Achilles' Heel

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Matthew had built up quite a reputation in the office. For years, he had been the man to go to if you had trouble with apostrophes or if the mere mention of grammar made you shudder. It had gone to his head as well, and he'd famously made a great deal of fuss over the fact that he'd permanently disabled the word processor's spellchecker. By now, he was the sole member of the office's English police, though nobody could decide whether this had been mutually agreed or whether he was self-appointed. However it had happened, he was now the sole arbiter of issues concerning spelling, punctuation and grammar. Little did the others know that Matthew had a secret weakness. No matter how hard he tried, he had a weak spot where double letters were concerned, utterly unable to tell when they were necessary. A moment's thought on the issue and his brain would simply freeze. As his reputation grew, along with a certain resentment about his attitude, so did a personal sense of apprehension. Would his flaw be exposed for all to see? The more he chastised people for claiming that something was 'more better', or remonstrated with the perpetrators of 'definately', the more the mere idea of revealing this difficulty to anyone became a thing of terror.

And so it was that he sat before his screen, alone in the office, all too aware of an important deadline approaching at top speed. A document that had to be sent out to thousands of recipients tomorrow. For years, he had manipulated his work to avoid the issue - nobody would ever be found hoping in anything he wrote, as he feared they would instead find themselves hopping. Hares would appear in place of rabbits, and crocodiles in place of alligators. This time, however, there was no way out, no way of avoiding the situation at all. The word absolutely had to be there, right in the title, where it would be seen even if someone was just glancing through the piece casually. Staring hard, sweating, he hoped it would come to him eventually. He just didn't know what should be doubled, but then it struck him - the reason it was so difficult was because it had two sets of double letters! Satisfied, he completed his work, saved the document and set the print job running.

The mail was merged and sent out, and it wasn't until two days later that he had any inkling that something could possibly be amiss. And by then, when it was far too late, the fact could not be missed. Placed on his desk were dozens of copies of the mailing, all with just one word of the title highlighted in pink, yellow or green. Accomoddation. A dictionary was propped open next to his mouse-mat and below the relevant entry, some wag had stuck an accusatory Post-It note with a short message.

Pridde goes before a fal.

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