Shredded by Sarah Bigham

The troll was close; Elena could smell him. Complacency, she hoped, had dulled his memory of how keratin could be his downfall.

He stood commandingly in front of the shredder, marking territory with a wide stance to accommodate the protruding belly visible beneath a button-straining, crumb-flecked shirt and never-laundered tie a decade out of style. Stuffing documents into the laboring machine, he grunted while absent mindedly slicking unwashed, too-long hair across his forehead with spittle, yesterday’s pomade having lost its cling.

He had lorded over them for too long, content in his intellectual superiority and self-proclaimed destiny as their leader, wrapped in an elaborate pageantry of his own creation. Those who declared him naked were summarily escorted to the parking lot, never to be heard from again. The current legal entanglement was but a small concern. Computer files had been deleted, and hard drives wiped clean. The state’s attorney would have nothing to find after the troll pulverized the contents of the remaining file cabinets. Completing the task at night when only third shift cleaning staff are on site is just another example of my brilliance, snorted the troll to himself, knowing his directives had created a safe zone for any nefarious purposes. It had been one of his earliest ideas — requiring the lowest-wage workers to wear day-glo attire and travel the corporate headquarters with thrumpingly-wheeled trash carts, purchased specifically (and delightfully under budget) for the way they announced their presence.

One hand on a hip, the other contemplating a good stroking of a body part yet to be determined, the troll closed his eyes momentarily to weigh his choices for eliminating the paper waste he was accumulating. A bonfire came to mind — an excellent option for also ridding himself of the ridiculously colored leaves that swirled through the air and littered the ground so unpleasantly this time of year.

Elena suddenly leapt across the room, shoved the troll’s hand toward the shredder until one snaggled, earwax-encrusted fingernail caught in the metal jaws, and watched with unabashed satisfaction as an inferno consumed the troll, sending him back to hell.

Elena practically shimmied to her faded yellow yet newly oiled cart, re-smocked herself in the organization’s shockingly vibrant lime green uniform, grabbed an emery board from a deep side pocket and furiously buffed as she maneuvered the roving trash receptacle down the hallway with her elbow, and a smirk.


Sarah Bigham teaches, paints, and writes in the U.S. where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, and an unwieldy herb garden. Her work appears in Bacopa, Entropy, Fourth & Sycamore, Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Rabbit, skirt! Magazine, and elsewhere. Find her at

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