The office email ended with, "Don't be boring!"
The memo from Dean, the company boss, hit our in-house email Wednesday afternoon.
Friday COSTUME Contest!
Forget Casual Friday. Let's have Casualty Friday! Cursed Friday! Frightful Friday!
Wear your scariest or weirdest costume to work this Friday. Don't be bashful, be Beastly! Don't be shy, be Strange! Don't be mundane, be Macabre!
OK, you don't HAVE to be Scary - but do be Way--Out--There! Be an Astronaut! Be a Viking Queen! (Yes, Billie, I mean you). Anything goes - if you wouldn't get arrested in Lincoln Square on Sunday, you won't get fired here Friday! (PLEASE, no politics!)
Don't be boring!
The email sent a chill down my back. All those "Don't be"s—Dean aimed those at me.
The whole office knew it. Within minutes, Blake peered over my cubicle wall. "Whatcha gonna be Friday, Jack?"
"In bed with the flu!" I popped back. We laughed, but I knew I couldn't get away with it.
My girlfriend and I went all out. I made a narrow gold-foil crown. Friday we dressed me in solid red: tights, snug long-sleeve tee, body makeup. She lent me a butane-powered doodad that let me shoot flames from my fingers. As a final touch, I took my old garden fork, spray-painted black with scarlet tines.
I arrived at work early, self-conscious. Only Tom beat me; he sat at his desk scrolling through email. "C'mon," I said, falsely hearty. "It's a party day!" Nobody would really work today: We'd closed a big deal Monday, and the owners were minded to celebrate—a day off at work.
Tom just grunted. He'd dressed as some sort of ragged, insane surgeon: a tattered lab coat over torn orange scrubs. A mask covered his lower face; a wild gray wig sprouted under his cloth surgical cap.
Others arrived. Billie, who's in a historical society and has tons of medieval garb, really had come as a barbarian queen; she wore a brass crown, a tight gown of plaid wool, and a freaking sword
on her belt.
Tall burly Blake was a lumberjack: bushy false beard, red cap, flannel shirt, and giant boots. He carried a big double-bit axe on his shoulder. Blake is gay, and not shy about it—but he's also the company's most robustly masculine man.
Billie looked at my pitchfork and Blake's axe, and touched the hilt of her sword. "Well, we've got 'implements of dee-struction' covered." Dean wouldn't mind. He even let Andi keep a gun in her desk, though he insisted she keep it secret. Nobody else but me knew about it, I thought.
Roy came as a barnstorming pilot, in white from head to toe. He even had goggles, pushed up on his white leather helmet. NaShawn was less impressive, in weird-colored makeup and stained clothes—a plain old zombie.
Dean himself showed up as a rabid Southern Methodist University fan. His face was SMU red and blue, half and half. He wore a red two-beer hat and a blue jersey, and carried an air horn and a Mustang flag.
Dean hinted maybe my costume could have used more effort. "So you're a devil. That's it?"
I fired flame from my hand—poof!
—then stroked my fingers over my bald red scalp, inside my crown. "Well, dahling," I said, flipping imaginary hair, "I just couldn't
with my hair this mahning, you know!" Poof!
Blake got it, as I'd hoped. "You're a flaming queen!" he cried, roaring with laughter. I was relieved. He's secure in his sexuality, but I'd still had qualms about offending him. I was even more relieved when Dean laughed as well, and thumped me on the arm.
Flouncing to my cubicle for my mug, I sought coffee in the kitchen. Tom was there; the shredded tatters of his white coat and orange scrubs looked like an insane Longhorns pompom. He was slicing open a box of sugar packets. "Is that a real scalpel?" I asked, startled. He grunted again.
Mug filled, I went out. Everybody had arrived, most gathering by the work table near Dean's office. I drifted that way. Tom stood in his cubicle, sticking folders in a cabinet. "Oh, let that go until Mon—What the fuck!" I stood, jaw dropped, looking from him to the kitchen door. "How'd you do that?"
Then I saw his scrubs were burgundy. "No way," I grinned. "There's two of you."
He grinned back. "Damn, you're quick. I thought it'd take longer for someone to notice."
"So what's the gag?"
"I'm my own evil twin. I got a guy to dress like me."
"Dean hates having strangers in the office, you know." He had reasons.
"Anything goes, he said!" He sauntered out, past the knot of people by Dean's door, around the corner toward the back hall. Just as casually, I drifted back to the kitchen. Tom isn't big, about five-seven, athletic but slender; this man's build matched his. With the gray wig and the surgical mask, only his ears and brown eyes showed. In costume, the resemblance was quite good.
Did they have a rotation planned? "Tom's gone in back," I told the stranger. "In case you want to be seen out there."
He grunted again. I shrugged. Then I spotted the donut box somebody'd brought, and sidled over to investigate, leaning my pitchfork on the table. I turned when Fake Tom tapped my shoulder. He held up the scalpel. His cheeks showed he was grinning.
I hardly saw his hand move. The scalpel was so sharp, I felt almost nothing at first, just a curious sting around my adam's apple. I yelled, but only made a strange whooshing noise. Touching my throat, I discovered he'd carved a large hole in my windpipe. I could breathe, but not speak.
Baffled, I reached for him. He stepped nimbly aside, and added two more quick cuts to my throat. Just as nimbly, he dodged the sprays of blood. Even though I'm not real clever, I looked forward to the costume contest. I always have fun with costumes. Today I dressed like a hobo, like from the Depression. I wore baggy clothes to hide my boobs and butt, and painted a five-o'clock shadow around my chin, and tucked my braids under an old floppy hat. I found some old men's leather shoes and ripped the toes open so my socks stuck out. I had one of those handkerchief bags on a stick.
Dean said I looked great. He said his mother used to dress him like a hobo for trick or treat, way back in the seventies. That made me happy. Dean's a sweet guy, really smart, and I like to make him smile.
I didn't get what was funny about Jack's costume, but it looked great. His butt looked really good in red tights. I watched him walk toward Tom's cubicle. then into the kitchen. Really cute butt.
"Wendy, honey," Dean asked, "would you fetch me a couple chocolate donuts, please?"
"Sure!" I know it's supposed to be sexist to ask a girl to fetch for you. Billie probably would have chopped his tongue off with that sword for asking. But I like doing little things for Dean. He always asks nicely and says please. And like I said I like to make him smile.
I saw Tom come out of his cubicle and walk around to the back. Then I got closer to the kitchen door, and saw Tom standing by the refrigerator.
I'm not very quick. I didn't know what to say. I stepped closer, and saw he was holding Jack's pitchfork for some reason.
This was kind of scary. But Tom's even smarter than Dean, so I knew it had to be a trick. "Tom?" I said, maybe a little squeakier than I meant to. "What's going on?"
Then I got to the door, and Jack was lying by the table. It looked like blood all around him, the exact color of his body paint. On the donut box, too. I couldn't say anything, just kept moving my mouth. Tom turned around, and he was wearing a mask like a doctor, but his eyes were wrong. He started toward me.
I backed out the door. My mouth kept moving. Tom ran at me, and I turned to run toward everyone else. Something that hurt a lot hit me in the back. It hurt in front, too, under my boobs. I looked down, and something was making my baggy shirt poke out. I felt like passing out, but I reached up and felt of it. It was hard and pointed, and there were two more below it.
Then I was jerked backward. The points under my shirt went away. I kind of spun around, everything gray, and I looked at Tom. He was grinning under the mask. I heard yelling behind me, and I fell down.
