Chapter 15 : New Management Strategy

“We need to watch out. Something is wrong with the people in the dining area. Dick is roaming the halls and he looks like he is planning trouble.” said Stephen in a low voice.

“What kind of trouble?”asked Lorelei.

“He looks crazy, so does the General Manager. Dick has instructions to get the people who were not at the lunch and bring them back. The General Manager said something about restraining and terminating some of the staff. What is that supposed to mean?

“You should have seen it. The GM was standing on a table shouting as some of the managers were roaming around the room like a pack of animals. Everybody else seemed to be terrified!” Stephen shook his head as he pondered. What is going on around here? The GM is not acting normal.

“We should keep an eye out for Dick. We may need to try to calm him down. HR is going to freak out about this. Did you know it was after 5:00 pm? They have already locked us in! We are going to be stuck here until morning!” Lorelei’s face was flushed with this last.

Just then, they heard strident yelling followed by screams coming from the hallway. Peeking out of the nearly closed door, Stephen and Lorelei saw a ragged group of staff coming up the hallway. Each looked the have been beaten to one degree or another. The worst cases were limping or stumbling. Many of the refugees had cuts and contusions on their faces. Several were holding limp arms or letting them hang limply from the shoulder. The only sound coming from these pathetic beings was a tortured moaning. Their eyes seemed glazed over and their reactions were muted. From behind these sad examples, came Dick and the few of his victims who could not move fast enough to get out of his reach. He held a cluster of partially stripped phone, electrical, and network cables and was using it as an improvised flail to further abuse his seemingly helpless victims. The screams came from the latter and the yelling from the former.

“Speak of the devil…” he replied. “We might need to be a bit ‘forceful’ in calming him down from what seems to be going on…” Stephen said as he grabbed a pristine wedge from the golf bag by the office door. Looking down at the club in his hand he remarked, “Whoever uses this office must not golf much. This thing looks like it’s never been used.”

“Mr. Thaler only has them because he thinks it makes him look athletic… The director likes his staff to be active. Thaler is as active as a mushroom.”

The noise was getting louder as the troup outside got closer. “Showtime! Let’s go try to talk Dick down…” With that statement, Stephen stepped out into the hall. “Dick! What’s up? Can we talk for a bit? We seem to have gotten caught up in a bit of a misunderstanding.”

The voice that came to them from Dick’s contorting mouth was startlingly raspy and gutteral, “Stevie! Just the man I wanted to find! You left the party early. The boss man wants us all in the conference room. Come with me and maybe he won’t terminate you yet.”

When he said this last bit, he looked up into Stephen’s eyes. Dick’s eyes were no longer sane. His gaze was filled with bestiality and madness.

Stephen stepped further into the hallway, slowly working around as if he were planning to flee up the hall. “I’m not sure I like the sound of that. Maybe I should consider quitting. Why is he planning terminations so soon after the office first opened?” Dick seemed unable to take his eyes from him. Like a cat tracking it’s prey, he seemed unable to even notice Lorelei as she slipped from the office.

“Sometimes you have to shake things up early to keep the rotten apples from ruining the rest.” Gesturing towards the pathetic victims he had been herding he added, “And we have some rotten ones here! Pathetic and gutless! I just hope I get to see when you get ‘terminated’!”

“What makes you think I’ll be ‘terminated’? I haven’t done anything wrong. Besides, as long as I get a reference, I can deal with being fired. What makes you so excited by it?” Stephen said as he gazed into the glassy eyes.

With a wolfish grin, Dick replied, “I doubt a ref will work for you after this kind of ‘termination’. Boss man is getting rid of the rotten apples permanently!” The last came out in a strange giggling squeal of glee. “The same thing is going to happen to my little piggies here!” he said lashing a woman who had strayed too near with his flail.

As he seemed to crouch down as if readying to pounce, Lorelei pulled the gleaming 9 iron from behind her back. She was almost too late when her swing cracked into the back of Dick’s right knee. The abused joint did what it does best when this happened. It bent. Since his full weight was on that leg when she hit it, he was thrown to the floor. Looking down at his knee in confusion, Dick reached out instinctively and grabbed her leg in an iron grip and tried to pull his attacker down with him. Stephen’s wedge swinging down on his head ruined Dick’s counter attack. There was a crack as the shaft of the club bent and Dick’s scalp split open with a splatter of blood and hair. It was hard to tell if there was a fracture, but whitish bone did show through at the point of impact before becoming hidden by blood. Dick went limp on the floor with a dull thump.

The people Dick had been driving just stood looking at Stephen and Lorelei. Their bovine expressions filled with confusion. “Come with us while he is down!” Stephen yelled at them before turning to Lorelei. “We need a clear conference room so we can bandage them up and figure out what to do.”

“There is a snack room on the next floor down that should have enough room. Follow me.” she said. Stephen could not help but notice the twinkle in her eyes and the blush in her cheeks as she turned to lead them. What an exciting woman!

Dick’s victims followed them down the hall and through the stairwell with a dead eyed neutrality that made Stephen want to look away. They made their way carefully down to the snack room without incident.

Looking around the dingy, tiled room, Lorelei could not help but share Stephen’s trepedation. Rather than examine the damage Dick had done to them and work on making themselves comfortable, the refugees just stood wherever their rescuers put them and stared into space with slack jaws and vacant eyes.

“Stephen, are they in shock?” she asked. “I don’t know. It’s like they have no will left.” he responded. Íf we had not told them to come with us, they would probably still be there.”

Turning to the nearest one of the crowd, “Mam, do you feel alright?” All the woman did was nod her head. “Do you need help with any injuries?” This brought a shrug.

“Lorelei, something is not right with these people. Are they in shock?”

“I don’t think so. If I remember correctly, shock involves sweating, nausea, and passing out. These people don’t seem to be reacting like that. They don’t even seem to react much at all to anything. It’s creepy.” She shook her head in confusion. “It’s like Dick has gone super aggressive and they have gone super passive.”