To kickstart my writing recently, I created a random prompt. I took two random numbers, one between 1 and 154 for one of Shakespeare’s sonnets and one between 1-14 for a line number. I’ve been doing this for almost three weeks, writing a page or a page and half in my journal based on the prompt. Sometimes the rest of the sonnet informs what I write, sometimes not. I have no idea if any of these will make it into larger pieces I write, but I’m amused by what has come up.

But that, your trespass, Molly, becomes a fee owed the corporation – you must ransom yourself to be again in our good graces. We must both consider what that ransom entails.

Molly sat back on the folding metal chair in HR’s austere office. The room had one big window with pulled metal blinds to let in the open plan’s lights, but also to let everyone on the floor know she’d been called on the carpet.

What an odd phrase – there was no carpet anywhere on the floor she worked on. Molly was torn between looking at the HR lady (who was probably a robot – who could tell these days?) and looking at her hands in shame. But what had she to be ashamed of? A minute’s distraction from the day’s work, a daydreaming look, a clattering of her pens, or paperclips on the floor? She was human (not ‘only human’ for as a human she was supposed to have more rights than this walking vacuum cleaner who represented corporate interests).

You are the face of the company, Molly, both on the line (They didn’t say phone anymore. When did that happen?) and to your fellows here on the floor. Surely you know that?

I know that because you tell me often enough that it’s true, but – and here was the sin in her heart – the only true compensation for that kind of representation was cold hard cash and they weren’t parting with that. Quite the opposite – they wanted to dock her, would dock her – for being human. Someone must be made the example. For a while Corporate made their weekly or biweekly examples in alphabetical order. All the Ms knew to be on their guard if an L was made an example the previous week. Corporate took an entire year to realize their employees had caught on to that plan. So now it was truly random. Last week had been a William and the relationship between William, his phone number, his badge number and his birthdate had been sanitized against all available information on the previous example. There was truly no winning or predicting anymore and Molly knew that her crimes were no different than the behavior of anyone else on the floor and she’d be docked more than she could afford no matter what. What with company stores and so on.

Molly suggested four hours and two meals. The HR lady replied ‘eight and four’ and stamped her file with a loud thud.