01 July 2005


He woke up refreshed. He always woke up refreshed after being made a manager, and was pretty sure that the job just agreed with him. He prepared himself for a pleasant day of progress reports and status meetings, and before leaving for work, fixed himself a nice breakfast. As he ate, he heard a noise coming from his living room. He didn't think much of it, as the apartment was prone to strange noises. He'd never had any problems except for the time his neighbor's fishtank leaked and left his carpet squishy. It took the building manager two days to fix that mess.
When he finished breakfast, he got up, grabbed his coat, and headed for the door. He saw something moving under his couch, so he walked over to it, got on his hands and knees, and looked under the couch. Under the couch, he saw a hippopotamus. It wasn't a small hippopotamus, and being well-suited for management, he didn't realize at first that it shouldn't fit under his couch. Instead, he wondered how it got in his apartment, and how he was going to get it back out. Endangered animal or not, he wasn't going to pay extra to building management to keep a pet.
He stared at it for a few minutes, but it seemed to be looking the other way, and was most definitely not intimidated. He tried grabbing it's foot, but could only get his fingers under the edge of the couch. He stood up, went to his bookshelf, and grabbed some of the thicker volumes. He went back to one end of the couch, dropped two of the thicker volumes near the corners, and lifted that end. With his feet, one at a time, he pushed the books under the legs of the couch. The books in place, he lowered that end, and repeated the process at the other end of the couch.
He went back to the front of the couch, and found plenty of room under the frontal crosspiece to reach under with his arms. He looked for a leg, and pushing himself forward so much that he hit his nose on the couch and had to turn his head to one side, he reached for it. The leg, being that of an adult hippopotamus, was too large for him to grab securely, and the weight of the leg itself was too much for him to budge from the awkward position he had placed himself in. He pulled back, and looked under the couch again.
The hippo had turned around and was looking at him. It looked past him, towards the door. It turned it's head towards him and snorted, then looked back to the door. He yelled at it, and slapped his hand on the floor several times, but the hippopotamus didn't flinch. He got back up and went to the closet. He brushed aside the cobwebs and grabbed the broom. He walked to the end of the couch furthest from the door, laid down so he could see under the couch, and started poking the hippopotamus with the broom.
It didn't seem to mind getting poked, but it wasn't angered by the action either. It slowly turned around, and bit at the broom handle. His arms were no match for the hippopotamus's jaws, and he pulled back as soon as the broom was jerked from his hands. He lay still and watched as the end of the broom closest to him jerked around in circular motions as the hippopotamus chewed on the other end. He almost didn't notice when it charged at him.
The couch lunged almost a foot. He rolled away from it, banging into an end table. He jumped to his feet as the couch came at him again. He sprinted past it and into the hallway, turning around just in time to see the couch slam into the doorframe. He stumbled backwards and fell against the wall. The couch backed up and charged again, hitting the doorframe and stopping, then backing up and trying again.
The loud cracking sound of the collisions drew attention from his neighbors, several head poking out of partially opened doorways. Nobody came to help, or even looked for more than a few seconds, except for an elderly woman down the hall, who asked if he'd seen a hippopotamus. He nodded slowly, and watched the charging couch. The old woman came over, with a long rope in hand, and walked under the couch. He couldn't see what the elderly neighbor was doing, but the couch stopped moving. She emerged shortly, leading the hippopotamus with the rope.
The old lady smiled, patted the hippo on it's large toothy head, and said "Sorry for the trouble, but Bessie here gave me quite a fright when she snuck out last night. I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell the manager about this." He nodded insincerely, and slumped to the floor as she led her oversized pet down the narrow hallway.

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