Back by the server closet, I heard confused yells in the front office. I heard my name: "That was Tom!" "Couldn't be!" "Where's Jack?" "Where'd Tom go?"
I grinned. Now to sneak back to my cubicle and appear. How long could I keep people from guessing there were two of us?
I crouched to peek around the corner. The crowd by the work table was moving toward the kitchen across from me, vanishing behind cubicle partitions. Christa was the last one out of sight, wearing that sad dinosaur costume of hers. When she was gone, I scurried out, staying low, circling to the right away from the others.
The voices grew more excited. The acoustic ceiling and the padded cubicle walls muffled them, but I thought I heard Andi cry out, "Is she dead?"
That sounded serious. But Andi's a flake, and I have coworkers with warped senses of humor. Probably a gag gone too far. "Anything goes," I muttered, edging toward the front. "My phone doesn't work!" I heard Roy say. "No bars on mine!" Billie agreed. Were they trying to call 911?
Jack's pitchfork lay near the lobby. Weird, I thought, and crouched to pick it up. The scarlet tines left marks on the carpet. I touched the tines, sniffed my fingers. Blood.
I froze in shock. Had Jack stabbed someone? He sort of fit the stereotype of the shy, mousy guy who one day pulls out an Uzi, but I didn't believe it. Jack had a lively sense of humor and a big heart.
"Oh, shit!" I heard NaShawn yell. "Here's Jack! He's dead too!"
Fear punched me in the gut. It had to be Gavin—my double. I didn't really know him; I'd just met him two days ago, while buying scrubs at a uniform shop. I glimpsed him in a wall mirror, and for a confused moment mistook his reflection for mine. That gave me the idea for today.
Who had I brought here, dressed as me? Was Jack really dead, gored with his own pitchfork? Was Gavin on a killing spree—here where I'd invited him?
Flickering light caught my eye. I looked across the lobby to the main doors. To my amazement, a large box truck was run up onto the sidewalk, crosswise of the doors. And it was on fire.
The building couldn't catch fire; the exterior's brick and metal. But we weren't leaving by that door any time soon. Had Gavin, or whoever, also blocked the rear exits? The building had very few windows, all of reinforced glass—the company had twice been attacked with firebombs. We could be stuck in here until the fire department cleared an exit.
I needed to talk to Dean, right now. I stood and ran toward the voices.
"Dean!" I called. "We've got trouble! The front door's on fire!"
"There he is!" Blake bellowed.
I didn't stop. "Look, we've got to—" Then I saw Wendy, three bloody circles on her shirt front, her eyes open and lifeless.
"Stay away from her, you bastard!" Blake yelled. I saw him raise the axe he carried. Even with his height, the pitchfork gave me an advantage in reach, and I started to raise it. But I couldn't believe Blake would hurt me. Before I could overcome my uncertainty, the bit of Blake's axe caught me above my left eye.
When Blake split half the top of Tom's head away, I realized things had spiraled out of control. Once again my company had fallen victim to violence, and my team were losing their shit.
"Dean, he's right!" Billie shouted to me; she'd stepped away from the crowd around Wendy. "There's a fire at the front door!" Then she turned and saw Tom, Blake panting above him. "Christ, Blake! What'd you do?" As if by reflex, her hand went to her sword.
"He came at me with a fucking pitchfork!" But Blake dropped the axe and backed away, looking shocked and sick.
"It wasn't him!" NaShawn shouted. "The guy I saw was wearing orange, bright orange, not red like this."
"My phone's not getting a signal either!" Trace said. "I can't call 911!"
Christa looked around wildly, her thick dinosaur tail lashing back and forth. Trace, who'd dressed like a cowboy riding an ostrich, ducked into his office to shuck the costume body; he came out in a western shirt and ostrich legs. Andi, in an old-fashioned nun's habit, had backed against the filing cabinet in her cubicle, holding her wireless monitor like a shield. Any second she would remember that goddamn .357 in her locked drawer.
I'd seen violence before. My high school's first black quarterback, I still got beaten up by my own classmates, white boys who hated that a black kid could outshine them.
I went to SMU on academic scholarships, determined to start my own tech firm. There I met NaShawn, who could take my designs and make them work. For a while, we toyed with building a blacks-only company. But then we met brilliant Trace, white as Jimmy Carter. If I ignored a talented white man, I'd be a racist myself.
So we became three equal partners. I was quarterback, again, calling plays, creating game plans NaShawn and Trace brought to reality. If we'd been in Silicon Valley, it might have been easy.
But we're a black-owned company in Arkansas. Anonymous threats cost us contracts. We lost a year's work and more contracts when a firebomb gutted our office.
Now my team was in chaos, panicked. But violence wouldn't tear us apart, not while I was quarterback.
"Hey!" I yelled. "Pay attention!"
People ran back and forth. They weren't listening.
By damn, I was equipped for that. I pressed the button of the can on my belt—a football fan's best friend.
Everyone froze. Quickly, I counted heads. "Everybody!" I shouted. "Over here!"
Andi was crying. Trace said, "Dean, the back door won't open!" He still seemed controlled, though clearly upset. Well, I was pretty goddamn upset myself.
I hit the air horn again, one brief blast. "Knock it off, everybody! Shut the fuck up and listen!" I stepped up onto the central work table, tossed aside my flag and beer-can hat, and glared down at my team.
Who shut the fuck up and listened. "There's somebody in here, somebody besides us. He's blocked the doors somehow." Andi whimpered. "But we're all here together, all eight of us. He can't do anything while we're all here together."
"What if he's got a gun?" Roy asked. Andi jerked, reminded. Damn it.
"He'd've used it," I said. "And we've got a sword, a pitchfork, and a goddamn axe.
"What happens in every horror movie? People go off alone, and bam! the bad guy catches them. We're staying right here, people, until help comes! Understand?"
Andi, unnervingly childlike in her black habit, cried out, "But our phones don't work!"
"There's a fire out front," Billie said. "Somebody's gonna notice." Bless her, someone else keeping her head.
"And we've still got internet," NaShawn added. "Anybody got Skype installed?"
"One way or another, the fire department'll come," I said. "And when they do, we yell for help until SWAT gets here." I waved my hands, the driving gestures my coaches used. I do that a lot in meetings.
"We stay together," I said, carefully loud but not shouting, "and we'll be just fine." I held out my hands, palms up: Are you with me? What can you bring? "We together?"
Something white and crumbly fell in my palm. Roy, standing closest, looked up, above me. Then everybody looked up.
I looked up myself—exactly what he had to be waiting for. The loop of wire dropped around my head before I knew. My automatic recoil yanked it tight. Then it pulled me up, off the table, toward the ten-foot ceiling.
My fingers clawed at the wire cutting into my neck. I wasn't really choking yet. But then Blake yelled, "Hey!" and ran forward to grab my legs.
Then I started to choke. The wire squeezed my windpipe and blood vessels. And Blake kept pulling, big arms tight around my knees. "Let go!" he yelled—just what I couldn't tell him. He threw his full weight into a hard downward jerk. That's when I felt my neck break.
I'd never heard anything as horrible as the snap of Dean's neck. I tugged at Blake's arm, yelling, "Let go!" Then Billie yelled, "Roy, move!" and pushed past me to slam Blake's head with a flat-screen monitor.
Blake, stunned, dropped Dean's legs and fell. "Jeez!" I yelled. "You want to kill him, too?" I shoved Billie aside and knelt. Blake's eyes focused on me, pupils still normal. "Talk to me," I said.
