After learning about the vicious epidemic seen on television, Haideh and Ceagan soon discover that the violence has reached Mega Speed Print. The phone lines don’t work,
Listen To Me – Part Two is February flash fiction that continues from Listen To Me – Part One. The story brings readers into an end-of-the-world themed thriller. Experience the story in written word, audio, artwork and soundscape.
The two stared at one another for several moments while the sounds of screams came from the back of the print shop. If anything about the television report was right, then only two rooms away, someone’s life was being taken from them. Their co-workers, people they saw every day, were now fighting for their lives, and Ceagan and Haideh just stood in their office, listening.
Haideh wanted to run and get as far away from this chaos as she could. She also knew that there was nowhere to go. The TV showed that the streets of London were far worse than the print shop, and the police weren’t picking up the phone.
“I want to try my mum,” Haideh said, snagging the phone from Ceagan’s hand.
Ceagan scratched his neck and looked towards the entrance of the office room. “We might want to focus on what is right in front of us.”
Haideh ignored his comment, punched in the numbers of her mum’s home line, and waited. The phone rang for several moments before a crackly old voice picked up, saying, “Hello, you have reached the residence of Lacey Harkovitch . . .”
“Voicemail,” Haideh muttered while pressing on the hook to dial a new number. She had friends, ex-boyfriends, and family. She wasn’t alone in this situation and wasn’t going to give up just yet.
“Haideh,” Ceagan said.
Haideh snagged her smartphone, thinking perhaps the print shop’s line was the issue and tapped her cousin’s number. She listened to the phone’s ringing again.
“Haideh,” Ceagan said once more.
Haideh raised her index finger, hoping it would silence Ceagan so she could try and get anyone on the line. She didn’t want to listen to whatever Ceagan had to say. He liked to ramble. The phone continued to ring with no answer.
“No one is picking up!” Haideh said. “I’ll try Reeves.” The word ended in a groan. The thought of her recent ex made her sick. But at this point, she was willing to try anyone. She needed to hear a familiar voice.
“Haideh!” Ceagan said sternly as he placed his hand over her phone. The abrupt action from Ceagan caught her attention. He never acted out so intensely. This was serious. He pointed to the other room. “I think whatever we saw on the telly is happening right now in the print shop. We’d best jet from here for our safety.”
“I know,” Haideh said.
“Then why are you still trying to dial numbers?” Ceagan asked.
“I want to know if my loved ones are safe, I think.”
“So, you tried Reeves?” Ceagan asked, raising his eyebrow.
Haideh let out a sigh and looked to the ground. “All right, all right. I am scared! What the hell is going on, Ceagan?”
Ceagan pushed his thick-framed glasses up with his finger. “I don’t know, but we probably shouldn’t stick around here much longer. Whoever is in the back room is still here.” He glanced around the office, looking at the different desks. His eyes locked onto a hole puncher and he rushed over to the desk, snagging it. “We need weapons,” he said, shaking the hole puncher, causing paper fragments to fall out of the bottom.
“That’s not much of a weapon, Ceagan,” Haideh said.
“Better than anything we have right now,” Ceagan said. “Come stay behind me. There are two of us and one of them. I think.”
The Great Escape
Ceagan was the brave one, creeping towards the office entrance. This was real—Ceagan was going to investigate, and Haideh had to follow. She wanted to hide under her desk and hope for the whole damn thing to blow over. At the same time, she couldn’t just leave Ceagan to fend for himself. Whoever was out there had taken out at least two people on their own. Who knew what type of madness was out there? Ceagan needed her to back him up.
Haideh took a deep breath, thinking, You got this. She mustered up the courage and grabbed her purse from her desk—couldn’t leave that behind. She took a step forward, feeling every thread of her clothing’s fabric move against her skin. The adrenaline buzzed through her, amplifying all her senses, and she even picked up on Ceagan’s musty smell.
The two reached the entrance. Ceagan took a step forward, exposing himself to the other room. He continued to move, keeping the hole puncher held high, ready to strike. Haideh entered the lobby, looking around to see that the space was empty. No customers were in view. The chairs were left as they always were. The entrance and the back room were eerily quiet. Usually, phones were ringing, clients were talking, and the loud machinery of the printers was going on throughout the day. Now, there was only silence.
Haideh took another step into the new space and spotted a pool of blood oozing from behind the front desk, where an older lady’s hand lay limp on the ground. That had to be Candice. The front desk monitor was missing. The keyboard, mouse, and various papers scattered the surface area. There had been a struggle here.
Haideh lightly tapped Ceagan’s shoulder. He jerked. “Look,” she whispered, pointing at the hand.
The two reached the counter, leaning over to see that their boss was on the ground with glass shards in her skull. Blood oozed down her face beside a broken monitor. Her neck was red and blue, and some of her clothes were torn.
“Is she alive?” Haideh asked.
Ceagan looked at Haideh with a cold stare, saying nothing. His silence was enough for her to know what he was implying. Candice, their boss, was indeed dead.
“Should we check the back room?” Haideh asked.
“Yeah, let’s see if anyone else is alive,” Ceagan said.
“Do you think? There was Candice, you, me, Mark, Daniel, and Dan.”
“Don’t forget about Richard.”
“Was Richard working today?”
“I believe so.”
“Okay, okay.” Haideh looked at the front entrance. “Okay,” Haideh said while unbuckling her purse. She searched through it and pulled out her keys, feeling them jingle in her hands. “I can drive around back?” Haideh said.
