“Mama, mama, help me. . . . help . . .” a fanciful plea, no doubt uttered by all of Carol’s co-beings. “Mama, mama.” Now coming up Carol’s own throat. “Mama, please . . .” Little whimpers. “Mama, mama.” Distilling them all down . . . Poof . . . Little shivers. “Mama, help.” The words retched up, caught in the throat, the stifled sobs . . . Bloody-Bing-Bang-Laden! She’d soiled her pretty jeans. Oh, God, oh Self-Goddess. Her Sass-Pants®. She remembered now. She liked to wear them on Casual (Sex) Fridays. It was all so disgusting, yet strangely calming. The banality of her recuperated thoughts was surely a sign of permanency, enough time lapsing, a step back from the abyss, now the bargaining, the thanks kicking in. Thanks? Stuck at the office. In a crouch. A CLOSET! Unable to risk the slightest move. Unable to breathe. Goddess-Damn! How long had she been waiting? She’d run far away. No one would find her. It seemed forever since they’d all starting running . . . scrambling . . . a bucketful of . . . Ahhhh! What was that? “Mama, oh mama.” She’d hated her mama. . . .
Screams and yells. A permanent loop in her head. POW!-POW! The crackle of air, the fissure of fire. Open fire. It’d been just after lunch. How long ago had the sirens ceased? Her ears were terribly stunned. She’d worn no helmet after all. She’d not wanted helmet-head. Ha ha ha. Look, bunt! Look around you! Okay, okay . . . But surely it was possible the killer had been apprehended? She put her ear to the door, almost cum-in-the-pants grateful to hear nothing beyond the roar of her deafening memories. Thank Jesus—or JezAss (as the young folks so crudely say). Thankful for what, stupidiot? The sub-divided government? She’d been such a fool to accept their dogma, their promise of health insurance to cover her inoperable PHROB. Thankful? Anyone with any sense would’ve listened to the surgeon general: “Vests mandatory for all schools and businesses.” Anyone would’ve seen it coming. . . .
She reached down now, caressing the dual-chamber LadyTrim®, so smooth and snug in her Lady-Vest® pocket. The thought of its power—its powerlessness?—sent Chill-Reetles up her spine. Ooohhh . . . But no . . . NO TIME FOR THAT, BUNT! Had she lost all decorum? How ridiculous she must look, a highly re-trained “linguo-scout,” trapped somewhere inside the Masturmatico, Inc. Corporation, crouched in an old-style closet, closeted amidst hot-pink and sunny-yellow post-it notes, twelve types of adhesive tape, old-style keyboards, ancient i-Thingys. Cheap friggin company. Ha ha. STUPIDIOT! Okay, okay. But wasn’t it better to laugh? The truth unthinkable. The shooter’s identity was no doubt horribly ironic. Some Chinese battle drone chased her here? “No, please, mama, no.” She’d confirmed her chambers were empty of bullets. Her only hope was that the killer be human, someone with whom she could reason. Ha ha.
She’d start with the A’s. Why couldn’t she remember? Okay—the B’s. Beer . . . “Little” Sharon Beercase. The killer? Oh, no. “Oh mama.” Sharon’s brains . . . all over . . . Yes, strewn all right. All bright red . . . oozy-gray . . . SPLAT. All over the new blood-proof carpet. The memory of her co-worker filled her with soundless little anti-sobs. The poor girl. She’d probably been too vain, much like Carol herself, to use a helmet. But really, very few had helmets. Very few wanted to cover their hair. Oh fuck. Bill Crock! The blood spurting . . . the ejaculation . . . oh Tsunami Mommi . . . from his neck! She’s going to be sick. Why can’t she just forget? Arrgggh . . . Be numb? Why think about him? Why think about Luther Durge? His intestinals glistening . . . ugh . . . thick . . . ugh . . . extruding . . . unraveling . . . Arrgggh. Such a pathetic little man. Too poor even for a vest. Oh the bile, the chunks of BBLT . . . her hand up to her mouth . . . ugh, aargh . . . the vomit streaming through. Be quiet or die. Right here and now! He/she/it was coming for her. For her!
