Sunday, July 17, 2016

***The Call Center***

Harold Wardin didn't much enjoy going to the same boring job all day every day, but it was the only way to keep what little bills he had paid.  Otherwise he'd have to move back to Nederland to live with his sister and her bratty kids.  That that was the last thing he wanted. The call center Harold worked for was by far the largest call center in all of Southeast Texas and was located in the downtown area of Tejas in a large multi-story office building, that also housed numerous other offices.  The name of the call center Harold worked for was owned and managed by a company called “Southeast Technologies.”  The call center itself took up two entire floors of the office building it occupied, and at any given time the call center usually employed over one thousand people.  At times the hours were long and could be quite tedious answering one phone call after another, but in the end the reward was worth it every other Friday when Harold picked up a nice fat paycheck from the human resources department. 

The only real problem Harold could foresee with the job so far was with another hourly employee by the name of Miranda Tumble.  A large, overweight middle-aged woman who in Harold’s opinion was nothing short of what he considered to be real trailer trash.  And it certainly showed by the way she conducted herself around the office.  To highlight a single example alone would be the messy break room.  It never failed that the minute Miranda returned to her cubicle, (which Harold noticed on more than one occasion was also an absolute pigsty). No sooner would Harold clock out and go on his break and reach the break room he would be absolutely disgusted by the mess Miranda undoubtedly left behind.  It wasn’t just water all over the sink and the surrounding counters either.  Food remnants left behind on one of the tables from whatever the large gargantuan, female beast from the black lagoon had eaten.  Even the small microwave the company was kind enough to purchase for the employees to use had not managed to escaped the battle with Miranda unscathed.  And if Harold or anyone else was expected to use the damn thing then it would certainly need to be thoroughly cleaned, and sufficiently sanitized to ensure that none of Miranda’s demonic bacteria could spread to anyone else. 

Tonight was no different.  Miranda had taken her break at seven on the button like she always did, walking down the back hallway munching on a king size Kit Kat bar as she went.  Like did she really need that king size candy bar!? Harold had wondered as he had watched her stampede off to the break room to stuff her face from the trough that she usually brought with her.  The trough Harold was referring to was actually a large double layer plastic bowl that had multiple compartments.  Harold just knew that when the razorback sow came back, and it was his turn to go on his break he knew what he had to look forward to; cleaning up that fat bitch’s mess.  He honestly wasn’t sure how much more he could take before he would finally break.  He dared not confront her directly though, simply out of fear she might dislocate her upper and lower jaw then swallow him whole like an anaconda. It was something he thought she might actually be capable of considering that she was four times his size. 

Around seven-thirty p.m. Harold was in the middle of a random call giving a customer technical support for their cell phone service, (one of the many contracts his company handled) when a supervisor came over and told him Miranda had just came back from her break.  The supervisor quietly informed Harold that after soon as his call was finished he could then go on his break.  Harold nodded without saying anything and worked diligently to conclude the current call.  Personally, Harold hated the way the lunch break system worked.  Each employee was assigned their lunch break by their badge numbers, and it just so happened that Miranda’s badge number came before his.  The concept of course was great in theory, but it depended solely on which employees were working at any given time.   

The employee’s break room was a rather drab room but it was a decent sized room provided by the company only as a mere courtesy and nothing more.  From one side of the room to the other both upper and lower cabinetry with drawers could be seen.  The cabinets were constructed of a basic Formica laminate of a pale vanilla color.  A small countertop the same as the cabinets could be seen also on both sides of the room.  The drawers which were small, numbering in more than six had small oblong metal silver handles that matched similar handles on each of the upper and lower cabinet doors.  In the center of the break room itself were three medium sized tables, with five large black plastic chairs with metallic legs seated around each table.  The surface of each table was made from the same material as the cabinets and of an ash grey with black speckles. 

Sitting on the counter on one side of the break room was a medium sized black microwave with the name, “General Electric” stamped across the upper right corner.  The control panel for the microwave was completely digital touchscreen.  On the same counter to the right not far from the microwave was a basic small, black twelve cup coffee pot.  By the entrance to the break room itself sitting in a corner near the door was a standard white icebox for the employees to keep their food stored while at work.     

Harold wasn’t surprised in the least after walking into the break room to find one of the counters in complete disarray.  From what Harold could see standing in the doorway of the break room, it looked like the remains of several packets of creamer and sugar with their remaining contents were spilled all over the surface of the counter near the coffee pot.  He then saw that one of the eating tables was a complete and utter mess, nearly flipping over backwards!  Of the three tables in the room the center dining table grabbed his attention.  He took a deep breath and sighed letting it out, then walked further into the break room to have a closer look.  From the looks of things, it looked like someone had spilled chili or some kinda tomato sauce based substance all over the table and forgotten to clean it up.  They had either forgotten to clean it up or they’d simply not bothered.  Most likely hoping someone else would come in behind them and clean up their mess.

“Damn that fat cow!!!” Harold said loudly.  “Every damn time she works she does this shit!!! I’m starting to wonder if she lives like this at home?!!!”  He walked slowly through the room over to the counter where the coffeepot was and stood there for a moment staring down at the sticky mess of sugar and creamer left behind all over the counter.  A boiling rage slowly started building up inside of him the longer he kept looking at the sugar and creamer packets left behind.  He began to get so hot with a rage that he began to get a headache.  Suddenly out of nowhere Harold’s arm flew up and he slammed his right fist into the counter so hard, the resulting vibrations along the counter made the coffeepot fly off the burner.  Luckily he was able to catch it before it flew off the counter and onto the floor.  Gently he put the coffeepot back onto the burner then his eyes shifted to the microwave sitting to the left. 

Harold was almost too afraid to take a look to see what the inside of the microwave looked like.  If his past experiences were any indication of what to go by, then he already knew what kinda epic battle he’d have waiting ahead of him.  Most of his break time would now be spent cleaning up Miranda’s mess.  He thought for sure by now she would have at least a little respect for her fellow employees, but obviously not!  Harold stepped over to the microwave and stood there staring at the microwave for a moment.  He took a deep breath hoping to adequately prepare himself for the disaster that waited him.  With much anxiety and anger already built up, he gripped the handle on the microwave and pulled the door back towards him.  After opening the door and looking inside he instantly wanted to gag.  The smell that escaped alone nearly killed him, and then the sight of the microwave’s insides was simply so disgusting to the eyes Harold was instantly filled with the desire to gouge his own eyes out. 

