Welcome to BigFuture™ BSI

One of the Birds bursts out of the flaming house, right through a fresh trail of flame Brick is laying down on the place, then tears off into the sky above, screeching and squawking like all hell. It’s a horrible thing, all gangly bones and green skin and that giant bony bill lined with razor-sharp teeth. Brick just caught it with the last coming out of his ‘thrower, and I can see through the mask of my suit the thing’s on fire now too, singeing from darkish green to black. It squawks and squawks and flaps its enormous wings; Brick’s throwing more up fire its way but the damn thing’s just out of reach. I hear the rest of the team screaming and hollering, then the sound of automatic fire as they let all hell loose its way.

“Burn it to the ground!” I heard Brick yelling over the din. “No survivors! Can’t let the infection spread!”

The family are running out of the house now, all on fire too: the father’s clothes are nearly burned away and the skin I can see coming through is all black; the mother’s hair is mostly gone and covered in soot and smouldering; and the small child being lead out between them is crying and looks like she crawled through a chimney a damn mile long.

The Bird’s flapping every which way, in its dying throes, slowly falling to earth; Brick finally catches it with a burst of fire and then the horrible creature’s fully ablaze. I look over and he looks back at me before letting another burst go. “What are you waiting for Sphinx, burn ’em! Burn ’em before they get away!”

The father is almost on top of me now and I can see his scared eyes grow wider as I pull the trigger. Flame engulfs him totally and he screams and the sound is horrible and higher pitched than thought it would be. The blast engulfs the woman and child too, and I can see them flailing within it, trying to run; arms, legs, faces, all turning black, skin melting away to charred muscle then bone beneath.

And then for a moment the bright light of them reminds me of my first day, of sitting in what seemed like an ordinary conference room in an ordinary office tower with a group of other ordinary people ready to join a completely ordinary company to work an ordinary 9-to-5 at an ordinary job, and me looking up into the flickering bright light of fluorescent tubes overhead.

A pretty black-haired girl with a short skirt had come in to us waiting expectantly. “Welcome to BigFuture™ BSI,” she’d said. “I am so excited to have all of you here joining us, and to tell you that for each of you, for all of you: your Big Future is a bright one.”


Voicemail again.

“Hey Hon, just got a call and another job I’ve got to get to, so just have dinner without me… I should be home around 9. Love ya.”

At first I wanted to be a doctor. Then I started reading about criminology and wanted to become a medical examiner. But guess what? You have to be smart to get into medical school. And you have to be hard-working to become an M.E. And I was neither of those things – so now I do crime scene cleanup. Now I scrape brains and blood and bone off the floor. Think about that next time you have a shitty day at your cushy office job.

I get there and it’s that indoor mall, not far from where I live. They’ve closed down the whole place, yellow police tape everywhere. I give the cop at the front my spiel and he tells me it’s at the back. There’s blood and entrails everywhere.

“Jesus, what happened here?” I say to Carl, the M.E., who’s standing nearby. “Shotgun blast to the torso by some junkie. Fucking heartless.”
“Who was the victim?” I venture.
“A woman. Still trying to ID her as he took her wallet.”

He jerks his head over his shoulder and I look over to see his underlings with the body bag. The last thing I see before I look away is the zipper coming up over the woman’s face. Julia’s face.

Think about that the next time you have a shitty day.

Blue Collar

“Come on down from thar, Buck!” Wayne Crenshaw hollered up to the roof from down on the grass. “Sometin’s wrong with Ozzie!”

Buck walked over to the edge of the sloping shingle, his safety harness following behind him like an obedient snake, to shout down to his boss.

“What?!” he hollered, orange nail gun still in hand.

“I said come on down from there! Something ain’t right with Ozzie.”

Buck took off the rope, something he’d normally never wear at a job out in the country, unless like now when the slant was very steep, and raced down the metal steps of the ladder, making them clang beneath his work boots.

“Where’s he?” Buck said, wiping his nose with his free hand.

“O’er here, c’mon.”

Oswald lay under the trees on the brittle brown leaves from the past autumn, heaving his chest up and down and uttering pained moans from dry, chapped lips.

“The hell’s the matter wit ‘im?”

“Fuck knows,” said Crenshaw. “He just fell down like this after goin’ the woods fer a piss. Reckon we should call an ambulance?”

Ozzie moaned louder, something like words.

“What?” Buck said. “What is it, Ozzie? You dyin’?” He leaned down toward the greening man.

