The Presentation. Short Story.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

I went to visit my Sister, BIL and Neice. It was awesome, my neice is coming on so fast, she’s already crawling and she’s flying around the place! I didn’t get up to much, just some babysitting and going out for breakfast. I also got some General Tso’s, which I absolutely love, the only Chinese take-aways that I’ve found doing it have been in Galway so it makes it that much better when I do finally get some!

 

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Mandy weaved her way through the crowd standing around the bus stops and ducked into her office. The ground rumbled slightly as a bus pulled up and Mandy felt a short pang of anxiety then the door behind her closed blocking out the dull roar of the streets. She walked through the lobby, high heels click-clacking as she went. Today was the day she was getting that promotion, she still had a presentation to give but she knew she had the promotion in the bag. Mandy pressed the button for the elevator and waited, behind her there was another blast of noise from the streets, then the door closed again. The elevator doors slid open and she stepped inside, “Mandy, good morning.” “Morning Jeremy, how was the dinner?”
“Oh it was wonderful, Patricia and myself absolutely loved the restaurant, thank you so much again for the recommendation.”
Mandy smiled, “No problem, it’s always been one of my favourite places.”
“You all set for today?”
Mandy nodded, “Yeah I think so.”
The doors opened again and they stepped out, “I’ll see you later, good luck with the presentation!”
“Thanks!”
Mandy smiled as she walked between the cubicles, she liked Jeremy, he had mentored her when she first arrived about a year back and he had always been so patient and kindly. When she arrived at her cubicle Mandy put down her bag and had a quick look at the photos on the desk, with any luck this would be the last time she’d be in this cubicle. She glanced up at office door, the name had been taken off it the night before and, hopefully, in a few hours her name would replace it. She sat and opened her bag, pulling out her laptop and a folder stuffed with paper. She briefly rubbed her finger over her small metal locket, then got to work.

Mandy stepped into the large meeting room, on one side there was a pull down screen and projector, in the middle was a large rectangular table made from a deep, dark wood that gleamed in the light of the overheads. She had a few minutes to prepare before everyone arrived and she wanted everything to be perfect. She started plugging cables into her laptop, as she was fiddling with them people started to arrive, chatting amongst themselves, they greeted her and sat, Mandy felt a surge of adrenaline and started moving faster. There was a faint rumble, Mandy froze and the room fell silent, after a second it passed and everyone relaxed a little, someone was laughing though Mandy couldn’t see who it was. Her hands were shaking slightly, there had been a tremor the week before and it had caused that awful bus crash, the driver lost control and all twenty on board died. She slotted the cable into its place and took a slow, deep breath. She couldn’t let the tremor throw her off her game, she was prepared, she was ready and she was going to crush this presentation. Her desktop filled the projector screen and she felt her shoulders relax a little more everything was going great. The last few people filed into the room and took their seats, Mandy pulled sheets of paper from her folder and passed them around, “Does everyone have a copy? Great.” she pulled up her presentation took one final deep breath “I’d like to-” Mandy stumbled into the table as another tremor hit, this one stronger than before, she gripped the table tightly, waiting for it to be over but the shaking just became worse. Her laptop dropped to the ground with a crash, the screen behind her going blank, there was a deep groaning noise from within the building, Mandy felt a strange pressure on her, like when a car sped up suddenly and you were pushed back into the seat. The pressure was replaced by pain, sudden and intense, she collapsed to the floor, around the table people fell from their chairs screaming, some gripped their heads, others simply writhed.

Howard carefully climbed the stairs, his gun drawn and his heart thumping. Dispatch had received an almost incomprehensible phone call from a receptionist, she had been shrieking about something on the third floor but it wasn’t clear what it was. When he had entered the building the lobby had been empty with no sign of the receptionist. Howard knew why he was being sent inside, he was the one who dealt with the bus crash. Everyone knew how fucked up that had been but he had been one of the first to see it. He and the other guys had to sign non-disclosure agreements afterwards. The bus had looked like a massacre had taken place, like all the passengers went crazy and just started slaughtering each other. There had been other things too, long stretches of flesh coloured tubing that oozed blood, weird protrusions from the bodies which had been twisted into almost inhuman shapes. Howard had told himself it had just been injuries from the crash, but he had never seen any car crash victims looking like that. He stood outside the door to the third floor and listened. He could hear something, very faintly, it sounded like someone wheezing heavily. He eased the door open and quickly stepped through. His mind flashed back to the bus, the gouges in the bodies, the woman with the ballpoint pen jammed into her eye. He moved deeper into the office, past the empty cubicles. He could hear moaning but it was faint, a heavy stench filled the air, the stink of shit and blood, it reminded him of when his father had taught him how to gut a deer and he’d knicked the intestines on his first try. He reached the end of the cubicles and stopped. At the wall there was a strange, flesh coloured mass. It looked almost as though it was coming through the wall. Howard gasped as he spotted a mouth, it opened revealing a row of white teeth, there was a faint whimper then the mouth closed again. There was another noise now, above the moaning, like a group of people whispering amongst themselves. He eased himself along the wall, he didn’t want to look, he wanted to turn and just leave the building, burn the entire place to the ground, but he had to see. He stopped, his gun falling from his limp fingers. In front of him was a huge mound of flesh, eyes, mouths dotted it and arms and legs all protruded from random points, some of the mouths were whispering, others were moaning lightly, one or two seemed to be open in silent screams. Wide eyes stared at him, around the mass he spotted scraps of clothing, a sleeve here, a flash of underwear there. He took a step closer and realised the thing was coming through the wall. He saw a mouth near a door frame, it was talking though he couldn’t make out what it was saying, something about promoting, he saw a glimpse of wall through the open mouth, it was like the wall had fused with it, flesh and masonry becoming one. Howard turned and stumbled from the sight, he rounded the corner and threw up, the sweet stink of vomit joined the stench. Howard stumbled from the office, not looking back, not bothering to pick up his gun. Howard walked past his partner who stood at the stairwell, shaking his head in response to the questions. He couldn’t talk about it, couldn’t think about it. He walked down the brightly lit stairwell and out into the lobby, EMT’s stood around with gurneys waiting to be let upstairs, outside cops were setting up a perimeter and pushing people back. Howard walked out of the glass doors and into the afternoon sunshine. He walked past the perimeter being set up and just kept walking, ignoring the calls from the people behind him as he went.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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