Calling in Dead
By Jeffrey Bishop
We’ve all had a bad boss – someone who just doesn’t understand phases that we sometimes go through in life. What can you do? Well, read on …
Tell Time: 4 minutes 15 seconds
Scare Rating: 3/5 Ghosts
Bob wasn’t feeling his best. Again. He’d have to call in sick, and he dreaded the thought of calling Alan, his boss, to excuse himself. Alan, for some reason, didn’t care much for Bob.
It’d been a long winter, and Bob had suffered a number of debilitating illnesses back to back. It all started around Halloween, and the illnesses might have been connected to the squirrel bite he’d received while out walking his dog near the cemetery. Not many people have ever been bitten by a squirrel, and this was a mangy, foul-looking squirrel, too.
The doctors couldn’t figure it out – it wasn’t rabies – and what confounded their ability to make a diagnosis was that Bob’s symptoms and ailments changed almost every week. One week it felt like flu, the next week it felt like appendicitis, and the week after that it felt like he’d broken his legs. So as the weeks dragged on, Bob – and his employer – suffered.
With a heavy sigh, followed by a deep cough, Bob picked up the handset to make the dreaded phone call. It rang on the other end just once.
“Piece Parts Industries, this is Alan,” came the greeting.
“Hi Alan; Bob calling. Look, I’m not feeling so hot again. It’s in my stomach this time. This is about the worst I’ve ever felt. I need to call in sick.”
“Bob, Bob, Bob,” Alan replied, with apparent satisfaction in his voice. “I had a feeling you might call this morning. I just pulled your record from HR, and it looks like you’ve used up all your sick time. You can’t call in sick. In fact, you have no leave left at all – no vacation time, no personal leave, no bereavement leave, nothing! You’ll have to come in no matter how you feel.
“And for the record, I’ve all along thought you were malingering — pretending to be sick to avoid work,” Alan continued. “So now we get to find out. Drag your body in here so we can see how sick you are, and then let’s get over this silliness and have you do some work for me for once!”
As Alan continued to berate his employee, a peculiar feeling passed over Bob. It started as a worsening sense of queasiness, followed by intense pain in his core that peaked with a bright vision of white light that filled his consciousness. The pain approached the unbearable, but just as quickly passed, to be followed by no feeling at all. Bob returned his attention from his physical state to the phone in his hand.
“Alan, it’s ok that I don’t have any sick days left,” Bob said, “because I’m pretty sure I’m dead. I guess I need to call in dead, instead!”
“Nonsense!” Alan burst through the phone, making no attempt at all to conceal his contempt at what sounded like a smart-alecky response. “You get yourself in here, and when you do, we’ll talk about your attendance record and about your future!”
With a degree of detachment not in keeping with the tone of the conversation, Bob hung up the phone and got ready to go into work. Looking in the mirror as he shaved, he saw that his face was pale and sallow – almost as pale as the shaving cream. He couldn’t feel his face much, but as he rinsed, he noticed he’d shaved a bit close – pieces of skin had been shaved off with his hair, leaving raw flesh exposed. “Weird. Didn’t hurt,” Bob thought. All of a sudden he felt quite hungry.
By the time Bob reported in to Alan’s office, it was late morning. He sat in a chair on the other side of Alan’s desk while his boss ripped into him.
“You’re a good employee, and you do good work – when you’re here,” Alan sneered. “But you’ve gotta get your skin here every day, or else! And when you’re here, you really have to be here.” The conversation seemed to last for more than a half hour as Alan worked out all of his resentment and frustration on his worker.
“Now that you’ve wasted your morning and mine, I want you to grab your lunch and get to work,” Alan said in closing. “To make up for lost time, you can work at your desk while you eat your lunch.”
At hearing the word “lunch,” Bob seemed to rejoin Alan from a far-away place. A toothy smile crossed Bob’s face.
“Did you hear me?”Alan barked, clearly annoyed by the mask.
“Oh, I heard you Alan,” Bob replied grimly. “But I plan to eat at your desk instead!”
As he spoke, Bob the zombie climbed over Alan’s desk and took his first bite out of his boss’ face.