Budds—Relax, okay? Misty Buddsman. Why skip her? Hadn’t this frowsy-headed gigantress whined it all out to Carol just last week? No raise in twelve years, no health benefits, having to work nights at an organ farm just to feed her thirteen kids, wah, wah. As if that was any big deal. Which friggin planet was Misty living on anyway? She’d had a highly coveted day job—hadn’t she?—working alongside Carol for a booming global enterprise selling happy-fat, safe-sugar and Jerk-U-Off™. Ha ha. BE QUIET, YOU BUNT! Think! But she couldn’t. Primal chemicals, right? The confusion of the “fled state,” its giddy limbo. Nothing had fully prepared her for it—not all the drills, the self-help guides. Think! Who’d been fired? Jessica Snuggers? Ha ha ha.
She almost choked. She hadn’t felt this great in months. Little eruptions of laughter. Jessica Snuggers, with her two PhDs . . . Jessica, who was always insisting on the Oxford form of “fucking” in their Masturmatico, Inc. style guide. What a fuckin joke she was—always flitting around, flashing the semi-automatic MissPetite® Kenny’d given her as a “sign-on present.” How in the world had Jessica survived (was it a year?) at Masturmatico? Probably let the bigwigs try out the new Ass-Bucket® out on her—her pinky stuck out in that prim way she had. Well, she’d gotten fired anyway . . . ha ha . . . for apparently bringing her octuplets to work. Apparently, two of them got caught in the Doogie Hole™. That’s right. Bad press. What a joke. Ha, ha. But wait . . . What about that hopeless Peter Manning? Fired for taking too much time for his masturbreaks. Ha, ha. SHUT UP, BUNT! He’s coming for you. Oh Super-Christ! Whaaa? What was that? A door closing? Her immense heart was at it again, creeping up, filling her throat. “Oh mama, please no.” The killer? Why was he, she, or it tip-toeing? Wouldn’t the killer slam? “Please mama.” What? A man’s voice? Kenny Longtin? It couldn’t be. BUNT! She’d be quiet. She’d be good. But it couldn’t be . . . Kenny’d been shot.
Oh Doogie! Kenny’d probably faked getting hit. Doogie Wad! The mere thought of him made her retch (Be quiet!) his entitlement coming up her throat . . . aargh . . . ugh. Kenny Longtin, VP of everything. Mr. Kenneth Longtin, the very instigator of their random sex testing. How classic, really, that she’d been the one to discover . . . Argh . . . ugh . . . She’d been the one to discover that Kenny himself was quite bestial in nature. Argh . . . ugh . . . How tedious he was, how torturous, really. He never let a meeting go by without reminding them all of Masturmatico’s success—how it’d all been based on his very own patents for drive-thru MasturPods®. Goddess-Damn—and she’d said this to him recently—even trained dogs could Jerk-U-Off™ from a glory hole smeared with beefspray. (“But dogs are too hard to find!” he’d said.) Ass-bucket! She’d called him this (an expression—a product—she’d always avoided). She’d said it was clear he thought he was above real people. At least, she could see through his facade of entrepreneurial commitment, of reckless brilliance. She knew very well he considered them all pathetic little insects, dirty little Floridian Reetles scurrying away in fear of his grossly undiagnosed moods. He’d laughed at her, hadn’t he? He claimed to be truly surprised she thought this. He’d said she was nutters. Unattractive as well. Ass-Bucket Doogie! To speak to her like this, to her—Carol Berkell, Ph.D.—after all her re-training, all her priceless press releases and sales brochures, her months as the voice of Masturmatico, Inc. After all this . . . “Mama, help mama . . .” Only to be criticized, condescended to . . . to be warned . . . FIRED!