I want to kill him.
What part of "we can't do the run without a contract" doesn't the guy understand? Evidently all of it, because he's out there in the plant messing around anyway.
I make it a point not to swear, but several very choice phrases that my mind must have picked up over the years find their way to my lips. I spit them out, wondering only briefly how such dirty words feel so good coming from my mouth.
I've done what I can to minimize the effects of bozo's actions. Several megs of e-mail and a ream of paper's worth of CYA have miraculously departed my desk in the past ten minutes, so I am relatively certain that when the sparks start flying I'll be sufficiently fireproof. But that doesn't keep me from feeling like I've been hit by a Mack truck.
I raise my hands over my head and stretch in an attempt to loosen my cramped shoulders. I shouldn't bother. Stress has the very uncomfortable habit of causing the muscles in my neck and back to knot up in ways that Boy Scouts would be proud of, and experience has proven that nothing short of five o'clock will help.
I glance at my watch. The digital numbers blink as the time changes from 2:59 to 3:00, and a cheery "beep, beep" sounds in obvious mockery of my situation.
"Will this day never end?"
My mournful cry goes unanswered. That's probably for the best. I have enough problems to deal with without my co-workers thinking I'm crazy.
But you are crazy.
My hand freezes on the way to my water bottle. I look around, but I'm alone. The stress has me hearing things that aren't there. I shake my head and grab the bottle. I twist the cap off more forcefully than is necessary and chug half the contents.
But I AM here.
Water sprays out of my mouth. It plasters the front of my computer screen and trickles down between the keys of my keyboard. I leap from my chair and grab a stack of Kleenex from the box on my desk. I attempt to wipe the water from the computer. It isn't until I notice the streaks on the monitor that I realize the tissues are the kind with lotion.
I hear you. What do you want?
I spin around quickly, but the practical joker is nowhere to be found. A quick glance over the walls of my cubicle reveal that all of my nearby coworkers have escaped to the break room. I think to check my phone, but it sits soundly in its cradle.
I'm a bit offended, friend. You ask for me, then you act surprised that I answer.
The sound seems to come from within my mind. No, that can't be right. The stress has gotten to me more than I thought it had. I back from my cubicle and half walk, half run to the restroom. My face is flushed. I turn the faucet on full blast and splash the cold water over my cheeks. It seems to help.
I look at my reflection in the mirror. My eyes are wide and bloodshot. I look like the quintessential drunk. I laugh a bit at the thought. I have never in my life touched a drop of alcohol.
Maybe you should start drinking. It's been known to help in situations like these.
I catch the barest hint of movement from the corner of my eye, but when I look that direction, I see nothing.
My heart begins to race in my chest. What's going on?
The shrinks say if you hear voices, you're insane. That's only true if you're hearing things that aren't really there.
My body tenses and I spin around, eyes darting about the small room. I slam open the doors to the toilets, but the stalls are empty. My chest is heaving. It's hard to breathe.
"This isn't funny, all right? Show yourself, you sick bastard!"
Haven't you guessed by now? I'm in the one place you haven't looked.
I turn back to the mirror.
My hands are trembling as I grasp the sink and lean closer to the mirror. My reflection distorts as a face seems to emerge from my own - a face with a twisted, demented visage and glowing red eyes.
You can't see me because I'm INSIDE you.
My stomach sinks, even as my limbs become rigid. The face begins to laugh. Something snaps within me and I'm moving again, fleeing the restroom.
Running won't help, friend. Once you've invoked Hell, there's no going back.
Oh, God. This isn't happening to me. This CAN'T be happening to me.
But it is happening to you, friend. Your little four-letter word prayer opened the door.
No! I'm a good person! I've always followed the rules. I obey the commandments. I tell the truth. I go to church....
Church! The word brings me a measure of sanity. I feel for the cross my mother gave me on the day I went away to college. It's there under my shirt. The physical reality of it lends me hope. If I can just get to a church....
The Church only helps the innocent possessed - those who suffer through no action of their own. You invited me in. You are left to your own fate. Now that Hell is in you - NOTHING CAN GET ME OUT!
Panic sets in. Fear motivates my every action. I can only think to flee.
I round the corner and enter the atrium area at a full run. The large picture window, newly commissioned and still under construction, beckons. There is a way to get rid of the devil within me. Only one way.
There is a loud CRASH as glass shatters and I am falling...falling...falling....
The Demon named Vulgarity turns to his companions as they look down from the new exit to the building's twentieth floor.
"I think you pushed him a bit hard."
"How so?" asks Stress. "I haven't been any harder on him than any of the other swine who work here. All I do is set the stage. After that it's up to you guys. Fear's the one who pushed too hard."
"Like Heaven I did! You know this guy. He was heading straight to the nearest church. Within ten minutes he would have been confessing his sweet little heart out. We would have had to start all over."
"But you killed him! Where's the benefit in that?"
Fear grins. "He committed suicide, didn't he?"
The other two Demons smile in sudden understanding.
"Come along," Fear says as he fades into the Ether. "Let's go home and welcome our newest house guest."