jashyr: skull (horror)
[personal profile] jashyr
Title: You Don't Have to be Crazy Dead to Work Here (But It Helps).
Part: 8/22
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 Eight

There But For The Grace Of God Go I

The processing of his dead employees was far smoother than James Holt had ever imagined. Years of providing quality mortuary drawers had given Reapmore an impressive portfolio of bribable staff working in both funeral homes and coroner’s offices. Along with the company paying arranging and for the funerals of all the deceased staff (“it was the least we could do,” explained James earnestly to the friends and family of his former employees) within a day of the crash all the dead had been surreptitiously injected with the preliminary zombification agent and within four days the funerals for all of them had been held, sans bodies thanks to conveniently weighted tailors’ dummies within the coffins. Thus it was that at exactly midnight on a Saturday night, Holt Facilities Management took a delivery of eleven bodies, thoughtfully labeled ‘dead but getting better’ by the Reapmore logistics deliverymen. James ripped the label off the crates and glared at the deliverymen for their lack of decorum but didn’t dare antagonize them for fear of sorcerous reprisals. Having delivered the cryogenically frozen corpses into a large, secured area now partitioned off from Gordon’s cage, the deliverymen climbed back into their truck and disappeared from view along the road to the moors, leaving a quietly slumbering Holt security guard in reception to awake from his magical sleep several hours later.

 Once the only people left in the building were the unfortunate guard, April and himself, James set about manhandling several of the stiff, frozen bodies of the deceased onto the four medical tables arranged at the center of the room. April hung back, outside the symbol emblazoned circle that surrounded the tables and the strange, brass and copper antique equipment that they connected to.

With a slightly worried look on her face April asked, “shouldn’t we be waiting for Dr Perez before starting any of the process? I know he left the instructions for the experiment for us to check over but he’s far more experienced in this kind of thing than we are. What if it goes wrong? We are meddling with supernatural forces here.”

“Don’t be such a scaredy cat,” retorted James, panting under the weight of a rather large woman he vaguely remembered seeing stuffing her face with trifle at the last Christmas party. Claire? Clara? Clarise? Something like that. He heaved the body onto the table with a last great effort then slid down the side of the equipment out of breath and sweating, unused to the physical exertion. “Ricardo wouldn’t have left us the instructions if he wasn’t one hundred percent confident that we could do this ourselves. I watched him reanimate Gordon and it didn’t seem particularly complicated. You just turn a few dials, intone the correct invocation and up they get. It’s just like following a recipe.”

“Are you any good at cooking?” asked April, not feeling particularly reassured.

James looked a little uncomfortable, “um, not really. Always thought it was a bit girly myself and left it to the wife, still Jessie can’t complain – all she had to do is cook a bit and look good at corporate events, now she gets all the cash she could ever want to spend on the crap she filled the old house with and I just stop at a restaurant on the way home. It’s better that way, though. That woman would just be a distraction at the moment. She never understood how much the business means to me, not like you do.”

Reddening a bit April decided to change the topic to the work in hand. It seemed a bit safer than delving into emotional problems at the moment. “So if you’re confident it’ll work I’ll grab us both a coffee and we can get started.”

James grinned, “I’ve got a bottle of Bolly in the fridge for the celebration later. You may as well bring that up too.”

Three hours later the bodies had yet to rouse from their inert repose. All four bodies arranged within the experimental area were still as inanimate as they were when they were first lifted out of their storage coffins. James was getting frustrated at the experiment and April was getting frustrated at him. “Why don’t we just leave this until the morning when Dr Perez gets here?” she asked, irritated. “It’s nearly four in the morning, we could get four hours sleep and be back here for when he arrives.”

“NO!” roared James, making April take a few steps back in surprise and fear. “I started this and I’m going to finish it! I’m going to prove that I’m worthy of sitting with the rest of Reapmore’s board and raise Holt to the lofty heights within the organization it deserves.” He turned back and checked over the instructions for the twentieth time.

He stepped back into the circle and began the ritual intonations again. “Ti zi a ga nam til la sa gur gal, an ta mi ki lib ba gi, du lum dum, ki in di di ba, gu tur tu da ila min a ga zu ta. Ta zu ga a min ila da tu tur ga, ba di di in ki, dum lum du, gi ba ki lib mi ta an, gal gur sa la til nam ga a zi ti.” The motionless bodies still did not stir.

“Let me have a look again,” said April wearily. Casting an eye over the ritual instructions she ran a finger over each of the lines until she got to the incantation where she stopped with a massive grin. “Aha! I’ve found it! It’s Sumerian so it should follow the same transliteration as other languages around that area, shouldn’t it? In Turkish that squiggle above the first and last ‘s’es means ‘sh’ not ‘ss’. Try that pronunciation instead.”

