jashyr: skull (horror)
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Title: You Don't Have to be Crazy Dead to Work Here (But It Helps).
Part: 18/22
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 Eighteen

Never Underestimate The Fickleness of Sheer Bloodyminded Fate

Moving into the main corridor of the top floor Shona nearly backed out again. The smell was horrific; a mixture of rotting flesh, vomit, faeces and formaldehyde filled the air making her gag. Ahead she could see the disemboweled corpse of Gerry, the security guard – it looked like several of the undead things had ripped him apart. Further up she could hear shuffling to the right but not from the left towards where the management accountants used to have their offices. Taking this as a good sign she crept towards the old office area, squirting bleach on the carpet every so often to mask any scent of her passing.

Up ahead she pushed through the doors and into an open area that had a bewildering amount of very strange equipment in it. Brass vessels held viscous green liquids which dripped through glass tubes into stainless steel vats. Rubber tubes ran out of the vats with huge hypodermic needles attached to the ends of them. Wire hangers neatly held the ends in configurations which reminded Shona of something between an operating theatre and a Hammer Horror laboratory.

Moving around she could see little instruction booklets with the Reapmore logo printed in the top left hand corner and the title: Revivication Procedures. Unable to contain her curiosity she flipped open the booklet and took a look down the index.

Introduction.
Checklist for the prospective undead employee.
Sample contract.
Physical requirements for a successful revivication.
Mental requirements for a successful revivication.
Preperation of the prospective corpse at the death scene.
Addition preparation at the funereal home.
Removal of the body before burial.
Preperation of the body before the procedure.
Incantations for the procedure (including correct pronunciation.
Pre procedure precautions.
Revivication.
Post procedure precautions.
Use of electric fences in containing the undead employees.
Care and feeding of the undead employee.
Training of the undead employee.
Troubleshooting.

She flipped the book to the troubleshooting pages and began to skim until she came to the section marked ‘escaped employees’. She slowed down and started to read:

‘In an extreme case when an undead employee becomes unmanageable, stops being productive or attempts to harm staff or other undead employees then it may become necessary to deactivate them and dispose of the remains. Care must be taken that the other undead employees do not notice the deactivation of the problem staff member as the survival instinct in them is still quite strong and this might be wrongly interpreted as an attack upon the undead employee population as a whole. Isolation of the problem staff member is always advised in these situations.

‘If the staff member becomes violent, especially towards other undead employees, care must be taken when removing it. It may register the feelings of finality expressed by its captors and react accordingly. As no known anaesthetic will work on the sluggish metabolism of the walking dead the employee must be physically caught (preferably in a net or other medium by which it cannot escape while at the same time being out of arms reach of its captors.)

‘While physical means of deactivation will work (notably decapitation), this may lead to problems when attempting to sanitise the incident as a decapitated corpse will always raise suspicion within the local constabulary. As long as the undead employee has no injuries that could raise suspicions within local funereal workers the correct procedure for deactivating an undead employee will be via incantation.

‘IT IS VITALY IMPORTANT THAT THE CORRECT NAME IS USED FOR THE EMPLOYEE. IF AN INCORRECT NAME IS USED THEN ANOTHER UNDEAD EMPLOYEE MAY BE TARGETED BY THE INCANTATION, WHICH MAY LEAD TO A LOSS OF REVENUE. REAPMORE CANNOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR INCORRECT USES OF INCANTATIONS.

‘The correct incantation for the reversal of the revivication process is as follows:

‘<Insert the full and correct name of the employee to be devivified here, ensuring it is the same one signed upon the contract and is pronounced correctly> ga zu a tab ti gi ki ush an ze er, hara la gu a ga bi she gur de, ta ma sha ar u na me gur ra nu tuku, giri ga an zir dib ze ed dar ri she. She ri dar ed ze dib zir an ga giri, tuku nu ra gur me na u ar sha ma ta, de gur she bi ga a gu la hara, er ze an ush ki gi ti tab a zu ga <insert name again exactly the same as above>.