Inside the microwave splattered all over was some kinda blood red liquid everywhere.  To make matters even worse, the liquid itself was giving off a rotten smell which was a cross between meat that had been spoiling for more than a month, and rotten eggs.  “Just what the hell did she cook in there?!” Harold wondered.  There would be no earthly way he could have it completely cleaned up in time before his break was over with and still have time to enjoy his supper.  All he simply wanted to do was enjoy a nice potato soup his chef friend had made for him and relax.  Well the good thing was there was a bright side coming soon.  Starting tomorrow he’d have more than a week off because of the holidays.  That meant he wouldn’t have to see this dump or Miranda for that matter!  That was definitely something he was looking forward to.  “Fuck this shit! And fuck her! They can get that damn janitor to clean it up! That’s what that old bastard gets paid for!”

Harold decided instead he’d take his soup and go eat outside by the picnic table. He went over to the icebox sitting in the corner by the door and opened it.  Inside the icebox were three glass shelves and then three shelves on the inside of the door with a variety of different foods and different sodas that other employees had brought.  On the top shelf where Harold’s soup should’ve been in a small velvet bag from Jason’s Deli was instead a small pink post-it-note acting as a sort of placeholder.  “What…the fuck… is this shit?!!!” Harold exclaimed.  He immediately reached inside the icebox, picked up the note and began silently reading it to himself. 

“Dearest Harold,

I just thought I’d let you know you’re the biggest jerk here!  I also know it was you that ratted me out to one of the Podium Supervisors, claiming I was looking at animal porn last month. 
You keep that kinda tattle tale shit up, and you might just end up earning yourself a blanket party after work one night! And yes before you even bother asking, I did take your soup! It was quite delicious in fact!”

There was no name attached to the post-it note.  With a little snort and a snarl, Harold clenched the post-it note tightly in his fist. He quickly slammed the door to the icebox angrily then stormed out of the break room.  He wasn’t necessarily starving but he also hadn’t eaten anything since lunch.  Oh well! He could just get something when he went home later.  He decided instead to go out back and have a cigarette.  He literally had a much bigger problem to deal with at the moment anyway.  Harold had to stop Miranda from making him basically her personal janitor.  And in his mind a devious idea was beginning to form.  The only thing was how precisely he could he pull it off.  If it worked, he could deal with the other worthless losers as well.    

Sometime later as Harold was heading back inside from his break he was stopped in an outer hallway by Jake Collier one of the call center’s team leads, which was basically a mini-supervisor.  Jake was in his mid-twenties.  He stood six foot three and weighed one hundred fifty. He had thick dirty blonde hair that hung down over his ears and he had bright green eyes.  Basically, Jake was the Ken doll of the call center.  All of the older and younger women both fawned all over Jake anytime he walked by, mostly because Jake was in such great physical shape.  It showed because most of the time Jake wore muscle shirts to the office so he could show off his arms.  Strangely enough even a few of the guys had made eyes at Jake sometimes, but Jake didn’t seem to mind apparently.  A rumor flying around the office was that Jake swung both ways.

Jake smiled a cute little thin smile at Harold, batting his green eyes at Harold which told him immediately Jake was up to something.  “What do you want Jake?” Jake stood there holding a small clipboard against his slim, yet lean chest arms folded neatly across his chest. “What makes you think I want something?”  “You’re batting your eyelashes at me.” “Your point?” Jake asked.  “Dude, I know you’re bi.  But you see, I’m not gay!  If that’s your thing that’s cool.” Jake smiled attempted a protest at Harold’s presumption. “Dude I’m not bisexual, I swear! That’s just a silly rumor that old bitty Marcy in payroll started because I wouldn’t do her! And besides…I was just being friendly. Anyways, but yeah I kinda do want something.”  Harold shook his head giving Jake a look with his eyes wide that said, “I knew it!”  “Well spit it out then! You're wasting my damn time!” Harold growled angrily.  He was still angry from earlier about his soup being stolen and at the state of the break room.  Jake asked Harold to try and chill.  Then he looked at the clipboard in his hands which made Harold curious as to what was on the clipboard. “Well…according to the schedule here.” “Ah! So… that’s what it was all about!” Harold thought.  “With the holidays coming up, they’re running short of people to work with everyone suddenly taking vacation time.”

“According to the schedule here Harold, you’re off for the next three days.”  “Well yeah, I always have Christmas off every year.  I purposely request it. I like to spend the time with my sister and her kids.”  Jake looked back down at his clipboard again then back up at Harold.  He started to click his tongue.  “Well… if you work it this year we can promise you quadruple pay.” Jake said.  Harold sighed looking at the ceiling for a moment then looked back at Jake. He shook his head. “I don’t know man. How many hours are we talking here? Honestly?” Harold asked.  Jake looked at the schedule again. “It looks like sixteen hours total Christmas Eve and then…it’s about the same on Christmas day.”  “So I’ll only get tomorrow off then right? Then work two sixteens?” Jake nodded at him still smiling.  “Yeah but you’ll get quadruple pay! Isn’t that exciting?!” Jake asked. Harold smiled back at Jake with a sarcastic smile on his face.  Jake apparently wasn’t very bright Harold realized because he didn’t pick up on the fact Harold was mocking him.  “Oh man you just don’t know how excited I am about this deal! Dude sign me up!” “Alright man you got it!” Jake said. He turned and scampered off down the hallway with a practical bounce to his step.  “Moron.” Harold whispered after Jake was out of earshot.

Truth of the matter was it would give Harold the perfect opportunity to get back at Miranda as he knew she usually worked the Christmas holiday every year.  But how could he get back at her? And how could he get back at the others as well?  Then it hit him.  Christmas day the company threw a massive Christmas party for all the employees that were working.  He knew that while Miranda was on her lunch break she would be in the staff lounge eating as much food as she could shovel into her mouth.  Thankfully the company catered the party so there would be a near endless supply of food.  Tonight when he went home Harold would look on the internet for different ideas and think of something.  He still had three days anyhow, but he was more than confident he could come up with something truly diabolical.