As far as I knew, I was the only one with emergency training. "Andi!" I said. "C'mere and sit with him." I looked up, and Andi was nowhere to be seen. Only Billie and NaShawn were still here. Dean's body had disappeared in the dark above the ceiling; everyone else had scattered.
"Shit! NaShawn, sit here, keep him talking. If he gets worse, yell for me."
Billie tossed aside the cracked monitor. "Sorry!" she said. "He broke his neck!"
I cut her off. "Dean was right. Everyone needs to—Holy shit!"
Fifteen feet away, in her cubicle, Andi had just fired a handgun into the ceiling. Eyes crazed, she fired five more random shots, knocking chunks out of ceiling tiles, wrecking an LED light bar. In her black habit, she looked demonic.
She cracked the snub-nosed revolver and shook out the shells. While she fumbled with a speed loader, I yelled, "Quit! You could hit Dean!"
She sobbed, "He's dead!"
"You can live with a broken neck, dipshit!" She snapped the gun closed but didn't raise it.
Somebody had carried off Blake's axe and Jack's pitchfork. "Billie, talk that gun away from her."
"Gotcha," Billie said. But when she approached, Andi aimed the gun at her. "Everybody stay back!" Andi shrieked.
"Talk to her," I pleaded with Billie. "I've got to round people up." I shouted for Trace or Christa; neither answered.
Wisely, Billie sat on the carpet, to look less threatening. She talked at Andi in the low, assured voice you use toward a stray dog. I headed for Dean's office door. What had it been, five minutes since this shit started? How long until somebody saw the fire and called 911?
I found Christa in Dean's office, holding the axe. I talked her out of the axe and sent her back to Billie and NaShawn.
Axe at port arms, I searched for Trace, yelling his name. Now I recalled him picking up Jack's fork while I struggled with Blake.
I kept my eye on the ceiling. Dean and his partners converted an old high-roofed shop building; there's five feet of head space above the ceiling grid, with several sturdy catwalks. The catwalks made a damn interstate highway for the freak among us.
But I wouldn't carry the battle to him. Let the cops do that; I just wanted to get everyone out.
The supply closet and men's room were empty. After a moment's hesitation, I checked the women's room, also empty.
The server closet wasn't empty. Trace lay face down on the floor. With my eye to the ceiling, I crouched to check him.
And the server cabinet swung open. Out sprang a man in torn scrubs.
He stuck Jack's fork in my chest before I could dodge. I had time to think, Shit—now he's got the pitchfork and the axe.
I was useless at watching Blake. Insisting he was okay, Blake got up to approach Andi. Billie'd been calming her down, but now she went shrill again. "Stay back! You killed Tom!"
"He had a pitchfork! NaShawn, tell her! I thought he killed Wendy!" I couldn't sympathize. Blake had eighty pounds and six or seven inches on Tom. An axe handle to the belly would have stopped Tom just as surely.
Billie hissed, looking up past Blake. One of the holes Andi had blasted in the ceiling showed red seeping through. Christa looked up and moaned.
"Oh, fuck." Blake and I dragged the work table under the red stain. Billie told Blake to stay down in case he was concussed, so I climbed up. My fingertips could just press the ceiling tiles. I felt weight above the blood-marked hole.
Blake passed me a straight chair, and I prodded tiles with it until one beside the bloody hole broke and fell out. A dark-skinned arm flopped down, very Jurassic fucking Park.
"Oh, fuck, man," I moaned. I'd barely glimpsed the guy who'd stabbed Wendy, but the fucker wasn't black. Uncertainly I felt for a pulse, afraid the whole arm would fall in my face like Samuel Jackson's.
I couldn't find a pulse anywhere. I couldn't believe it. "Fuck, man," I said again, starting to cry. "I love you, man." Dean and Trace and I had been partners for thirty years. I couldn't imagine this company, couldn't imagine life, without Dean.
"Is he?" Billie asked. I nodded.
Christa moaned again, slumped against a partition, arms folded across her belly. Brilliant green eyes, all you could see of her, shone between the dinosaur's short teeth. Her posture spoke of utter defeat.
So her next words surprised me. "Listen, I gotta go pee."
"We need to stay here."
She straightened. "I don't wanna die!" she said. "But I really don't wanna die with pee all down my legs!"
Where were Roy and Trace? From the table I could see the whole room. I hollered for them, and got no response.
Five of us here. Blake was still unsteady. Billie was the only one I trusted with Andi's gun. Against my better judgment I said, "I'll take her. We'll be quick."
Blake protested, "But he's in the ceiling!"
"Not there," Christa argued. "The bathroom's the tornado shelter, remember? It's got a solid ceiling. I saw it on the plans."
I couldn't guess why Christa would have looked at our plans, but she was right about the ladies': a reinforced-concrete box with one steel door and tiny air ducts.
I jumped down. Billie climbed up in my place, drawing her sword from its scabbard. Her gaze swept the room, back and forth, frequently darting to the displaced tiles above her.
Andi leaned against her desk, gun dangling. Her eyes, streaming tears, seemed locked to Dean's hanging arm. Carrying the chair, to serve as shield or club, I told Christa, "Let's go."
We reached the back without surprises, but rounding the corner we saw Roy's body in the server-room door, pitchfork in his chest. What a day to wear white. A scraping sound came from within the room. "Fuck me. We gotta get out of here."
Christa was already pushing the restroom door open. "Wait!" I said.
"I gotta pee," she repeated stubbornly.
"I've gotta check the room first."
"No, you don't! I've got to shuck this suit right off to pee, and I don't have any pants under it!" She ducked into the restroom and locked the steel door.
"Fucking hurry!" I divided my gaze between the now-silent server room and the ceiling. Did I dare go for the pitchfork?
"NaShawn?" Billie called after a little while. "You okay?"
"Fine!" I shouted back. "But Roy's dead, and somebody was in the server room!"
"Then get your ass back here!"
"Christa wouldn't come!" But as I spoke I heard the door unlock. Christa came out, still fiddling with a zipper with one hand. Her other hand, to my surprise, held Blake's axe.
"Where the fuck did—?" Then I looked at her costume's mouth, where eyes showed through—narrow, intent brown eyes.
Tom and the killer were both short slender men, and Christa nearly as tall. He'd killed her, and taken her costume.
He swung the axe for my ribs. As I raised the chair to block, he reversed to swing at my head. I partly parried his swing, so the flat of the heavy head struck my left temple.
The world went dark; I felt myself fall. The back of my head slammed the uncarpeted hall floor. The world went darker, going black. Dimly, I saw him raise the axe.
Tom's body lay where I'd killed him, between me and the front doors. I felt sick. I'd panicked, killing a friend by mistake. I'd never get over that.
I hadn't stopped the killer from taking Dean, either. Maybe I'd broken Dean's neck, like Billie said. You're one damn lousy hero, Blake.
Billie finally persuaded Andi to give up her gun, and two speed loaders. Billie stuck the gun in back of her sword belt and the loaders in a pouch.
"Can I have that?" I asked.
"You've got a sword!"
"But I'm sure I ain't gonna panic-shoot the wrong guy."
What a kick in the nuts. Unable to answer her, I said, "What's keeping Christa?"
"NaShawn?" she shouted. "You okay?"
"Fine!" he yelled back. "But Roy's dead, and someone's in the server room!"
Oh, crap, and he was alone back there. I needed a weapon. Conduit! Trace did our cabling; he kept steel conduit scraps in his office. Billie shouted at me to wait, but I ran toward the back. In Trace's office I grabbed a three-foot scrap piece.