Ozzie moaned again and rose from the leaves in a start, plunging his teeth into the other’s shoulder. Buck screamed and blood gushed from the wound, pouring down over his work shirt and staining the mouth biting him bright red.

“Jesus fucking Christ Oz! What’s got induya?!” Crenshaw took off his old ball cap and swatted at the man, hitting him in the face over and over to little effect. Buck continued to scream and struggle but it did nothing to loosen the vice grip of the teeth sunk in the meat of his shoulder.

“Get him off!” he screamed. “Christ, get him off! Fuck!” Buck punched Oz in the face with his other fist, over and over again, and blood poured from his assailant’s nose, mixing with his own.

Suddenly the stillness around the cottage was broken by a loud thwap, and Ozzie’s body fell back against the dry leaves again, making them rustle beneath it. Crenshaw stood, holding the nail gun limply at his side.

“What the fuck was that?!” Buck said, standing. He held his bleeding shoulder with his hand. Already his shirt was soaked with red. “I need to get to a fucking hospital.”

Wayne Crenshaw stared into the rustling leaves of the forest, then looked down solemnly to the lifeless body before him.

“Shut the fuck up, son,” he said, and dropped the nail gun onto the grass beside him. “Now we’s got ourselves a bigger problem.”

Somewhere off in the forest, a bird sang.



It started like a regular day at the office. But then when I went to the weekly team meeting, no one seemed to be paying any attention any to me.

I came in 5 minutes late and everyone just kept watching Darren make the presentation. No one made eye contact. And when I raised my hand to speak he simply ignored me. Later I started to talk – “Guys, I think…” – but no one noticed. Janet spoke right over me and the meeting continued.

“Guys, why aren’t you listening to me?” I said. The meeting continued as if I wasn’t there. This was surreal. “Hey, everyone!” I said, waving my hands. “What the hell, guys? I’m talking here!” Janet continued extolling the virtues of the new management framework she wanted us to adopt.

“They can’t hear you,” said a voice. I looked down to see a man sprawled out on the floor, dressed in office clothes like mine, only old and dirty. Where the hell had he come from? “Just like they can’t hear me.”

“What’s going on?” I said. “Why can’t anyone see or hear me? And how come you can? Are we dead?”

“We’re not dead,” he said, staring up at the ceiling. “Just different now. We don’t exist to them, only ourselves, and you’d never know it until someone told you. Took me a long time to figure that out. Guess you’re lucky that way.”

“How? How can this be happening?”

The man stood and stared at me. “You’re asking the wrong question,” he said. “There’s only question you should be asking and that question is not how, but ‘why?’”

Unmarked Postage

If only I’d been more careful, this never would have happened. If only I’d thought things through, I wouldn’t be in this situation; here, now, in the hospital, typing this out while sitting in this hospital bed, hoping that if the thing that got to me isn’t just about me, if there’s others out there it’s also happening to, that they can learn from my mistake. I just hope it’s not already too late. I just hope there’s still something that can be done in time. I just hope my warning doesn’t go unheard. Don’t be stupid and end up like me.

I found a box on my porch last week, a giant nondescript cube of cardboard sitting right outside my front door. I probably should have realized something was up right off the bat; I wasn’t expecting a delivery.

Stranger still, the box was completely devoid of anything to identify its origin, destination or purpose: there was no shipping label, no plastic pouch with an invoice, no “this side up” arrow, no nothing. It was a completely anonymous cardboard box. But clearly it was intended for me – it was placed directly on my porch, directly outside my door.

I’ll admit there was a moment of doubt in my mind. What if some psycho had put this there? What if there were hacked up human body parts inside, their blood soon to leach through the bottom in ugly spreading crimson stains, like devastating black death escaping the shattered carapace of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Mexico? What if it was full of burned DVDs of child pornography, scraped from the deepest darkest corners of internet, a box of incriminating evidence placed directly into my hands just before a SWAT team coincidentally showed up at my door?

You’re being ridiculous, I thought. This is either a package meant for you, or some stupid prank. Just open the damn thing.

I wish I never did.

I’ll bring the box inside and open it. Settle this and stop being so irrational. I bent down to lift the package, and expecting it to be heavy, nearly threw it through the roof of the veranda when I lifted it. It was light. Very light. Whatever was in it weighed almost nothing – the majority of that emptiness inside was probably filled with those styrofoam packing peanuts.

I brought the box into the kitchen and grabbed a small paring knife from the drawer. I bent down on one knee to slice the clear packing tape that sealed the top flaps shut and a strange unwanted thought entered my mind: I was a butcher, ready to slice open the carcass of a pig. A hunter about to field dress a murdered deer. A surgeon ready to slice open the chest of an unwilling patient, and steal their heart for a black market transplant.