When Harold showed up to work on Christmas day he was expecting to find the call center almost like a ghost town but he was actually surprised.  The call center floor was actually almost filled to capacity for once.  Naturally the sow Miranda was seated at her station three cubicles over with her chair begging for eternal release. As Harold sat down at his cubicle he laughed to himself thinking about how much pressure Miranda’s fat ass was putting on the small black office chair.  He knew just any minute now the chair would collapse.  And it wouldn’t be his doing or would it?  Yesterday before Harold had left work, he’d waited until he watched Miranda leave for the day.  Then he waited until he got the opportunity and went over to Miranda’s cubicle. Soon as no one was looking he pulled out a small pocket screwdriver and removed all of the screws from the underside of Miranda’s chair.   All it would take now is for Miranda to push back on her chair and down she would go!  

There was a high pitched beeping sound in Harold’s ear so he pushed a button on his keyboard, muttering the usual scripted phrase shown onscreen when he answered the phone.  While he was taking the call a sudden loud scream erupted throughout the call center not far from his cubicle, instantly followed by a loud crashing sound.  Harold laughed to himself once more immediately knowing what the sound was and to whom the scream belonged.  Nearby other employees could be heard saying, “Damn! We’ll need probably a tow truck to get her fat ass up! Miranda you gotta to lose some weight girl!” Harold laughed again. The customer on the phone asked if Harold was laughing at them and so Harold explained that he was laughing at a joke a co-worker had just told him.  Soon as his call ended Harold waved at one of the team leads a young woman by the name of Ann and asked if he could take a moment to use the bathroom.   

Soon as Harold was able to get away from his desk, immediately he went downstairs to the parking lot out to his car to retrieve a couple of items he needed for the next phase of his plan.  He retrieved a large tube of industrial strength plumber’s glue and one other item in a large box similar in size to the tube of glue.  After swiping his identification card at the front door Harold made his way back upstairs.  Once he was back on the call center floor, he went to the hallway where the restrooms were located.  First he went into the male bathroom and checked to make sure he was alone before he began to put the second part of his plan into action.  Once Harold was sure he was alone, he went from stall to stall placing glue down on the toilet seat. Once he had gone through all six stalls Harold then placed glue in between the lock of each stall door after securing each door. He then left the men’s room heading for the women’s bathroom.  Once he reached the women’s bathroom he made sure no one was watching and then entered.  Once inside Harold announced that he was a maintenance technician and asked if anyone was inside.  When no one answered him, Harold did the same thing to each toilet and stall door in the women’s restroom that he had previously in the men’s room. “Phase two complete!” Harold said with a little evil laugh.  He turned leaving the women’s room tossing the empty tube of glue into a small metal garbage can in the corner on his way out.

 It was eleven that morning or just around that time when the privately owned food delivery company hired by Southeast Technologies to cater the Christmas party finally arrived and begin to setup banquet tables in the break room.  Earlier that morning a small meeting had been held to discuss the Christmas party and then to discuss the scheduled lunch breaks.  The supervisors told the employees that shortly after everything was setup, all employees would then take a break all at the same time.  They would also get a longer lunch break than normal.  Then periodically throughout the day they would get a second lunch break, but the secondary lunch break would be a normal time limit break. Any food that was left over by the time the call center closed that evening, the team leaders said the food would be donated to one of the local homeless shelters.  

Harold considered that to be a very note worthy cause except that he actually knew better.  He remembered how last year after the company party he’d lingered behind to see if the food really was packed up and taken to a homeless shelter.  To his disappointment he’d sat in his car and watched how the previous podium supervisor packed up the leftover food into his boyfriend’s car and had then taken it home.  Harold thought that was quite selfish.  So selfish in fact that Harold had followed the two home and taken upon himself to snap a few pictures and a video of the supervisor and his boyfriend unloading the stolen food then taking it inside their house.  

Harold then anonymously sent a copy of the pictures and the video he’d recorded to the company’s board of directors and other upper management.  It was quite a nice slice of justice when the podium supervisor was given his walking papers the following week by the call center’s site director.  Harold enjoyed that immensely. Just like he’d enjoyed busting Preacher Dan last week who was looking at young Mexican girls getting boned by horses on his computer.  Dan in all his spiritual wisdom never once thought for a moment that someone in the call center might be watching his activities.  The arrogant fool!

“Wait a minute!” Harold thought to himself. The post-it note left in the icebox a few days ago.  “So could Preacher Dan be the one who took my soup? Oh well! This would be all the more delicious then!” Harold thought to himself.  Harold looked over to the doorway near the break room.  He then spotted the last of the caterers heading into the break room carrying different sized pots and pans.  He decided now was the time.  He removed his headset slowly standing up.  Nearby Ann the team lead came trotting over to ask Harold what he was doing, and then where he was going as Harold started to walk away from his cubicle.  Harold simple turned around, gave her a little smile then in a casual way Harold told her, “Oh Screw off you bloody hole!”  With her clipboard in hand Ann stood there next to Harold’s cubicle in a state of utter shock.  She couldn’t believe Harold had just talked to her like that.  Normally Harold was usually quiet, reserved, and one of the most well-mannered employees.  Ann turned around walking away so she could find an upper level supervisor to report his unruly behavior.

Harold entered the break room to see the caterers were still setting up some additional temporary tables.  Other tables already had large pots and pans filled with different foods prepared already and then off to the side of the tables setup sitting on a single cafeteria style table were smaller plastic food trays.  The caterers were mostly comprised of young Caucasian women and young men from a generic catering company.  Most of the food looked like it was almost ready.  “So is everything ready?” Harold asked them not directing the question to one in particular.  One of the young women who had blonde hair and brown eyes wearing the typical white chef’s uniform nodded. “Yes for the most part.” Harold was surprised to hear the woman spoke with a thick British accent.   “Where the hell are you from?!”  He asked.  “I’m from South London mate!  My name is Vanessa.”  “London?!” Harold asked.  “What in the hell made you come over here?!” Harold asked.  The young woman leaned over the table as she briefly spoke with Harold.  “Well I’ve been living here for a few months actually.  I moved over here recently to work part-time as a teacher.  Other times I work for this company.”  Vanessa said.  Harold nodded as he then took a quick look over all the food. 