I reached the hall just as Christa raised the axe. NaShawn lay flat on his back, face bloody, eyes open but empty.
I threw the pipe as hard as I could. It struck her arm; the axe slipped out of her hands and smashed down a foot from NaShawn's head. She gave a deep grunt of pain. Hearing the deep voice, I realized someone else was in Christa's costume.
He picked up the axe. Oh, crap. I'd disarmed myself. I turned to run.
Something hit me in the head, and flew away ringing. My pipe! My feet tangled, and I fell on my face. My right ankle twisted, a fiery pain. I saw the axe's shadow on the carpet. Then it crunched into my neck.
My ankle's burning pain faded. I couldn't feel my legs. Or my arms. He'd cut my spine.
I couldn't feel myself breathing. I tried to moan, made no sound. Not breathing. Not breathing.
"Billie?" Andi asked. "Are we gonna be okay?"
"Sure we are," I told her. "Fuck yeah." Longsword in hand, I stood on the table, with a great view across the office. Blake went in the back hall. He ran out again, followed by Christa. Then—
What the hell? Without the dinosaur head, Christa was only a few inches taller than the partitions; I couldn't see her arms. But it looked like she'd swung Blake's axe at him.
She ducked out of sight. A minute later the blue head briefly popped above the partitions across the office.
Then she came out of the back hall—again. "Oh, fuck."
Christa's head was bare, blonde hair tousled. She glanced at where I'd seen the dinosaur, then dashed toward us, past Trace and Dean's offices. As she came round the last partitions, I saw she wore only a sports bra and panties. She held one hand against the back of her head. "Christa?" Andi said, baffled.
"He knocked me down and stole my suit!" she said. "He was gonna kill me, till Blake showed up!"
I jumped down from the table. Blood soaked the back of her hair. "How bad is it?" I asked, trying to pull her hand away.
"Just a bump," she said. She shoved past, looking back over her shoulder. "But he's gonna be coming!" She bumped me, crowding behind me to look over my shoulder.
Somebody shouted across the office. "Don't trust Christa! NaShawn said she knows the killer!"
"Well, fuck," Christa said. I heard the revolver's hammer clicking back. Before I could turn she shot me in the head.
I'd had to move fast to keep NaShawn out of the bathroom. But once inside with the door locked, I shucked off my blue hadro suit and tossed it at Gavin. He leaned Blake's axe against the sink and started putting the suit on.
I've known Gavin ages. He taught me to smoke weed and rock. We used to talk about doing something dramatic, a robbery or a murder. We knew we'd never get rich or important, so we'd make headlines instead. What else could people like us do?
He told me Wednesday night about this guy he'd met, who wanted them to dress alike. He had a picture on his phone of the two of them together. I recognized Tom; weird coincidence. I'd never noticed how much he looked like Gavin. I told Gavin about the costume contest, and we started plotting.
Thursday I emailed him the building plans from our server. Thursday night he met Tom to make costumes, then we went over the plans half the night.
Now I hid in the stall while he opened the door. He hit NaShawn all right, but then I guess Blake hit him. I came out of the stall, and NaShawn was laid out by the door with his head bloody.
I peeked outside. Gavin was bent over Blake with the axe. He duck-walked back to me, keeping low. He carried the blood-dripping axe over his shoulder. "Watch the blood," I hissed. "I love my hadro."
"Who gives a shit?" he said. "What about him?"
"NaShawn's dead. But Billie's got a sword, and Andi's got a gun."
"Then get one or the other." He pointed at my underwear. "Play the victim. Grab the gun. Or just take the pitchfork."
He headed away, still staying low. Halfway to the front, he stood straight to look over the partitions, then ducked down again. I ran back to Roy's body, dark red and coke-white. Not the pitchfork; Billie's way stronger than I am. I rubbed my hand in Roy's blood, then rubbed it on the back of my head.
Acting scared, I peeked out of the hall. Billie was standing on something, looking over the partitions; I pretended I didn't see her. I ducked down and ran toward her.
When I was close I started yelling about the killer stealing my suit. Andi came out to stare at me. She didn't have her gun any more. I ran between Billie and Andi, and saw the gun in Billie's belt. I pushed against her like I was using her for a shield, and yanked the gun loose without her feeling it.
But then someone out if sight yelled, "Don't trust Christa! She knows the killer!"
"Well, fuck." I raised the gun, cocking it with my thumb. Billie started to turn around, and I shot her.
I turned to shoot Andi, and she wasn't even looking at me! She'd scrunched up, her face against her office partition and her arms around her head. I heard her crying.
"Andi!" I hissed. "It's Christa! C'mon, get up!" I held the gun behind me.
She raised her head. "Where's Wendy?" She sounded like a little girl.
"I saw that, bitch," somebody behind me said. Something hit my head.
I half-roused several times, then finally came awake. The first thing I saw when I straightened my glasses was Roy's body, blood all over his white outfit.
I'd panicked when Dean was noosed. I'd bolted for the server closet, for the ladder to the catwalks. I'd been attacking, but without a plan, just a pitchfork and a bucket of adrenaline. And ostrich legs.
The killer beat me there. I was halfway up the ladder when he kicked my head from above. But he hadn't killed me. Had Roy interrupted him?
How much time had passed? Roy's blood was still wet and red. Groaning at the necessity, I yanked Jack's fork from his chest.
Out in the hall, I found NaShawn's body. Or so I first thought; in zombie makeup he looked deader than he was. His eyes rolled as I bent over him. "Trace?" he said weakly. One of his pupils was dilated, the brown iris scarcely visible; the other had contracted to a pinpoint.
"Don't trust Christa," he said. "I heard her talking to the guy; they thought I was dead. She knows him. She's helping him."
God help us. "Don't trust—" He shuddered and grew still. Too still.
From the hall I saw Blake's body. How many others were dead? I eased out toward the main office.
To my right I saw Christa's dinosaur costume, axe over its shoulder, shuffling toward the front, crouched below the partitions. But to my left I saw Christa herself, nearly naked, going around the corner toward the work table. She'd given the killer her costume, a Trojan dinosaur.
Who was the bigger danger? Christa was unarmed; the dinosaur had the axe. I pursued him, my soft ostrich feet nearly silent.
He rounded a partition into the front, out of my sight. Moving fast, I followed. Nobody was in the front I could see. Where was he?
Worried now, I shouted to warn whoever might still be alive: "Don't trust Christa! NaShawn said she knows the killer!" I broke into a run.
I came in sight of the work table just as Christa shot Billie. I nearly fell down in shock. Where the hell had a gun come from? Her back was to me; she didn't hear me coming. She spoke to Andi, who'd curled into fetal position. Just as Andi looked up, I said, "I saw that, bitch!" and jammed the fork's tines into the base of Christa's skull. She dropped like a rag doll.
Andi shrieked, staring at the bloody fork. She lunged toward Christa's body, grabbed the revolver, and fired five wild shots. One cracked past my ear; I don't know where the next three went; but the last one split the pitchfork handle just below the ferrule of the fork. Suddenly I held only a short hickory shaft, one end a jagged point.
Andi leapt to her feet. "Stay back!" she shrieked.
"Andi, you gotta come with me."
"No! You killed Christa!"
"She shot Billie! She's helping the guy who killed Dean!"
"She didn't shoot anybody! You killed her!"
She must have covered her face before Christa fired. How could I convince her to come with me?
She bolted, back toward the offices. I guessed the killer had hidden somewhere in the front, so I ran back that way to head her off.
