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Title: You Don't Have to be Crazy Dead to Work Here (But It Helps).
Part: 4/22
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 Four

A Change of Business Plan

Being taken over by a company run by necromancy practicing warlocks wasn’t as bad James Holt had originally thought it would have been. Originally there had been the slight problem of him not believing in the supernatural but that had changed after two burly Reapmore thugs had abducted him, chucked him into a large pentagram engraved in the perfectly polished wooden floor of Grace Charles’ office then introduced him to one of Reapmore’s inhuman Shareholders. He didn’t remember much about that night other than the sheer mind-numbing terror that no mortal could ever truly comprehend but he was no longer sceptical about the things out there in the dark recesses of the world. For a few hours after he’d been deposited back home he’d thought of leaving it all and retiring to a monastery in Tibet to atone for all his sins in this life but James was nothing if not a survivor and by the mid afternoon of the next day he’d gathered enough courage to go back to the Reapmore facilities and demand to know more. If Ms Charles had been expecting him to roll over and sell out his company she would have been surprised, instead she gave him to Reapmore’s head of HR for a basic introduction to the business and the use of magic therein. For James and his need for power it was like letting a child loose in a sweetshop. Even his first real Reapmore board meeting had presented him with a perfect opportunity to use arcane influences to gain an advantage over his company’s competitors. He’d collared Reapmore’s Chief Resurrectionist after the meeting and had a perfectly civilised discussion about the use of the undead in contracting workforces. A small part of him still didn’t quite believe that he’d come out of all this with his sanity intact but at the very least he’d make sure it profited the business.

Staying stoic for the entirety of Gordon McKay’s funeral had required a huge feat of willpower on his part but he’d spotted Dr Perez lurking in the Holt Facilities reception area as he drove his Porsche into the car park after the service and allowed himself to relax. Soon he could put his plan of a low-cost undead workforce into service and he knew that then everyone would acknowledge his genius.

Parking up and striding towards the office building he stopped within the alcove that sheltered the main doors and turned, barring the entrance and waiting for the management team to emerge from their vehicles, a few lowly employees confusedly stopping in their tracks as they halted their walk towards the doors. He beckoned the six members of the management team over and drew them into a huddle. “Right team, we still haven’t properly discussed how we’re going to get by without Gordon’s firm hold of the purse strings but I think we’re all in a solemn enough mood to have that discussion this afternoon. I don’t really think it’s the kind of atmosphere for a normal day’s work so I reckon we give the workforce the rest of the day off. Anyone disagree with that?”

There were surprised murmurs of agreement so James jumped on top of the small wall for the decorative flowerbed outside the office and looked out over the aimless throng of wastrels he regarded as his reluctant employees. "Valued colleagues!" He raised his voice and wondered if he was putting on the pretense of respecting them a little too thick. "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." The useless, unmotivated rabble actually cheered at that. He put aside his personal feelings about the unreliability of his workforce and made a mental note to thank the Dark Powers That Be that the losers were so gullible. "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!" There was more cheering at that – he assumed that mentioning alcohol obviously made him more approachable to the scum. Wanting to escape from them as soon as possible he waived the management team through the main door and, producing a key from his trouser pocket, locked the door from the inside.

Moving over to Dr Perez he shook his hand warmly and turned to the others. “Everyone, this is Dr Ricardo Perez, he’s from Reapmore – our new partner company – and he’s here to solve our labour problem. Ricardo let me introduce you to everyone.”

He moved over to the bubbly brunette in her early fifties and Dr Perez took her proffered handshake. “Ricardo, this is April Lawrence, my chief financial officer. Gordon was her right hand man before his unfortunate demise.” April fixed an unnaturally cheerful smile on her face as she greeted the doctor and James knew she’d do just fine when she was exposed to the truth. After all April had come through an acrimonious divorce with record work figures and a determination to succeed at any cost. James admired that, possibly a bit too much according to his subconscious but he’d never paid much attention to those annoyingly conscientious voices in the back of head.

Slinging an arm around the shoulders of a younger, leaner, hawk-faced man, James pulled Dr Perez away from April. “This is Antoine Geraud, my sales director. He’s French, but we’ll forgive him for that!” James laughed and Antoine just looked haughtily down at him. James was fairly sure that Antoine would regard magic in the same disdainful way he treated everything else and just accept it as a normal part of business.

Extricating himself from the hold Antoine nodded perfunctually at Dr Perez and asked, “¿Encantado, de donde eras?”

“Barcelona ¿Y usted?”

“La Rochelle…” Antoine started but was interrupted by James taking hold of Dr Perez’ arm and practically dragging him away. Not understanding any of the conversation and slightly worried that he was losing control of the situation, James pulled him away from the normally taciturn Frenchman towards the other board members and practically pushed him towards a timid, mousy woman who was trying to hide at the back of the group.

“And this is Barbara Tait, my incredibly talented legal secretary. She ensures that everything around here is above board. I’m sure you’ll want to discuss the ramifications of what you’re about to show us with her later.” Dr Perez stepped in, took her had and gallantly kissed it as an embarrassed but flattered Barbara blushed shyly. James was confident that she would go along with the plan without any awkward questions, confidence was not one of her strong points and if she did have any reservations she would easily cave in to pressure just to avoid an argument.

