“Oh, hey, I’d forgotten about this.”

Willkins pulled a small figure from the mess of plastic bags in his lower drawer, setting it on his desk. It was a painted plaster figure of a small boy reading a book while perched on a toadstool. The paint quality and shade were of that dodgy, early mass-production era, which gave the figure a look that was at once cheap and creepy.

“Ew, ew, ew,” Kincaid said. “That thing looks haunted and gross. Why’d you keep it?”

“Oh, I got it during an office clean-out when someone left. Just like you’re about to,” Willkins chuckled. “Wife says I can only bring one box home, because she’s not repacking all my junk for Florida.”

“Who had it before you?” McClellan said.

“Oh, it was either Schneider or Murphee, I honestly forget. I only took it because they were adamant it stay in the office and not go to Goodwill.”

“Put it in the dumpster,” Kincaid said. “That’s not Goodwill.”

“Why’d they want it saved? I kind of love its creepy aesthetic,” McClellan added.

“Well, back in the day, office scuttlebutt was that it contained a great and terrible power to aid your career or cripple it,” Willkins said. “Schneider made partner in less than five years. Murphee was fired after three.”

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