The Zombie Project Manager

The Zombie Project ManagerMonday morning started off like any other. Spent way too much time on too many useless emails. How does this stuff pile up so quickly between 5 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. on Monday? Sheesh. Then again, I left early on Friday for a doctor’s appointment. Maybe that was it.

I finally got through the email and started on the new stuff. I had a message from John Smith, one of our many (some would say, “too many”) project managers. He flagged it as “Urgent.” His message asked for my status on Project X.

Well, there wasn’t any status on Project X. It got cancelled last week. Guess he didn’t get the memo. I replied to John’s email, letting him know this project got axed last week, and thought I’d heard the last of it.

Minutes later, I got a reply from John about the dead project. He still wanted to know my status. He again tagged it as Urgent. Jeez, John seemed a little out of it, even for him, even on a Monday.

I figured he missed the email I sent to him, so I dutifully sent it to him again. Then I went for coffee.

When I returned to my desk, my co-worker Susan was waiting for me. “Glenn, I’ve been getting some weird emails from John this morning,” she said. “Welcome to the club,” I replied. As I glanced at my screen, I could see a stack of email messages, all from John, all from this morning, all Urgent, all asking for my status on the dead project.

“Look at me,” I said, “John must love me. He’s hammering my inbox. He’s also not paying any attention. I already told him that project was cancelled last week.”

Susan looked at me. “You don’t understand, Glenn. John was fired late Friday afternoon. Management axed his entire product line as a failure.”

“Wow, I’m glad I missed that,” I said. “I had to leave early.”

Still looking at me, Susan said, “Yes, it was ugly. He left screaming that he’d never leave the company. But then, why is he sending emails if he got fired?”

Good question. “Let’s go see what’s going on in his office,” I said. “Maybe some joker is having fun at our expense.”

Susan and I walked down the long corridor leading to the middle management offices. John’s office light was on. I knocked. No answer. I gently turned the knob and opened the door. It was quiet except for the keyboard.

Someone was hammering the keyboard. We quietly entered. I flipped on the light. There was John. Or what used to be John.

He looked like some rotted corpse from the TV series “The Walking Dead.” Years in the corporate environment had deadened him. He looked like a sleepwalking zombie.

John the Zombie Project Manager looked up at us, and in a low, droning monotone, began asking for our status reports. ”I need your status reports now. What is your status? I need your status.”

Susan began shouting, “Oh my God, John’s a zombie, but instead of our brains, he wants our statuses! Look what corporate America did to him!”

“We didn’t do that to him,” I said. “He allowed it to happen to him. He did this to himself.”

Our problems were growing rapidly, as John slowly arose and began lurching toward us. I grabbed Susan’s arm and we skedaddled.

Susan, nearly hysterical, yelled, “What are we going to do?”

I had a plan. “I know what we’re going to do. I just saw ‘The Zombie’ episode of the old ‘Night Stalker’ TV series.”

“The what?!” Susan said.

halloween-skull-bottleThis is why Susan and I never dated. She never saw the “Night Stalker” and I just couldn’t get over that one.

“Lure the zombie toward the kitchen. Tell him I’m getting our statuses for him,” I said. Susan looked at me like I was nuts.

“Just shoot him in the head like they do on the ‘Walking Dead’,” she countered.

“Got a gun handy?” I asked. Susan shook her head. “Then do as I say. Now, run! And don’t let him grab you!” Susan bolted unwillingly back down the corridor.

Quickly, I gathered some Kosher salt from the kitchen, a coffee cup, some duct tape, and some white candles we have around in case of power failure.

As Susan rounded the corner, with John the Zombie Project Manager in tow, I poured some salt into the cup, and dashed over to John.

“Hi there, John, I got your coffee for you, just the way you like it.” From years of habit, he took the cup, and brought it to his lips. I grabbed the cup, filled with Kosher salt, roughly grabbed what was left of the poor thing’s thinning hair and pulled his head back.

Then I jammed the cup really hard into his mouth. As he began to sputter and back up, I said, “Look, Susan has our statuses for you.”

Distracted for an instant, he looked at Susan. I jumped at the chance to quickly wrap several feet of duct around his head, sealing in the cup, and the kosher salt that filled his mouth. He began to flail about. I yanked Susan out of the way, and lit all the white candles I had and placed them around John.

As he fell over, I moved the candles so they totally surrounded him. As the spirit left John’s body, the candles went out one by one. Finally, the last lighted candle went out. And John was still.

“Wow, that was SO cool! Where did you learn that?” Susan exclaimed.

“From that old 1970s TV show you refused to watch. ‘The Night Stalker’. I have the DVDs,” I replied.

“I need to watch the whole set. Like, right now. Let’s go to your place. I’m taking a sick day,” Susan said.

“Me too,” I said. “Let’s go.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” Susan stopped short. “What about the body?”

“Don’t worry about it,” I reassured Susan, as we left the building. “This is just a Halloween story.”

Craig Cardimon

Craig Cardimon wears many hats and loves all of them -- technical communicator, content curator, and freelance copywriter. In his not-so-copious spare time, he reads, writes, runs on the local trail, and watches way too much "retro" TV.

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