At first glance, everyone was glued to the big television screen, listening for new details about how many people were feared dead in the blast. But if one peered into the darker recesses of the office, it was clear that Janet was glued to something else: a filing cabinet stuffed with heavily-used tampons.
Dave leaned on the fence and sighed. She was going on about her husband’s bad back again, as though Dave worked for the DSS. She didn’t realise that he was hardly going to grass up the scrounging bastard. He might need that excuse himself one day. But her life of lies had made her paranoid, and she went on and on. He found his mind wandering, then his eyes drooping, and though ostensibly awake he even began to snore, and then fell back onto the trampoline which, though old and grimy, was in fabulous working order, and he bounced off it, somersaulting wearily across the garden and into the pond, sinking unconsciously beneath the surface scum into the toxic waste below, his skin quickly dissolving and exposing his muscles, bones and everything else to a slightly slower but equally total annihilation as she tutted and waddled off to bore someone else.
Chris had been asked whether he expected shrinkage to be higher among the call centre staff in Q3, and of course the answer was yes, but Neil from head office wanted to hear detail, whereas Chris just wanted to enjoy his glass of wine and look down over the yard as the windows reflected the gleaming afternoon sun. It was rare for this little secluded urban spot to look so pretty. But Neil was droning on insistently. The fact that they’d all been allowed to finish at 3 today seemed to be of no value to him. If anything it was an annoyance. He had to talk shop. He had no social skills and no life outside work. None.
Chris found himself leaning drowsily on the railing across the open French doors, unable and, unusually for him, unwilling to conceal his weariness at his senior manager’s crushingly boring attempts at conversation. Even this obvious fuck-off made no difference at all, and his sleepy disinterest in Neil’s desire to ‘really drive down costs across the operation’ only deepened, until suddenly Chris found himself past the point of no return, panicking and trying to grab one of the railings as he tumbled fully over, but to no avail, and now he plunged right into the vat of toxic waste, his skin beginning to crisp and sizzle immediately, some of it turning into a sort of fleshy steam while the rest began to slough off his body, leaving the muscles to rapidly dissolve under the chemical onslaught, his eyes lasting only a few seconds and his throat being annihilated too as he tried in vain to utter a final, gurgling scream as Neil frowned at his lack of professionalism.