Harold whispered through gritted teeth, “Go back to your desk! Go! Now!” His eyes moved quickly as though watching for danger, face screwed up in fear.
Uh oh. It happened again. Scurrying back to my desk, I put my hands on the computer keyboard and listened. Who was it this time?
Somewhere on my aisle, a phone rang. Heads popped out and made shushing motions. One of the rules was, don’t make noise, she might hear you. And if she heard you … better to not even consider that.
My hands fell into my lap. I squeezed my eyes closed and tried to hold my breath. “Not me, not me, not me,” my mind chittered nervously.
Memories of the last time popped to the surface. I’d barely escaped, tried to cry quietly in the bathroom, great heaving sobs escaping. It was horrible, and every day I dreaded a repeat.
I sniffed. Cigarette smoke? I didn’t know she … oh, that’s not good and it’s not cigarette smoke. Crouching down, I wrapped my arms around my head. I knew everyone else was doing the same thing. Something loud was coming …
My neighbor let out a little squeak. I crawled across the aisle into her cube and we wrapped our arms around each other, trembling in fear. “No, no, no, nonononono …” Opal whispered.
Leaning closer to her, I whispered in her ear, “Whose turn was it this morning?”
A tear rolled down her cheek, “Mine. I got in late, she was here before me …” Her face fell. We were all terrified.
The last person got fired on the spot. The floor around them scorched from the flames coming out of the monster’s nostrils.
As the roar died down, quiet clinking came from the break room. Glass on porcelain. A spoon stirring in liquid. The smell of coffee rose over the smell of sulphur. Who was stupid enough to be in the break room right now?
Then, porcelain on floor tiles. The metal of the spoon moving the liquid. Opal and I put our heads down, our fearful tears mingling as we held our breath.
Quiet. Slurping. Really loud slurping. The sound of heels moving across the floor. The swish of clothing. A collective sigh as we all went back to work.