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Title: You Don't Have to be Crazy Dead to Work Here (But It Helps).
Part: 3/22
Author: Jashyr
Genre: Horror/Black Comedy
Word Count: 50,000
Disclaimer: These characters are mine. They live in my head and make me do crazy things like entering NaNoWriMo...
Rating: PG-13? Probably.
Warnings: Some gore. Written for NaNoWriMo last year and while it has been re-edited the punctuation police are still looking at it suspiciously.

Chapter Three

Death of an Accountant

There should be a standard for funerals. They should be dreary, possibly raining but certainly overcast with a solemn air of mourning. In contrast the day Gordon McKay was buried was bright and sunny with the field next to the cemetery filled with truanting school kids and sunbathing students, none of whom paid much attention to the large crowd gathered around the newly filled grave. Quite a few of the mourners were paying attention to them, however. Near to the droning priest a small number of distraught family members attempted to comfort a large tubby woman who was weeping inconsolably but further away there were quite a considerable number of the deceased’s work colleagues, most of whom appeared to be treating the funeral as an opportunity for a paid afternoon off work. At the back of the multitude the IT department were eyeing the sunbathers enviously while still attempting to look solemn when any member of the management team happened to glance their way.

"Lucky bastards," muttered a tall, gangly man in a badly fitting black suit, ogling several of the female students relaxing in the field. “I wish I was back at uni. No matter how much work you had on there was always time for dossing around back then.”

A shorter, far smarter looking South Asian man standing just in front of him snorted at the comment. “Yeah Liam, we all know how well you did at uni. How many years did you pretend to be deathly ill so you could doss about for another few months? And what level of degree was it you got again, oh yeah - bugger all. In Media Studies.”

“Hey! It was a tough course Raj,” protested Liam to the sniggering of his colleagues who suddenly shut up when the IT director sent them a glare from the graveside.

“Uh, huh. I’m sure it was, “ replied Raj in a quiet, sarcastic whisper.

Acutely discomforted by his colleagues’ disparaging looks Liam looked longingly at another group of mourners, wreathed in smoke, that had stopped on the footpath down the hill from the service. “Right, I’m off to grab a ciggie. Cover for me.” He ducked down behind the his workmates and started to stealthily make a beeline down towards the breakaway smokers.

The group watched as the service ended and the weeping of the tubby woman grew louder and more embarrassing. An awkward looking teenager inched away from the large group and headed over to the IT staff. “Watch yourselves, Internal Audit are on the prowl, “ muttered a short redhead quietly. She then straightened up as the teenager shyly greeted them.

“Hi Raj, Shona, Kim.”

“Hey Pete,” replied the Shona with a soft very faint Irish accent. “Any of you guys know why Gordon’s ex is acting like it’s the end of the world? Wasn’t she the one who left him for that toyboy piece of totty of hers in the first place and practically drove him to work himself to death?”

Pete shot a glance at the distraught woman at the graveside and lowered his voice. “Yep, he only got round to rewriting his will last month. Left her absolutely nothing, it all went to the NSPCC. Now if she complains she’ll look like a complete bitch and since she’s always got her boyfriend tagging along like a puppy it’s not as if a judge is going to be sympathetic. Sometimes there does appear to be some justice in the universe.”

The priest made his way past IT towards the footpath and the rest of the mourners started to drift towards the car park at a leisurely pace, not wanting the afternoon’s break to end. With a worried look towards the car park Shona realized that Liam was lounging against her car while his own was nowhere to be seen. “Raj, did Liam get a lift up here?”

“Yep, Nathan gave him a lift.”

“Nathan’s shift has finished now hasn’t it?”

“Yeah, why? Oh.” Raj noticed Liam mooching by the car. “Crap. Sorry, if that lazy bastard is going to try and stink out your car with cig smoke I’m going to find another ride.”

Looking around desperately Shona waved over the fortysomething Asian woman who had been standing next to her at the funeral. “Kim! Do you still need a lift.”

Kim looked down towards the car park and grimaced. “Only if you get rid of Liam,” she stated bluntly.

“Um? Shona?” Pete nervously stepped into her line of sight. “Could I possibly trouble you for a lift back. I’m aware that unfortunately your little car can only seat four but seeing as there are only yourself, Raj and Kim, I’m sure you could fit me in…” Pete trailed off at Shona’s look of gratitude which was suddenly replaced by a air of professionalism as Liam wandered over in a haze of cigarette smoke and nicotine stench.

“Shona! Mate! Room for a little’un?”

Gathering every tiny bit of willpower she could muster, Shona managed a sincerely apologetic look. “Sorry Liam, I can’t get five people into my mini without someone sitting on the roof rack. You’ll have to try someone else.” Raj, Kim and Pete all smiled at him blandly and slipped past him into the car, Raj taking the passenger seat while Kim and Pete squeezed into the back.

“But everyone’s already leaving”, wailed Liam pitifully. “I’m sure you can fit me in. Top Gear said those things were bigger than they looked on the inside.”

“Nope, you’re thinking of the Tardis” piped up Pete from the back seat causing Kim to burst into giggles. “While it’s the right shade of blue I think if it could traverse the space time continuum Shona wouldn’t be working in our dump.”

“But how am I going to get back to work?” Liam exclaimed frantically, looking around to see if any of the other cars had room but no-one would meet his gaze.

“Bus?” Suggested Kim.

“Walking?” Asked Pete.

“You could try getting rid of some of that beer belly of yours by jogging back?” Stated Raj.

“I can’t walk all the way back!”  Liam shouted as the car pulled out of the car park. “I’ve got a condition!”

