BERKELEY, Calif. – I’ll level with you: I’m new here. This is one of the first things I’ve written for The Free Peach. I’ve been trying but… oh geez is this stuff hard. Here’s the thing: Shane Pauker, our beloved leader, doesn’t take no for an answer. 

“I love the work we put out here, but the environment really scares me sometimes,” explained staff writer Michael Damsky, who is also me. “I feel a lot of pressure to write something witty and clever without it seeming cliche and overdone.” When prompted to describe the source of his fears, Shane shot a fearful look toward editor-in-chief Shane Pauker. His voice trembled. “It’s not anyone’s fault but mine; I signed up for this.”

For further observation, I asked myself if I could follow me around to get a better view of the workplace. My roommate asked me why I was talking to myself in the mirror, but I didn’t have time to talk. I had a deadline to make. Accepting the stress of the scenario, I asked Shane to extend my deadline.

“Extend your deadline?” Shane asked calmly. He uncrossed his legs and leaned into the conversation. “Now, why would I do that?” Although his voice never rose above a quiet, conversational tone, the fury deep inside him was unmistakable. “If I’m being honest, you’ll be lucky to write a bullet point in a listicle after this. There’s a reason Sam MacKinnon hasn’t been published since September 2020, Michael.” He took his glasses off, revealing the whites of his eyes had glazed over black. “I hope you like having fingers, Michael; use them while you still can.”

Now, dear reader, you might be wondering: if Shane is such a cruel martinet, why would he allow this piece to be published? Why would he let The Free Peach, his creative brainchild, do him dirty like this? What madman would green light his own demise– hell, what madman would let ME write my own demise?

“Demise? Oh, no no no” Shane laughed, “I really don’t mind. I’d rather be feared than loved.” He leaned back in his chair. His eyes returned to a human color. “On a different note, how about a new headline idea: ‘Gypsy’s Trattoria Rebrands Gnocchi as ‘Italian Boba?’”

Now, if you excuse me, I have to write this article about gnocchi and questionably-named restaurants. Wish me luck, please. 

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