Desolate – Short Story #22

Tom Greyfield wasn’t completely sure he had shut off the oven this morning before leaving for work, and this nagging suspicion weighed heavily upon his thoughts while he sat at his desk. His office was well maintained, pristinely clean, with important looking books he had never read lining the walls in their mahogany case, with two large windows which looked out over the skyline, and with a brown leather coach which invitingly sat adjacent to his desk. Often he sat there rather than here, and once confessed to his secretary, Kim, that his best work was done on those cushions. But this was neither there nor here. The item which most consumed his attention, however, sat in the center of his black executive desk. The unopened package, the width and height of which measured twice his arms length, from elbow to wrist, and then some—was no surprise. He had expected it might come today.

Straightening his tie with his right hand and gently pushing off the chair with his left, he stood and strolled to the window. He looked without looking. A crushing anxiety forced its way up his throat and into his chest, red hot, and nearly unbearable. His vision blurred, his head felt crushed under a sudden weight. Stumbling over to the couch he reached for a cake which sat on the table in front of him. Maybe a bite would help. Stomach’s turned sour, tightened up. Food will help. Damn this. Relax now, deep breathing Tom ol’ man. He placed his hand on his chest to coerce better breathing. Eating slowly from the cake, it helped a little. He’ll shut his eyes for a moment. I’ll just. Here today. No meetings. Rest. Kim won’t. 

A few hours later when Kim found him asleep, she knew better than to wake him. So she took a message from the man on the phone insisting to speak with Tom “urgently, very urgently ma’am” about a recent campaign they ran. It could wait. Tom rarely slept in his office but when he did she knew better then to disturb him. So she took the little pink slip of paper, and tip-toeing like a child in high heels as not to wake him, she placed it gently on his desk. Noticing the package she eyed it quickly to see who it was from, but she couldn’t quite make out the name scribbled in black. I wonder where he got it. I certainly didn’t. Stepping around the desk slowly Kim’s curiosity got the better of her as she desperately wanted to know what this very large package was doing on Tom’s desk! I can’t imagine how it got past me. 

Slowly pushing his chair aside, she examined the plain brown box. Noticing it had a lid, tied down with string, she slowly moved the string enough aside to lift the lid and have a look. Not seeing anything she shinned her phone’s light inside, but again a deep black was all she could see. Furious that she came this far without success, she ripped off the top. First looking to make sure Tom stayed asleep despite her bout of rage (thankfully he did), she took a look inside the opened package.

Empty. Empty? Who in the hell would. What’s the. Why, what a. Annoyed and no longer interested in keeping Tom awake, she called out to him, “Tom what’s the meaning of this package? Who brought it to you? Tom?” Tom didn’t reply. Must have been a late one last night.

Kim scrambled to find the package lid and looked closer at the sender. It read, Tom Greyfield. Tom?

“Tom! Wake up Tom, what’s going on?”

Panicking around the desk, a stack of papers to the floor. She stumbled over to Tom, shaking him frantically, “Tom, Tom, Tom!” Nothing. Her face turned white, her eyes empty black beads. Kim stumbled frantically forgetting all her senses and fell. Tom is dead. As she felt the carpet hit her back she screamed and. Black. Empty.

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