The Hell Desk.

This is set in the "Tales from the Blind Pig" universe.

I work the night shift at a 24 by 7 help desk. The night shift works a 12 by 4 shift, with the 5th day overtime optional. Being a full-morph tiger, I usually went for the 5th day, as I really did not have a social life. The night shift was good, as no one really cared what you looked like, as long as the job got done. I usually had no problem with customer complaining about my 'voice', which is generated by a rather expensive piece of equipment known as a vocalizer, or voder for short. I was probably the most experienced person there, have had years of work experience before the Bug turned me into four paws full time. It was a typical Friday night, getting the overtime.


I always arrive to work a bit early. This allows me to get everything I need for the long night shift instead of having to take a lot of small breaks, I can only take a longish lunch break, and restroom breaks. I got the computer started, and adjusted to something I was comfortable with. My muse and assistant for tonight was Tom, one of the guys who had interviewed with me for this job. Fortunately, they had two positions open on this four man crew, a level one and two position. Poor Tom got the level one position, with me as his backup. We make a good team, though. Tom arrived a few minutes later, and helped me get connected to the phone. Fortunately, my voder has a number of plugs to make it compatible with most systems. Unfortunately, most of the plugs were designed with a human hand in mind. I managed though, and was ready to take call at six. :: We've got a long night ahead, Tom. Hope you went before hand.:: Tom turned around and gave me a nasty look after seeing me, tongue hanging out in what could be considered laughter. "Laugh it up, fuzzball. You're the one with the kitten sized bladder." I stuck my tongue out in response, which looks rather funny in and of itself. Humor keeps us sane. The phone rings. 12 hours to go...


::... And that should do it.:: pause. ::Thank you for calling, have a nice evening.::
I clicked off the phone with a light touch of a paw. Working the assembly that undid the fragile collection of cables, tape, and velcro that attached the heavily modified headset from my voder to the phone, I punched in the break button. ::Tom, you've got the fort. I;m heading out for a minute.:: I quietly pawed out to the empty smoking area. Making doubly certain that the door was shut behind me, I commanded the voder to mute for the next minute. The voder stated simply in it's metallic voice ::acknowledged:: and said no more. After a quick look around, I was quite alone. Good. One ear-shattering roar of frustration that echoed through the night later, I was back inside, and carefully re-attaching myself to the phone. My co-worker, Tom, looked over the short wall, grinned, and said, "tough call, eh?". I nodded, the voder still off for 5..4..3..2..1 ::unmuted::. Free to speak now. ::I wish people would read the bloody screen. Drives me nuts, but that's life, I guess.:: "Don't I know it. Need a hand with that?" he pointed a finger at the assembly. ::No, I've got it.:: I pushed the last connection in with a quiet click. I commanded the voder to the line out port now, instead of the speaker, and into the mixer box that the headset attached to. I un-paused the phone, and started reading the e-text on the computer while I waited for the next call...


The venting session made me feel good. Tom had gone out for his venting about an hour ago. During our lunch break, he had asked me if I had any talents. In response, I sighed, and, concentrating, slowly forced a front paw into human shape, then the other. I then pulled my throat up into a humanoid throat, and took the voder off and spoke. "Only this. I can't do it very long, and it hurts a lot during the shift. But I can make the throat do just about any voice I want." I then pulled it into a form I had used during a party once. My voice came out deep, like Darth Vader from Star Wars. "If only you knew the power of the Flu Bug. It must reshape your body." As I was shifting my throat back, I put the voder back on, and dropped back to all fours. Tom got a good laugh out of this. :: Well, break time is over. Lets get this done with.:: Four more hours...


It was close to quitting time. I had finished up with the last call, and I had logged out of the phone. My boss, who came in early just to make sure that we were there, pulled me aside after I un-plugged myself. He lead me to his office. "I like how you handle the calls during the night shift. Would you be interested in working day shift? It would be 6 am to 6 pm. It's also involve a pay raise." I thought about it a bit. :: I'd need a week off to re-adjust my schedule and body clock.:: The boss came back quickly, almost too quickly. "I can do that easily. Anything else?" Hmm... I wonder... :: Can I bring Tom over as well? I'm rather fond of him.:: Boss paused. Gotcha. I knew there was a catch. "Yes. I can do that. I'd need to ask him, but I can do that if he wants to."

Two weeks later

Tom turned out to live near enough to my appartment that I was able to catch a ride with him. It made the commute worth it, along with the dual pay raises we both got. And the daytime callers that we catch are much more sane. Did I mention that he's level two now, and I'm level three?