There were more than three large metal pots painted blue with small white speckles all over that were set up on more than one of the large cafeteria tables.  One of the tables was set directly in front of the counter which held the microwave and coffee pot.  On the same table in front of the pots themselves were several stacks of red and green plastic bowls along with similar colored plates with accompanying plastic ware.  On a secondary table to the right of the center table were several large plastic trays filled with small delicious looking cookies made of shortbread, which was then covered in glittery sugar sprinkles.  The kind that made your teeth hurt after you ate more than three cookies.  In other trays sitting next to the cookies was a selection of cheeses and deli meats that had been specially prepared.  Yet in other trays sitting on the table were plenty of different dips and a variety of chips.  After Harold was finished poking around looking over all the food he went back to where Vanessa was standing behind a table near to the door, stirring something around in one of the larger of the metal pots.  “Well it’s good to have you here in our country and I welcome you, but I think my supervisor had wanted to speak to you guys when you all got here though.”  Harold said as he stood on the opposite side of the table with his hands stuffed deep into the front pockets of his jeans.

The woman pointed with a finger to her chest. “Me or all of us?” The woman who had called herself Vanessa asked. “No he wants to speak to all of you about something I think.” Harold said.  The other caterers looked at one another then at Harold as if some of them weren’t really sure they believed him.  They told Harold they’d been given strict instructions once they arrived to immediately find the break room and start setting up for the party.  “Are you quite sure?” Vanessa asked him once more.  Harold smiled with the most confidence he could drum up. “Oh I’m quite sure of that.  He told me the moment you got here and you were finished setting up, he wanted to have a word with you guys.” Harold said.  There was confidence in both his voice and his eyes.  Vanessa noticed the confidence so then she started to believe him but there was something still slightly nagging at her about this American she’d just met.  Something she couldn’t put her finger on.  It was like a puzzle piece out of place or missing altogether.  “Oh well I’m not quite sure it would be proper for us to leave this food unattended.  Our instructions were quite clear not to leave this food alone for even a moment.” She said.  Harold gave a little wave with his hand at her. “It’ll be fine I assure you. Go, go talk to my boss.”  Harold said. He smiled at her hoping to reassure her.  Vanessa smiled right back not sure as to what she should actually do, but it seemed almost clear to her by how seemingly confident Harold was acting that he could be trusted alone with the food.  Vanessa called to her other colleagues that they should go see what the issue was with Harold’s boss.

 Soon as they were gone from the room Harold wasted no time flat in going over to the door, quickly closing and locking it.  He gave the knob a little tug and pull to make sure it was good and secure until he was satisfied no one could get in right at the moment.  He knew he’d only have no more than a few minutes or so before Vanessa would find out his supervisor did not want to talk to them.  And then she’d come charging back demanding an answer from him.  Harold went over to the center table where three pots sat containing what looked to be different soups.  In some pans on the table he noticed what looked like to be marshmallow covered sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing, a smaller pot with some cooked beets, and other boiled vegetables.   He reached into the front pocket of his jeans, pulling out a single large crystal vial containing an almost clear blue liquid with a thick wooden cork stuffed inside.  He then pulled out the cork and held the vial over the first soup pot, which he then poured contents of the vial into the soup pot completely emptying the crystal vial. Then he picked up a metal ladle laying on the table in between two of the pots and briefly stirred the soup around. “Yeah! That should do it!” Harold said. “Only two more to go.”  Harold reached into his pocket once again pulling out two more crystal vials containing a similar blue liquid as the first.

As with the first pot of soup, Harold repeated what he did with the final two pots of soup making sure both batches of soup were decently stirred up after pouring in the final two vials.  “That should take care of these philistines once and for all!”  Feeling more than satisfied with what he’d done, Harold then pulled out a small clear chubby bottle that looked similar to a salt and pepper shaker containing a white powdery substance inside.  The top of the bottle had a wooden cork shoved into it just like the crystal vials.  Harold quickly set about removing each lid to the snack trays one by one containing the chips and dip.  He then took the bottle he was holding and carelessly removed the wooden cork, tossing the cork into the nearby trash.  Taking each snack tray one at a time, Harold sprinkled a good bit of the white powdery substance into the snack tray’s dip container then stirred the dip around the best he could.  Afterwards, he replaced the lids back onto each tray.  He barely had enough time to do the same to each of the trays filled with the cookies before a heavy knocking could be heard on the break room door and then a loud shouting.  It was the voice of the head caterer through the door demanding Harold immediately open the door.  He quickly replaced the lid to each snack tray forgetting about the deli meat as there was nothing he could do about that.  

As he headed over to the door he tossed the empty bottle into the garbage can.  When Harold finally opened the door, there stood Vanessa.  Her face was redder than a lobster from Maine after being freshly boiled.  She was that angry!  Behind her the other caterers stood with just as equal quizzical looks on their faces.
“Ya’ wanna tell me what you were you doing in here just now?! And why was this door locked like it was?!” She asked him.  Harold had an apologetic look on his face. “Oh I’m sorry! I just wanted a chip and to sample some of the dip you made. I didn’t want anyone to see me sampling early so I locked the door.  I’m extra hungry because I forgot to eat before I left home this morning.”  Vanessa gave Harold’s face a once over look at the expression he was giving her.  She walked past him then gave him a smack on the back of the head playfully.  “Well you can wait just like everyone else!”  She then gave him a little smile as she stepped back behind the table to check the food in the pots and stir it again.   “Of course please accept my apologies.” Harold nodded at her and the other caterers.  After giving a slight bow Harold quickly left the break room.  Once he’d returned to his desk and sat down, Harold thought about what he’d just done.  It was the most horrible thing he’d ever done.  Well, that actually wasn’t the truth.  It wasn’t the most horrible thing he’d ever done.  But what he’d just done; or rather this little plan of his came just as close.  Of course he wouldn’t be eating any of the food.  He’d lied to Vanessa when he told her he didn’t eat at home earlier before coming to work.  He actually had already eaten before he came to work, and as an extra precaution he’d even used the bathroom in the lobby downstairs.

After another hour or so of taking a few more of the same boring technical support calls, the podium supervisor for the entire call center came over a loudspeaker in the ceiling to announce that all incoming and outgoing calls would be suspended shortly so that all employees could attend the Christmas party in the break room.  Harold smiled to himself at the thought of the forthcoming entertainment to which he had a front row seat.  Before today would be finished, everyone at this worthless company would get what they had coming to them; especially that fat behemoth Miranda.  Without a doubt Harold knew for sure she’d be in there before anyone else scarfing down as much food as she possibly could. He shivered at the thought of seeing her shove food into the deep, dark cavernous opening that was her mouth.  Harold wagered to himself that he could probably throw a pile of shit on a plate in front of her, and she’d probably eat that too if it was covered in enough caramel and powdered sugar. 