I veered to avoid Wendy's body. The digital clock above the kitchen door read 08:32. Dear God, barely half-past eight. Wendy can't even be cold yet.
I looked toward the front doors. A shaft of red light briefly blinded me. A fire truck!
Eyes dazzled, I didn't see the blue cable stretched across the room until an instant before it caught me across the throat. My feet ran out from under me. My glasses went flying. My head hit the floor with a thud.
Before I could shake off the shock, the dinosaur slid out of Roy's cubicle. He picked up the handle I'd dropped. The broken point stabbed toward my right eye.
By reflex, I closed my eyes. My eyelid didn't slow down the point at all.
I don't understand. Trace says Christa killed Billie. But I saw Trace kill Christa, I saw Blake kill Tom, I saw Dean just disappear. I don't know who I saw kill Wendy.
I shot five times at Trace and he didn't fall down. I'm not that bad a shot. Maybe somebody put blanks in my gun, maybe this is all a really sick joke. Everybody stand up and yell, "We fooled you, Andi!"
But I'm going to keep running, I'm scared of Trace. I've got my gun, but I don't have my speed-loaders.
Here's Blake lying in the floor. The back of his neck is all hacked up. That's a really good trick. "Ha-ha, fooled you!"
I see fire-truck lights at the front door. They called the fire department for a joke? You can get in trouble for a fake call.
There's Trace again. The handle of Jack's devil pitchfork is stuck in his eye. It comes out easy, there's a big hole where Trace's eye was. That's a really realistic dummy body, it looks just like him. "Ha-ha!"
There comes Christa again, back in her dinosaur outfit. She's got Blake's axe. It looks really sharp.
Aaaiih! Christa hit me in the arm! It looks like my hand—
Aahhaah! She hit me in the side, she cut me really deep. That's a real axe. That's not Christa.
"Hah, Andi, fooled you again!"
I can't run very well. My legs are weak, my head is spinning. The monster isn't coming very fast, it doesn't need to. Wendy's outside the kitchen, she's really dead, too.
I fall down not far past the kitchen door. The monster walks around Wendy's body, and Billie's sword swings out of the door at his legs. He jumps, but she hits his ankle. He drops the axe, staggers away. He limps past me.
Billie crawls out. Why was she in there with Jack's body? I thought she was shot dead. Her head's all bloody. She's breathing hard.
I'm getting cold. I'm bleeding a lot. My belly feels hot, everything else is cold.
"Oh, fuck, Andi," Billie says. She wraps her belt around my arm, tries to do something about my belly. "I can't stop the bleeding."
I should've been more careful. I should've made sure the guy in the ostrich suit was dead in that back room. I shouldn't've dropped the pitchfork after I stabbed the homeless girl.
I know how hard people are to kill. They shot Cole Younger eleven times in the Northfield raid and he lived forty more years. I should've tried a bank-robbing spree instead of a murder spree. I should've brought my own gun. But Christa said there weren't any guns.
Poor stupid Christa. I planned all along to kill her with the rest. But the chicken-leg-man killed her, I guess.
I'm not sure how many are left. Christa said there were eleven; I've killed seven.
I didn't expect so fucking many weapons! A gun, an axe, a pitchfork, even a fucking sword! And me with a scalpel. I should've robbed banks.
That queen bitch caught me a good one on the leg. Gotta say that was dope, ambushing me from the kitchen. People are scared of bodies, but she went right in there with the first guy I cut.
Near the back hall, I stripped off Christa's hadro suit. Now I knew why she didn't wear anything under it; it was hot as fuck. I tore off strips off my torn-up scrubs to wrap my cut ankle. Even bandaged, it wouldn't take much weight. She'd slowed me down, and left me with the scalpel against her sword.
And I was out of time. Fire trucks were here; cops must be too. Time to get away, or hide.
I limped past cubicles, listening for the sword-queen. I went completely around the big room without seeing anyone alive. If I'd counted right, I'd passed seven bodies. Two I'd left out of sight. That left only the queen and the nun, both hurt.
The nun lay dead by the kitchen. One left; I didn't know how to find her, so I hid in the kitchen myself. I'd grabbed the pitchfork handle as I passed, mostly for a crutch.
I didn't wait long. She came stumbling along, leaning against the cubicle walls. Her dragging sword sliced the carpet. I sneaked out after she passed my door, but somehow she heard me, and turned, raising her sword. Before she could swing, I cracked her wrist with the fork handle.
She dropped the sword. I punched the scalpel hard in her belly. Surgically sharp, it sliced her abs like cheese. I let go the handle—and thumped it hard with the heel of my hand, driving the whole scalpel, handle and all, upward into her. No way she could touch it, much less pull it out.
I watched her fall, knowing I'd won.
Somehow I guessed we'd come face to face in the end. That's why I'd stopped by Jack's body in the kitchen. But I didn't expect the killer to turn my own ambush back on me.
My skull felt crunchy where Christa's bullet had struck. My brain must've been bleeding—my vision kept blurring, my balance was shot.
I wasn't weak, though; given one good swing, my sword would have taken his arm off. But he broke my wrist while my head still spun from my sudden turn, then did something horrible to my guts.
I dropped to my hands and knees. My broken wrist buckled; I dropped to that elbow. He leaned over me. I reached for him left-handed; he backed just out of reach. He gloated just beyond my fingertips. So with my left thumb I triggered the toy strapped to my palm, taken from Jack's body. I blasted pale clear fire in his eyes.
He screamed. I sent another burst directly in his mouth as he gulped air to scream again, and he fell on his back.
I managed to sit up and lift my longsword left-handed. With all my strength, I brought it down on his neck: five pounds of knife-sharp steel. His head rolled free.
Leaving my sword, I crawled toward the front. I heard glass breaking in the lobby; the firemen had their own axes. But the killer had put something in me, biting my guts every move I made. I was bleeding to death, only moments left.
I found myself laughing as I died. All these costumes, all these weapons, all these corpses. The cops would fucking never figure out what happened.
"Dean, we weren't boring!" I gasped. "Fuck no!"
submitted by DrunkenTree
24F, Semi Handicapped, About to lose home, Needs Advice
This post is a call for help. Please, if anyone has any suggestion, I’m more than open.
TL,DR: I need any kind of job just to pay for housing and food. I’m 24, nearly physically disabled, have been homeless, and am only avoiding homelessness by the kindness of others. I just want to be able to at least pay for rent and food and pay my friends back.
I’m not here to beg for pity or swim in my own sadness. Some people have it worse and some people have it better. I just want anyone anywhere to give me a chance to work or a way out. I’m more than willing to work for it, but I just don’t know where to go from here.
I’m posting this around on friend’s recommendation (also helped edit this) because I have no idea how to get out of this pit. I’ll keep fighting, but I just feel like there’s no end in sight it's just issues upon issues upon more issues. The loop never seems to end, I’m so demoralized by everything with how failures just led to more failures the past 2 years. I’m sorry if my writing isn’t clear because living in two cultures means my language isn’t great anywhere.
If you’re interested, here’s my story:
I’m from Canada but grew up in Hong Kong. I am still in Hong Kong. My Chinese ability is really basic since I went to an international school where English was the primary language used to teach.
I was homeless at 22. My mom and dad had a rough relationship since I was born, and it deteriorated ever since they got married. My dad wouldn't ever see and understand my mom from her perspective of life, and put in time, love, or attention for her and would only criticize her for everything she wanted to do. My mother was a housewife and didnt have a job until I was 20. That was when she started to look for affection in other places, got catfished by many men, and both of us were kicked out by my dad after she decided she would elope with another man (for privacy, we’ll call him A). My dad is completely out of the picture and does not support me at all till this day, he still blames me for their divorce.