“So we can approach it from the other end?”
“Maybe the killer is out there,” Ceagan said.
“I’d prefer if we didn’t run into them,” Haideh said.
“We have to if we want to save who’s left.”
“What is our plan here?” Haideh snapped. “Honestly, I want to get my car and get the hell out of here.”
“I say we go check on the others. Besides, I parked in the back,” Ceagan said.
“What?” Haideh exclaimed.
“Hush!” Ceagan said.
“Why would you park in the back?” Haideh asked.
“Because Candice was getting upset that the staff were taking up all of the front parking and leaving none for the customers. I was just trying to keep the boss happy!”
A crash came from the back room. Ceagan held the hole puncher up high, glaring towards the entrance behind the front desk. From the doorway, the printers and shelves stacked with empty paper stocks were visible. Everything else in the back was a concerning mystery.
“Someone is still back there,” Ceagan said. “Come on, let’s go check it out.”
“Ceagan, no, please. Can we just get to my car?” Haideh begged.
Ceagan shook his head and took a step forward and then another. Haideh glanced back and forth between the front entrance and her co-worker, who walked around the front desk, approaching the back room. She couldn’t leave him behind.
“Damn you, Ceagan,” Haideh whispered under her breath, hurrying to catch up to him.
Ceagan carefully crept around the front desk and Candice’s body as Haideh caught up. He gave her one nod of confirmation and stepped into the back room. The printers were still on. They weren’t processing any of their jobs. The workers in the back were nowhere to be found.
“Let’s check behind the next shelf,” Ceagan said while walking towards the next aisle separated by shelves of paper stock and completed print jobs.
A bludgeoning sound picked up as they approached the new aisle. Ceagan slowed down, coming to the side of the aisle, one step away from standing out in the open. The pounding was louder now, dull, like flesh. Haideh took a deep breath. She wasn’t sure what she was supposed to expect on the other side of the shelf, but she knew they were going to find out, and it wasn’t going to be good.
“Careful,” Ceagan said. “As one.”
The two synchronized their movements, both poking their heads around the shelf to see that a tall, gangly man with dark hair was on his knees, forehead against the floor. He raised his head slowly, blood dripping from his face, and then slammed it back down onto the concrete, causing his face to crack and blood to splatter onto the floor. Blood seeped from his fingers, just like on the TV.
Friends Are Crazy
“Mark?” Ceagan whispered.
“Look,” Haideh said, nodding to two bodies behind the man. “Can you tell who those are?”
“That red sweater, Dan, for sure. I think the other is Daniel from his height.”
“Where is Richard then?” Haideh asked.
“I don’t know,” Ceagan muttered.
“Those blood-fingered freaks got to Mark,” Haideh said.
“It appears so. They’ve made him crazy.”
Mark let out a loud shout and stood up from his kneeling position. He continued to shout, throat tensing up and face crunching as he clenched his fist. He repeatedly slammed his fists into his bloody face, coating his hand in a mixture of blood and saliva.
“Why is he doing that?” Haideh asked.
“It’s like a child, but violent,” Ceagan observed.
“Maybe we can check the security camera? See what happened,” Ceagan whispered.
“Do you know how to access them?” Haideh asked.
“No, Candice always has the key. Maybe it’s in her office.”
“I say the hell with it,” Haideh said. “Let’s get out of here.”
“What about Richard?” Ceagan asked.
“He’s not here. We checked the lobby and the back room.”
Mark let out another loud shout and picked up speed, running in their direction.
“Look out!” Ceagan said, ducking back, pulling Haideh with him.
The shouts grew louder, footsteps thundering. Ceagan tightened his grip on his hole puncher, ready to attack. Mark dashed from the aisle and away from Ceagan and Haideh, charging straight into the nearest shelf. The impact caused the structure to wobble, toppling down onto him, burying him in paper stock and wood. Pieces of paper flew off the shelves and into the air, scattering in all directions. Haideh and Ceagan took a step back. Mark was buried entirely by the paper and rubble.
“What was that about?” Haideh asked.
Ceagan shook his head. “He has no brains left. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Is he dead?” Haideh asked, taking a step closer.
Ceagan grabbed her wrist. “Don’t. I think it’s safe to say we have time.”
A knock came from the exit leading to the lobby. They both jumped, spinning around to see a larger man with a neckbeard raise his hands.
“Guys!” he said.
“Richard!” Ceagan said, relaxing his arms. “Where the bloody hell were you?” he asked.
“In the washroom.” He shook his head. “Jesus, what is going on? I locked myself in when I heard all the screams.”
“You chickenshit,” Haideh cursed.
Ceagan and Richard looked back at her, squinting at the sudden harsh language.
“I mean, it’s good to see you,” Haideh said with a forced smile. The words even surprised Haideh. She wasn’t usually one to lash out at people. Perhaps all the stress from work and this epidemic was making her a little loopy. Regardless, here they were, the last of Mega Speed Print.
They still had no idea what was happening, nor who the blood-fingered three were. Fear was a guarantee. The future was unknown. For all they knew, things were going to get worse.
One thing was certain: they could finally leave work. It wasn’t like the boss could give them grief for leaving early. The country was in chaos. Not to mention, she was dead. They didn’t need to listen to her anymore, even in the busy season. Now Haideh could get a better graphic designer job, presuming the blood-fingers didn’t get her next.
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