This story is by Aspen Rand and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
As the work day progressed at a snail’s pace, Jace got more and more anxious for the end of his shift. His job was sorting the paperwork from the rest of the building and giving the mail out to the others.
“Jace! Over here!” his co-worker called him over, hand raised in the air so he knew where to go. He pushed his overflowing cart over to the cubicle, parking the large object across the hall.
“Yeah, what’s up?” he asked, though he knew he would have an errand to run.
“Actually, I wanted to see if you’d come to this party on friday,” the man sitting in the cubicle said. His name was Geoff. Jace didn’t know what to say, he hadn’t been invited to a party since he was in college. And that was by accident. His hands began sweating.
“Yeah, sure,” he said reluctantly and nodded. The other man smiled and nodded in approval.
“Nice man. See you after work, then!” Geoff said enthusiastically, going back to his work. Jace thought that was unusual as he grabbed his cart again and continued his rounds.
After the encounter with Geoff, everyone seemed to be staring holes right through this back as he walked by. The sting of being watched constantly.
Eventually it was time to go home, the sunset washed the office with an eerie orange light. Papers rustled as people gathered their belongings and packed them away to see their loved ones at home. Jace didn’t have anyone to go back to, so he didn’t have to hurry.
“The party, remember?” Geoff said as he ran towards the door. Jace nodded and thumbs-upped his co-worker. “Great.” He opened the door only to stop dead in his tracks. Everything seemed to cease to live. The noises stopped and the air stood still. The hair on Jace’s arms and neck stood on end. He silently peered over Geoff’s shoulder only to see something truly horrifying. The carnage from the previous people who exited before them was strewn all over the hall, the wall dripping blood. A slab of what Jace thought was skin slowly slid off the wall, making a splashing sound as it hit the ground.
Geoff curled up into a ball on the floor and retched, stale coffee and muffins dancing with the gore on the tiled floor. “What happened?” he asked, wide eyed and scared. Jace shrugged and blinked once, finally smelling the stink. A sickly metallic scent that seemed to singe his nose hairs. He heaved a large portion of his lunch out onto the floor behind him, splattering his dress shoes.
Geoff stood up, supporting himself with the door frame. He slowly took a few steps into the hall, evading some of the globs of flesh and innards in the way. Jace followed, but first went to the lounge room to find some sort of weapon, in case whoever did this was still in the building. An umbrella that was left in the back corner would have to do, he grabbed it and ran back out to meet Geoff. There were others still in the room behind them, and they all had different reactions to the horror outside the door. Screaming from behind shook his skull and gave him more anxiety towards the situation.
He rounded the corner of the hall and faced the elevator doors. The light at the top was shining and the doors were opened just a crack, but it was enough to see three huddled shapes shivering and crying. He ran towards the crack and pried it open the rest of the way. The noise attracted the attention of the group inside and they looked him in the eyes. Their yellow irises swirled with pus and their sunken faces had deep extrusions, their mouths and hands were drenched in dripping blood.
Jace’s eyes bugged out and he realized then who did this.
Geoff tried to steadily walk to the exit of the building, but kept tripping and stumbling. He was in a daze that wouldn’t shake. The carnage in the hall went all the way down to the elevator doors, where Jace stood with them open. He stood in such a way that Geoff thought the man was a statue.
“Geoff, is that you?” Jace feebly asked, not moving an inch. Geoff grunted and stopped.
“I found the culprits…” he softly said, almost in a hushed whisper. Geoff regained his balance and walked towards Jace, careful not to slip in blood. The other man looked over his shoulder at him with a pale and sweating face.
“Who is it?” Geoff asked quietly.
“I-it’s not a who…Geoff. Things,” Jace faced the doors again. A clattering sounded from the elevator, making Geoff and Jace jump. Jace moved from the opening so Geoff could look in. Jace didn’t look away from the doors as Geoff looked inside the box. He gasped and pressed the up button on the wall. The doors closed and the elevator lights showed that it was headed to the top floor. Jace breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short lived. The others began walking out of the room and they were all disarmed.
Jace knew what was going to happen.
One of the women walked up to Jace and tugged at his sleeve. He looked at her quizzically, “Umm, Jace. What’s going on?”
“Monsters,” he said simply.
“What do you mean?” she started to get worried.
“Things that aren’t human,” he stated. The girl, Liz, let go of his sleeve and stood to face the wall. Jace noticed her shoulders shaking.
Geoff was sat at the foot of the doors to the elevator, a blank stare on his face, his legs were spread on the floor and his head was leaning against the doors behind him.
The exit sign above the stairwell entrance began to rattle and the door began to shake. Loud thuds made everyone wait in fearful anticipation.