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Title: You Don't Have to be Crazy Dead to Work Here (But It Helps).
Part: 15/22
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 Fifteen

A Man's Gotta Contract Out What A Man's Gotta Do

Creeping into the corridor to the reception area, Raj was moving just in front of the others and suddenly pulled back, flattening himself against the wall. He peeked around the corner again then slid along the wall back to the others who had frozen in place the moment he had spotted something untoward.

“There’s two of them out there in reception,” he whispered to the group while still keeping an eye on the bend in the corridor. “They look like they’re trying to see out of the shutters.”

“That’s worrying,” mused Kim quietly. “Are they trying to get out? We’ve heard no indication that other offices in the area are fighting their dead colleagues in a desperate battle. Maybe we're the only ones? What happens if we escape but those things get through the door after us?”

“At least once we’re outside the police can deal with it,” pointed out Pete.

“Well yes, but how long will it take an armed response unit to get up here? The moors are a big place - the zombie things can hide out for ages, biting people and building up their army. That's how zombies create other ones isn’t it? Their victims turn into them?”

“In the movies, yeah, but unless some super zombie escaped from Alton Towers and killed everyone in the bus beforehand I’m not sure that’s the type of zombie we’re talking about here,” answered Raj, calling on the depth of his film knowledge to dredge up anything about zombie creation. “I think the first zombies were cursed – or possibly poisoned with a drug that put them into a coma so everyone thought they were dead then brought back with brain damage.”

“Didn’t Liam mention something about our new owners starting out in cryogenic freezing?” asked Pete, trying to remember Liam’s rantings.

“Didn’t he mention something about deals with the devil as well,” recalled Kim.

“That’s all crap.” Shona stood up defiantly. “Something’s going on but its not mystic wooga booga. We get out, we bar the door, we call the police. It’s simple. The longer we stand here talking about it the worse our chances get.”

“Agreed,” said Raj, hefting the axe. “You take the right one, I’ll take the left?”

“Doable,” agreed Shona.

“Kim, can you try to shock the left one for me while I take it out?”

“Sure thing Raj.” Kim briefly pressed a switch on the cattle prod and it lit up for a fraction of a second. “I’m sure I can get it to work.”

Shona looked at Pete. “You’re going to have to pin the other one with the broom handle so I can get a good swing in.”

“What! No way! I’ll be right in biting range!” protested Pete.

Shona just raised an eyebrow and hefted the axe."Me - fire axe. You - broom. Who's going to win if this turns into a fight?"

"You," admitted Pete.

"Exactly, so shut up and do as I say or we’ll all just give up and die.”

Pete grumbled under his breath but went to the corner to check where the two zombies were located. The one on the left was a barely recognisable Anil Patel, covered in blood and chomping down on part of an arm he'd ripped off an unfortunate victim. He was standing by the reception desk looking out towards the shutters and swaying slightly. The one on the right was much smaller and female; Pete had vague memories that she was a temp who didn’t speak very good English. She was standing right up against the shutters, peering through the slats.

“Isn’t she from Transylvania?” he whispered to Raj.

“Poland, I think. Though if she’s in on this she got a really bad deal out of it.”

Veering over to the left Raj and Kim headed behind the reception desk ready to strike. Shona and Pete moved up, ready to sprint past Anil to attack Galina.

“Is Transylvania in Poland?” asked Pete nervously.

“No. Romania,” answered Shona brusquely. “Why? Thinking of going on holiday to annoy vampires if you survive this?” Raj signalled to her and she readied the axe. “Ready. On three, two, one, go!”

Kim scurried behind the reception desk, standing up behind it to deliver a shock of several hundred volts to Anil over the other side of he counter. Anil groaned with a weird ululation as his muscles spasmed. Turning, jerkily, he managed to straighten out one of his arms to grab at Kim just as Raj moved round from the other side of the desk, swinging the axe at neck height again and again.

Racing past Anil towards Galina, who was turning to face the commotion, Pete swapped his grip on the broom to hold it horizontally at both ends. Rushing his target he slammed the broom into her back, forcing her up against the shutters with a metallic crash. He held onto the broom, pinning her just under her shoulder blades as she thrashed against the restraints.

“Duck!” ordered Shona, and Pete did so, losing a great deal of strength in his grip and letting Galina shrug off the broom. It didn’t help her though. The axe blade came whistling through the air less than an inch above Pete’s head and severed Galina’s head from her neck in a single clean blow. The body twitched as it fell but then was still.

