type too well sometimes. Appreciate the feedback.

  14. Ha, this is completely hilarious. It got more absurd and delightful as it went on. I’m still giggling, and there are too many great lines to pick a favorite.

    …and I’ve been looking for your site/Twitter handle ever since you started commenting so generously on mine. Glad I tracked you down!

    Excellent story.

  15. Love the absurdity of this. The descripions of the voice got funnier and funnier. The choice of on-hold music is spot-on, too

  16. Some great ideas for ironic punishments. Made me smile.

  17. This was a lot of fun. So many choices. I think I’ve subbed in that PE class before, so I wouldn’t need to choose that one. Good story!

  18. That’s hilarious Adam – you are very clever!!

  19. Funny, but not forced or self-congratulatory. Very imaginative, too. Loved it!

  20. Yep, an eternity of PE would be my idea of hell…

    Very inventive! Good pacing, good use of dialogue…basically, very awesome!

  21. Hehe that made me laugh Adam, just what I needed!

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