The blade split the tape cleanly, perfectly in half, almost surgically, just like my last strange mental image. When I ran it over the center where there was a gap between the flaps, there was a small sound as air escaped – the last exhale of the unwilling patient. Whoever had packed this thing had done so that it was damn near hermetically sealed.

I cut the remaining parts of the tape sealing the box flaps to the sides, and I’ll admit that as I did excitement rose in my chest, in anticipation of finally discovering the mysterious package’s contents. I lifted the flaps and opened the top of the box to reveal that it contained…. nothing.

There was nothing in it. The box was empty. The box was empty. There was nothing in it. What? This doesn’t make any sense. This doesn’t make any sense. This is fucking surreal. There has to be something. Something.

In disbelief I ran my hands all through the inside, touching all of it, pressing my palms against the smooth cardboard, then hitting it, grabbing it, punching it. No, there was nothing. It was empty. Empty. Empty inside. Unreal. Fucking unreal. Surreal.

A strange smell, a chemical, antiseptic smell mixed with something metallic was in the box, and now the air around me. I brought my hand to face and could smell it on it too, from where I’d touched the cardboard. The box was empty now, but there had been something in it once. Something which left behind this strange smell that now filled my kitchen and coated my hands. Eau de Union Carbide – the latest fragrance from Paris – the smell of sterile green hospital corridors filled with patients dragging IVs hanging from little metal trees, the smell of a surgeon’s instruments laid out in their roll ready to make the incision, the smell of sitting behind the curtain in a hospital gown and waiting for death. The smell of humans being treated like pieces of meat.

I sat on the floor in disbelief. It just didn’t make any sense. Where the hell had this come from? Why would someone drop an empty box on my porch, very clearly personally delivered by hand, to me, with nothing inside? It defied all logical explanation. What was this? What was this? I kicked the box aside in disgust. Fuck this.

I made dinner. I watched Netflix. I went to bed and dreamt of evil surgeons with giant grins of pointed teeth stabbing me with oversized hypodermic syringes. When I woke up in the morning the box was still waiting for me there on the tile of the kitchen floor, a big crease marring the side where I’d kicked it.

I got ready for work. I sneezed in the shower and the water running down me turned pink. Great, another morning nosebleed. Guess I needed to finally get that humidifier like I’d been meaning to.

My co-worker didn’t think it was so strange when I mentioned it to him the next day.

“Naw man, that kinda thing happens all the time,” he said, sipping his coffee and hovering over my cube.

“What the hell are you talking about? Psychos hand-deliver empty packages to strangers all the time? Because if they do, this is the first I’ve heard of it.”

“Nah, it’s a mix-up man.” He sipped his coffee again, from one of the old mugs from the kitchen, the one from the local radio contest where they’d spelled the station name wrong.

“I betcha that for like 95% of its life that package wasn’t even handled by human hands, man. You know what kinda age we’re livin’ in now? We’re living in the goddamn future, bro. Amazon’s got freakin’ unmanned forklifts buzzing around their warehouses, picking your shit offa shelf and loading into a truck for delivery and there aren’t even people involved. There doesn’t have to be, man – all that shit’s numbered and computer-coded and in the system.

“Didn’t you read that article about that woman in Tucson? Same thing happened to her as what happened to you. She ordered a freakin’ Magic Bullet from Amazon and instead of getting her fancy blender in the mail, a week later she gets this big-ass box with a huge piece of conveyor belt machinery from the warehouse in it. Bug in the system, dude. Literally no humans involved from end-to-end, and the goddamn robots don’t know whether they’re packing up a mix-o-matic for some old lady or a freakin’ nuclear bomb.

“It’s automation, dude, it’s the future. No system is perfect and you just happened to be a bug in the system. Some other guy is on the phone right now, bitchin’ out Amazon’s customer service reps ’cause he never got his package, and you’ve got an empty box, and some other fucker’s got a pile of throw pillows in the mail instead of his box set of Deep Space Nine.”

“I guess so,” I said. “I mean, it makes sense. But it still doesn’t explain how the package got on my porch if there was no shipping label.”

“Whatever man,” he said, and made to leave. “Not worth losing any sleep over if you ask me.”

As he turned to leave, a pain gripped my chest and I bent over in my chair. I hacked and coughed, over and over again. Oh god, it hurt. It was like there was something stuck in my lungs. I could feel my coworker hovering over me, uncertain of what to do as I kept coughing. I could hear my hacking noises going out over the floor above everyone else’s cubes.