I was supposed to live with them, but A and Mom lived in absolute filth and my asthma + eczema could not handle it. Just to show how bad it was, I had to take the maximum number of inhaler puffs just to get by some of the dirtier areas in the house even though I hadn’t needed my inhaler for years. The situation was horrifying and I had panic attacks while I attempted to live there. I was in university and hadn’t graduated and had no idea what was going to happen for the future. For my health, I left (my lungs just couldn’t take it) and I slept in McDonalds and friend’s houses until I could live in a space capsule after borrowing money from friends and a teacher.
At this time I could still walk properly and work most jobs and my knee wasn’t fucked up. I had a degree in design (2D animation), but if most artists that are being hired produce A+ tier artworks, I’m more like a solid D tier. People who studied alongside me had gone for further studies to develop their skill set for design, which some currently have jobs in. where else I was never given the time to develop my skills enough to get myself a design related job before the entire spiral of shit that was about to happen.
I worked a part time job in telemarketing which lasted 2 to 3 weeks, and then an IT shop that sells products in a university to stay afloat. This was a breath of fresh air, but I wasn’t increasing any skills or abilities for jobs in hindsight which fucked me later on. I wasn't able to build any networks there either due to its job nature. I was there in that shop alone. I was behind for my career, behind for jobs, didn't have enough money to save because i had to pay back my friends who I’d borrowed money with, no qualifications, and was just working to live.
Later on in the same year which was in december 2019, when I tripped down the stairs and fucked up my knee, I found out I was born with a birth defect, a discoid meniscus (irregular shaped knee joint) a meniscus that doesn't not have a normal shape, and does hinder movement. For me, I always felt something strange with my right knee whenever I stood up from the chair, to just doing simple exercises sometimes I’d feel intensive pain as if the joint itself had come off but during those times in high school when I had noticed, I’d just shrug if off by sitting down and holding it in place with my arms for 5 minutes and then not move it and let it rest for awhile and after that, it’d be fine and good as new. I had that stupid naive mindset in thinking it’d heal by itself since I had done that same method to ‘ fix’ it countless of times. But the moment I fell in december on that day I realized that holding it in place for 5 minutes was not going to do shit.
I was with my friends that time, we called for an ambulance and I was lifted into a stretcher into the ambulance, and off to the hospital. We got on the ambulance from 5pm and waited until 11 pm that day for my turn to see the doctor. But in the end what they did was have a simple x - ray, and they escorted me into their female orthopedics ward. I was lucky enough to even get the ward because they were short on manpower and space too. The doc recommended me to get a private MRI scanned, because doing it here in their gov’t hospital would mean a 5 months + waiting time. I borrowed money from my friends to get the MRI scan done, found out about the discoid meniscus and some other symptoms that came along with it. I will list them below for your reference :
-Discoid deformity in the lateral meniscus (this is the birth defect)
with diffuse grade 2 changes.
-The Body of the lateral meniscus has extruded with focal truncation.
-The Patella has grade 2 chondromalacia with joint effusion.
(This is the injury)
Since then I haven’t been able to walk without crutches and a knee brace. The knee brace I had to keep on at all times, even during my shower sessions because I had no choice, and taking it off meant that my lower leg under the joint would dangle in mid air and doing that caused immense pain. The joint itself was injured and couldn't support my lower leg.
To describe the pain mentally and physically to why I’m so fucked, I couldn’t even shower by myself properly during the first month of the injury. My leg felt like it was just hanging on by my skin and any movement hurt so much I felt like my soul was leaving me. I needed the brace to help ‘ stabilize’ the lower part of the leg under the knee since the joint itself was injured. It was extremely frustrating. I can kind walk to a certain extent now, but during the 1st few months from December to March, if I even slightly sit the wrong way, or had the foot positioned the wrong way I’d feel that horrific sharp pain and it’d feel as if anything that had started to heal just went back to 0. I started to call these “resets” because each time it happened, it just looped back to the previous situation from before it was healed. It felt like a never ending loop during those 1st few months.
When the protests came, the only work I had was warehouse work and since I could barely walk, I had to find another job.
During early 2020, in jan I had to move back to my own house as no one else could help me anymore. Everyone had work, had to go back to school, I was just fortunate to have my partner help me during the start of the hell hole in december where he took care of me at his place. I had to learn to take care of myself alone, shower, change, everything just alone after work sometimes my friends would drop by and they’d help me with refilling my water boiler, buying tissue rolls, things that i couldn't do, i’d had to wait for them.
I did some of the things myself but it was slow. It took me 8 hours to get myself out of my knee brace, showered, dried and dried the knee brace as well and have it put back on my leg. At that time I only had 1 knee brace and drying it took forever since we are not expected to bring it with us to the showers. It was extremely frustrating because the moment I took off the knee brace I was 100% immobile on the living room sofa and just couldn't get up unless I put back the knee brace. To put it in better perspective,the knee brace itself was my knee joint. I was 100% relaient on it due to the fact my own couldn't support my lower leg.
In Jan, my living situation was like this: I had crackers, soup and some bread here and there, and canned tuna I was not really able to cook either due to my leg situation. I just had to rely on these simple, ration- based foods because I couldn't leave the house to buy stuff since I had no free hands to do so. But later on, I learned how to pick up packs of food with my mouth and bring it to the counter to pay for it from the supermarket. (frozen meals) that, or bring it in a small plastic bag and have it flail from one of my hands while I used my crutches to get from point A to point B in the supermarket.
Embarrassing as it was, my friends were busy and I had to find a solution to getting food. I can't just wait there. I ran out of rations for that week, and those were things I had to resort into doing. After paying I'd put them in my small backpack and bring it home. People just stared but really what can you do when you are me? Normally people in my situation would have their family to look after them. But for my case my mother was too busy with this man who wanted her for the HKID (Hong Kong Identity card) . He himself was a refugee.
Nearing the mid of Jan, my landlord had pestered me over and over what my solution was, as I was not supposed to be living/taking up the space on the sofa in the living room as this common room was supposed to be shared amongst everywhere here that I live with. Due to the nature of the place Ilived at, which was a bunk bed, in a small room of 100cmx380cm for 3.8K HKD a month. Essentially the place I live at are small sub divided rooms that are partitioned off with paper thin walls with a horrible air conditioner pipe system.
The reason why I say this is because later on, during the past few months mid June~late August the air conditioning water that had seeped into the walls, and the wooden planks that had been covered by wood were starting to rot, and grow mold. The situation got so bad I had to buy an air purifier just to have it break due to overuse. I then borrowed my friend's air purifier since I had developed breathing issues, got headaches and felt like vomiting even though I haven't eaten anything that day. I couldn't afford to buy another due to the fact I was already in lots of debt, and not even making enough money.
Things got extremely out of hand due to the horrid design they had with how all 4 AC pipes would pass through my own room during that time into the outside. One of the pipes basically started leaking, and the AC inside my own room( each room has its own individual AC) started to leak. It caused a few days of flooding in my room as the water was leaking from the front portion of the AC. And from within the walls itself I did infirm my landlord, she wasted my time by not actually checking the real issue of the AC. rather instead, the AC technician just checked the front portion of the air con, he blew water into it, and cleared out some water. It fixed a small portion of the issue. But the real problem, being the mold and the leaking since it was a much deeper issue, had started to arise and get worse.
