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Check out our February feature of folktales from the Qatari oral tradition.
from the August 2018 issue

Work Hard

努力工作 (繪本版) 寂然

An ambitious young woman learns the hideous secret behind the success of her cutthroat Macanese company in Eric Chau’s tale, illustrated by Chi-Wai Un.

There was once a little fishing port, nestled between two little hills. On the eastern hill was a lighthouse, its beam piercing the stillness of the night, lighting up the west.

One day, the fishing port started to change.

All kinds of skyscrapers began to spring up, blocking the hills. The lighthouse disappeared from view. These strange new buildings were nothing like the low-rise structures of bygone times. Standing by the sea, looking up at this resplendent city, a young girl was filled with excitement for the future.

In the south of the city, rising from a cluster of tall buildings, towered the most vulgar of them all: an enormous gold monstrosity. From a distance, it looked like a giant, glittering safe.

On top of the safe was a star-shaped logo. Everyone knew that these were the headquarters of the Bright Star Corporation.

The source of the Bright Star Corporation’s wealth was hotly debated, but this was a city where the line between black and white was far from clear. Good people did bad things. So long as you earned more money and spent more extravagantly than anyone else, you were a success. To make a better life for herself, Trixie decided to join the Bright Star Corporation.

Within three days of submitting her application, Trixie received a call from Bright Star to set up an interview. This remarkable efficiency made her hopeful. Even more remarkably, the executive chairman of the whole organization, Mr. Cai, was going to interview her in person. She started to daydream about this Mr. Cai.

At her interview, he was nowhere near as dashing as she had imagined. He glanced only briefly at her résumé, then turned his attention to her looks.

“How’s a pretty thing like you going to hack it as an accountant?” he said, chuckling heartily and embarrassing Trixie. But once he’d finished laughing, he hired her on the spot.

When Trixie started work, she quickly realized that the Bright Star office was nothing like other workplaces. Mr. Cai was a tyrant, and every department of his company was as chaotic as a battlefield.

Trixie’s colleagues were all frantically busy and unfailingly rude. In this company, the more cutthroat you were, the more your opinion counted, and the more authority you had to make decisions.


As Trixie learned how the company worked, her workload grew and her hours increased, almost without her realizing. She went from one hour of overtime a day to four or even six.

After three months of this, she was a shadow of her former self. Not only was she spending every waking hour at the office and sleeping far too little but her appetite was completely gone. Her complexion worsened by the day. She lost twenty pounds.

Yet her colleagues seemed entirely unaffected. They were as quick and uncomplaining as the wind. No matter how tired, hungry, or put upon they were, they forgot themselves in the wholehearted pursuit of money. 

Mr. Cai was fond of saying to his employees, “If you want a long career here, you’d better make ‘extraordinary’ your new ‘ordinary.’ When the company prospers, so do you.”

Late one night, when no one else was in the office, he walked up to Trixie’s desk with a big grin on his face.

“Little Miss Trixie,” he murmured, “everyone else has gone home, how come you’re still here? Do you enjoy staying behind at the office?”

“I want to make the company proud,” said Trixie. “The company operates twenty-four hours a day and I’m working as many hours as I can to keep up. Anyway, sir, you’re here too. I’m younger than you, so I should be able to stay even later.”

“Seeing as you love the company so much, how about I let you in on our core business?” he replied.

Trixie almost jumped in the air with happiness.

“Thank you, sir! Thank you so much!”

She picked up her bag and followed Mr. Cai from the room.

“No need to thank me,” he said. “Hardworking youngsters aren’t easy to come by. I should be thanking you. I have always believed that people are the key to success.”

So saying, he led Trixie into his office, where he made her stand in front of his enormous safe.

After opening the safe, he roared with laughter, telling Trixie, “Our core business is finding the greediest, most ambitious people in the city and harnessing their abilities, making them sign their lives over to the company for all eternity.”

At this, Mr. Cai reached for the top of his head and groped around for a seam. Then, in an unzipping motion, he pulled open his own scalp.

