Job Security — Part 1
For the past several years, zombies have been all the craze in the horror world. Personally, I’ve been obsessed with the subject ever since my father took me to see the original Dawn of the Dead.
Job Security is my little addition to the zombie genre. I’ve broken it up into easily digestible bits (kinda like nice, soft brains) and will post a new section each week. Enjoy!
By Hunter Shea
The sun was out that day for the first time in over a week, but Russell Banks didn’t have the spare time to notice. Every day was the same as far as he was concerned. Wake up, piss, shower, change and go to work until the sun went down, even on summer days when the Georgia sun reluctantly said goodnight at nine o’clock every night.
Banks Textiles was built with Russell’s sweat and blood and while he was still on this earth, he would continue to pour his very soul into the business at the expense of his own social life. Just ask his ex-wife, June, and the two boys he hasn’t seen in close to three years.
Thanks to the cancer that was outsourcing, the textile business in America was fast becoming a by-gone industry. You could hear Russell Banks decry the goddamn foreigners about ten times a day, along with countless other colorful epithets.
So it came to be that Russell was immersed in his duties as captain of the sinking ship on that bright, humid Tuesday when his secretary Hannah barged into his office looking waxen.
“Excuse me, Mr. Banks?”
“Hannah, I don’t have time,” he barked behind his imposing oak desk. A phone headset sat atop his balding scalp and he scanned the data on two computer monitors that sat side by side amidst the clutter.
He was too busy to notice that the old girl looked about ready to faint.
“But, someone’s here to see you and…”
He cut her off with a sharp wag of his finger and spoke into the fiber optic tube by his mouth. “Don’t give me excuses. Call me back in ten minutes with an answer.” He angrily punched the disconnect button on his pone, cursed the entire country of India and began poking through a mound of loose papers.
When he looked up and saw his secretary leaning against the door with eyes as wide and terrified as soon-to-be road kill, he asked, “Why are you still here. I told you, I don’t have time.”
“Bob Samson is here to see you,” she blurted out, her voice rising.
Russell removed his headset and gently placed it on the desk. Hannah had never acted like this before and he prayed it wasn’t some change of life episode. Sometimes women could be as irritating and life draining as the foreigners.
“Who the hell is Bob Samson and why the hell are you getting so worked up about it?” he said in a calm, even tone that barely masked his simmering anger.
Hannah moved away from the door and sat across from him. She looked about ready to jump out the window.
Her chin quivered as she said, “Bob Samson used to work in the factory. He was a line worker until last week. He came to get his job back.”
Ah, a former disgruntled employee, Russell thought. He probably came in all full of piss and vinegar and put the fear of God in her. Well, that was nothing a quick call to security couldn’t fix. As he dialed the extension for security, he said, “If he lost his job in the first place, it was for a good reason. I’ll have security come up and fetch him.”
Hannah leaped up and swatted the phone away. Russell jumped back in his chair, stunned.
“You don’t understand, Mr. Banks. Bob Samson died last week!”
Before he could retort, come up with something to gently suggest Hannah had lost her mind, there was a knock on the door, just three soft taps. The doorknob turned and Hannah dashed behind Russell sitting in his big swivel chair.
The smell made its greeting moments before Bob Samson came waltzing in. He looked as if he’d been black in life, but death had cast a gray pallor to his livid flesh. Removing his baseball cap, Russell noticed a tuft of wiry black hair pull from his scalp and plop onto his floor, weighted down by a small chunk of skin.
“I’m awful sorry about that,” Bob Samson said, reaching down to pick up that small part of himself and stuffing it into his pocket. “Seems I’m still getting used to my, ah, current condition.” He smiled, revealing a perfect set of pearly whites, the end result of Banks Textiles’ superb dental plan. Seeing such a set of choppers in a walking, talking corpse was about the only thing that kept Russell from losing his lunch, for no amount of polite banter could mask Bob Samson’s stench. It reminded Russell of the time he had found a dead deer while hiking in the woods. It had been sitting in the sun, bloated and gnawed upon by bugs and other animals beyond recognition, for close to a week.
Oblivious to their terror and disgust, Bob went on as if talking to a corpse was an everyday occurrence. “Now I know this is a bit of a shock and I don’t have an appointment and all, but I really wanted to talk to you personally, Mr. Banks. I mean, the first time I was alive I never got the chance to thank you for the job you and your company gave me. Why, it kept a roof over my head and food on my table for close to thirty years and I can’t think of anyone else that would do that for a man like myself.”
Russell and Hannah sat in mute silence.
“I know I’m not the most educated man in the world, but I was always a hard worker.”
“But…but, you’re dead,” Russell said. There was no need for a death certificate. His nose and eyes were all he needed to confirm the truth.
Bob laughed and slapped his thigh. “Was dead, was dead. When I woke up in that box, believe me, I was just as surprised then as you are now. Took me a better part of a day getting myself out of that fix. Now, I don’t profess to know how this happened or why. I never was much for goin’ to church and I stopped my schoolin’ when I was about nine. All I know is I’m back and I can’t think of a better thing to do with myself than come back to work for you, Mr. Banks. You might say I’m a new and improved model, because I don’t need sleep or food, so if you’ll have me, you got yourself a 24/7 employee.” He leaned back in his chair and marveled at the possibilities. “Well, maybe I’ll take a smoke break every now and then. At least now I know the smokin’ can’t hurt me.”
Check out Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea : "Dark, intense and not afraid to get down and dirty."