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Title: You Don't Have to be Crazy Dead to Work Here (But It Helps).
Part: 16/22
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 Sixteen

The Truth About Contractors


Shona cursed the overactive sense of martyrdom that had got her into this situation. Having dodged past the zombies emerging down the stairwell she had run into the telesales office. Hauling herself up onto the top of a large cabinet seven foot tall, she stayed absolutely still as she heard shuffling from the entrance from the main corridor. In the darkness she could hear one of the zombies wander into the room, then sniff loudly, as if testing the air. It growled and moved directly towards her hiding place.

Knowing most of what she did about zombies from movies, books, the odd American tv program and the occasional voodoo documentary, she hadn’t really considered that the zombies might be tracking her by smell. It seemed a bit odd considering the stench of formaldehyde and decay that surrounded them but it seemed as good a thing as any to try to throw them off balance. Slipping off the folder cabinet and over the other side she made a break for the kitchenette. Peering round she couldn’t see any of the undead things moping around in there so she slipped in and used the cattle prod to wedge under the door handle.

Flinging open the cupboard beneath the sink she found what she was looking for – several litre bottles of industrial strength bleach. Grabbing a cleaner’s apron from the cleaning closet and securing it around her waist she stuck two bottles in the pockets and kept one in her hand. Taking the cattle prod in her other hand she carefully opened the door - on the lookout for zombies. There were two coming down the corridor; one was a large woman, the other small with a stiletto stuck in the side of her head that Shona recognized as Hella’s. A quiet rage settled on the programmer and she squirted some of the bleach around the kitchenette area while waiting for the zombies to pass. To her satisfaction the two zombies passed the kitchenette sniffing the air but making no indication that they had detected her.

Checking to make sure no other zombies were within sight, Shona charged the cattle prod and stepped out. The smaller of the two zombies was fast but in the pale light from the kitchenette window Shona could see that it only had one good eye. Shona pointed the bleach bottle and squeezed, the stream hitting the zombie - who may possibly have once been Maureen from Payroll - directly in the face. The effect was instantaneous. Blinded by the bleach and with her sense of smell completely disabled Maureen flung her arms around wildly in search of her attacker. A well placed poke with the cattle prod sent her careering into Big Sheila who was totally confused. Maureen bit and clawed at Big Sheila who collapsed onto the floor in the face of the vicious assault. Aiming again, Shona hit Big Sheila in the face with the bleach and she too started to lash out at the nearest thing hurting her. Hurrying past, just in case the commotion brought more zombies than she could handle in one go, Shona felt her spirits lift as she realized that she might actually have a decent chance of getting out of this alive.

Rushing through Sales and up to the Telemarketing office her dreams of getting out through the fire door evaporated. It was sparking with a blue light and blood was oozing through the cracks between it and the door frame. She backed away quickly and, seeing the silhouette of someone dragging a body around outside through the reinforced glass window, decided that this was not the best way to escape from the building.

The roof! The solution to her problems came to her as she made it back to the main corridor. The builders had been doing work on it, which meant the trapdoor to the attic access would be open and there would be ladders. She thought for a moment. It meant getting up the stairs but there couldn’t be more than eight additional creatures around as all of them seemed to have been victims of the crash. As long as she could blind them and set them on each other she reckoned she had a good chance of getting up the stairs and onto the top floor.

****

After pushing April’s body closer to the utility hut and pulling a few wheelie bins in front of it James sat down on the grass to wait for help to arrive. After a few minutes it started to rain and he crept under the overhang of the utility hut to try to keep as dry as possible, sweat from his earlier exertions and the now-cold blood sticking to his shirt and chilling in the October night air. After a few minutes he heard a large car roar into the parking area and peaked out to see what had arrived. He was grateful to see a Reapmore Security detail exiting a large Land Rover. He waved to them and several suspicious looking men lumbered over.

“Hello,” he started, “are you the gentlemen sent by the Reapmore technical helpdesk?”

The men straightened up and saluted. “Yes, sir,” said the largest. “Glen Frazier, Reapmore Security. I believe you have an undead problem.”

“Yes, we’ve got ten or eleven escapees, currently confined. I’m afraid there may be quite a few bodies from the other employees that were in the building at the time. I believe I’m the only survivor.”

“That’s alright, sir,” said Glen jovially, “we’re trained for this type of outbreak.” He turned to his squad. “Come on lads, break out the equipment, we’ve got a job to do here.”

Opening up a number of crates in the boot Glen’s team pulled out a staggering array of firearms and other, rune-encrusted, weirder looking technology. Glen gestured to one of the team and he set up a comms array in the front passenger side of the 4x4, seating himself in the driving seat of the Land Rover to operate it. The others grabbed their weaponry and stood to attention.

Glen turned back to James, “I’m afraid we’re going to have to ask you to come with us, sir. We don’t have the schematics of this building in our training database so we’ll need someone who knows the layout to guide us around. As you’re the only survivor…” he trailed off with a shrug.

James’ sense of self preservation threatened to kick in but seeing the five rather large men hefting automatic weaponry with what he now recognized as forced joviality he decided that it was best to stay on their good side. “Of course, I’ll be glad to show you around. I’ve got nothing to fear when I’m being protected by trained professionals like yourselves.”

Two of the group went over to pull up the shutters on the main door but came back to the car looking sheepish. “It’s locked tight, Fraz,” reported one of them. We’d need to burn through the bolts to get in there.”

Turning back to James, Glen fixed him with a polite grin that reminded Holt of a shark that was looking for an early morning meal. “Any suggestions?”

“I climbed out of a first floor window using an emergency fire ladder. It’s still there and leads directly into my office.”

Glen actually looked impressed at Holt’s grace under pressure. “Right then,” he said, “lead the way.”

With Holt at the front of the group they marched around to the rear of the building. Taking in the mess, the bloodless corpse and the sparks flying from the winged sun rune that had burnt it’s way into the fire door Glen raised an eyebrow. “Matt, Lee, get rid of the body, pronto. Joe, Rich, secure that ladder.”

The two squaddies James assumed were Matt and Lee picked up April’s body and after a quick discussion ran over to the next building in the estate, keeping to the shadows at all times. One of them opened the confidential waste bin using a well placed knife thrust into the lock, then dumped April’s body into the container. By the time they returned the other two squaddies had hammered in crampons to secure the bottom of the ladder to the ground.
 
“Joe,” ordered Glen, “first one up, quick recon. Damage assessment.”

Joe nodded and with one hand on his submachine gun climbed quickly up the ladder to peek through the window. He made a motioning gesture with his gun then opened the window and dropped inside. A few seconds later there was another gesture from the window.

Glen looked satisfied. “All clear. Matt, take the rear. Rich, mind our guest. Lee, keep comms open with Baz. You’ve got your orders , now move it.”

Glen shimmied up the ladder and disappeared from view through the open window. One of the squaddies then nudged James with the butt of his gun. “Up you go Mr Holt. Nothing to worry about now the boss is up there.”

James swallowed nervously and clambered unsteadily up the rope ladder.


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Jashyr

September 2010

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