That is when a few days passed, the flooding in my room stopped however. The leaking from the walls came back. And due to the mold, it attracted a lot of bugs like mites, ants, spiders, and this other type of black moth- like bug to spawn and basically in less then a week, my entire room was infested with those bugs. It was on my towel, wall, cutting board, kitchen utensils, bedsheets, table, bed frame it was everywhere.
Originally, I thought it was just 1 or 2, but as as the days passed and I went from killing 2 to 3 a day before I slept, and when I walked into the room, it went into me needing to kill 10+ of them in my room as every time I had turned of the lights or come back home. They came to attack me. I couldn't sleep, change my clothes, rest or anything in that room. I took the photos of the bugs and showed it to my management and she advised me to change rooms. (they advised me to change into another building which was still under their company, and it was the same type of room but just smaller.)
With that thought in mind, it seemed like a great offer, but who was going to help me move? I am sleeping on a custom built sofa for my leg in room 7 at that time. I had to get the sofa as there was no way I would continue my stay on the living room’s sofa due to complaints from other tenants since they wanted to use the sofa. My surgery which was supposed to be in feb, was postponed to TBC due to covid. The sofa was also affected by covid and couldn't come until mid march. The custom sofa costed 5.8k, and I currently use in my own room right now (room 9) it has a specific density and height to it as my leg can not be on soft materials as I would sink, therefore causing a chance of moving the leg in the wrong way which causes pain, and the height was something important for my leg as well.
There was no way I could move it alone, and my friends were extremely busy. I told my management about the situation and she ended up telling me that she would arrange the AC tech. to come *check* it again and she told me that he would come on OCT 2nd. But little to my knowledge when I went home on SEPT 30th, I was greeted with the smell and sight of my room being trashed by the irresponsible, disrespectable AC. tech. He had trashed my room, moved things, left wall debris and his own garbage. He left screws on the floor, on my laptop, his used gloves, some plaster for reworking the pipes, some plastic ties, some parts of the mold was on my things and the moldy, rotten plank infested with bugs was now exposed to air, and the entire room smelt of mold.
I was extremely angry to come home at 1am, after dealing with other things to come see my room in such a state. My room at that point was inhabitable for a normal person to be in let alone, a disabled person. I told my best friends and one of them even though they had work from 7AM on that day, she dropped by since she lived nearby and she helped clean my room until 5AM. I complained to management telling them how frustrated I was and I asked her why the AC tech and went in without my knowledge. My door in fact was locked yet he managed to go in. I know management has their own methods in opening our doors without our permission but what is the point of giving us all a lock to our own door if you can just waltz in all willy nilly without our permission?. When I asked why he was there on the WRONG day and TIME, management didn't even apologize all she said was “I thought it was oct 1st” ***yes i am serious she even got the number of the date wrong***. I asked “her who would clean up the AC. Tech.’s mess?”, “ is my room his garbage can?” and she didn't reply.
With all due respect you shouldn't treat your customers/ clients in this way and even if there was a mistake at the very least you could apologize but no, this issue which was caused by management should have been fixed by them and not my friends and I who had to clean till 5am just to sleep. I asked for rent reduction and no fucks were given. They didn't bat an eye. Water damage, to my table which I had to throw away, all the cleaning products and essentials oils (for making a more natural bug repellent cuz I was starting to feel sick from all the bug spray) and 2 air purifiers which all were paid from my own pocket were not in any case noticed at all. On top of that, asking for my friends to help move my stuff to the new place. It was all in all 0 fucks given by management.
All I could understand from that was, my management was bullying me because things took another turn. I asked management what they could do for me now, I asked them to help me relocate to that new room for now while they fixed the AC. the mold, and the wall. I asked them to hire someone to help me move. And they did not reply. So then, I asked them if they could rush the process of fixing/removing the mold and wall with the bugs. And they asked the AC tech and they told me It would only take 1 day to get the entire process done. However it would take them a week to ‘custom make that wooden plank and “cover” for the pipes. I told them that it is not possible for me to sleep in that room with the infestation of the bugs and the smell. It was giving me headaches, and I felt more sick then before. My skin was starting to have a reaction as I felt more itchy than before.
The day was starting to end and I asked them if it was possible to get it all done within 2 days so that they wouldn't need to use money people to help me move and they didn't reply to me. So I had no choice and I had to ask my friends to move to the new place. Once I had relocated dinto the new room, I asked management if they would hire an exterminator for the bugs and they didn't reply. It was not once, but twice I asked them and they did not reply. Around the same time, they sent me photos of the room being repaired. The mold was gone, the walls were repainted, it all looked brand new but the issue still was present, the moth- like creatures were still present and flourishing like never before they were mating, flying around, having a great time inside that room.
They asked me to use a fumigator to get rid of the moth-like bugs, I did so, took a photo of it and some bug spray again and FINALLY they decided to deduct the month of the fumigator and the spray off my rent money. It didn't mean anything though because I let it blast, closed the door (do take note my room has 1 window but we can not open it as that leads the the inside of the house well it's like a small hole/ gap area for older chinese buildings here in hong kong for “tong lau”. They mainly have it and for what reason I am not sure but I know that area is the most dirty as it never gets cleaned. I suspect it's where the bugs come from as well through the gape of the wall that leads to the outside that the 4 pipes make from the inside of the wall)
I placed wet tissue in front of the door to block the gas, and let the bomb blast for a solid day and came back to take back out the empty canister. To my surprise some of them were still alive when I opened the door. However a lot of them had died and were on the ground. The ground was covered in the moth corpses. Of course it's recommended to open back the windows, to let the poisonous gas out but with how the room was designed, there was no other place for the gas to go aside from the living room.
I did so and let the door open, but one thing I realized was, now all my things, which I couldn't clean due to the bug infestation like my clothes, rations and other things were all covered in a white powdery-like residue and everything that was porus, had a heavy stench of both the fumigator and the mold mixed in Everything in the room, just smelt putrefying. I realized I would need to clean everything due to the smell. That and alongside the bugs as the bugs would lead to other ants that would feast on their bodies.
I thought this was just the beginning of the issue and it was solved. But no this was not the case.
In the new “room” that I was in, in not less than 4 days, management msg’d me while I was at the job fair looking for jobs.
They asked me “when will you be moving back” and I told them “I am not sure, I would move back once the bugs, and everything is gone there is no point in moving back if the issue is still present”
They replied to me with “you can not be using 2 rooms” and that is when I broke into full rage and told her she was bullying me as she had to ask me to move back to room 7, or I would need to find a new place. This was 100% not fair, and the issue was not even because of me, yet I had to bear the full brunt of the responsibility. She is the most disrespectful, bullshit, nonsense filled, heartless person. I understand her issues too as it would be hard for her side too but why couldn't she have told me before that the “new room” I was in, was actually taken? I asked her why she didn't tell me anything prior. Everything was always so last minute. It was even the same case with the AC tech. She tells me “oh the AC tech will come tmr” the night beforehand. Let's say if I had a job/ was at a part time job and I didnt see her msg, does that mean she 100% expects me to be at home all the time?. I told her this “do you expect me to be at home all the time? If so, who will work and pay my rent? How do I pay you?” and she didn't reply.
