I Should Have Called in Sick

Today my writing prompt is from Writer’s Digest.

You receive a mysterious email and the subject line reads “Everything you know is a lie.” You open the email and read further: “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

 I Should Have Called in Sick

I couldn’t figure it out at the time but I think it was the sound the chair made that had clued me into the fact that I wasn’t alone. It should have made a hollow thunk. Everything else I could pinpoint, but in the end, I can only guess that it was the chair.

It was the drive into work that had already set me in a bad mood for the day. I could swear the other drivers were glaring at me as I summoned every last ounce of patience I had and turned up my music to help distract me from the ridiculousness. By the time I drove up into the parking lot, I was already an hour late. An hour! To drive 10 miles! It was almost as if every single individual in the city had forgotten how to use a gas pedal! They couldn’t even blame the weather, it was bright and sunny out!

My inner grumblings only contributed to my fury as I walked through the front doors of the small office building. The day hadn’t even begun and I knew to expect my manager hanging around my cubicle with nothing more to do than to berate me about one thing or another. Today, I knew, it would be my tardiness. I could just hear it now, his voice grating against my already thin nerves. Every day I had to deal with the self righteous prick doing nothing but hovering around my cubicle as if he was just waiting for me to make a single mistake. I had already determined long ago that he had been hired specifically to watch over me like a hawk and give me hell; almost as if to test me. I gave a heavy sigh as I dragged myself down the corridor dreading what the rest of the day had in store for me.

Consisting of maybe 25 employees the place wasn’t huge, so when I was snapped out of my fuming stupor by a harsh bump against my shoulder, I looked up in time to catch a glimpse of a bald man practically jogging towards the door. No apology from him whatsoever. He didn’t even give me so much as a backwards glance!

“In a hurry there, buddy?” I growled at him as the door shut. Through the glass I could see him only slightly turn his head as if to make sure he hadn’t bumped into someone of importance. Don’t worry there pal, just the low guy on the totem pole, the worst I can do is growl at you. Turning myself back towards the hall I fumed again. Of course! Physical abuse by strangers should only be expected on a day like today! Why wouldn’t it just keep adding up? I swear one of these days I’m just going to snap.

Making my way through the maze of cubicles, I caught my first break. Manager Prick wasn’t already perched on my wall. I may be able to get some actual work done! Dropping my briefcase on the floor next to my chair, I sat down with a sigh, only allowing a sliver of hope that Prick was out sick today and I may be able to have a peaceful day. I reached for the power button on my computer but stopped short as my eyes caught the glow of the monitor. It was already on. Wait. I didn’t leave it on last night. I specifically remember shutting it down. My eyes scanned the screen as I saw a window minimized on the system tray. Someone has been in my email.

I straightened in my chair to glance around above the walls of my cube hoping to spot the perpetrator, but everyone around me was already talking over the phone with customers. If it were any of them, they probably did it long before I got in. My anger forgotten, the monitor grabbed my full attention once again. I sat up in my seat and reached for the mouse, clicking on the email icon and maximizing the screen. It looked like someone had written an email but hadn’t sent it. There wasn’t even an address in the “To” box. I read the subject line: “Everything you know is a lie”. What the….?

My eyes continued further down the screen: “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

I couldn’t help it, my anger flared anew and before I could stop myself, the words flew out of my mouth, “What the hell is this shit!?” The chair flew out from behind me and made an odd sound as I quickly stood up, determined to find out who was behind this. Before I was able to turn around, I knew someone was behind me. The aroma of Stetson cologne hit my nostrils as the blow against my head knocked me forward. The last thing I saw before everything went black was a blurry bald head leaning over me and whispering, “I told you to act calm…..”


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