Finally, whatever demon was squeezing my chest released me and I righted myself. The exertion and pain going left me light-headed and dizzy; I leaned back in the chair, red-faced and teary-eyed, a self-conscious smile on my face. My co-worker was staring.

“Bro, you alright? Thought I was gonna have to give you the freakin’ Heimlich.”
“Yeah, I’m good,” I said, and coughed again, quieter and under control this time. I cleared my throat and smiled again sheepishly. “Just had a weird something, you know? Down the wrong pipe.”
“Sure,” he said, still staring. He looked like he didn’t believe me. He took one last sip of his coffee and turned to leave. “Later man.”

Days passed, but that cough didn’t go away. I figured I was coming down with something. Great, burning more of my sick days when I should be saving them to play golf in the summer. Whatever, chicken soup and bad TV and this will be over soon.

Yesterday was when I knew. Yesterday when I woke up and a nosebleed would have been positively welcome. I awoke to a horrible searing pain burning my insides. Razorblades were slicing my viscera into a stacks of thinly-cut deli meat. Swarms of snakes covered in barbed wire were writhing in my guts and biting out chunks of my soft red flesh.

I ran to the bathroom and threw the lid of the toilet up. I fell to my knees and could feel the writhing snakes were making their escape, up through my stomach and esophagus. I vomited, retch after retch of disgusting reeking ejecta, fountains and fountains of my blood falling into the ruddying water waiting in the bowl. The pain was like nothing I’d ever felt.

Finally it subsided and weakly I brought myself to my knees. I ran the tap. Cold, cold, cold water poured out noisily. I put my hands under it, grateful for a pain somewhere else, a welcome numbing distraction from the ordeal I’d just experienced. I splashed my face with the frigid water and stared at my weary eyes in the mirror. My weary eyes stared back. I drank the cold from the tap to rid my mouth of the taste of old pennies. I stared at my half-naked self in the mirror.

The image came back to me, the grinning devil-surgeons and their comically oversized syringes: we’re coming for your kidneys. You won’t need them when you’re dead. Be there soon.

I opened the mirror, took a handful of painkillers and closed it again. Something was horribly wrong. I had to go to the hospital. This was more than a cold. This was more than me failing to control the humidity level of my place during the winter.

I called the hospital and explained what happened. I was too weak to drive, I said. Afraid of what might happen if I did. Fine, they’d send an ambulance. Be patient. I hung up the phone and went to walk out to the front porch, out to the veranda, where I’d found that stupid fucking empty box. That stupid empty lump of cardboard.

When I reached the door was when I put it all together, when all the pieces fell into place: the box, the airtight seal, the smell, my coughing, and the final piece, the final nail in my coffin, hand-delivered just as the box had been.

It was a plain white piece of paper slid through the crack underneath the front door, an ocean of white save for two tiny lines of text set dead center in the middle of the page. They were the naked, anonymous metal letters banged to the page from an old typewriter. Staring back at me – foreign, alien, uncaring – their meaning slowly seeped into my addled brain and pushed aside my confusion into a rising horror of realization:


How the Break Room Microwave Shut Down My Old Workplace

Do you guys know that one person you work with, the one that nobody likes? Yeah, well, there used to be someone like that at my old workplace. I say ‘my old workplace’ because, well yeah, it’s not really there anymore. And I’m pretty sure I’m one of the few people that actually knows what happened.

Work is a strange environment. Sometimes the only thing you have in common with the people that you’re forced to share physical space with is that you walk on the same carpet from 9 to 5 that they do. It’s like having a whole shitload of roommates without any choice in the matter. Research by sociologists and psychologist into the nature of Work, capital double u, has found that factors like the working conditions and interpersonal relationships between employees are much more important determinants of workplace satisfaction than things most people would think of, like say, salary (which by the way, in my case, was shit).

I think the reason places like the break room or kitchen or whatever it might be called at your particular place of work can elevate the tension between employees is because they are shared spaces. You’re just trying to eat your fucking lunch without having to listen to that guy a table over keep slurping his fucking noodles and make you hate your life even more than you already do because you’re an office drone and your timesheet is overdue.