There was a lot of miscommunication on her end as she didn't tell me a load of things. For etc: I had no idea how the AC tech’s schedules were like she only told me later on that it was hard finding them. And yet then she could STILL have a week/ some time to ask me and ask the AC tech. To have a time slot for each other a week proper but no. She never did any of this as well It was literally “I told you he would come, you should be at home and if you are not at home then idk when he will come”. The very thing was she could at least ASK me but no. She didn't ask me prior. What I am talking about right now is prior to the event of SEPT 30th. The entire AC having issues, this is not the 1st time. The worst part? Is when i told her this, and she deflects by playing the victim and telling me that I am ALWAYS too busy. When in reality she has never asked. Even when I asked her when he was free (AC tech) she would tell me she is not sure.
There was just SO many things she could have done to prevent all these issues honestly. But no she needed to be cheap and disrespectful as she proceeds to tell me that *our bunk bed rooms are not right for you, in fact this is YOUR personal issue (leg issue)* When I heard her say that, I instantly told her our rent money of 3.8k a month for the room, what we do and how we sleep in the room has nothing to do with her. In fact one of the previous tenants of room 6, he slept on the floor with a mattress rather than sleep up on the higher bunk as he had the top bunk as his storage area.
The argument went on, and I was left with no choice. With no money means no power I had to ask my super busy friends and partner who was having his mid terms to help me out with the entire moving process, and cleaning my things from room 7 as well. We had negotiated to move into room 9 (the one I currently am in) as the previous tenant had beef with the other tenets.
What is strange is that this all seems like a setup for management to indirectly toy around with me to the point for me to want to move out. Because I found out that the previous room 9’s tenant had started having issues JUST AS I moved into “the new room” and he was the next person who needed to move into that new room. When I heard about that, I was beyond just mad. I myself didn't have time to play “moving the house game cuz its fun he he”. I’m semi crippled, need a job, need money, need to find a solution and here she was playing and toying around with me. I was just mad, stressed and overall had feelings of just wanting to end it all.
Eventually we moved back to the old flat, but a different room. Now the room is 100cm x 280cm. Honestly. It's bug free for now, and mold free, I can breathe, eat, sleep and at least take some form of rest. I am already happy. Being denied just to fight for it even though I had paid for it is just so mentally taxing. What I had realized from this, was there is no end to all this chaos, its as if when something does go “smooth” or “seem smooth” something is bound to happen next for me because it's been a stable loop of that.
The chaos, the terror it never ends. And if it is smooth, that means something is definitely about to happen. Its as if I am traumatized, have PTSD and I cant think that, I can't for the life of me stay in any way 100% “calm and relaxed” even though my rent is paid, and I have a roof over my head because with how management runs things here it seems to be the case where if anything happens, it's down to us to fix the issue. Even though, the only thing they paid for was the AC tech. Currently, I have had all my things cleaned, washed, wiped through for bug eggs and anything.
They are now all stored in plastic boxes in the top bunk so my things are now safe to an extent. I do have this fear constantly in my mind, “do I need to constantly live in fear of needing to move again? Why even though we had already paid rent? If this is the case why am I paying rent?.” and then the thought just rolls back into “I don't have any money, no money = no power. And why do I not have money? = no job and why do I not have a job? = no boss wants to hire someone like me with my situation. With my leg, my lack in skill set all of it.
No matter what, I will keep trying, I just want an end to all this I want to break this cycle of pain. I am tired of being tired I am tired of being in the dump being left behind being stuck in my own loop of shit.
(do keep in mind what I am saying here all happened in sept~oct with the entire bug~ house moving situation)
So, rewind the time frame a bit back in february, (which was 9 months ago)
I was struggling to pay for rent and had to borrow from my friends every single month, my friends did then start to have “the talk” about the rent and everything, because of covid, they were having pay cuts too and that was when I realized things were just turning to be more worse then they were. All the doc’s appointments that I went to, over the past few months even till now all ended up being to “we will have you have a surgery but due to covid it will be postponed to TBC we can't do the surgery here in the public hospital due to a new rule. All minor surgeries will not be done until the rule is lifted”
I managed to get work at a pretty famous kitchen known for hiring disabled people by helping with advertising. The money wasn’t enough to pay for basic rent and food and I was working OT with no pay just to get work done (9AM-2AM was pretty normal). The boss is a great guy for giving anyone a chance, but his business practices are really shit sometimes. But things took a wild and mad turn during my time there.
They switched my position due to the fact I was then diagnosed with anxiety with suicidal thoughts. I knew I had mental illnesses since my time in higher diploma since my social worker at that time had recommended me to go,. But I didn't due to my busy time schedule with projects and lack of manpower in my own group. I was short of time and money I had to make that sacrifice.
The work ethics and practices was one of the reasons why I started hearing voices, had cold sweats, hand tremble/shaking, couldn't even focus, you name it, it was horrible. I was on medication for my knee that time and that it in itself did not help was making my anxiety get worse. In the beginning before I joined this social enterprise, I didn't hear voices, but rather I felt like vomiting, had headaches, and just felt overall demotivated and suicidal and didnt want to do anything. I was in another loop of my own loop of shit. So in a sense both the pressure and that workplace did in a sense make things get even worse than they already were for me mentally and physically.
Once they did switch my position due to that fact I had suicidal thoughts and anxiety, thats when things got better for my mentally, was I was then working with special needs. During my time at this social enterprise, my leg was starting to get better but it was minor since I still needed my crutches to walk outside of the building, and walk up staircases. But then things got worse again.
In july, on saturday night I had a small accident which cost me my leg. I slipped in the washroom after my shower due to the fact the cleaner didn't put back the bathmat in front of the shower stall and screwed me right knee even further. I thought that small sharp pain was something small. But I ignored it and went to work on monday. During the beginning half i noticed the pain but I ignored it and after lunch it was when i realized after i had sat down. I couldn't get back up and I was 100% fully reliant back on my crutches and had to take my knee supplements once more. I stopped taking them due to the fact I couldn't afford them. I went to the A&E department and all they could do was prescribe me painkillers. I asked them if I could get the surgery done as my case was quite extreme but they turned me away.
That was when I went looking for jobs and got a call from a game company for my designs, so I quit and joined there. My art definitely wasn’t great so that was a red flag, but I decided to join anyways since I thought maybe it was a chance. Unfortunately the owner had no idea how game companies work, had no direction for us for the design, and turned out I was only hired because of my experience with western games. I got fired really fast and I don’t really know what happened with the game company since.
I worked odd jobs, but between not being able to walk and barely being able to make rent (oftentimes I had to borrow from my friends, my mom and family won’t help at all) I was pretty fucked. I recently got hired at a hotel but somehow they didn’t see that I had a knee brace during the interview and when I arrived with crutches they fired me on the spot. On the same day, I tripped and sprained my ankle as well. It’s actually so fucking frustrating and I just don’t know what to do. It’s been failure upon failure and I just want a chance to work.
My family won’t help me out, because they themselves have their own issues, I can’t afford surgery, and my housing situation is actually fucked too because HK regulations are shit and places keep getting flooded or full of absolute grime and mold which I can’t deal with given my lungs and eczema. I keep having to move (it’s already hard to find places I can afford) in addition to everything already going on. My home management/ landlord is an irresponsible, rude and disrespectful person as she wouldn't bat an eye to my issue with my leg and kept bullying me to no end by asking me to constantly move and ask me to ask my friends to help me move due to their room issues. She is nothing but selfishness in a human nutshell. If you made it this far, thank you for listening. Again, I’m not looking for pity, but if anyone can just give me any idea on how to get out, I’m open to anything right now. I probably would have given up on life and everything by now if not for my friends helping me out (they told me about posting on SAT too). It’s been failure upon failure no matter what I do and I never get to the point where I feel like it’s okay.
submitted by IceAtherine