Ed sat in the car, looking around the car park. It seemed pretty full, everyone should be in work by now. He took a deep breath, then turned on the radio to break the silence. He’d give it a little more time. Just in case someone was running late. He didn’t want anyone to miss this. He stroked his jacket pocket, feeling the hard, cold lump inside. It was still there, he just needed to stay calm, stick with the plan and everything would be ok. Soon they’d all know what they had done. It wasn’t his fault, no it was theirs. Them and their teasing jokes, always laughing and giggling at him. It had been like that from the start, on the very first day. Someone muttered something as he walked by and everyone started laughing. Ed had smiled nervously, hoping someone might explain what had happened, but no one did. Why would they? He was the outsider, he didn’t fit in, he wasn’t one of them and he never would be. Two years he worked there. Two years trying to get a job somewhere, anywhere else. Two years dealing with the subtle jibes and jabs, just trying to wait it out, sending out requests to be moved to another area only to have them denied. Two years of hell so he could keep his apartment, so he could eat and then last week they called him into the bosses office and let him go. Said they felt he didn’t quite “fit in with the culture.” They claimed a slow decline of his productivity was the cause, but Ed knew that was bullshit, he did more work than the others, he had to. After all, he didn’t spend the day giggling with friends. No, they just wanted rid of him. No doubt there were some cruel rumours circulating the office about him. Some sly lie that was the real reason for his firing. He had been shocked, but strangely relieved, as were the bosses, they thought he took it very well, very well indeed. He spent the afternoon in the pub, having a few drinks, just thinking. Perhaps he could take them to court, try for something like constructive dismissal or something. After all, he had made complaints to HR about how he was treated by his co-workers but nothing was ever done, he’d kept careful track of things and they’d told him they’d look into it and that was the last he heard. No, they didn’t care. It was like school bullshit all over again, the popular kids, the ones who the teachers liked, the gregarious, the confident, were all given carte blanche to do as they pleased and he was always left behind, the poor, unsociable, awkward Ed. To be pitied and laughed at, but never talked to or included. His parents weren’t much use their either. Forcing him into group activities with the people who hated him, making them think he was just some desperate, stalker loser or something. They always fretted that he wasn’t popular, that he wasn’t well liked, they blamed him, always him and never the people that excluded him.
And it was all happening again. He had been left out, teased, made the butt of every joke. No longer would he stand for this. He’d make them pay attention to him, make they remember him. For every single person in that building, they would remember his name for the rest of their lives. They would never forget him and that was enough for him. It was all he really wanted, no, all he really needed. To be recognised as a person, an actual, thinking, feeling person. Someone who couldn’t just be shat on every day without repercussions. Perhaps they’d regret it in time, perhaps they wouldn’t, but that didn’t matter to Ed, all that mattered was that they knew that they caused this, that it was their fault.
Ed looked at the clock, wondering if he should start heading in yet, but it was still too early for it. Besides, he hadn’t quite fully realised the plan, there were three options. Do it in HR, where those bastards ignored his complaints, who allowed it to continue. Do it at his old cubicle, where those pricks made their sly jokes, looking at him, teasing him. Or he could do it at the bosses offices. They were the catalyst after all, the ones who fired him, the ones who meant he’d be getting kicked out of his apartment, that he’d have to move home with his parents. Each option was tempting, it was a pity he couldn’t just do it in all three places at once. No. He wanted to send a message to the people who caused this, that was by his old cubicle. HR were to blame too, but they just allowed the problem to go on, they weren’t the route of the problem itself. He had to find the weed and rip it out by the roots if he wanted any chance of success. Yeah. That seemed good. Ok. So he had a plan. He already knew how he was getting in, that bit was easy. They told him to come in and pick up his last pay check in HR, that was what kicked off this entire idea, he had expected them to send it out to him, but they wanted him to pick it up. Lazy bastards. They’d see what happened when they were too cheap to buy a couple of stamps. He took a deep breath then turned off the car. He could do this. He could.
Ed opened the door and stepped out into the cool air. It was sunny out, but the wind held an edge. It was strange. He felt like the day should have been overcast, dull. Not this bright autumn morning. There should be rain or thunder. Some kind of portent for what was to come. He walked towards the building, the windows all gleaming in the sun. He wondered if anyone was looking out, watching him as he walked to the building. He got inside with ease, no one stopped him, no one seemed to even notice him. That would change soon. He pressed the button for the lift and waited. He could feel a cold bead of sweat slowly travel down his back. Ed already knew what he’d say if someone stopped him, he’d laugh it off, say he was on autopilot, got all turned around. He felt slightly nauseas, he was probably pale, clammy. The lift doors dinged open and Ed stepped inside, they closed again, leaving him alone. He studied his reflection in the metal, he didn’t look all that pale. His eyes, they might have looked a bit too wide, but it wasn’t that noticeable, not unless you were looking for it. The lift travelled upwards without slowing or stopping. Maybe it would be best if someone stopped him? Maybe he shouldn’t do this?
The lift dinged and the doors slid smoothly back revealing row and row of cubicles. It was sign. He was meant to do this, his entire life had built up to this moment, his final triumph, where he’d show just what damage they had done. He stepped out of the lift, around him was the noise of keyboards and gentle chatter. As he walked towards his cubicle it seemed to all fall away, were people stopping what they were doing? Were they paying attention? Or was it just his imagination?
He stopped at the cubicle, someone passing by said hello, paused and kept going, scurrying away. No doubt to tell someone to call security, but it was already too late for that. He started to speak, but no sound came out. He cleared his throat, then tried again.
“Excuse me, I need everyone’s attention.”
Ed pulled the gun form him pocket, someone screamed but he wasn’t sure who, he raised the barrel and pulled the trigger.
The first and only shot was explosively loud in the office, someone was screaming, people were straining to see what had happened, what the noise was. They stared at the blood splattered people, those who were too close, who were covered in gore. People began to move, some closer, others running away. Soon they were crowded around Ed’s body, looking down at him in confusion, someone was crying somewhere. His body was still, he had only needed the one bullet.