 Looking back towards Raj and Kim, Pete and Shona were just in time to see Raj finally fell the tax accountant on his sixth blow. Kim was practically covered in blood spots and Raj didn’t look much cleaner. As the body fell to the ground and the only noise from the group was Raj’s laboured breathing they all heard shuffling noises coming from the area of the stairwell.

Backing towards the main door Raj and Kim steadied themselves for another fight as three more shambling figures emerged from down the stairs. Opening the door to the outside by flicking open the inner catch, Shona took a quick look at the shutter lock then ran to a small white box mounted on the wall by the reception desk. Using the axe to smash open the casing she took a quick look at the wiring and pulled out a single connector and reinserted it upside down. There was a click from the shutter locking mechanism. “Pete,” she said quietly, “reach down and see if the shutters are unlocked.”

Pete dropped down, his eyes never leaving the advancing zombies, and hooked one hand under the shutters, pulling them up. His eyes lit up at the first good luck they’d had. “We are prepped and ready to go!”

Shona risked a look into the car park and not seeing any movement out there frowned and closed her eyes for a second. Opening them again there was a steely determination in her voice. “Kim, will you swap the axe for the cattle prod thing? I think I can stop them from getting out.”

“No problem,” said Kim, passing back the prod and taking the considerably heavier axe from Shona.

“Right, everyone out,” Shona ordered as four more of the undead creatures shuffled out of the stairwell to join the growing throng.

Pete bolted under the shutters gratefully. Kim scurried out next followed by Raj as Shona held up the shutters for them. As soon as Raj was through she dropped the shutter back down and flicked the catch with her foot.

Raj stared at her. “Shone? What are you doing?”

Shona just went back to the wall box and placed the connector the right way up again, wincing at the noise of the bolts sliding back into place. She charged up the cattle prod and jammed it into the lock control mechanism on the wall, causing sparks to fly as the circuits overloaded and the connections soldered solid.

“Go call the police, Raj. This is the only way to be sure they don’t get out. I’ll try to keep them busy for as long as I can.” She shut the glass door between them and relocked it with the catch. Charging up the cattle prod again she advanced on the lumbering crowd shocking the one nearest to her and causing it to stumble the left wall before running past it, only for the others to turn and start shambling towards her, away from the front door.

The other three stood there in shock. After a few minutes, seeing no more movement from inside they turned and started the long walk down to civilisation.

****

At the back of the building, retreating to a safe distance behind the grit bins, James and April sunk to the ground gratefully out of hearing of the moans and groans emanating from the partially open window. Reaching into his pocket James pulled out his old brick of a mobile and checked for a signal again – it still worked. Fishing out the number for Reapmore on his office mobile he punched in the numbers and settled down as the tones rang out.

“You're through to Reapmore Cryostorage. How may I direct your call?” A tinny voice asked politely from the earpiece.

“Dr Ricardo Perez, please,” stated James.

“I’m afraid Dr Perez is currently out of this plane of existence. Do you have an alternative contact?” The happy voice asked in a sing-song cadence.

“Research and development?”

“Please hold while I transfer you,” commanded the voice and 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?"

“Yes, my name’s James Holt, from Holt Facilities Management. We’re having a few more troubles with one of Dr Ricardo Perez’s experiments. There was an incredibly helpful young woman by the name of Nina or Mina or something on the troubleshooting desk the last time I called. I wonder if I could be put trough to her?”

“I’m sorry sir, Mina has gone to work for the Gjallar Corporation in Finland. I’ll try to put you through to one of our other warlocks. May I please take your company support contract number?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have it on me at the moment. I’m having a small problem with a major zombie outbreak.”

“Ah,” said Joel wearily, “are you the department that had the escapee a few weeks ago?”

“Yes, that’s us, unfortunately it’s a bit bigger that that now. We’ve had a major power cut and the cage failed.”

“And how many escapees are there?”

“At least ten.”

“I’ll put you straight through to Mike on the high security team.”

“Thank you very much.”

The hold music was much shorter this time and a voice with a gruff Yorkshire accent answered, “Mike Steele.”

“This is James Holt, I’ve got a major emergency with the Leeds blackout. I have at least ten zombie escapees and they're running rampant through my building.”

“Have they turned violent?” asked the gruff voice.

“Definitely,” replied James, shuddering at the sight of the blood spattered windows of the ground floor stairwell.

“That’s odd, they should remain docile unless ordered otherwise. Do you have copies of the contracts on you?”

“No. They’re up in my office past the bloodthirsty zombies,” snapped James. “They’re not the first things I rescue in an emergency.”