‘At the final syllable of the incantation the undead employee will cease to inhabit the shell of its former body and will return to the underworld with the minimum amount of trauma to its soul. This will ensure that the guardians of the netherworld do not regard the revivication process as an unnatural act but merely as a life prolonging process. In the event of any problems with the revivication or devivication proesses please contact our technical helpdesk on 0808 157 0666.’

Shona ripped out the page and continued down into the former payroll office, looking for a way into the roof space. Opening the door she was assaulted by the smell of several rotting cow carcasses hanging from the perfectly repaired ceiling. She swore quietly and became aware that there was shuffling nearby, down back where she had originally came from. Fairly convinced that there was no way out down past the dead cows she headed around the side of the weird equipment room, squirting more bleach on nearby surfaces as she went, careful not to get any on the rubber hosing. There were two loud noises from the floor below in quick succession but the sound proofing in the lab muffled them to indistinctiveness. Shona ignored them as the shuffling got closer.

Watching the doors to the room swing open she saw a single zombie shuffle into the room, silhouetted in the moonlight. From the horrifically 50s haircut and the once broken nose in profile she recognised John Baugh from Corporate Accounts. He stopped in the doorway and sniffed, seeming somewhat confused. Standing there motionless he made no move to walk into the room but was still blocking the doorway. Shona noticed some electrical arcing within the door locking mechanism but assumed it was some kind of residue from the power cut. Still the zombie didn’t move. Annoyed at the obstruction Shona held the page of incantation into the light and re-read it again. She had no idea what weird language it was but the international phonetics were at the bottom of the page and she remembered them well enough.

Taking a deep breath she whispered, “John Baugh ga zu a tab ti gi ki ush an ze er, hara la gu a ga bi she gur de, ta ma sha ar u na me gur ra nu tuku, giri ga an zir dib ze ed dar ri she. She ri dar ed ze dib zir an ga giri, tuku nu ra gur me na u ar sha ma ta, de gur she bi ga a gu la hara, er ze an ush ki gi ti tab a zu ga John Baugh.” As the very last ‘au’ sounded John collapsed without so much as another twitch. Shona did a very short version of the happy dance of joy and headed back out of the lab.

*****

James clambered over the window frame into the wreckage of his office. It appeared as if the zombies had targeted this room specifically for complete destruction as the desk was overturned, the computer was in pieces, the filing cabinets had been wrenched open and the door into the corridor had been dragged off its hinges.

Joe was crouched down by the door frame watching into the corridor with a strange brass and glass eyepiece distorting the view of the left side of his face. He glanced back at the team and held up two fingers then pointed at his eyes.

“Two visible enemies,” whispered Rich to James in seeing the confusion in James’ eyes.

James nodded and moved out of the way to let the squad advance towards the door.

Glen peered around the doorframe then swung down the sub-machine gun from his shoulder. “Like shooting fish in a barrel,” he murmered to Joe who grinned then let off two shots which sounded hellishly loud in the hitherto deathly quiet.

“Won’t that attract attention?” whispered James to Rich in a much louder voice than he had intended.

“Nah,” said Rich, casually. “Everyone just assumes its gangs having a fight over territory. The rise of gun crime in this country is the best thing that could ever have happened to us. Makes clean ups like this so much more deniable.”

Creeping out of the office Joe took the lead again with Glen close on his heels. Rich was next, pulling James alongside him. Lee had fished out a small bluetooth headset to hook over his ear and appeared to be continually describing the scene to the person on the other end. Matt took the rear and James was glad to be out of range of the stale cigarette smoke odour that surrounded him. Moving into the main corridor by the meeting rooms the group passed the two downed zombies lying motionless in the corridor. Joe held up a hand and the group stopped still as James could see something moving in the moonlit area ahead. Joe held up one finger as he flipped the eye piece back down again and peered into the darkness with it. He yelped as a large ball of blood, viscera and sticky, slimy chunks hit him in the face, temporarily blinding him and knocking him off balance.