At last, Trixie understood how the company had been able to expand so fast. On the surface, it seemed to be staffed by people, but in fact they were monsters, every one.

A creature unlike any ever conjured by human imagination wrestled his way out of Mr. Cai’s skin and sprang in front of Trixie. She screamed in horror.

The monster emanated a golden light so intense that she could not look directly at him. He resembled a dragon, but also a crab, with the compound eyes of a fly and arms like two enormous pincers. Standing there before Trixie, he was the most terrifying creature she had ever seen.

He said, “I invite you to become one of us! It’s not about dying, it’s about helping you live your very best life.”

Trixie made every effort to resist, but the monster was simply too powerful. Meanwhile, other monsters had gathered behind her. “Resistance is futile!” they urged. “We are the masters of every soul in your city. No one can escape our clutches. Join us, and be granted powers of your own, evolve into an omnipotent new being! Resist, and there can only be one outcome: unimaginable torment followed by certain annihilation. You’re a clever girl, you know what to do.”

Mr. Cai’s diabolical pincer, which had been pressing on the crown of Trixie’s head, now began drilling into her skull. But at the very last moment, just before it bored through to her brain, Trixie burst out, “Wait! I came here to work hard. It’s all the same, no matter what form it takes. So I agree, I’m willing to join the company’s core business and transform into a more productive worker.”

The monsters’ thunderous laughter reverberated through the building.

Soon after, Trixie was promoted to head of human resources for all of Bright Star Corporation. When giving presentations, she was fond of saying, “Here at Bright Star, we have always believed people are the key to success.”

Once upon a time, she had been a young girl determined to work hard. In the end, she turned into a monster.

《努力工作》from《亂世童話.》 Published 2017 by Gusa Publishing. © 2017 by Eric Chau and Chi-Wai Un. By arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

