"What have you done to Herman?"
Barbara's voice startles him, and he pours hot coffee over his hands. He curses under his breath and forces himself to produce a smile. "Why, you know I took him home for some fresh soil and fertilizer and a bigger pot. I told you!"
"Yes, but that was - what, a week ago? The office looks so empty without him!"
Herman, this stupid plant... getting him into trouble all the time. Back when he broke of a new leave, two weeks later when he spilled the water over official documents instead of watering the plant, another few days later when Herman keeled and broke the secretary's favorite coffee mug.
"Well, you know, he seems to be doing so good, I thought I'd give him a few more days in my special greenhouse."
Barbara looks at him suspiciously. "You sure?"
"Well, let's be honest... my younger brother is, like, this mad scientist, you know, and he had this special new fertilizer he wanted to try..." He feels Barbara's stare. Sweat starts collecting at the base of his skull, ready to slide down his spine. "Long story. Well, things got a little bit out of hand, and now Herman is a flesh-consuming monster plant and I am desperately trying to find a suitable substitute so no one will notice anything."
Barbara looks at him, eyes wide - and starts laughing. "For a moment you almost had me, guy. Stop making up all these stupid stories and get back to work! And don't forget to bring in Herman, it's boring without him."
He grins, waves at her and heads back to his office. Papers waiting for him, as usual.
Later that day, when he returns home after trying to find an adequate substitute for Herman, his cat has disappeared. The office plant stands on the windowsill, and it seems as if it is smiling. A huge, evil plant smile.
"Now, Herman, what have you done this time? Couldn't you wait till I got home with your steaks?"