Leaving Barbara blushing uncontrollably while trying to hide her embarrassment James introduced Dr Perez to a quiet, well-dressed, bearded Indian. “Ricardo, this is Mahmood Khan, our HR director. I’m sure he’ll be most interested in the new development as well.” Dr Perez politely shook hand with Mahmood who greeted him with a polite smile which didn’t quite meet his eyes. James didn’t pay much attention to that. He was sure that Mahmood would be the most enthusiastic supporter of the undead employment program when it was explained to him; after all, he spent all day sorting out the human resource problems of the living - having an undead workforce would mean no more problems with pensions or rearranging schedules to take into account sick days or holidays.

Musing happily about the savings that the new program would make within the Personnel department James pushed Dr Perez towards the tall, dark skinned man who had been surreptitiously reading text messages on his phone while the rest of the introductions had been taking place. James glared at him while he sheepishly put away his mobile then turned back to Dr Perez. “This is Piers Sullivan, our IT director. He’ll be responsible for any technical requisitions you might need to make. Any specialist electrical equipment and such forth,” said James with a somewhat frostier tone. Piers nodded and greeted Dr Perez with an embarrassed grin. Up until this point James had been planning to have Piers as the main liaison with Reapmore’s technicians but he was suddenly having misgivings. He decided to make a decision on that later once the board had seen the demonstration. Surely that would focus his staff’s attentions on the matter at hand.

Manoeuvring Dr Perez away from Piers, James brought him over to be greeted by the only one of his board that could possibly considered a threat to the project. “And last but by no means least this is my Internal Audit director, Ged McPherson. He makes sure that everyone is talking to everyone else and that nothing goes wrong with the finances. I’m sure that it’ll be a relief to everyone at Reapmore to know our regulation compliance is in such safe hands.” James smiled nervously at the heavy set, ginger Scotsman who greeted Dr Perez with a slightly puzzled expression.

“Right, I’m sure you all want to see our new innovation as soon as possible. Dr Perez has installed it in a holding area in the unused part of the top floor and I’m sure we can all squeeze into the lift,” he winked at Barbara who was still trying to avoid everyone elses’ gazes.

Nobody made the first move and Ged came up to James clasping him on the shoulder with one meaty hand. ”James, are y’ sure you really wan’ to be do somethin’ this important today? Everyone’s still a bit upset about the mess wi’ Gordon and do y’ want us to be makin’ big decisions on the future of t’ company while were not thinkin’ straight?” The rest of the board members were nodding and James was discouraged to see that Dr Perez had slunk back into the shadows leaving him to face this battle by himself. “Now Gordon’s death has hit us all deeply, you know,” continued Ged. “We’re not goin’ to think any less of anyone here just ‘cos they need a bit o’ time to compose themselves.”

James shrugged off the hand on his shoulder and looked earnestly at his staff before focusing on the big Scot in front of him. “No, no, this is by far the best time to bring the new developments into the company. They’ll stop all of this from happening you see.” James completely missed the worried looks that were passed between the board members standing back from the exchange. “Everything will be so much better! Come on, everyone. We need to do this now or not at all.” He turned around and strode towards the lift purposefully.

Following along dutifully the rest of the team shared glances at each other worried that their CEO was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The lift doors opened and James motioned everyone in with Dr Perez bringing up the rear, the journey to the top floor was silent except for Holt quietly but cheerfully humming a tune under his breath. As the lift slowed to a halt and the doors opened all the occupants were struck by a nauseating odour, as if someone had switched off the fully stocked staff refrigerator a month ago and had suddenly opened the door to spread the stench as fast as possible.

“Oh merde alors!” Exclaimed Antoine, gagging.

“It’s not that bad!” said James, cheerfully. “You soon get used to it. Anyway Ricardo’s brought some Vicks along for anyone who wants to block out the smell.” He bounded along the main corridor to the bolted double doors leading to a vacant part of the office building that had never been furnished due a small problem with the roof leaking slightly during bad storms. The others crowded the doctor to appropriate some of the Vicks. “Come on you lot!” shouted James encouragingly as he started to undo the bolts on the double doors.

As the group made their way down the corridor James threw open the double doors dramatically. Inside it was dark, with black painted walls and the windows boarded up so the only illumination was the light from the corridor. All anyone could see was a mesh fence stretching across the entire open plan room about a quarter of the way in, wires trailing from it leading into the darkness on one side of the room while the quiet humming of electricity could be heard.

Barbara shrieked and jumped, hiding behind Piers. “Something, something was moving in there!”

The others peered into the darkness trying to see beyond the mesh as James chuckled and moved over to flick on the light switch. As the space illuminated April stepped back in horror, Piers was frozen to the spot with Barbara hiding behind him, Mahmood gaped at the scene speechlessly and Ged looked on in shock while Antoine stumbled to the door and was violently sick in the corridor.

“My God…” whispered April.
The neatly besuited corpse of Gordon McKay sat stiffly at a desk behind the electrified fence.


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September 2010

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