David Jones arrived at the office as he had for the past 20 years, parked, and strolled inside while thumbing through email on his mobile. He put his briefcase on his desk, plugged in his phone, and went to get some coffee. He finally looked up, noticing how empty the office was. “Strange,” he thought to himself. “The office is usually humming with activity by now.”
He shrugged, thinking people got caught in yet another turnpike traffic jam. David imagined late-comers would soon come streaming in. While in the kitchen getting his morning coffee, he saw the coffee maker was chugging along normally, but none of the caffeine addicts were standing in line. No one was chatting in the hallway. No one was loitering at the water cooler.
He began wandering around the vacant office. He saw steaming mugs full of coffee sitting on desks. Half-munched donuts were laying around abandoned. Purses on desks and chairs. Same with courier bags, briefcases, and backpacks. The trappings of a staffed office were present. The staff, however, was nowhere to be found.
Panic started slowly, as a queasy ache in David’s gut, and spread quickly through his body like prickly heat. His pulse jumped. He jogged from cubicle to cubicle, checking things out. His eyes darted from corner to corner. He started breathing through his mouth.
“Where the heck IS everyone?!”
He just checked the kitchen. Empty.
He ran down corridors. There were no “Hey, I’m glad I caught you” meetings taking place.
He poked his head into the various offices. VP of Marketing. Empty.
VP of Sales. Empty.
CIO’s office. Empty.
CTO’s office. Empty.
President’s office. Empty.
Human Resources office. Empty.
The whole office was empty. The whole thing. Where had all the people gone?
He stopped in the hallway outside the boardroom to think for a minute. Then he heard something that sounded like moaning or murmuring. No light was shining under the door. The lights must be out. That room was very dark without light. He could hear people moving around, but they remained otherwise silent. He could hear the faint sound of shuffling. And again a low moaning.
“Oh My God,” he thought, “zombies had attacked the office and dragged everyone into the boardroom.” His co-workers — well now that they were dead, they were his former co-workers — were being munched on by a herd of zombies.
Jones ran back to his desk to reconnoiter. What was he going to do? He could run out the front door and drive home like crazy. Then he thought, “I’ve been here 20 years, and this place means something to me.” Jones decided it was time for a totally futile gesture to be made on someone’s part.
He decided that he, David Jones, was just the guy to do it. He was going to go down fighting the zombies that ate the company.
He remembered a movie he once saw with Sylvester Stallone as Green Beret John Rambo fighting a one-man war. Rambo always had something tied around his head to soak up sweat and blood.
Jones took his tie off, wrapped it around his head and tied it. Headband done. He now had his Rambo on. He rolled up his shirt sleeves. Jones remembered a can of shoe polish he kept in his desk to use before meetings with his boss. Or, gee wiz, his *late* boss, now that the zombies ate her.
Jones got the can of polish out, jabbed at the polish with a wad of tissues and smeared his forehead, cheeks, neck, and arms with bold streaks. He thought himself ready for war, or at least as ready as the war-painted male models were in the latest issue of “Fighting Men of the Army” that he treated himself to at the newsstand.
But wait! What about weapons? He could hardly staple anyone to death. He grabbed a plastic knife and fork from the deserted kitchen, and walked slowly away from his desk, toward the boardroom.
As he neared the dreaded door, he could still hear the low sounds of, well, *something* shuffling about. By this time, Mr. David Jones, 20-year veteran of ACME Software, Inc., was ready for war. He was breathing hard and sweating heavily.
He paused briefly, took a deep breath, and, as gently as he could, reached out with his damp perspiring hand and twisted the doorknob to the boardroom just enough to hear it click open.
He stepped back, and with all the strength God gives to 50-year-old desk jockeys, kicked the door open and charged through with the best battle cry he could think of.
He hit the floor, did a fantastically poor shoulder roll (God that would hurt in the morning), came to his feet, extended his arms over his head in attack position, and screamed, “Bring it!” Or something like that. Someone flipped the lights on.
“Happy Anniversary, David!” everyone cried.
The entire not-zombied staff of the company was standing there, gathered around a cake that read, “Happy 20th Anniversary, David!” His boss, Mrs. Sternbottom, looked up at him from the cake, gave him her usually glassy-eyed stare, and said, “Happy, er, anniversary, David. I hope we surprised you.”
David let his arms fall to his sides. “Gee, thanks everyone. I sure do appreciate the thoughtfulness.” Most everyone turned their attention to the current urgent project– eating the cake.
Some, however, were beginning to notice how he looked. A slight murmuring arose. David Jones said, “Oh, don’t mind me. Just practicing for Halloween.” A sigh of relief rose from the ranks.
As he turned to beat a hasty retreat, he thought he heard the office wag exclaim, “But it’s July!”