Or you’re trying not to be annoyed by the fact that someone keeps leaving big piles of dirty dishes in the sink and randomly eating people’s food out of the fridge. It’s worse than living with a bad roommate, because you’ll never be able to figure out just who that fucker is. You don’t even know who to blame, and even if you did, you probably wouldn’t know him anyway, the guy from cubicle 4451. It’s that kind of behavior that makes human beings sharing space with other human beings bring out the worst in them, and cause people to resort to measures of amazing passive-aggressiveness, like posting notes on the break room fridge written in ALL CAPS calling out the fucker who’s eating everyone’s food and hoping that bastard will stop.

He won’t.

In my old workplace, I don’t know who the hell this guy was – I’ll call him Steve – but I always seemed to end up having my lunch at the same time as him. It didn’t matter what the events of the day were, or if I took my lunch at 11:30 or at 2, it seemed like Steve was always there in the break room at the same time I was. I began to think that Steve either didn’t do any fucking work at all and just hung out in the break room all the time, or that he had some strange obsession with me, that perhaps I had slighted him in some way and he was waging the ultimate war of passive-aggressive psychological attrition against me.

I started to hate Steve because I don’t know what the fuck Steve ate every day but it STANK. Every time Steve was in the break room at the same time as me, he’d put his little Tupperware container in the microwave and hit the buttons BEEP BEEP BEEP and it would make that noise and then the light would come on and there’d be that hum and I knew that glass plate inside was slowly rotating, letting the ungodly odors of whatever fucking disgusting concoction Steve would soon devour seep out into the break room in a uniform manner, until it was totally permeated with noxious odour. It was like being in a fucking sauna of putridness.

For this, I hated Steve.

And I wasn’t the only one. Understandably, other people had the misfortune to experience this same thing I did. I started talking to other folks in the office and they knew exactly what I was on about. “Who the fuck is that guy, anyway?” – Tom from accounting. “I know, right? Like what the hell can smell that bad and possibly be something you would eat?” – Jenni from marketing. “I don’t know who the hell that guy is, but god, sometimes I can smell the break room from all the way down the hall and have to take my lunch at a different hour, just because of whatever fucking disgusting mystery meat he’s nuking in there.” – Jamie from IT.

So you probably think this story is about Steve, right? That Steve is the guy everyone hated and no one knew, and was the one responsible for my old workplace shutting down? That he was just some dude from outside sneaking in and nuking human flesh he’d hacked up in his basement, to devour in front of people for whatever sick and twisted reason it got off this closet psychopath?

Well, you’re wrong. Kinda.

I found out later that Steve was a support guy from helpdesk, ordinary kid working his way through college that just really happened to like Thai food and fish. And it’s true, as you can tell from my writing here, that no one really liked him because of his culinary preferences and their stench which we had to share in.

You see, the person who everyone REALLY hated, who was ultimately responsible for the end of my old place of work, was Diane. Fuck Diane. Some days I felt sorry for her, most other days I just wished she would die.

Diane was fat. Really fat. And a terrible dresser. Each day I had the misfortune of crossing paths with her it was like a fun game to see what fucking style crime against humanity she’d committed. Lots of bright bright colours that should never go together. Lots of ugly, baggy sweaters. Neon leggings which would never be appropriate in an office environment anywhere in the world at any time. And god, her hair – her horrible permed, dyed hair with the roots coming through – fuck.

Diane was loud. Her voice was low and grating, within it bitterness instilled from years of unhappy marriage and dealing with meaningless office bullshit and incompetent coworkers. I could hear her on the phone even though I was a whole block of cubicles away, bitching into her headset at some other drone who was, no doubt, only a few other cubicles away and hating his life because of her.

No one liked Diane. Not even Diane.

She got really upset some days. I heard her yell and scream and could fucking FEEL the awkwardness rising like warm air from my fellow drones’ cubicles around me. You know when someone’s voice changes, when they are just on the very edge of breaking down into tears? Yeah, there was a lot of that too. VERY AWKWARD.

It was pretty clear to everyone that knew who Diane was that she had emotional problems.

Between Diane’s all out being a horrible fucking human being and Steve’s nauseating microwave specials, I was hating life more than just because I had to reboot my computer four times a day, because it kept freezing and IT wouldn’t fix it or give me a new one. I thought about quitting a lot. Or about stabbing Steve or Diane with an icepick.

So yeah, Diane is the one everyone hated. And she’s the one who was ultimately responsible for the company folding after what was unimaginatively dubbed “The Break Room Incident”. Kind of an understatement.

I think I was the only one who really put two and two together and realized that there was a previous altercation which really set off The Break Room Incident, which I also happened to be around for. I don’t think anyone else experienced the former and the latter. And I don’t think anyone else had PTSD, or can’t sleep at night, or has panic attacks and recurring nightmares like me, because they didn’t see what I saw.

