these walls are paper thin
by Liberty

Everyone knows about him now.

They watch him like ants through a glass, pasting him against cold plastic that slides under his feet, reading him aloud and shoving him through sweaty hands. He's always open and it's always bright. It's impossible to hide anything for long.

So many things came before that no one knows about. People know that his boss has no clue about business strategy and has the intelligence of a gnat. They never saw him on his knees, with eyes red and tired, in front of corporate officials that spit at his feet.

Everyone knows Asok is naive and Dogbert decides everything and Alice has lost her mind. No one ever saw them before.

They laugh at Wally, more than anyone. To Dilbert, it isn't funny at all.

His day goes the same most times.

He gets his coffee in the morning and sits in his cubicle for twenty minutes, pretending to work on his project, just as he's been doing for the last month, because Wally has a theory that the whole thing will be scraped anyway and even if it wasn't the product is faulty and would be recalled in under a week. He's saving the company money by not wasting his time on it, in theory.

After he finishes his cup he goes to get another one and stops to listen to Alice rant about the newest deadlines. He tells her about his and Wally's theory but she just looks at him like he's insane and backs away.

When he passes the boss' office Carol is unscrewing the doorknob and reversing the handles. This will be the third Friday in a row that she's successfully locked the boss in his office after lunch so she can take the afternoon off.

Wally's already at the coffee maker when Dilbert gets there, his coffee cup resting on his stomach, like always. Dilbert always gets a second cup but he rarely drinks it. He's found that it is much better for his lack of productivity if he's half comatose and likely to mess up if he tries to work anyway.

"Hi Wally," he says, while stirring in the decaying white creaming powder, and receives no answer because this week Wally doesn't believe in hellos and goodbyes. "This is possibly the most vile substance on the planet," Dilbert decides, taking a small sip anyway, for appearances sake.

"Then why do you drink it?" It's said the same way Wally always talks. Slowly and precisely, like the words are walking over glass.

Dilbert doesn't know what to say because the truth is that he doesn't drink it and that's too hard to explain. He shrugs. Wally almost smirks at him, in that way that can never be drawn right so seems the only private part of their life that's left, and walks away. Dilbert's hand shakes on the cup as he lets it just close enough to his lips for the cup to clatter against his teeth, the steam dampening his face, thick and revolting.

He goes back to his office (read: cubicle) and works for a solid hour because he has to care, even if most of the time it won't matter.

They have a meeting that afternoon and the pointy haired boss (does he even have a name anymore? Dilbert's pretty sure it's written somewhere but he can't be bothered to look) starts talking, which is always a reason not to pay attention, but he tries anyway, until he hears the word `irreprehensible' for the third time and fears his brain will start leaking out onto the conference table.

Wally is sitting across from him and Dilbert can tell that he's actually not listening. He doesn't even pretend anymore. Still, when it's his turn to speak he always seems to know what to say.

"There is a marginal increase in the projected budget of my project due to consumer demand." And that sounds true, even to Dilbert, and he's pretty sure that Wally's not even working on a project right now. At least not one that doesn't involve measuring the rate at which the cockroach population has increased based upon an up in employee working hours.

Dilbert's foot brushes against Wally's under the table and he pulls it back quickly, slamming his knee into the table. When he looks up the pointy haired boss is still looking thoughtful.

"Well we aren't allowed to spend any more money of the budget this quarter unless it's on paper cups," he says, not seeming to have noticed the mishap, as he points at a pie graph with his ruler, where about 20% is taken up by a green triangle that reads `Paper Cups'. "Can't you just get rid of some consumers?"

Wally's expression doesn't change and one of his feet hits Dilbert's under the table again. "We could formulate extra products out of cut- up paper cups, until we get more money." His voice is steady.

The pointy haired boss looks even more thoughtful. Dilbert thinks that he probably spends all those minutes of thoughtful time coming up with elaborate excuses to sneak to the bathroom and jerk off. Dilbert has caught him at this at least a dozen times before but prefers not to remember. It's one of the few things they have left that he wishes wasn't there.

"That's an excellent idea," he says finally as if the decision was of utmost importance. The pointy-haired boss prattles on for a bit about cubicle size (he seems to have this confused with "downsizing") and then the meeting is over. So is the day.

Dilbert runs into Wally outside his cubicle. So is his life, he's tempted to think and opens his mouth anyway.

"Wally? Can I talk to you?" he asks. He has to reach out to touch the clear glass beside them, fingers pressed flat, to keep his balance. It feels papery and thinner than glass should be.

Wally blinks at him. "Isn't that what you're doing?"

There's silence but it never feels quiet anymore, like flapping sheets catching in the wind. Dilbert tries to remember exactly how to be serious, without irony. "Um," he says, which seems a better start than most around here. "Do you want to go get a drink sometime? Like a date-type drink. A drink date." He chokes a bit on the words but it keeps him from rambling more so he coughs and tries to look calm. Wally is staring at him, eyes dark and blurry behind the glass lenses. It's a familiar feeling.

"Sure," Wally finally says, slowly, and then turns away. Dilbert can see the coffee rested on his stomach, like it's about to tilt off and he thinks of his own cup, cold and molted to the porcelain, back at his desk.

Dilbert blinks once and then his hand is ripping through the glass, streaking blood from his knuckles as the clear wall peels away like paper. When he falls, it's already dark before he hits the ground.

We're all disciples till the day we die
So why you try to play the role of the teacher
I can see through you, you are paper thin


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