Desperate to try anything to salvage what was left of his pride, James took the printout back and raised his arms again, intoning in what he hoped was his most commanding voice, “Ti zi a ga nam til la sha gur gal, an ta mi ki lib ba gi, du lum dum, ki in di di ba, gu tur tu da ila min a ga zu ta. Ta zu ga a min ila da tu tur ga, ba di di in ki, dum lum du, gi ba ki lib mi ta an, gal gur sha la til nam ga a zi ti.”

The bodies remained motionless again and James turned back to April only to see her starting at Clara’s corpse with a terrified fascination. “The fingers are moving,” she whispered.

Casting his gaze back at the tables James was elated to see that Clara’s hands were indeed moving, as if she were tapping out a rhythm. He grabbed April and twirled her around in delight. “We did it!”

Still giddy April moved over to the worktop where the bottle of Bollinger and two cut crystal glasses were waiting and twisted open the cork cage. She held out the bottle to James, “do you want to do the honours?”

Grinning broadly, James bounded over to April and took the bottle, shaking it up for the traditional champagne opening ceremony of the overly moneyed. He held it at arms length, giggling, as the cork popped and ricocheted across the room with a loud bang, then suddenly stopped giggling as Clara sat up, startled by the bang, and let out a loud, “uurrrrggghh!”

Clara turned her head towards April and James, then slowly swung her legs off the table, propelling herself upright. With a hungry look she started to lumber towards her former managers with arms outstretched - moaning through blue lips.

“James,” ventured April, “you do know how to control these things, don’t you?”

“Sort of,” admitted James, pulling April with him towards the double doors back into the corridor but not letting his gaze drop from the shambling figure walking towards them. “The instructions are in the documentation.”

April’s eyes flicked towards the printout that had been thrown to the floor in all the celebrations. Any attempt to reach for the papers would bring them within the reach of the reanimated corpse. “So what are we going to do?” She asked nervously.

“Lets get out of here, then figure it out,” suggested James.
“Sounds good to me,” April agreed and at once the two of them broke into a sprint to get though the double doors. They both threw themselves against the security glass to barricade the door from the zombie who was closing upon it and James reached over to the keypad fumbling with the door locking code as Clara reached the emergency release button and slammed her hand against it with an automatic reflex.

April felt the locks at the top and bottom of the door slide back with a click as the door become springy. Clara, arms outstretched, threw herself at the door with an inhuman strength and April squealed as she desperately tried to stop the doors from opening. Almost paralyzed by sheer terror James forced himself to close his eyes, relax slightly and type in the emergency door lock code from pure muscle memory. His efforts were rewarded as he heard the door locks slide back into place as Clara continued to batter against the doors, now futilely.

Backing away from the double doors until she was leaning against the opposite corridor wall April wrapped her arms around herself to stop herself from shaking. She was practically crying as James slid down beside her and slung an arm round her shoulders to comfort her. “Wha, what are w, we g, going to do n, now?” She asked brokenly.

James rocked her reassuringly and took out his mobile phone. “I think I’m going to have to swallow my pride and ring our good friend, the doctor,” he said quietly.

“It might be better if we ring him from one of the office phones,” suggested April, snuffling, “if we put him on speakerphone he might be able to use one of those magic thingamabobs to control it all the way from the labs.”

Helping her to her feet, James smiled at her. “I knew I was right to let you in on my little project. You are always at my side knowing the sensible, practical thing to do in every circumstance, no matter how weird. There’ll be a phone in the Payroll Department along the corridor. If we turn the volume up it should be audible from over here. Lets go check.”

Heading a little down the corridor James keyed in the code for a smaller door marked ‘Payroll’ as April manhandled a fire extinguisher into place as a doorstop.

Quickly finding the nearest phone to the door James punched in the Reapmore reception phone number from the address book on his mobile and hit the black button marked speakerphone.

The call rang twice then was answered. “You are through to the offices of Reapmore Cryostorage. How may I direct your call?” A tinny voice asked politely from the speakers.

“Dr Ricardo Perez, please,” stated James.

“I’m afraid Dr Perez is currently out of the office. Do you have an alternative contact?” The happy voice grated on James’ already highly strung nerves.

James looked at April who shrugged helplessly. Steadying his nerves he asked, “is there anyone else from R&D there at the moment?”

“Research and development is answering calls 24 hours a day, sir,” confirmed the happy voice. “Would you like me to put you through?”

James sighed in relief, “yes, yes please.”

“Please hold while I transfer you,” commanded the voice and the speakers switched over to hold music for several seconds.

Suddenly the music cut out and a melodic male voice declared, “"You are through to the technical helpdesk for Reapmore research and development. My name is Joel, how may I help you?"

Back in a corporate environment he could control James reverted to his normal executive self. “Hi, my name’s James Holt, from Holt Facilities Management. We’re having a few troubles with one of Dr Ricardo Perez’s experiments.”

“Could you please give me your company support contract number and then I can log an incident for you,” asked the voice pleasantly.

“This IS rather urgent,” insisted James.