A short time later the annoying sound of instrumental Christmas music came playing through speakers that were set into the ceiling.  As Harold took another support call the song, “Jingle Bells” began to play.  He rolled his eyes and let out an annoyed sigh.  He didn’t mind Christmas all that much, but it was all the fakeness that came along with the holiday is the reason why he couldn’t stand it.  For most of the year people ran around being ultra-nasty to one another, and then like a light switch being flipped whenever Christmas rolled around everyone started being overly nice to one another.  They would run around smiling at one another, doing whatever nice things they could for others as if they thought those little simple acts would make up for all the other bad and terrible things they’d done throughout the year beforehand.  It was enough honestly to make you puke your guts up.  At least in Harold’s opinion.  And if it was one thing Harold couldn’t stand about people and society on the whole; it was the insincere, fake, superficial people.  When it came to the city of Tejas it certainly seemed like there were quite an overabundance of fake and insincere people running loose off of their leashes.  Well maybe after today things would be different.  “Maybe that’s what this city needs! A major attitude adjustment.  And if it takes starting with a bunch of losers at a sorry ass call center, then so be it!” Harold thought.  “Baby steps after all. Baby steps.”

The same call center team lead from earlier that Harold had cursed out; a woman by the name of Ann Criscoe came back by his cubicle and lightly tapped Harold on the right shoulder. “C’mon Harold, time to go to the party.  When we say everyone that means you as well! Remember we’re all a happy family here!”  Harold wanted to vomit and choke.  This over-the-top positive attitude everyone ran around with at the call center was seriously making him ill beyond compare.  It was like their brains had been sucked out.  Or in the very least, everyone in management had been brainwashed into thinking the real world was a nice place to live. 

Ann Criscoe was a short slim woman with shoulder length ash colored hair set upon a slim, pasty white face with hazel eyes.   Ann was a practicing Pentecostal, so having said that she was not allowed to wear makeup which is why her complexion was pasty most of the time.  From the way Ann smiled at him when she’d said that, it made Harold cringe within his own skin.  Everyone that worked for the company was extremely fake.  Sometimes it seemed as if the only way to progress through the company was to kiss a lot of ass. And was something Harold was certainly not prepared to do.  Harold looked up at her giving her a scowl, then nodded once as he removed the headset and stood up from his desk.  He had no intention of missing this special holiday feast.  Watching Miranda eat alone was sometimes quite the entertainment in itself.  It was like going to the zoo and feeding the animals!

Normally with Southeast Technologies renting out two floors in the large office building, the call center typically had a full working capacity of around one thousand employees between both floors.  However, since it was Christmas day the company was short on staff and between both floors, no more than two hundred employees had bothered to show up that day.  In that regard, the smaller break room of the two floors rented by the company was being used to host the party.  As Harold walked to the back of the sales floor where the break room was located he could hear the squeaky sound which he associated with the podium supervisor’s voice.  The closer he got to the break room he realized she must’ve been making some kind of speech.  Ahead of the already large crowd inside the break room Harold spotted a huge fat woman wearing some kind of large green sweater and the most loud looking red pair of sweat pants imaginable. He couldn’t see her face, not only because she was looking away from him but also because her head was being blocked from view by a tall guy from human resources.  Harold stepped to the side only to wanting to satisfy his innate curiosity.

Sure enough! When he stepped to the side it was indeed, Miranda’s huge ass he was seeing.  Miranda had large fat head almost the size of a basketball attached onto what resembled something of a bloated neck on a Jabba the Hut like body, and then with a little bit of light brown pubic hair serving as the hair on her head.  Harold stifled a laugh then quickly turned away as he was examining Miranda from behind.  When he got control of himself he turned back around, giving himself a quick couple of pats to the center of his chest and a clearing of his throat.  That in itself earned him a few raised eyebrows but he simply ignored them.  He was more amazed at how Miranda was able to force her way into the sweater sweatpants she was wearing.  In his mind Harold could not only see the sweatshirt and sweatpants calling 911, but he could also hear them.   He could hear them crying out, begging for an ambulance or emergency services to rescue them from the beast that was currently holding them prisoner and putting them through needless torment.

While he was busy fantasizing Harold felt a small nudge on the edge of his right elbow that quickly and abruptly brought him back to reality.  Looking just over his right shoulder he came face-to-face with Preacher Dan; a tall slim bald headed Caucasian man with thin wire framed metal glasses that covered beady little brown eyes and sat on a smooth shaven face.  Dan Packard was actually his name and he was a parishioner at the one and only local Baptist church in Tejas which he attended religiously.   Often on his lunch break sometimes Dan would preach to everyone to get saved before the end of the world.  Hence, was the reason why he was often referred to as Preacher Dan. 

Harold whispered over his shoulder quietly asking Dan what the hell he wanted. “I know it was your doin’ demon.  So God have mercy on your soul.  I’ll pray for you.”  Harold scoffed at the petty attempt at an insult by Dan.  He looked back at Dan then asked quietly with a whisper to what he was referring. “You know damn well Harold what I’m talking about.  You turned me into the supervisor.  You turned me in right after you placed those filthy, unholy photos on my computer to make it look like I was doing something wrong.  I nearly lost my job.  Thankfully I have the lord on my side and he saved me.”  At that remark Harold wanted to double over loudly with laughter at Dan’s accusation; that he personally had anything to do with Dan nearly losing his job. 

“If you got into trouble for something such as looking at…oh I dunno something like porn, then it was your own damn fault. By the way…was that you that took my soup the other day?”  Harold reached into his pocket and pulled something out, then showed Dan the crumpled up note someone had left in the icebox the other day.  Dan shook his head quietly stating it wasn’t him.   Harold didn’t believe him.  He didn’t figure Dan would admit the truth.  “If someone stole your soup out of the icebox then it was probably the Lord’s will that you go hungry.  It was his will that you remember your place in this world and for you to mind your own business.  That sometimes we must suffer in order to grow.  And yes that suffering sometimes includes going hungry.” Dan said.  Harold not being able to contain himself finally let the laughter erupt. 