There was more movement down the corridor and more balls of goop hit the walls and floor near the security detail’s area. The former employees might have been dead but they were still cunning and they learnt from example. Lots of examples. A sticky mixture of blood, guts and fruit salad hit Glen on the side of the face and James couldn’t help but be reminded of monkeys throwing faeces in a zoo. Glen seemed to be getting more and more angry and pulled out the gun only to see the zombies to retreat into the rows of cubicles on either side of the main corridor.

Down on the floor Anne Lynfield, divorcee, mother of one, borderline alcoholic and chain smoker was roused from her near-death state by the heavenly smell of nicotine. The headshot had made a nice neat hole all the way through her skull and a slightly larger exit wound but hadn’t pierced anything that would keep her away from the chance of a final cigarette. Next to her Netta Rawlings, uncompromising bitch, inveterate gossip, stringer along of numerous boyfriends and undisputed queen of the smoking shelter also started to stir. Most of the right side of her skull had been shattered by the gunshot wound but the low impact rounds had merely succeeded into driving the shards of bone into the parts of her brain that dealt with her subconscious. No longer having a conscience to nag at her, the injury wasn’t going to let it stop her cravings for another nicotine fix.

Matt was crouched down at the rear of the party, watching for any hostiles that might try to flank the squad but taking no interest in the two downed enemy less than a metre away from him. He really should have paid more attention to his basic training. A hand shot out to grab hold of his right ankle while another grabbed hold of his left arm and yanked, pulling him crashing to the floor where his head hit the lino with a solid thunk. Rich and Lee whirled around, their underslung gun torches trained on where Matt should have been. All they could see was a light retreating into the distance at floor level at which point a globule of blood and fruit salad hit Rich directly in the back of the head.

“We’ve lost Matt, sir,” he whispered with a note of hysteria in his voice.

“Stay calm soldier,” ordered Glen. “We’re not going to be defeated by a few crap slinging savages.”

“But they’re not supposed to do this, sir,” wailed Rich, completely losing it. “They’re dead. They shouldn’t be learning new things, coordinating in tactics or running circles around a squad of trained fighters. The ones you put down before are gone. They can’t be killed. We’re the ones who aren’t getting out of here alive!”

A quiet thud sounded as Glen calmly pulled free his silenced pistol and shot Rich through the forehead. “WE are getting out of here. All I need is the right type of bait.” He grabbed Rich’s twitching corpse under one arm and slid him down the wooden decking of the corridor like a champion curler. The effect was almost instantaneous. The zombies in the cubicles descended on the fresh meat with gusto, ripping and tearing at the flesh to get at the soft, squidgy, delicious organs.

Standing up Glen squeezed the trigger on his pistol hitting each one of the three feasting zombies with a direct head shot.

“Cover me,” he ordered Joe as he drew his knife and set about hacking at each of the zombies’ necks to decapitate them.

Watching him calmly, James made no link between the horrors he was witnessing and real life at all. Detatchment was becoming James’ default point of view and he was having trouble thinking of this strange, dark building as his office, these horrific creatures as his former employees or these dark clad soldiers as anything other than characters in a computer game. A calm washed over him as his brain finally snapped and he ceased to believe that any of this was real.

“Right,” said Glen, standing up, “let’s go find Matt and clear out the bastards on this floor before we start on any of the other areas.”

Seeing a ruthlessness to their squad leader they’d never witnessed before, Joe and Lee pushed James up ahead of them and kept pace with Glen as he moved down the dark corridor following the trail of blood that Matt had left.

Ahead of them they saw a set of double doors and James whispered, “ that’s the Internal Audit office. It’s only got three desks but is bigger than the cubicle area. There will be very little cover. It’s mostly empty space.”

Glen nodded and Joe set about desperately cleaning up the lens that was still covered in goop. Finally putting away his hankie he flipped the lens over his right eye and rose to peer into the glass window in the door. Through the esoteric lens he could see the twisted life forces of two zombies crouched over a cooling body but as he observed them one of the zombies keeled over, its life force leaving in a small puff of light. Joe sank back down again and looked at Glen. “There’s something odd going on in there. I think it’s Warlock stuff.”

