Jake jumped from his desk at the noise, looking around his area to see if he could find the source. It sounded like someone had thrown open the door to his work area, but it was four in the morning and there shouldn’t be anyone around except for him and his cubicle-mate Kenny. Jake peeked around the corner of his cubicle wall to see if Kenny heard it, but Kenny wasn’t at his desk.
“Hey, Kenny, you around?” he called. No answer. Well crap, he thought, I guess I better see what that was. Jake headed for the main door to his work area when suddenly the lights went out. “What the hell?” he said out loud, startled. Great, the lights go out and I’m already jumpy enough to talk out loud to myself. Fortunately, he knew his area (the whole building, really…overnights can get pretty dull) like the back of his hand, so he had no trouble finding the door. Just then the emergency lights kicked in, and as Jake opened the door Kenny’s lifeless body fell toward him. “WHAT THE HELL???” he screamed, not caring that he was once again talking out loud to himself. He looked desperately around the room, trying to find any evidence of another person in the area but saw nothing. At this point, talking out loud to an empty room was the least of his worries. “Ok…ok. Get it together, Jake.” He went back to his desk to call the police when his extension began ringing.
“Hello, who is this,” he tentatively asked. A female voice on the other end of the line asked softly “what are you wearing, Jake?” “Uhh…kha…hey, wait a minute,” he exclaimed, “aren’t you the lady I talked to earlier?” A throaty laugh came through the receiver as she answered in a menacing tone, “Yes, I am, and I’m very displeased that you were talking with my husband at three in the morning, Jake. Very displeased.” Jake was nervous now. He’d never dealt with anything like this before. Late-night sales did not usually take such a murderous turn. “What do you want?” he inquired, trying to keep his voice from cracking. Just hold it together, Jake, he told himself (in his own head this time, fortunately). “Isn’t it obvious, Jake? I want YOU.” She laughed again and this time there was no discounting the threat in her amusement. “I’m going to make sure you never talk to anyone’s husband at three in the morning EVER AGAIN!”
*CLICK* Jake slammed down the phone and attempted to dial the police. Are you KIDDING me, he screamed at himself, now the PHONES are out??? Jake made the executive decision at that point to end his shift early and leave the building. He went back to the door and gingerly stepped over Kenny’s lifeless body. As he took one last look, he noticed the hilt of a knife sticking out of Kenny’s back. For a moment he considered taking the knife, then concluded it would only cause him more problems. I’m in here by myself, he reasoned. If I get my fingerprints on that knife, the police will think I killed Kenny. Foregoing the weapon, Jake made his way to the elevator and pressed the “down” button. Nothing. He punched the button repeatedly with no luck. Just then the intercom clicked on and the same voice he heard on the phone floated through the air, “What’s the matter, Jake? Having a hard time getting out of the building?” “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT, LADY???” he screamed at the ceiling. “Isn’t it obvious, Jake? I’m going to make you wish you Never. Took. That. Call.”
Oh my god, this lady is completely unhinged. Jake knew at that moment he HAD to get out of there. He streaked for the stairs and had just made it to the door when he heard someone scream “JAAAKE!!! HELP ME!!!” That was Kenny! Jake spun around and headed back to where Kenny lay, only to find that his body was gone and a trail of blood led down the hallway to the other emergency door. No way…no way he was still alive, Jake thought, but with his heart hammering in his chest he followed the trail to the stairs. There was a bloody hand print on the door, and when he opened it the trail suddenly stopped. Ok, this is just turning into a bad horror flick at this point. He made his way down the stairs to the next floor, where he saw the door was still partially open. It’s a TRAP! Admiral Ackbar’s voice screamed in his head. Yeah, heard it before, he thought, but I gotta find Kenny. Jake pulled the door open, and nearly soiled his khakis as a bullet whizzed by his head and struck the wall. He ducked away, then darted across the hall to the break room, as someone with really bad aim fired shot after shot down the corridor. He burst into the break room, skidded to a halt and went back to the doorway, peeking around the door jamb to see if anyone was coming. Suddenly, he felt a hand grip his shoulder, and as he was about to turn around and see who it was, he felt a sharp, stabbing pain just under his left shoulder blade. He immediately felt short of breath and as he slumped to the floor a pair of khaki-clad legs came into view. “What the hell???” he said again. Man, I have really been saying that a lot tonight. “Kenny???”
“Oh, Jake…you really are something. You didn’t even think to check for a pulse before you left my laying in the doorway, did you?”
“Kenny, what the hell (seriously, I need a better catchphrase) is going on?” Jake asked, face contorted with pain and confusion.
“Pretty simple, really. Like a lot of villainous personalities, I feel threatened by you and your success. No one should have the sales numbers you do, Jake. Not at three in the morning. Besides, you sound hideous. Anyway, we don’t reeeeally need two people on the overnight shift, and there was no way you were going to quit, so…” Kenny made a slashing gesture across his throat. “You don’t have a lot of time left, Jake. I didn’t want you to die quickly, so I didn’t stab you through the heart. But your lung is going to fill up with blood pretty quickly, and even though you should get enough air with the other one, well, internal bleeding is a hell of a way to go.”
“Who’s your friend? You know…the one shooting at me?” Jake gasped out. “Oh, her? That’s Cathy. No, it’s not the lady you spoke to on the phone earlier, she lives in New Jersey. Cathy’s just a friend who shares my love of mayhem and pumpkin-spiced lattes.”
“No wonder you’re so demented, if you actually like those things.”
“Now Jake, is that really how you want to spend your final moments? Surely there are other things you want to say.”
Jake looked up at Kenny. “No, I think you’ve done enough talking for both of us.” He then pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Right before I went downstairs I actually got a signal for once. Piece of advice: never go with Sprint. Anyway, I called the police before I came down here and the dispatcher has been on the line the whole time.” Jake then asked the dispatcher, “Did you manage to get all of that?” “Yes I did, sir,” came the voice through the speaker phone. “The ambulance is waiting for you and police are already headed up to your floor.”
Just then the break room door opened with a loud BANG and several heavily-armed officers screamed at Kenny to get on the floor. Jake was a little disappointed that Kenny didn’t put up a fight. You didn’t let them kill you, Kenny he thought, you bastard. Behind them, EMT’s entered and after a cursory examination laid him on the gurney to wheel him out.
As Jake lay as comfortably as one can with a knife sticking out of one’s back, he had a thought: I wonder what happened to the other one? Cathy?
One of the EMT’s leaned in close. “Sir? Can you hear me? Is the pain medication kicking in yet?” Jake, feeling the effects of the blissfully powerful painkiller, nodded. “Ok great.” She leaned in closer. “Don’t worry, sir. We’ll get you to the hospital and get you all patched up good as new.” Jake nodded again, and just before drifting out of consciousness, his brain registered on thought: Her breath smells a lot like a pumpkin-spiced latte….