by Eirik Gumeny
The office was quiet, dark, lit only by the soft glow of a few auxiliary lights and the reflection of the moonlight off the snow outside. Most of the staff had left within minutes of the governor making his declaration of a State of Emergency – to pick up necessities, to get home to family, to try and beat traffic. Satish and Deepen, model employees that they were, remained behind with a handful of others to try and put a dent in the department’s ever increasing workload.
Six weeks later they were still there, hard at work, gnawing on what was left of the severed leg of their coworker James. The rest of James, and the carcass of his wife, Pamela, the receptionist, lay picked clean at their feet.
Cleveland, another coworker, rushed over to them, as quickly as his bad leg would allow, visibly dismayed.
“Out,” he growled. “Out!”
Satish turned slowly toward Cleveland, a flap of skin hanging from his mouth, James’ calf in his hands, and asked, “Whuh?”
“Peo-ple,” replied Cleveland, pointing his scabbed and handless stump toward the window.
“Peo-ple?” scoffed Deepen, dropping James’ thigh onto his desk and turning to face his behanded colleague.
“Yeh,” said Cleveland, gravely. “Out.”
“Out?” replied Deepen even more skeptically, the brow above his one eye raised. “Out sigh?”
“Yeh! Peo-ple out fakking sigh!”
Cleveland was practically hopping in place, his torn, bloodied clothing fluttering as he bounced, his stump quivering with urgency and once again aimed at the window.
Deepen looked at Satish. Satish shrugged. Cleveland’s exposed kneecap began to slide down his shin.
Deepen shook his head and trudged out of James’ cubicle.
“Urk,” said Cleveland, tapping his stump against the smudged and spattered glass. “Peo-ple.”
Satish and Deepen stepped up to the window and looked down from their fourth floor perch, following Cleveland’s rapidly decaying appendage to the source of his discontent.
A man. A living, breathing, man. Knee deep in snow, bathed in blue moonlight, and carrying a baseball bat.
Satish and Deepen exchanged glances.
“Fakking peo-ple!” exclaimed Cleveland. “Out!”
“Cahm,” said Deepen. “Cahm. One peo-ple. Nuh portant.”
“Bat!” said Cleveland.
“One peo-ple,” repeated Deepen, raising a single skeletal finger in front of his face. “Us three. Us more.” He gestured to the far sides of the office, across piles of overturned desks and collapsed cubicles, over the bile stains and half-eaten organs and bare, broken bones, to the twitching cadavers eating old friends and the shambling corpses gathering at the windows.
“Us more,” echoed Cleveland, his torn, clotted mouth forcing its way into a smile.
Deepen turned toward the window once again, his good eye focusing on the young man outside, his hunger growing.
“One peo-ple more peo-ple!” shouted Satish suddenly. “More!”
Deepen turned and slapped him across the face. Satish lost his jaw in the process.
“Cahm. Fak. Dow,” said Deepen, grabbing Satish by his exposed collarbones. “Juh. One. One peo-ple.”
“Unff peeeperle morrr peeeeperle,” repeated Satish weakly, rapidly expanding and collapsing his chest cavity, the muscle memory of a panic attack. “Allwahaysth morrr.”
“Nuh one,” said Cleveland quietly, disbelievingly, staring out the window.
Deepen turned toward him.
“Nuh one,” repeated Cleveland. “More. More!”
From the window the trio of reanimated corpses could see five more living, breathing, weapon-carrying people meandering along the street below.
“El, fak,” said Deepen.
The ding of the hallway elevator echoed into the silent office.
“Uh?” remarked Cleveland.
“Nurring,” replied Deepen weakly, “juh –”
The lights came on, bathing the entire office in an awful fluorescence. The three deceased coworkers huddled together, looking around the bloodstained, entrail-strewn office. Their undead colleagues did the same, slowly shuffling toward them.
Then they heard it.
“Shih,” sputtered Cleveland, stepping back and pressing himself against the nearest desk. Satish put himself behind Deepen, clutching at his shoulders.
“Is there anybody in here?”
Satish’s remaining fingers tightened around Deepen’s shoulders. One of Deepen’s arms came off in the process.
“Vraapth,” said Satish. “Vraapth vraapth vraaapthing vraapth.”
“Shih!” shouted Cleveland, pounding a fist and a stump against the window. “Shih!”
He pressed his forehead against the glass. There were dozens of men and women now, all unmutilated and breathing oxygen and carrying axes and frying pans and shotguns.
“Nuh,” he muttered, an eye sliding forward slightly. “Nuuuuh…”
The voice was getting closer.
“I can hear you. I know you’re in here.”
Satish shrank back, leaning against the window.
“You fucking monsters.”
The elevator dinged again.
“Fak,” said Cleveland, turning toward the sound. The rest of the reanimated office workers, gathered near now, did the same.
“Uh uth doooo?” asked Satish. “Uh?!”
Deepen simply smiled, his lips cracking and his bloodied teeth bared.
“Us eat peo-ple brains,” snarled Deepen, narrowing his one working eye.
He stepped forward, grabbing a letter opener from the nearest desk with his good arm.
“Brains,” repeated Cleveland, stepping beside Deepen, their coworkers lumbering behind them.
EIRIK GUMENY was a boxing kangaroo who died, tragically and violently, in the ring in 1923, fighting Teddy Roosevelt and a time-traveling Muhammad Ali. Find out more at egumeny.blogspot.com.