The podium supervisor at the front of the break room asked everyone to please remain quiet until she was finished speaking.  After a minute or so had passed Harold and Dan continued their small talk.  “It was the lord’s will huh? I tell you what Dan? Go preach your bullshit to someone who actually cares to listen and leave me alone! I don’t need your saving!”  Dan grabbed Harold by the edge of his elbow this time, but Harold shook him off and walked off in the large crowd.   “Yea.” Harold thought to himself.  “The lord’s will that I go hungry.”  Harold thought to himself.  More than anyone else there, Harold wanted to see Miranda and Dan get it the most.

Harold found a spot closer in the crowd near Stacy Richardson; a young petite blonde haired girl that he’d had a crush on since coming to work there over a year ago.  He slowly maneuvered through the crowd until he was standing right behind her.  There was a rumor that Stacy was a lesbian but Harold didn’t buy it.  Harold being much taller than Stacy he stood right behind her and leaned down so he could whisper quietly in her ear.  Stacy felt someone breathing heavy behind her so she looked once over her left shoulder, but Harold stood back up before she could catch him sniffing her hair. 

Once the coast was clear he leaned back down speaking softly, “Hey Stacy how about we blow this lame party and go find a good place to fuck our brains out somewhere?” Stacy looked over her left shoulder up at Harold.  Her ocean blue eyes seemed to be burning red like the fires of hell right then.  Her neatly trimmed eyebrows arched up so high that at first she looked like an evil witch.  “Uh no thank you Harold. I wouldn’t touch your diseased dick even if you paid me to.” Harold gasped at her in shock. “What the fuck?! Am I that undesirable? Are all the hot women working around here lesbians? And by the way…just how do you know my dick is diseased?” Stacy smiled at him. “Yeah we just might be! You got a problem with lesbians? And you know how people in an office talk.” Harold shook his head then he smirked giving a goofy toothy grin at her.  “So do ya’ got a girlfriend?” Stacy smiled again giving a little curled up smile showing perfect teeth and bright pink gums before answering.  “Yeah I do actually…. it’s your mom!” Harold laughed giving her a roll of his eyes. 

The podium supervisor suddenly spoke even louder to make herself heard. “I am trying to talk here! Does someone need to go into the quiet room?!” Both Harold and Stacy then looked up to the front of the room.  The podium supervisor was a girl in her mid-twenties by the name of Emily Hutches.  She was a petite girl with short brown hair put up in pigtails with a semi-tanned and lean face with hazel eyes.  She was now glaring angrily in the direction of both Harold and Stacy who was then staring back at her.  The “quiet room” to which the Emily was referring to was a medium sized room that was both padded and soundproofed.  At any given time, the room had one table and two plastic folding chairs.  The room was often used as a form of punishment for employees that could not seem to conform or adhere to company policy.  It was an alternative method the company preferred to utilize rather than resort to outright firing or rather terminating an employee.  Stacy and Harold both immediately apologized.  “Another disruption and the two of you will not be allowed to eat with the rest of us! You will eat your meal together in the quiet room!”

Emily looked across the room at the crowd of sudden solemn faces in the break room.  “I’ll take that as a direct sign no one else would like to interrupt me either!” Emily was quite the formidable supervisor around the office and she was such to the point that some of the employees had taken to secretly calling her “The Commandant” behind her back.  When no one dared to say anything else lest they also end up in the quiet room, Emily continued on with her speech which consisted mostly of thanking the employees for their hard work.  Emily then went on to announce that because of all the hard work everyone had done to meet both the incoming and outgoing call quotas, the company’s call center division had recently been awarded a new corporate contract.  The specific type of the contract was not going to be disclosed until the final details were ironed out.  Once the final details were made clear then a follow-up announcement would be made at the next staff meeting.  Emily concluded her speech and the meeting by stating how the corporation appreciated everyone and they wanted everyone to have a Merry Christmas. She then concluded the meeting and encouraged everyone to enjoy the party.

Cheery Christmas music then filled the break room as the gathered employees began moving about, going from serving table to serving table being served a sample selection of the different foods.  Harold meanwhile hung back by the door to the break room leaning up against the door frame with his arms crossed over his chest watching everyone.  For the moment the main focus of his attention was primarily on Miranda who was seated at one of the break room tables in the center of the room.  Since Miranda was one of the first employees to enter earlier, she was also one of the first people to line up and get served some of the food. “This is absolutely wonderful. Just look at how much food she has in front of her.” Harold said under his breath. As always Miranda managed to make a practical hog of herself by grabbing multiple plates, loading them down with an assorted collection of the finger foods from the plastic serving trays.  Harold couldn’t believe how much food she had.  He was shocked when Miranda then stood up and went over to the table that had the pots of soup, apparently to fetch herself a bowl of gumbo.  

“Hasn’t she got enough food already?!” Harold wondered to himself.  He watched as after getting a small bow of gumbo Miranda went to sit back down at her table.  He giggled as he heard the plastic chair squeak from her enormous weight.  The chair was obviously defying the laws of gravity because somehow it was managing to hold her up quite well.  He watched as the huge heifer began wolfing down the small bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo with rice.  Around the break room some of the other employees stood around drinking some of the eggnog which had been carefully laced with a bit of Jack Daniels whiskey by the caterers.  Of course soon as he’d gotten the opportunity, Harold had slipped into the room earlier unnoticed when the caterers took a brief break, and added his own secret ingredient to the eggnog.  Harold knew that not everyone would eat the food immediately so he thought it was best to cover as many bases as possible.

It was about an hour into the party when Harold decided to go onto the outside terrace for a quick smoke.  When he came back inside at first he noticed nothing out of the ordinary.  Then he looked over at Miranda to see she was still chomping away at her massive food collection, still going strong after almost a full solid hour. “Damn! Doesn’t that woman ever get full?!” Harold wondered to himself.  As he was standing there in the doorway of the breakroom up against the doorframe watching Miranda chow down, Harold finally noticed something was different about Miranda.  It wasn’t until a few minutes or so after he’d came back inside that he noticed what that something was.  Miranda happened to look up for only a brief moment to take a breath in between mouthfuls of the red velvet cake she was devouring as if it was going to be her very last piece.  Looking closer at her, Harold could see that her eyes appeared to be almost bloodshot.  Something was definitely wrong with her.  It also appeared that Miranda had some kinda yellow mucus dripping slowly down her nose.  He watched with utter disgust as Miranda wiped her nose off with the back of her hand and kept on chowing down like there was no tomorrow.  He just smiled and shook his head completely amazed that nothing so far seemed to slow her down.

