Dark Humour

The Workhorse

by Joh – 19,300 words. Submission date: 07/12/2019.

Jippy defies the traditions of her community by going to work in the city. Her people are against the idea of her mingling with what they refer to as city rats while the city folk themselves are against the idea of working with a person that comes from a community that they refer to as gypsies.

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Joh Posted by Joh (27 Jan 20):

Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm very glad to hear that you all enjoyed it. Similar to War Hero, I was uncertain about how well this story would be received. Comedy, especially when somewhat over-the-top or satirical always feels like a risky choice that could be hit or miss in how it is received. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

Brisingr Posted by Brisingr (27 Jan 20):

Well done on this entry - I agree with Aaron that this may be one of my favourite entries from yourself.

Characters were interesting and well developed. It was very interesting to watch Jippy slowly turn from her people and become what she most hated at the start of the story. Watching her morals shift and change as times went on.

The office lifestyle was definitely a high point for me. Watching Jippy interact with these strange new processes and social interactions was highly amusing and yet very relatable in many ways. I found the rebooting of VMs or 'Robots' to be pretty much spot on in a modern IT environment and was rather interesting to see it in your story.

A very strong entry and a great way to round out your 2019 entries.

Aaron Posted by Aaron (24 Dec 19):

Excellent story, and my favourite of yours yet, I think.

Your characters were all well-written and interesting. My favourites were: Jippy, an excellent rough and downtrodden character who served as an excellent protagonist; and Jippy’s colleagues, but especially Rich, who played the perfect asshole manager, and Skip who, while growing somewhat respectful of Jippy towards the end, never quite closes the gap that exists between the two of them.

I liked the world you built too, with the isolated and unambitious Ramses contrasting nicely with the cold and arrogant city folk. You made both sides flawed, which helped to make for a realistic world, and the conflict between the two, with Jippy caught somewhere in the middle, especially towards the end of the story, kept the story tense.

The story was also very funny. The absurdity of office life (exaggerated in the story, but, in some ways, not by very much at all) and the pettiness of Jippy’s colleagues was very entertaining to read. The meaninglessness of the work – continually rebooting ‘robots’ and writing reports on the root cause – also made me laugh … who hasn’t had to do pointless office work at some point in their lives? I also liked the titles, which made ‘big moments’ out of would-be mundane moments. And I thought the TheWorkhorsesDiary element, and the story behind it, was a nice touch that helped to further flesh the world out.

Very good entry, and a nice way to finish the 2019 Writing Challenge.

Falcon Posted by Falcon (23 Dec 19):

Well done on a great story to finish off the decade with. I consider this to be one of your best entries and could see many similar themes between 'The Workhorse' and your previous dark humour piece, 'War Hero'. The settings, mainly the communal but poverty stricken Ramses camp and the more upscale industrialised city, were very well detailed and created a good atmosphere for the story to unfold in. This is especially true because of the aura of hostility to outsiders that both places have and how this ultimately serves as an important plot point.

The characters were well fleshed out with Jippy, Ox and General being the most memorable of the story. The relationship between Jippy and Ox was especially well crafted considering the bleak note the entry ends on for these two individuals. A lot of the characters, especially the unnamed City coworkers, were unlikable by design and this was nicely handled as it helped the reader empathise more with the Ramses and the plucky Jippy at first glance.

I also liked how you focused on identity and tribalism as your main concept as it is such a basic and important aspect to storytelling but it can often be overlooked in many stories. Additionally, I was impressed by how you wrote Jippy being reluctantly torn between two different societal worlds with differing values and how you managed to sway the reader from favouring one side over the other as the story progressed by essentially vilifying both communities.

Lastly, I liked the inclusion of the workhorse texts as it was a small bit of world building but also acted as a symbolic aspect or perhaps a warning that related to Jippy's personality as well as her deteriorating relationship with the Ramses community. I am looking forward to what other entries you bring to the table next year.