努力工作 (繪本版) 寂然

  1. 這是一個臨海的小漁港,漁港的東西兩側,各有一座小山丘,東邊的山丘上,有一座燈塔,劃破黑夜的寂寥,照耀四方。
  2. 不久之後,小漁港開始發生變化。
  3. 各種高樓漸漸建成,大東西兩邊的山丘都被高樓和高樓擋住,燈塔不見了,標奇立異的建築跟之前的一派悠閒形成強烈對比。一個小女孩,在海旁,看著這個璀璨的城市,對未來充滿憧憬。
  4. 在城市南面,海旁的高樓群中,矗立著一座惡俗浮誇得無以復加的金色巨型建築物,遠看像個金碧輝煌的巨大夾萬。夾萬的頂端,有一個星星的標誌,這城市的人都知道,這裏就是亮星集團的總部大樓。
  5. 亮星集團的資金來源十分神秘,耐人尋味,但在這個城市,黑與白有時根本沒有明確的界線,好人會做壞事,壞人也會做好事,只要你賺錢比人多,花錢比人狠,人們就會把你視為成功人士。為了改善生活,詩詩決定要加入這間公司。
  6. 發出應徵信不足三日,亮星集團便致電詩詩約她面試,這樣的工作效率,令詩詩對未來的事業發展充滿期待。更令詩詩意外的是,她竟然獲得行政總裁齊先生親自接見,於是她開始對這位齊先生充滿暇想。
  7. 然而,她在面試時才發現,齊先生並沒有想像中英俊瀟灑,在面試過程中,齊先生只是翻閱一下詩詩的履歷,打量一下她的身材和樣貌,然後說:「這麼漂亮的女孩,怎麼會去做會計?」說完便哈哈大笑,令詩詩好不尷尬,但笑完之後,齊先生竟馬上決定要聘用她。
  8. 當詩詩正式上班後,她便感覺到這間公司果然與別不同。齊先生是一名暴君,集團內所有部門都像戰場一樣混亂。
  9. 所有同事都忙得有躁狂傾向,而且詩詩從未遇過一名有禮貌的同事,在這間公司,同事之間誰夠野蠻誰就有發言權和決定權。
  10. 隨著對集團運作的熟悉及工作量不斷增加,詩詩的工作開始時間不自覺地延長,由每日超時工作一小時,漸漸延長至加班四小時至六小時不等。
  11. 這樣子幹了三個月,詩詩的體型暴瘦,每晚睡眠不足,由於整天都為公司的事情勞心勞力,她吃飯時也沒有胃口,她的臉色也越來越差,體重減了二十磅。
  12. 大部份同事對這樣的生活竟然若無其事,所有人都像瘋了一樣為公司任勞任怨,不管有多累,不管有多餓,不管有多氣餒,在這份據說很能賺錢的工作面前,所有人都努力得忘記了自己。
  13. 齊先生不時跟同事說:「想在我們的集團長久工作,要學會把『異常』視作『正常』,唯有這樣,集團才會增值,你們才會成長。」
  14. 某個深夜無人的時刻,齊先生走到詩詩面前,滿臉笑容,輕聲跟她說話:「阿詩,所有同事都走了,怎麼妳還不離開?妳很喜歡留在公司嗎?」
  15.       詩詩說:「我希望自己的努力能得到公司的肯定。公司二十四小時運作,我盡最大努力把工作做好,況且,老闆你也沒有休息過,我始終比你年輕,應該可以支持更長時間。」
  16. 齊先生說:「既然妳這麼喜歡公司的業務,我讓妳參與公司的核心業務好不好?」詩詩高興得差點要跳起來:「多謝老闆。」拿起手袋便要跟齊先生走。
  17. 齊先生說:「別客氣,年輕人這麼努力工作,實在難得,應該是我多謝妳才對。我一直相信,集團成功的背後,最關鍵的,就是人。」說完這句話之後,齊先生把詩詩領到他的辦公室,並且讓詩詩站在他那個巨大的夾萬之前。
  18. 齊先生把夾萬打開,然後哈哈大笑,他說:「我們的核心業務,就是把本市最貪婪,最有野心的人據為己有,轉化他們的能量,讓他們永遠為集團賣命。
  19. 這時候,齊先生伸手在他自己的頭頂,找出一道夾縫。接著,他把夾縫像拉鏈一樣拉開,揭開自己的頭皮。
  20. 現在,詩詩終於明白這個集團為何可以迅速擴張,所向披靡,他們表面上是由人所組成的集團,事實上,他們根本不是人,他們本質上全都是怪獸。
  21. 一頭超越人類想像的怪獸在齊先生的身體內掙破皮肉,跳到詩詩的面前,嚇得她失控尖叫。
  22. 那怪獸全身散發金光,令人無法直視,但其形態既像一條龍,又似一隻蟹,還有一雙蒼蠅一樣的複眼,雙手卻是一對巨大無比的鉗,他在詩詩面前表現得無比猙獰。他說:「我邀請妳加入成為我們的一員,不是要妳滅亡,反而是助妳追求更完美的人生。」
  23. 面對怪獸齊先生的強力攻擊,詩詩本來極力反抗,但那怪獸的力量實在太強勁,這是其他怪獸竟在她身後勸她:「反抗只是白費氣力,你們整個城市的命脈已經由我們主宰,沒有人可以逃得出我們的勢力範圍,加入我們,不以成為主人的得力助手,進化成無堅不摧的新生命。但反抗只會有一個結果,就是受盡折磨,灰飛煙滅,妳是聰明人,妳應該懂得為自己作選擇。」此時齊先生的魔鉗,已經按住詩詩的天靈蓋,正要鑽入她的腦袋,但在這千鈞一髮之際,詩詩突然大叫一聲:「且慢!我來是要努力工作,無論以什麼形式,都是一樣的,我願意加入本集團的核心業務,成為更有生產力的一員。」眾怪獸笑聲震天,響徹整幢大廈。
  24. 沒多久,詩詩晉升為亮星集團的人力資源總裁,她總愛在演講時說:「我們一直相信,集團成功的背後,最關鍵的,就是人。」


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