“I’m sorry sir, all helpdesk calls have to be logged before we can assign a licensed warlock to deal with your problems. Now may I please have your support contract number.”

James sighed wearily, “I’m afraid I don’t have it on me at the moment. It’s on the piece of paper in the room with the ESCAPED ZOMBIE in it.” He started to go into full, exasperated manager mode.

The voice on the other end of the phone appeared to pick up on his frustration (and the escaped zombie situation) and acquiesced. “If you don’t mind waiting a few seconds, sir,” it said, “I’ll try to put you through to our troubleshooting team straight away.”

“Thank you,” muttered James between clenched teeth as the hold music started up again.

April could hear Clara slamming herself against the safety glass of the lab security doors and shot a fearful glance at James just as another voice replaced the music on the phone. “Hi, I’m Mina from the troubleshooting team, I hear you have a living impaired escapee.”

“Yes, I do. She’s in our lab at the moment but we’re worried that the window in the door will give way at any second.”

“Do you have any idea of what triggered the control loss of the escapee?” asked the voice.

April mimed the champagne bottle opening and James blanched, “I think so.” He hesitated slightly. “My lab team were so happy about the results of the resurrection that they opened a bottle of champagne.”

“Was this bottle opened with a corkscrew or with the noise of a gunshot going off?” The voice asked suspiciously.

“The second,” mumbled James.

“I’m afraid that’s your problem right there,” explained Mina. “The documentation does specifically state that exposing the living impaired to bright colours and loud sounds, especially those that elicit a memory of violence, can result in the breakdown of the command system and its replacement with autonomic violent impulses. Now I CAN fix this problem from here but it will result in the complete destruction of the living impaired employee. Will this cause a problem?”

“No, please go ahead,” urged James. Down the corridor the safety glass finally gave way and April could see Clara’s arm reaching into the corridor, trying to claw at the door hinges.

“We will still have to charge you for the raising of the employee,” informed Mina.

“Yes, fine! We don’t have a problem as long as we’re not dead by the end of tonight,” shouted James at the phone.

“There’s no reason to take that tone of voice with me,” warned Mina. “I’m legally obligated to inform you in these kinds of situations. Now I’ll just whip up a quick incantation and this situation will resolve itself. May I please have the full name of the living impaired employee? I’m sure you wouldn’t want the incantation targeting yourselves instead.”

“Of course not,” agreed James suddenly wondering just what form the ‘help’ would take. He picked up an internal company telephone listing and skimmed down it to the Credit Control department. “It’s Clara Neeston,” he clarified for the warlock.

“Please place the telephone speaker as close to the living impaired employee as possible,” asked Mina distractedly.

James took the phone out into the corridor and placed it as far down as the wire would allow him, turning the speaker up to full volume. Clara had spotted him and was redoubling her efforts to get out of the lab, screaming and moaning unintelligibly but in an unmistakably vicious manner.

The two directors could hear Mina on the other end of the phone take a deep breath and start chanting, “Clara Neeston nam zi sha shilig gal, aka si da shilig ri, da ran a shub shilig zu, bad sag shilig i, u gu da shilig ur. Ur shilig da gu u, i shilig sag bad, zu shilig shub a ran da, ri shilig da si aka, gal shilig sha zi nam Clara Neeston.”

As the final syllable sounded there was a wet squelching noise and blood splattered into the corridor from the hole in the lab. Clara’s arm fell limp and there was a thud as she fell backwards impacting with the floor.

James scrabbled back to the phone, now covered with blood. Mina’s voice echoed out of the speakers, “Has that stopped the escapee sir?”

Looking through the hole in the lab door from a distance James swallowed at the grisly sight of Clara with most of her head missing now still and immobile on the lab floor. “Yes, that seems to have done it,” he croaked out.

“Right sir, now that little adventure is over I’d suggest you wait for Dr Perez to arrive before trying out any other new incantations. I believe he is due to arrive at your offices at about eight this morning and I’m sure he would appreciate not having to clean up another one of these little messes.”

“Yes, yes, I believe I’ll wait until he gets here before kicking off the rest of the processes. Thank you for your help.” James picked up the handset and slammed it down to end the call. He dropped his head to the desk in sheer exhaustion before looking back up at April. “You know, I’ve got a bottle of single malt in my desk drawer sitting around for these type of occasions. Lets both go have a quiet drink.”

April nodded her assent and they made their way down the stairs to the middle floor directors’ offices in exhausted silence.


Over in the Reapmore R&D department a laughing group of apprentice warlocks shook their heads as they dispersed from around the speaker they had been eavesdropping on the call from.

Holding her head in her hands Mina looked up at Joel who had been desperately trying not to laugh all the way through the conversation. “Seriously,” she bitched, “if that’s the level of enchanters we’re going to be dealing with from now on I’m going to be changing jobs. I hear Finland is the place to be for jobs in the supernatural telecomm industry. I wonder what their pensions are like?”


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September 2010

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