April, only getting one side of the conversation looked questioningly at him and he mouthed ‘contracts’ at her. Her eyes lit up and she pointed to his mobile. “Brenda faxed them to your email account. They should be cached on your mobile’s mailbox.”

“Hang on a second,” said James into the phone, “I might have them here.”

“That would make your situation considerably easier to solve,” noted the gruff voice down the phone.

James opened up his mobile with one hand and browsed to his email folder. There was a list of twelve files from Brenda with the subject line Life Insurance Contracts along with a single mail from earlier tis evening marked 'Resignation'. Ignoring that one for a time James started to open up the contracts. “Right I’ve got the files in front of me.”

“Have they been signed and dated correctly?” asked Mike.

James scanned the contracts and was about to answer affirmatively until he noticed the actual signatures. Most of them were in exactly the same handwriting and displayed a number of fictional characters' names from Mickey Mouse to Hercule Poirot. A chill ran down his spine. Dr Perez had impressed upon his the importance of the contracts and how much it could mess up the entire experiment if they were not properly filled out. He toyed with the idea of lying but decided that his own survival was more important, at least while he was sitting in the freezing cold on a lightless night – besides he could always blame Perez for going ahead without checking for things like this. “Actually, there appears to have been a problem with the contracts. The names don’t match up with the people they were passed out to.”

“That makes things difficult sir. Are you saying that the recently dead members of your organisation didn’t agree to the zombification process in the contracts which were specially prepared for you? That the holding spells placed on the contracts will not affect the undead parties that are currently running riot?”

“Um, yes, well one of them definitely signed the correct contracts – he was our test subject – but the others do not have written confirmation.”

“Just how bad is this outbreak?” queried Mike suspiciously. “Have any of them escaped the facility?”

“Not yet,” answered James. “But I think it’s only a matter of time.”

“Then I have good news and bad news. The first bit of bad news is that you'll loose the undead employees permanently. The good news is that we can seal the building so the undead employees can't get out - no matter how violently they try they will not be able to cross the threshold. This should give us some time to get a full security detail over there to neutralise the problem. The other bad news is that this will require a full blood sacrifice at the threshold which has to be of a sentient, living, human being.”

James glanced over to April who was looking up at the zombies clamouring at James’ office window. “I think I can manage that. Will a fire door do?”

“That would be fine, sir. Please take the victim over to the fire door and release them from their current state of existence.”

James picked up a foot long sliver of glass that appeared to have fallen from a broken, bloody window on the top floor and looked towards the fire door. He pressed the mute button on the phone and whispered to April, “the helpdesk guy has a plan. We’ve got to go over to that fire door and inscribe some runes on it. Come on.”

April followed James as he stealthily crept towards the fire door. She could see that there was a small utilities hut opposite the door and motioned to James to take a look. Raising the glass sliver so he could defend himself if anything came rushing at him, James peeked inside the hut’s shutters. The smell of petrol made him slightly dizzy but he could see no movement. He gestured for April to try the door but it appeared to be securely locked. Before April could turn back towards him, knowing he couldn’t do this if she was looking him in the eyes, James grabbed her in a choke hold using his left arm and thrust the glass shard into her neck. He watched, fascinated as her struggling grew weaker and her eyes went blank. The blood splattered everywhere, the door of the hut was splashed in swathes of red and James mused that he was never going to be able to wear this particular suit ever again.

He let April’s lifeless body drop to the ground in front of the fire door and unmuted the phone. “We now have a sacrifice. What would you like me to do now?”

“Please daub the blood in the shape of the original Reapmore corporation logo onto the door at about eye level.”

James had been schooled in the correct method of drawing the logo by Dr Perez. He’d assumed it odd at the time but thought it just one of those things impressed onto new acquisitions. Remembering his lessons he drew the winged sun perfectly in the blood of his former chief financial officer. “It’s done.”

“Thank you, sir. Please stand back but point the phone speaker at the door, turning up the volume as high as it can go.” James did so and the voice began to chant, “ush ur zi u mi, urin ur la mi u shu, usuh bad ni gin mi tum i, men ri ba d di aka us, gez zah ni e ki lam gub. Gub lam ki e ni zah gez, us aka di d ba ri men, i tum mi gin ni bad usuh, shu u mi la ur urin, mi u zi ur ush.”

As the last syllable rang out James saw the zombies at his office window go limp and turn away, shuffling back out of his office. “That’s working! They’re not attacking anymore!”

“Right, sir. If you could just remove the corpse from sight so that none of the emergency services can spot it I'll get a security team out to you as fast as possible. Thank you for calling Reapmore Technical helpdesk.”
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Jashyr

September 2010

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