“Yeah,” agreed Raj. “It’s called bone idleness.”

*****

Out of sight of the cemetery gates Shona finally breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed. Sparing Pete a glance from the rear view mirror she flashed a quick smile at him before concentrating on the school run traffic that had surrounded them. “Thanks. I owe you the life of my upholstery.”

Pete flushed a little in embarrassment and ducked his head. “It was nothing; I wouldn’t have wanted to share a ride back with him anyway. I’m surprised he didn’t bring his own car – its all he talked about when we went to audit his part of the user support helpdesk. It’s a Merc isn’t it?”

Shona just shook her head but Raj turned around to grin at him from the passenger seat. “It’s a really badly treated Merc. He said that he’d be ‘too upset’ to drive to the funeral but the tight git knows it’d cost him a fortune in petrol just to get to the cemetery and back. Plus he’d have to give other people a lift which means clearing out his porn stack from the footwell.” Raj sighed in mock exasperation; “it’s the only place he can hide it from mummy and daddy.”

“He still lives with his parents?” asked Pete in horror.

“Yep, lazy bastard. It’s the only reason he has money to throw around. So I guess you’ve moved out of your folks’ home.”

“’Bout six years ago. Why do you ask?”

“Six? How old were you? Eleven?”

“Nineteen. I moved out when I started university.”

Kim looked him up and down and with a puzzled look asked, “Are you really 25?”

“Yep,” said Pete proudly. “Just moved into the cheap car insurance bracket.”

“Wow. I bet you still get carded at bars though.”

Pete mumbled something incomprehensible that appeared to be a treatise against over zealous club bouncers and attempted to change the subject. “So how do you know that there isn’t something wrong with Liam’s health. He could be telling the truth.”

“And I could be the queen of Sheba,” retorted Kim.

“Guys, making the driver laugh uncontrollably can be bad for the health of the entire car, “ warned Shona.

“Actually,” interrupted Raj, “he had a physical when the rest of IT were trying out for the football team.” At Pete’s puzzled look he continued. “Piers had some weird and wacky theory that if the different departments each had a five a side football team then it would help with group loyalty.” Pete nodded in understanding. The strange and surreal team building exercises dreamt up by Piers Sullivan, the IT director, were legendary – and usually doomed to failure. “Of course IT were the only department who could put a team together. Sales don’t have enough people, we’ve only got two internal auditors – yourself and Hella, the directors don’t want to get their suits dirty and very few people in Finance are the right side of getting a telegram from the Queen. Even the IT team broke down in the end. The girls didn’t want to play…”

“That’s sweet”, interrupted Shona, “but if you call me a girl again Mr ‘I haven’t reached thirty just yet’ I’ll make you get out and walk.”

“The wusses,” continued Raj, “didn’t want to play but none of the lads wanted to show themselves up so we had a quick kickaround which led to Liam claiming breathing trouble and extreme exhaustion. Piers didn’t want the company to be liable for any health claims so he had a doctor check him over. It turns out there was nothing to be liable for because the idiot was just massively unfit. It’s all for the best really. I wasn’t relishing the thought of meeting another department on a football pitch. I prefer to go running in the relative privacy of my gym. At least there I won't have to worry about disgruntled users trying nasty sliding tackles just so I'll be off work with a broken knee."

“And he calls us wusses,” muttered Kim darkly.

The car turned into a neat, modern industrial estate and parked up in a small, overcrowded staff car park labeled ‘Holt Facilities Management Staff Only’. Most of the funeral attendees were milling around at the front entrance to the three story office unit served by the car park while several of the management staff were having a whispered meeting in the door alcove.

“Looks like something’s going on,” announced Kim. “We’d better go see what’s happening.”

“Mr Holt’s probably going to make some vomit inducing speech about how great Gordon was while conveniently forgetting that it was the stress that the company piled up on him that triggered the heart attack in the first place,” snarked Raj.

Suddenly sobered, the four of them vacated the car and walked towards the milling crowd just as James Holt clambered onto the top of the flowerbed wall to address the throng. “Valued colleagues!” he shouted to get everyone’s attention. “In this most distressing of days, my esteemed fellow board members and I have decided to shut the business for the rest of the afternoon in remembrance of Gordon and his work in building up the company to what it is today.” He paused for a few moments for the cheering to die down. “Right then, the management team are going to sort everything out for the rest of the day but I’ll see the lot of you bright and early tomorrow morning! Don’t forget to raise a toast or Bacardi Breezer or whatever in honour of Gordon tonight!”  The cheering increased again and the board members hurried into the offices while the rest of the workforce started sauntering back to their respective cars.

“That was weird,” stated Kim. “I’ve worked for Holt for nearly fifteen years and I’ve never known him to give anyone a free day off. Ever. It’s against his religion or something.”

“Yeah, and did you notice the guy in the lab coat lurking in reception?” pointed out Shona.

“Maybe the company is under investigation for working its employees to death,” mused Pete, ignoring the incredulous looks from his co-workers.

“And maybe I’ve slipped into a parallel universe where employers actually care about their workers rather than their profits,” pointed out Raj darkly.

“I suppose it is a bit unbelievable,” admitted Pete sheepishly.

“Never mind,” said Kim brightly. “We’ve got an afternoon off! So Pub?” asked Kim.

“Pub.”

“Pub!”

“Liam’s going to be more than slightly annoyed when he gets all the way here and discovers that he shouldn’t have bothered.”

“Yep, an afternoon off, celebratory drinks and taking the piss out of Liam. It’s been a fairly good afternoon all round really.”

 

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Jashyr

September 2010

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