Leaving The Office

It was that time of day again where Jack's brain was almost completely dissolved into mush.

4:50pm. Ten minutes to go. Only because his manager was sitting right behind him. Otherwise he would have been out of here thirty minutes ago.

If he was asked to write one more friggin report, he'd go postal. He thought three years of dealing with invoices, filing cabinets, maintaining the stationary stock (the alleged office 'administrator' was useless) had probably lowered his IQ by a point or two. Definitely. Why else would he have to read over simple sentences a couple of times whenever he opened a book to unwind?

The office was just depressing. The lighting was a relic from the 60s, starting and stuttering in fits when it was switched on in the morning (he was usually the first to show up, but not the last out). There was zero investment in any sort of modern workplace. The boss, along with the lighting, and the desks, was stuck in the 60s. A firm believer in shouting, verbal abuse, the whole gamut.

And he'd put up with it for three years because the pay was decent and he couldn't risk being out of work."Here, ready for the board next week." he placed the report on Nick's desk.

"Who's presenting this?" Nick was caught in a hypnotic trance by a spreadsheet and didn't look at Jack or the report.

"Susan."

"Ok, see you tomorrow."

"See ya." With that he put his computer on sleep and left the office, always a good feeling. The clouds had decided to save weeks of rain for tonight, and he hadn't brought an umbrella. As he was pacing down towards the bus station, he heard a worn out lady's voice come out from the alley by the dry cleaners. "Sometimes they pay me sometimes they don't, do you wanna?"

"Me?"

"Ooo yes, you," she looked too skinny to be alive, but she definitely was. The smell of a mist of beer that was probably permanently stuck to her made itself immediately known, like a protective boyfriend. Back off it said. Her worn out thin cheekbones creeped him out.

Worse, why the heck was he rooted to the spot, giving some random drunk tramp more than two seconds of his day? It was choking it down; the rain had laid a relentless siege to his hood which was now battered and useless, and he was freezing. "Come here dear." A faint green glow came from her can of beer. Voodoo? Yeah, not in 2021. He had no clue what was going on. But his legs weren't moving.

Out of nowhere two hands violently pushed him towards her and Jack felt like his spine was going to snap from the force as he fell forwards, head to ground, into the alley, closer to this witch like creature of a woman, but just out of touching distance. "Who the fu-" before he could finish his sentence, he felt an ice like blade of a sensation smoothly enter his upper back and exit just the same.

The pain took a few seconds to make itself known, but he couldn't scream, it hurt too much, the pain spreading around his body like a cold web. He cocked his neck up, looking at this red eyed, barely alive woman with a few strands of hair stuck to her haggard skull. A green glow was now coming out of her mouth enveloping him. "Just here dear, we're done now." She spat on her finger and stroked the source of the pain on his back, kicked his head and Jack blacked out.

He opened his eyes. She was gone. There were a few bin bags and a dead end in front of him. The left side of his face felt like it had been kept in a clamp for days. He put one arm on the floor to heave himself up, but as soon as he did his back felt like it was being stabbed 50 times in a row, and he collapsed back down. He tried with his other arm, and managed, just about. Ok. Composure. I've just been mugged. Call the police.

It happened to people in London all the time. He felt terrified, as much as he could beyond the overwhelming presence of physical pain, but he had to stay rational about this. There's CCTV all over this goddamn place, they'll be found. He turned round and staggered to the street, calling a taxi. He threw up just before it arrived. When he got home, he had no energy left to do anything. He lay on his stomach and fell asleep.

The alarm went off at 7:30am. It was pitch black outside. As he pushed himself out of bed, he noticed no pain in his back, despite his face still feeling like a car had run over it. He looked in the mirror, nothing. He robotically did his teeth, skipped breakfast, put his clothes on, and left for work. He couldn't miss today. Nick had a massive assignment for him. He'd report last night's incident to the police who would do what they do. Whatever. Yeah. it is what it is. Could happen to anyone he thought to himself.

"Who cares." he said out loud, reassured by the sound of his own voice. More the reason to keep to his budget planning, save up and get the hell out of London for good. The city was making him anaemic, always tired, robotic, impatient but resigned. And to top it off, he'd now been mugged. Yeah, definitely time to go.

"Morning Susan, can you tell Nick I'll be an hour late, but will make it for the review meeting at 10? Thanks." He was going to take a detour to the park first to relax. He didn't care if Nick was unimpressed with his lateness today. Do your own bloody invoices, or they can wait, yeah, they can wait, the world's gonna keep running Nick, don't worry.

The park was unusually empty for 9am. It was usually full of professionals going for their morning runs, dog walkers, the odd old person, but there was barely anyone.

There was a ruffling in the trees to his left. He thought he could see a squirrel chasing a crow. Everyone's just tryna survive he thought. Out of nowhere, from his right, a metal arrow darted straight into his neck ripping through the flesh and poking out of the other end. Jack collapsed on his knees, flailing helplessly with one last violent breath, his head making a solitary thud against the park pavement.