The grind of days of data entry had numbed the call centre workers’ brains to an all-new low. By ten o’clock the boards were already fun and the phones were ringing ceaselessly. The supervisors prowled for difficult callers and staff taking too long to resolve their customers trivial issues.
Mike ground his teeth in frustration, listening to Mr G.E. Abbingdale painstakingly detail how hard it had been to find the number he had just called on their website. His hand sought out the remnants of his stress ball and gouged it savagely with his fingernails. He’d been there since eight o’clock and already wanted to kill everyone. The allure of going postal was powerful. Getting the guns to do it with was virtually impossible. That was probably a good thing. Probably… wouldn’t it just be freeing people from this nightmare?
Mr G.E. Abbingdale finally ran out of steam and grudgingly conceded that he had indeed located the desired number and having done so had made this call but his need, which drove him into his number-quest, had vanished during the duration of the subsequent call. Mike ended the call and drove his thumbs into the pits of his eyes.
He raised his hand to indicate that he needed to be covered while taking a break. After receiving the hard eyes and reluctant nod of his supervisor. Mike thrust undercover finger-Vs towards the bastard. He pushed away from the desk and headed for the loos. A sudden blare of telephones accompanied his use of the urinal. It sounded like every phone on the switchboard had lit up; an excellent time to not be there. He washed his hands and rested his face on the hand-dryer before pulling himself back together.
The corridor outside was silent, a welcome relief from the endless ringing and babble. Maybe the phone system had broken down again – one of those rare but wonderful times. They would either be found some other make-work to do or told to fuck off and not expect payment for their downtime.
Large glass doors opened into the circle of hell (as the phone operators had dubbed it). Mike resignedly pushed them open, and stopped. The room was silent and still, and everyone was looking at him. The expression of sheer malice made Mike briefly wonder if he’d accidentally pulled a power plug out again. Then he noticed the stream of blood following the badly laid carpet tiles.
The door swung closed behind him, settling with a quiet sucking thump. Everyone shifted minutely. Predatory, menacing stances. Mike was uncomfortably reminded of being at the zoo, eyes following him as he walked round the cages. There were no cages here. Just his colleagues, standing by their desks. He also noticed that there were more feet under one desk than people standing behind it. A face peeked out from under the chair- Mark, one of the elite cadre of supervisors now crouching shivering under a table. Mike had worked here for six months and never exchanged a single word with him. Mark’s face was white and lightly spattered with blood, the same blood that was being soaked up by the carpet tiles.
Their eyes met. “Run you fucking idiot,” Mark whispered hoarsely. The two nearest helpdesk operators responded instantly – Brenda (mother of two, prone to weight gain, badly made up) flipped the whole desk over, knocking computer, phone and stationery across the floor. Before the cables had finished ripping out of their sockets and almost before the edge of the table hit the ground, Usuf (cat hater, mid-forties, bad taste in ties) had seized Mark and began slamming his head against the next desk. Mike heard Mark’s skull crack and he became limp as his head turned to a broken bloody mess.
Mike panicked and spun round, fumbling at the door. He’d always laughed at people who pushed when they needed to pull, but right now he couldn’t figure out why the door wouldn’t open. The letters that made up the word ‘Pull’ didn’t work, didn’t refer to anything. The reflections clustered closely behind his own mirrored face of fear. A weight struck him from behind, hammering him into the glass door. He felt a tooth crack on impact. He began to scream as hands and stabbing fingers tore at his arms and legs. All he saw was the empty corridor outside.
- The War Alone Day One: Art Class part 1 of 3 (captainpigheart.com)