Over in a far corner of the room Preacher Dan was busy preaching to Stacey about something trivial most likely.  Then when he raised his voice to a level that was noticeable, Harold looked over just in time to hear the wannabe preacher accuse Stacey of being a little carpet munching, slut.  Harold giggled with delight realizing Dan must’ve been drunk.  Stacy abruptly slapped Dan across the face then walked away as a few bystanders who were watching had a huge laugh at Dan’s expense.  Harold cleared his throat lightly forcing a bigger laugh back down into his chest.  He looked back over at Miranda briefly then back at Dan.

Jake the team lead supervisor from two days ago who had asked Harold to work the holiday time was standing over in a corner near the front of the room with Emily laughing at some lame joke Emily must’ve told him.  Jake started to cough.  It was only slightly at first then his coughing spell began to evolve and grow worse.  As more people came and went from the break room getting food, Harold eventually moved from his position in the doorway towards closest table, taking a seat so he could watch the entire room for a moment.  More precisely he wanted to watch what was happening with both Jake and Miranda.  He knew something was going on or so he thought.  While he was watching the two of them, Sam one of the “Quality Assurance” supervisors came over to Miranda’s table and leaned over close to tell her something.  Sam had a medium lean build with brown hair that was cut into a side swept style and he had light blue eyes.  In general Sam had that all-American clean cut look. It was the typical look Southeast Technologies preferred to hire.

Harold watched Sam’s lips closely as he was speaking to Miranda who continued stuffing her jet-puffed marshmallow face.  From Harold’s perspective, it was as if Miranda was acting as like Sam wasn’t even there!  Apparently from what Harold could make out, it seemed Sam was asking Miranda to ease up on how much food she was getting so the other employees would be able to get something to eat.  Harold snickered to himself.  Sam had been mighty brave to go and tell that beast to slow down on her eating.  Then before Sam knew what was happening, Miranda took the plastic spork she was eating some turkey and gravy with and jammed it down into Sam’s right hand that was perched on the side of the table telling him loudly “to get lost.” Sam howled loudly in pain rubbing the top of his hand with the other looking down at Miranda as if she were some kind of inhuman monster.  Harold snickered to himself again.  “Sam must be new here. Or he certainly acts like it.”  Harold thought.  Most everyone there knew by now not to interrupt Miranda while she was eating, even Emily the podium supervisor knew better. 

“Speaking of Emily where has she gotten off to?” Harold wondered.  Harold quickly scanned the room.  In the same corner he quickly spotted her still huddled up with young Jake. Something was wrong he could tell however.  No longer were the two of them laughing together and having a good time.  Now she was holding a holiday paper napkin up to his nose and Jake had his head tilted back slightly.  As Harold closely watched the pair, he could see a scarlet looking liquid running down the front of Jake’s face.  He could also see Emily’s face and how she looked completely distraught as she was attempting to stem the flow of blood.  “Yes! It was starting to work!” Harold thought. His little creation was starting to work! “Why wasn’t anything happening to Miranda’s fat ass?” He wondered.  He looked back over at Miranda. A possibility occurred to him.  It was probably because of her larger body size, and so it might take a little longer.  Then he remembered what he’d done to some of the desserts earlier.

It was almost an hour later and Jake’s nose was still bleeding and flowing like a river.  Emily had her phone out, frantically trying to call for an ambulance only to find that for some reason or another her phone couldn’t get a signal.  Harold was so thankful that he was able to find a signal blocker for cellphones over the internet two days ago with overnight shipping.  He’d needed everything to be just right for today.  Emily turned away from Jake and began asking some of the other coworkers to try their phone, but they confessed to her that they no such luck as well.  Emily said she’d try using the phone in her office.  Harold laughed quietly to himself knowing it was nothing more than a futile effort.  That Emily was fighting a hopeless battle.  After she was gone Harold pulled out a cell phone of his own that had a timer of some type running on it.  The display on the screen showed a timer with ten minutes remaining left.  Casually he slipped the phone back into his front pocket and went back to paying attention to the employees who were enjoying the party or who were at least trying to. 

Within the next hour as Harold sat idly by watching, other employees had left the party temporarily to go sit on the outside terrace for fresh air and complaining they were not feeling well. Even two or three of the caterers had to excuse themselves. Miranda however continued to eat and fill herself up like the glutton she was.  Harold was truly impressed with how much she could eat.  She truly was a bottomless pit!  Emily returned a short time later and reported to one of the quality assurance supervisors that the building’s internal phone lines seemed to be inoperable for some reason.  She then asked Sam to take the elevator down to the lobby on the first floor and ask the security guard to call for an ambulance.  Sam nodded at her then quickly left the party.  Soon as Sam left the room Harold stood up and followed, trailing behind him slowly.  After all his careful planning and hard work there that was one thing he’d forgotten to do; shutoff elevator access.  He couldn’t let Sam reach the first floor no matter what!  If the ambulance crew arrived, there was a slim chance they might know what was wrong with everyone and Harold just couldn’t risk letting that happen.  He couldn’t let the perfect all-American ruin his good fun.   

In the hallway near a set of polished silver elevators Sam stood alone wearing a green shirt and red sweater vest whistling the tune to “Jingle Bells.”  He’d pushed the call button and was waiting for the elevator to arrive.  After a minute or so when the elevator still hadn’t arrived he looked over at the silver panel with the call buttons to make sure the panel was even working.  Sure enough he could see the button was brightly lit indicating the elevator was in service.  He pushed the button again as if pushing the button on the panel a second time would make the elevator arrive any quicker.  A familiar voice behind Sam said, “Is something amiss my dear Sam? Is the elevator not working?” Sam turned around to see Harold standing there with his hands tucked firmly behind his back standing in a military at ease position. 

“What do you want scrub?!” Sam asked loudly and with a sarcastic grin on his pretty boy face. Harold chuckled slightly. “Ah! Let me guess Sam. I’m a scrub because I don’t work in QA. Is that right?” Harold asked sarcastically.  Sam smiled broadly at him. “That’s exactly right Harold! You hourly employees are gutter trash and you’ll always be gutter trash! Now run along and go enjoy the party that we threw for you.”  Harold gasped pulling his left hand out from behind his back and holding it to his chest. “Oh you threw for us? I wasn’t aware that you personally threw the party for us little lowly, hourly employees.  My apologies, I wasn’t aware I was in the presence of a god.”  Sam didn’t appreciate Harold’s sarcasm.  “You’re treading on real thin ice Harold.  You’re a drone and nothing more. You can be easily replaced. You know that right?” Harold smiled at him and gave a little nod. “Yeah? Well, so can you asshole!” Harold brought his other hand out from behind his back producing a small clear glass beaker with a rubber stopper and what looked like a muddy brown liquid inside. 

