Apra-IL introduces a spooky new series: Tales of Terror: The Prospect Development Edition. Inspired by series such as Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps, this series will present stories that thrill, excite, and chill you to the bone ... just in time for Halloween!
The first in the series was written by Apra-IL Director of Membership & Marketing, Kathryn Thomas. She presents to us the harrowing journey of a researcher on a Monday morning in an open office; complete with an early meeting, noisy co-workers, and a surprise ending.
The Opprobrious Open Office Opus
Dear reader, our story takes place on a dark and stormy morning. The first sign it would be a challenging day came with the invitation to an eight am meeting. On a Monday. The Pernicious Planner claimed it was the only hour when all participants were available, but everyone knows only sadists schedule meetings first thing Monday morning.
The second sign the day would not proceed smoothly came as the coffee maker slowly, but determinedly, began to bounce across the kitchenette counter. As it slid off the edge and crashed to the floor, its muffled demise echoed across the top of the hundreds of desks filling the fourteenth floor’s open-office-concept cubeless cube farm.
As our Protagonist made their way back to their desk, the sound of gift processing’s dot matrix printer hummed in a far corner. Near the back, IT’s Typhoid Tyler coughed and hacked his way through his morning routine. In our Protagonist’s neighboring work space, Ned the Nail Clipper went to town. Ned’s fingernails seemed to grow at an inhuman pace as nearly every day, new real estate sprouted up, needing pruning. Rounding out the Open Office Opus, the marketing manager, Misty the Masticator, rhythmically opened, poured, spooned, and chewed her third snack of the day.
Our Protagonist bravely tackled the first few hours of the day; staying awake through the meeting, performing research on prospects for Development Officers, and simultaneously completing the mandatory office safety training through their headphones. As mid-morning approached with the speed of an e-mail response from a Development Officer on the Friday before a holiday, the unthinkable happened: Chatty Charlie, head of constituent data management, approached, cellphone in hand. From several desks away, he began loudly hailing our Protagonist, “Hey! Happy Monday! I’ve got new pictures of my adorab…” Our protagonist, having lived through previous interactions with Charlie in the past, abruptly made the harrowing decision to unplug their headphones and speed walk to a nearby meeting room.
As our Protagonist neared the doorway, they found the room occupied. Turning to the next, our Protagonist encountered a second closed door. With the blood pumping in their ears adding a strong bass beat to the Open Office Opus, our Protagonist headed towards the bathroom in a last desperate attempt to outrun Charlie. As he turned the corner, he ran directly into Plodding Pete from payroll. Pete smiled a slow hello and took the next 60 seconds to get his “good morning” out. In that time, Chatty Charlie caught up and exclaimed (over the second half of Pete’s greeting), “Whoa there, partner! Is someone having a bad case of the Mondays?”
Our Protagonist made a fatal mistake when they took off their headphones and opened themselves up to chit chat. As such, they suffered through the torture of Chatty Charlie’s “adorable chinchilla pictures” and the slow and laborious comments provided by Pete, “How … just simply … well … I can just see … yes, indeed … can they … hmm … do you know … I’ve forgotten now …” Our Protagonist felt the walls closing in. The Open Office Opus had turned into the Wailing Workplace’s Weeping Wound with the additions of Loud Larry’s telephone call disputing his podiatry bill (on speaker phone as he’d never figured out how to send his calls to his handset), Sandy Squeaker’s flipping and flopping flip flops as she made her tenth trip to the (still out of order) coffee machine, and Muttering Manny’s mumbling about something or other.
Above the Weeping soundtrack and Pete’s occasional nondescript throat-noises, a loud and insistent beeping began. Our Protagonist looked around, but their colleagues didn’t appear to hear the noise. As our Protagonist prepared to interrupt Charlie’s excited swiping and Pete’s incessant droning, everything went black.
Our Protagonist opens her eyes and reaches over to quiet her alarm. It is 7:45am and she will likely be late to her Monday morning meeting.