Diane was often in the break room at the same time as Steve and I, which made things worse. On the plus side, she kept quiet while we sat there stewing in the disgusting vapors of whatever rancid disaster Steve was devouring. But I still had to be in the same room as her, and listen to her drinking ridiculous amounts of soda from that fucking ginormous cup from Seven Eleven, and eating whatever fucking boxed processed combination of salt, fat and sugar which to her constituted food. I made the mistake of looking up one time and could see the anger in her face, the pure frustration. Have you ever seen a very fat, very ugly woman in a bright yellow knitted sweater angrily chewing? I have and it’s horrible.

And then one day, she went off – the precursor. Diane had already been in the break room when I arrived – boxed food with 2500 mg of sodium: check. Fluorescent green cardigan: check. Crows feet and a dour expression and being a total bitch – check.

I sat as far as fucking possible away from her and tried to eat my meal with whatever tiny amount of peace I could muster in this hell of an environment that I called work.

Then Steve came in. Steve came in with his headphones on, totally oblivious, and took the lid off the Tupperware container BEEP BEEP BEEP HUMMMMMM and I felt like vomiting. Through my nearly gagging I shot a cautious look over at Diane as she was sitting close to the microwave and Steve. Oh shiiiiiiiit. She started getting up. This was going to be bad.

“HEY,” she said. This was going to be a fucking train wreck. I couldn’t look away. Steve was still oblivious to Diane not a foot away from him, still plugged in, still rockin’ out to Megadeth or whatever the fuck he was listening to. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP he pushed the button and the door opened and he took out the steaming container that smelled like shit.

“HEY.” Diane said, again. This time, he heard her. Slowly, he took out his headphones. “THAT FUCKING STINKS.”

Steve was, needless to say, a little surprised.


“That fucking stinks,” she said again. “and I SWEAR TO GOD if you nuke any more of whatever disgusting crap you’re about to eat when I’m in here, I WILL PUT YOUR HEAD in that goddamn microwave so you can smell it.”

Diane brought her big flabby bear paw of a hand up and smacked the container Steve was holding up into his face. The hot, steaming, disgusting sludge which he called food exploded everywhere, all over him. Diane stormed out. Steve stood there in shock, reeking and coated in his brown sludgy foul-smelling lunch. I left, and took the afternoon off. That night I dreamt of Diane’s demon eyes and sinking into an ocean of brown mire that was Steve’s lunch.

About a week later is when the incident happened.

I came up to the break room for my lunch and I could smell the foul miasma floating down the hallway. Fucking Steve, I thought. As I got closer to the break room, I saw Diane leaving at the other end of the hall. I found out later I was the last person to see her before she disappeared.

I got closer to the break room and the rancid smell got even worse. Jesus Steve, what the fuck are you eating today? It smells like a fucking slaughterhouse in here.

When I entered the break room reality tilted. There was blood everywhere. The sink, the counter, the white paint on the drawers – they were all splattered with bright crimson. Steve’s body sat on the floor in a pool of blood, leaned against one of the counter’s cupboards, a giant knife sunk deep into the ribcage. The police report would later state that Diane had stabbed him over 43 times.

The microwave hummed and rotated the plate inside, oblivious to the carnage of which it was a part.

Diane said she’d put his head in the microwave, and that is exactly what she did.

I have a new job now. I eat lunch at my desk, and I still can’t sleep.

Workplace Performance Issues

“I’m terribly sorry,” said DeBiers. “But your performance as of late has been completely unsatisfactory. We’re going to have to let you go.”

“Unsatisfactory?” replied Carson, incredulous. “UNSATISFACTORY??!” He began to breathe quickly and his face became flushed. His chest rose and fell in rapid succession as his supervisor watched from across the mahogany desk.

“Now Carson, understand that it’s nothing personal.” DeBiers cleared his throat. “Nothing to get upset about. There have been complaints….”

“UNSATISFACTORY????!!” Carson became fully enraged, and slowly stood up from the office chair. As his shoulders rose and fell he actually seemed to be getting bigger; with each breath his chest extended further and further, almost impossibly so.

DeBiers began to back away. Finally Carson’s spasms reached their apex and tore his shirt apart. His bare abdomen split down the middle into a jagged fleshy maw, revealing rows of enormous triangular teeth. Spiky insectile arms burst from his back and unfolded in a bloom.

DeBiers turned to run, but the monstrous insect limbs ensnared him, and he was pulled, screaming, into the waiting jaws of his ex-employee.