Sam barely had time to focus his attention on the beaker before Harold flipped the top off the beaker with his thumb.  With a quick shake Harold shook the beaker in Sam’s direction sloshing whatever liquid was inside directly into Sam’s face.  It turned out the liquid was a highly corrosive acid that when it came into direct contact with Sam’s skin, it almost immediately it began to eat away the top layer of skin on his face.  Unfortunately for Sam it was far from over.  As Sam fell to the floor howling loudly in extreme pain, Harold then stood back laughing with a twisted, maniacal delight. 

Within a matter of mere minutes, the acid that Harold had thrown into Sam’s face had worked and it had worked quite well.  The acid had quickly eaten through most of the top layer of skin on Sam’s face to the point that his cheek and chin bones were beginning to show.  By the time all would be said and done, Sam’s face was quite the bloody mess.  Such a mess in fact that it made Harold even wrinkle his nose up, but only for a brief moment.  As he stood by watching and whistling a happy tune of sorts, he was amazed at how it only took a few moments for the acid to quickly finish Sam off, completely destroying his entire face.  Harold couldn’t leave it at that however, he wanted to be certain. He took his foot and placed it center mass of Sam’s chest then rocked his foot back and forth to make sure Sam was finally dead.  He then got a brilliant idea.  He stepped in closer to where Sam lay on the carpet.  He stood with his legs spread and unzipped his pants, taking his penis out and proceeded to urinate all over Sam’s semi-mutilated corpse.  After he was finished Harold then sucked up deep into his sinus cavity and then hocked a loogie into what little remained of Sam’s face. “Take that pretty boy!”

Only one thing remained for Harold to take care of before he left. And it was the finale part of his plan.  He backtracked down the hall heading back toward the sales floor stopping near the janitorial closet.  He opened the door and went inside.  It was here he’d hidden something that morning when he’d first arrived to work.  The janitors had been there earlier today, but thankfully they’d left just before the Christmas party had really kicked off.  The caterers had been expected to do the primary cleanup work and then if anything was left to take care of the janitors would take care of the next day.

Minutes later Harold was back in the break room sitting at the same table near the entrance watching as more people had apparently come down sick.  All thanks to him, but no one knew that.  Except for Harold.  Emily walked over to him and asked Harold if he’d seen Sam come back upstairs.  Harold smiled up at her and shook his head stating that he had not.  Emily thanked him and turned walking off.  He sat there watching and reveling over the chaos that he’d personally created.  Reserved in the fact that the revenge he was taking on his fellow employees was well served.  The only reason why he even bothered coming back into the break room was to enjoy seeing the full spectrum of his handiwork in action. 

After seeing what he thought was enough, Harold stood up exiting the break room and then went to his desk on the sales floor.  From a bottom drawer of the desk inside his cubicle he removed a green cylindrical canister that looked similar to a large thermos with a yellow shiny label wrapped around both ends.  In small print on the yellow label were the words in large bold black ink, “Property of the U.S. Government.”  Taking the container in one hand Harold then walked back to the edge of the break room and stood there for a moment in the doorway before calling Emily’s name.  When Emily finally looked over at him Harold took the canister he was holding tightly in both hands, twisted the top counter-clockwise and yelled while looking directly at her, “I quit!” He then tossed the canister into the break room and turned around laughing hysterically as he walked out.  Everyone in the break room upon seeing what Harold had just done immediately started screaming in a wild panic, ducking into the far corners of the room and under the tables thinking Harold had just tossed a bomb into the room.  When nothing happened Emily said for no one to panic and for everyone to just remain calm.  She then called for a volunteer to go downstairs and fetch the security guard. 

Meanwhile Harold had already made it to the emergency stairwell door ahead of anyone else.  Once he was on the other side of the door, he then locked it from the other side with a special bolt he’d attached the previous night, before leaving work in advance preparation.  Preacher Dan volunteered before anyone else to go downstairs.  As Dan was walking past the canister laying idly on the floor on his way out of the break room, the canister suddenly started emitting a thick white mist.  Immediately everyone in the break room began grabbing their throats.  Dan who was by the door and the closest to the device fell to his knees.  At first everyone began choking so hard they were brought instantly to tears, and then they started coughing up thick amounts of blood. Even the hoggish Miranda stopped eating her food and was grabbing her own wide fat neck. 

Within minutes, everyone inside the break room lay dead in a thick viscous pool of their own blood.  Some thick and yet some thin crimson streaks covered the area of skin beneath their noses and all around their mouths.  Their eyes wide open staring straight off into an empty abyss.  All thanks to a man who’d finally been pushed one time too many to the to the edge and this time he’d fallen over.  No one except for Harold and select members at the FBI knew that Harold once worked for a highly and secret experimental weapons division within the NSA.  A division in the NSA whose sole purpose was designing top level lethal weapons that could be manufactured out of household goods that could be used later to eradicate would-be terrorist targets. 

On the day that Harold Wardin killed all of his former co-workers, and he left the office building in Tejas he literally vanished off the face of the earth and was never seen again.  Had the proper background check been performed by Southeast Technologies they would’ve known he was a former NSA operative.  All the appropriate flags would’ve gone off.  The massacre at Southeast Technologies was instead partially blamed on a gas leak and extreme food poisoning. The extreme acid attack on Sam was quickly explained away as an attack by his ex-girlfriend who is currently serving a life sentence in the main Francis Tyrell Psychiatric Hospital located on Galveston Island.

©July 17, 2016 The previous story is a complete and absolute work of fiction.  Any names, characters, places and incidents contained herein are products of the author’s highly overactive and creative imagination.  Any resemblance to any actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.  Please do not re-print from my stories anywhere without my express written permission. This is my creative work and even though I may choose to share samples of some of my work online with close and personal friends, I would hope no one would take advantage of my good nature and steal portions my work and then change them up for their own benefit or personal gain. This notice at the end of all my books/stories serves as my official copyright notice.  Any characters in official capacity including names of characters or having to do with the actual plot of the story are all copyrighted by me.  

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