I am at war with one of my coworkers at the MTC.
(*insert dramatic sound effect*)
It started out quite innocently. I don't think either of us ever thought it would escalate this far. After all, Jane and I rarely even see each other; we work in separate buildings. But perhaps that separation is part of what has allowed the tension to build to this point where . . . well, let me start from the beginning.
First, you must understand that the area I work in covers four small buildings (for the sake of this story, let's call them Buildings 1-4). There are eight of us student workers; we all report to Building 1 first thing in the morning to get our keys and radios - as well as to receive any special instructions our boss might have for us - then we disperse, two students to each of the four buildings. I work in Building 3; Jane works in Building 2. So, like I said, we interact surprisingly little. Or at least we did. Until one day when I unintentionally changed the nature of our relationship forever.
It was like any other day. I was leaving my building, heading back to Building 1 to return my keys and clock out. I noticed Jane walking about twenty feet ahead of me, also on her way to Building 1. And for reasons I'll never be able to explain, I decided to see if I could run and catch up to her before she made it to the door - without her hearing me. With catlike tread, I sprinted towards the unsuspecting brunette and - upon reaching her - put my finger to her head and made a gunshot noise in her ear.
"Pskorwh!" (That is the closest approximation the English language can produce to replicate the noise that came out of my mouth that day. Take it for what it's worth.)
It was the shot heard 'round the MTC. Jane nearly leapt out of her tennis shoes, a shiver running down her entire body as she turned to see who had attacked her. Pleased with the reaction, I was bent over with laughter, unable to answer her outraged expression. She glared and smiled with the same look as she promised, "I will get you back, Jessica." I shook my head, eyes streaming at this point, and just smiled. I thought it was nothing; a harmless prank.
Well, that harmless prank turned into a bitter rivalry. We've been going at it for weeks, startling any bystanders who have been unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfires. The aim is constant: sneak up on your opponent and terrify her when she's least expecting it. But our strategies have been diverse - and sometimes have involved other coworkers, to add to the humiliation of the moment.
I don't think my boss - sweet, old lady that she is - has any idea what is going on. Jane and I have been shooting sly smiles and smirks at each other during meetings for weeks, but apparently she hasn't noticed. Last time we got a new employee, Jane introduced me to him as "a horrible person," to which my boss laughed openly, thinking Jane was being ironic. Everyone else knows - I'll bet even some of the missionaries who come to do service for us know about it - but there seems to be an unspoken consensus among us to keep our boss out of it. (Because, violent and unsettling though it may be, neither of us wants to give up the game.)
Today, things got a bit extreme. I've been ahead in points ever since this thing started (the score currently stands at 7 - 2), but I just can't stand up the perfect opportunity. Which is what happened today, when I left my boss's office and saw Jane heading up the stairs. She was holding a broken-down cardboard box, probably headed out to the recycling bins. I see that box as being very important now, but in the moment what I noticed was that her position - halfway up the stairs - put her legs at my shoulder-level.
I dove forward, reaching out with a claw-like hand, and snatched Jane by the ankle.
It was the scream from every horror movie you've ever seen. And it echoed all up and down the staircase, probably alarming countless studious missionaries. (In retrospect, I do regret interrupting their classes like this. But as MTC missionaries are starving for distraction, I'll bet they don't complain.)
Jane flipped around, and through the rosy haze of my triumph I noticed that she looked more freaked out than I'd ever seen her. "YOU!" she accused, shaking with adrenalin. Again, I was laughing too hard to respond, but I smiled in an affirmative way. Oh man, I thought, that was the best one yet! I wasn't really paying attention, still congratulating myself as she raised her cardboard box . . .
. . . and started beating me with it.
SMACK! SMACK! SMACK!
"You! Are! So! Awful!" she was yelling between blows. Meanwhile, she was whacking me with a rather sizable box of cardboard; hitting me on the back, the arms, and the head. Each swing connected sharply, and soon my thoughts turned from self-congratulation to self-preservation. I put up my hands to deflect the weapon - which was shockingly effective.
"Ow! Jane, geez!"
We were standing by the entrance doors, and there was one poor missionary standing there. He had been holding the door open for Jane, but now he was frozen to the spot watching us - one huddled half in laughter, half in panic; the other yelling maniacally as she bashed into me with her cardboard mace. After a few moments of horror, he let go of the door and walked - slowly, cautiously - away.
I did escape eventually, but not before Jane had proved to me exactly how much damage a cardboard box can do to the human body. When I made it back to the safety of my own building, I collapsed in the custodial closet, gasping for breath (and, oddly, still laughing). My partner - who has given herself the codename Jackalope - was in there putting chemicals away, and when she saw me she looked bewildered. I explained what had just happened, and concluded with the lesson of the day:
It is safer to surprise people who are unarmed.