The first thing I could feel was the rush of cold air entering my nostrils. My eyes opened and I came to, my neck aching and head bent 90 degrees to the left. A lake of drool was fully formed on the papers covering my desk, my mouth its main tributary.

The moment you wake up from an afternoon nap is both puzzling and beautiful. It’s tomorrow while still being today. Or maybe it’s just today, all over again.

I sat up and swiped at the long thin string of drool still connecting my mouth to my desk. “God, I hope no one noticed me like this.” I glanced at the clock and saw that it was only 3:51pm, Dr. Cadore had only left about 45 mins ago. But looking out my door, the rest of the office looked like a ghost town, painted in pastels. “I think I’m still asleep,” I thought, “Just go with it,” I told myself. I looked down at my feet and saw that I was wearing oversized red clown shoes. Yup. Definitely dreaming.

I got up and flopped towards the water cooler halfway down the hall. I could hear phones ringing and people talking, but it sounded like a mono-soundtrack coming from the speakers in the ceiling. I waved at Jim, my boss, as I walked past his office, but he didn’t see me. I continued down the hall and poked my head into Michelle’s office (she is one of the paralegals).

“Hey Michelle, what’s happ…ening…” I stopped and looked at her, but the fluorescent light shone off her face and shoulders, blocking them out. She was motionless. I walked closer and came around her desk – but she wasn’t her – she was two dimensional, and made out of cardboard. A full sized cardboard cut-out of Paralegal Michelle. Not quite sure of what to make of this, I reached out to see what was behind her, when her voice said:

“What are you doing Robert? Don’t touch me, Stop!”

I jumped back, knocking over a few books on her shelf. “I’m so sorry Michelle, I didn’t mean anything…” I bent down to pick up the books and looking back up at her cut-out, saw a small black box at the base. There was a red blinking light and a speaker.

“Hmm, that must be where the voice came from, and that must be a motion detector, but why?” Just then, I heard a voice from the doorway:

“What’s the commotion? Michelle, did he hurt you?” I was Jim, standing in the doorway with his hands on his hips. I stood up and asked, “Jim, where did you guys get this cut-out?” But as the words came out of my mouth, I saw that he was a cut-out too.

“He tried to touch me, Jim,” said cardboard Michelle’s little black box. I started to argue with her, but stopped. “This is ridiculous,” I claimed.

“There’s nothing ridiculous about sexual harassment,” stated the cut-out of my boss. I turned to my left to address him and he was standing two feet in front of me now, with his right arm raised. Scotch-taped to his hand was a picture of a butcher’s knife. “I’m not going to tolerate this kind of behavior Robert. I expected so much more out of you,” Jim’s cut-out said, his lips flat and motionless.

I was boxed in.

“Fuck you Jim!” I screamed. “Fuck you Michelle!”

I grabbed the pair of scissors that were in Michelle’s desktop organizer and stabbed through Jim’s torso. Blood began to squirt rhythmically from the hole.

 “I wish you hadn’t done that Robert,” he said, “Now I’m really disappointed with you.”

I heard the sound of knife hitting bone and looked down at my left shoulder. What looked like blood was all over my white dress shirt. For some reason I tasted it, it tasted just like ketchup.

“Look what you’ve made me do Robert,” Jim cried. I peeked under my shirt and saw nothing. It didn’t hurt either. The picture of the knife in his hand was dripping red.

I stabbed at Jim again, this time dragging the scissor downwards as it went through the cardboard.

“You can’t kill me Robert. I’m a zombie now. I’m already dead.”

“No you’re not!” I yelled, “You’re just an asshole!” I threw the scissor down and grabbed Michelle, throwing her at Jim. They fell softly to the ground.

“I told you not to touch me!” She cried.

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” I screamed, “just stop talking to me!”

I stacked them neatly together, and picked them up by the waist, and walked to the copy room down the hall. “I’ve had enough of you, you’re both going in the shredder.” I told them.

“We’re zombies Robert, you can’t put us in the shredder, it will clog the whole thing.” Said Jim.

“No, no, NO!” I replied, “You are not fucking zombies, you are just cardboard, and this is MY dream, bitch. I get to do what I want. And I want to put you in the shredder!”

I lifted them both up and fed them through head first. Their black boxes kept talking anyway:

 “You can’t get rid of us this easily Robert. Do you realize that? You can’t just file us away or shred us. We are everywhere, and we are not going to stop. We don’t know how to stop. We will find you and eat you. There is nothing you can do about that. We’re not afraid of you. We’ve already won the war, and the war hasn’t even started yet. Face it Robert, you are going to die soon. Now wake up! You’re asleep at your desk again, and you have a lot of work to do. Robert, wake up…”

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