Glen held up a hand and gently pushed open the door. Ahead of them they could see a dark figure crouching and holding a piece of paper up to a shaft of light shining through a gap in the window blinds. As they moved silently into the room they could see a zombie feasting on the remains of one of its compatriots until the dark crouching figure started to intone in a broad Irish accent, “Anne Lynfield ga zu a tab ti gi ki ush an ze er, hara la gu a ga bi she gur de, ta ma sha ar u na me gur ra nu tuku, giri ga an zir dib ze ed dar ri she. She ri dar ed ze dib zir an ga giri, tuku nu ra gur me na u ar sha ma ta, de gur she bi ga a gu la hara, er ze an ush ki gi ti tab a zu ga Anne Lynfield.”

As the final syllable rang out the zombie crumpled to the ground. Through the esoteric lens attached to his headband Joe could see the lifeforce wink out of the zombie leaving only a several week old corpse. To his right Lee pulled out a taser and as the dark figure rose to be silhouetted in the moonlight he fired. Hitting the target directly in the chest, she shuddered violently and collapsed.

After a quick eyeball of the room to make sure no other zombies Glen moved to have a look at their unconscious prize. A short redhead in a turquoise party dress was crumpled in a heap on the floor. He turned to James. “Is she one of yours?”

James nodded, “yes, she’s one of the IT staff.”

“Is she,” Joe made quotes in the air, “In the know?”

“No,” clarified James. “She’s a minor programmer for the logistics software who shouldn’t know anything about what’s really going on. Is she supposed to be able to make zombies keel over with only a word?”

“Nope,” said Joe, looking quite confused. “It’s a Warlock thing.”

“Well, aren’t we a clever little miss then?” said Glen nudging Shona with a foot. “Lee, wrap this pretty little thing up and take her down to the car. Dr Perez will want a word with her.”

“Dr Perez?” queried Lee, “surely something of this level should be referred to the board?”

“That kind of thinking is well above your paygrade, soldier,” snapped Glen. “Take the prisoner down to the car and make sure Baz keeps an eye on her. We’ll take her back to Head Office once we’re finished up here.”

Lee saluted and started to bind and gag Shona, pulling out a large burlap sack to carry her in.

*****

Raj, Pete and Kim were watching from the bushes when there was movement over by the office. As they watched another, bigger, burlier man dressed in the same type of black uniform as the man in the Land Rover emerged from one of the side fire exits carrying a man-sized wriggling bundle wrapped in a bloodstained sack. Muffled squeaks of indignation filled the quiet air and Pete almost jumped for joy. “That’s Shona! I’d recognised that muffled death threat anywhere!”

The bundle was unceremoniously dumped in the back of the land rover as another blacked out car, this time a limo, pulled up outside. A man Raj, Kim and Pete recognised as skulking about at the back of Gordon McKay's funeral emerged and the security guards saluted. The hulking one led him back into the building.

“We’ve got to rescue her,” announced Pete determinedly.

“And how are we going to do that with a bunch of steroid-junkie gun-nuts guarding her?” asked Raj icily.

“We could cause a diversion?” tried Pete.

“And get shot,” pointed out Raj.

“Shhh!” said Kim as the sentry pulled out his radio again.

They listened carefully as he checked in with his colleague. “We have the live one. Dr Perez has ordered her taken back to the Lincoln facility to be questioned. Yeah, it’s a bit weird; I would have expected someone from the management team to turn up to oversee this personally. There’s something political going on here, that’s for sure.”

A twinkle behind them caught Raj’s eye and he turned to see the lights for the estate flickering into existence. “Damn,” he whispered, “we’re going to be visible in a few seconds. We have to get out of here.”

“Where are we going?” asked Kim in a whisper.

“We’re going to make a phone call. I’ve got a plan.”

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Jashyr

September 2010

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