This story is by Victor and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
At first there was only a whisper.
Did I say whisper? Oh well.
‘The Monday morning role call in the office began like any other day of the week. Each of the days was no different than the others in this respect. The calls to attention were so similar and so pointless that you could easily forget what day you were being called for. Deluding yourself that it was the Saturday role call for instance would be a pretty easy mistake to make. It could however impact your morale in such a devastating way. Because how can you live through a week at the office of the dead thinking it was Friday role call while actually it was Monday. How can a man’s spirits survive such a blow to the gut. How can a man…’
‘Frank, hold on,’ said George, lifting his stubby index finger up. ‘You’ – and on this word George planted the finger he had held up aggressively supremely centre between Frank’s sweaty mantits – ‘are trying to tell ME’ – pointing at his own decaying bonesack – ‘that you can still distinguish between the days of the fucking week?! You’re not kidding me, you blowball.’
‘Fuck George, but how else…’
‘Listen kiddo,’ and George seemed to relax his voice a bit, almost in a fatherly manner, ‘it’s a good thing that you are trying to make sense of a senseless situation. You are trying to write yourself a manual for the things that come at you. So you can make order of this life that is trying to…’
‘NO, YOU don’t understand, man. This is not a manual for me. This is a handbook, a code if you will, for the people that come after me. It is a system that one can adhere to to keep sanity instead of senility, to be able to laugh instead of not even being able to cry anymore.’
A faint smile could be seen forming between the outer edges of George’s crusted lips. But his eyes were sad. This was not a smile of enjoyment. This was a smile of pity. The worst kind of smile you could get. George already knew what the kid didn’t.
‘ATTENTION, ALL! These, my minions, are your weekly targets. As always there will be a picture on the front. This is important for …’ And it was at this moment the dead office officer who was in charge saw the new fellow gazing into nothingness.
The fluent swivel of his arm betrayed an unequivocal efficiency and experience of the ranking man. By extension the officer’s hand landed squarely on the boys’s face. There was no intention of leaving permanent damage, but the disjointing of the youngster’s jaw would make the suspicions otherwise.
The only thing the boy could do, as he was painfully aware, was to hold back the tears that were burning behind his eyes. He had to step back in line.
‘To continue…, you must all meet what we have planned for you, or else!’ And at this point in the rather rudimentary explanation his gargantuesk lips smacked hungrily, as one can do only when anticipating a savoury of some sort.
Now the boy could not hold himself back anymore and he started sobbing out loud. He knew. Others had told him of course. Not that anyone wanted to scare him. Its just that nobody could help themselves. All had to tell the stories they heard; making the beasts in their eyes viler and the tasks more horrendous.
‘Frank, look at the kid.’ Frank had tried not to, but his eyes had been cornered on the youngster since his shoulders had stared heaving. ‘For such a pile of misery you don’t put time in. I mean, if you want to write a legacy so badly, do it so someone can benefit that can actually accomplish something.’
Frank had always liked George, ever since his first week at the office. Yes, George scared him with his old short sleeve and protruding muscular arms. They had been neck deep inside the photocopier, slashing cartridges, setting reserve stock A-four on fire. Princess Gertrude had hailed their heroics as the office encounter of the month. There had been however not a single moment there was no matt glaze over George’s sight.
‘I know you’re still sad about defeating the copier, Frank, but the pen should only be mightier when the right hands are holding it. It’s defeat was ink-rement – not to the battle, as you may remember, but – to the week’s campaign.’
‘Yes, George,’ Frank whispered in an almost silent obedience, ’I remember our copyrightousness.’
‘And do you remember we were for that moment famed through the office, Frank? You were no longer the guy that could not remember whether blue or red pens had been ordered; you were a god.’
Now it was Frank’s turn to smile faintly. He did not know it, but it was this sincere smile that would do him in. The monster could feel it. Happiness was weakness. Only sorrow could be the piercing dart. George thought that to give Frank some insight into his own character that he could save him, make him stronger. The effect was adverse. Frank wisened up where only folly could save him.
It was only the first battle that was about to start, but something had gotten loose inside Frank, and before anyone knew it he had started on the path to glory or despair. It was just a grey Tomcat, but charging it alone, anyone could see it would do Frank in. His spirits were held high, but none could save him.
In his downfall Frank was silent. His was acceptance, and with a dull thud his body hit the ground. George could only strengthen himself, appeal to his constitution, as he approached the lifeless body. As he rolled the body over – closing the eyes of his fallen colleague seemed most dignified – the work that Frank had been writing fell out of a pocket.
There was written on the first page inside the the bound together manuscript:
‘George darling, touch something cold, before you wet the bed.’