Peculiar Type #5 – Office Prima Donna
He rubbed his eyes, uncertain as to whether the fuzzy blob he just noticed was a co-worker or a figment of last night’s pizza.
“Morning, Roberto, what’s up?” the blob said.
Putting his glasses to his face, the blob became clearer. It was his officemate, Carrie, who had transferred from the British branch of the company a week ago. “What’s up?” he repeated. He looked up at the ceiling. “Well, there are the lights. And above that some pipes, I suppose and the roof. There’s the sky, the atmosphere and beyond that the void. Gravity makes the moon spin above our heads and we spin around the sun…”
“Oh, love, you’ve been awake all night doing work again, haven’t you?”
“Yeah, love is like gravity. Gravity brings two planets together just as love brings two people together…”
“You’re rambling again.”
Carrie opened her mouth to reply when a loud moaning shriek reverberated down the hall. The frightening cry was followed by a sickening crunch as if a steamroller had decided to eat one of the copying machines next door for lunch.
Roberto frowned. Maybe it was last night’s pizza. “Did you just bark like a dog or am I hallucinating?”
“I did not bark like a dog!” said Carrie. “Something happened outside. Maybe we should go see what happened or call security.”
Footsteps skidded to a halt right outside the door. A short girl with curly hair pulled up with barrettes and a pair of corduroy overalls one size too large barged in, the top couple of papers from the stack she was holding in her arms flying in the air only to land at Carrie’s feet. Jane was one of the four or five co-op students that the company hired for the term. Usually she was cheerful and efficient, but it was unusual to see her rushing around as if gremlins were at her heels. She slammed the door closed just as they heard several other doors in their hallway also close.
The unearthly shriek was heard again, this time closer, and hard stomping footsteps accompanied the noise.
Jane slumped against the door when it was obvious whatever made the noise was gone.
“Did you just annoy the boss?” said Carrie disapprovingly.
The girl shook her head in the negative. “No. I was next door making copies and then I heard that noise. I coming out of the copier room when I saw Mr. Hemmler walking out of his office looking, well, mad. But that’s not quite accurate. Furious, maybe.”
“Jerry Hemmler?” Carrie was astonished. “Mild-mannered Jerry?”
“I’m not surprised. There have been strange stories about Jerry floating around for quite awhile,” Roberto replied, his attention already back at his computer and briefly thinking about ordering Chinese take-out the next time he had to stay late.
“But Jerry was so nice when I met him the first day…”
“Trust me, it’s Mr. Hemmler,” Jane said as she knelt down to pick up the papers she had dropped. “You just haven’t been here long enough to see the worst of it.”