It was almost lunchtime when the second wave of bombers came.
The first wave had finished by half past ten, which left enough time for Thurston Moncton to sweep the rubble off his desk and find what was left of his coffee cup. This time, the entire eastern wall of the office had been blown out, taking most of the IT department with it.
Kicking a piece of collapsed sheetrock out of the way, Thurston emerged from a duck-and-cover position underneath his desk. The yellowed cathode-ray monitor of his workstation glowed dimly at him as he wiped the dust from the glass with the end of his necktie. An alert from his calendar software binged feebly to remind him of that afternoon’s managerial progress review, set by his boss, Harris. He had never found out if that was his manager’s first or last name.
“Hey Thurston,” A coworker was picking her way over the rubble towards him, “d’you know if Harris wants us to bring copies of our client reports to the review meetings?” Her left hand was clutching the opposite shoulder, which appeared to have been pierced by a large piece of shrapnel and was bleeding heavily.
“Couldn’t say, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt. Have you seen the memo he sent about the reviews?” Thurston rummaged in the upper drawer of his desk and pulled out a sheet of paper with a large, singed hole through it.
“I’ve seen it” she said, taking the sheet of paper anyway. “Madge over in Quality Assurance told me there’s a rumor they might be downsizing us next quarter. I bet that’s why they want to do the progress reviews early.”
“You shouldn’t believe everything you hear, Susan” Thurston scoffed, “besides, Madge is always saying things like that. Was saying things like that.” He corrected himself, recalling last week’s drone strike. “Remember when she was convinced our holiday bonuses would be cut last year?”
The bleeding woman began to reply, but was drowned out by the ceiling of the break room crashing down and a burst pipe forcefully spraying water over the kitchenette. Thurston looked at his watch. The crystal was smashed in and the hands had stopped at 10:13, but he figured it was just about time for his meeting anyway and stood up.
“Oh, I’ve got to run. Put that memo back if you’re done with it?”
The bleeding colleague made no indication she’d heard him. She was now slumped against an upturned desk and had gone very pale, but Thurston hadn’t noticed this and was already halfway to the stairs.
Thurston jumped across a hole where the last two steps had been yesterday and emerged from the stairwell on the floor below. He deftly dodged a wire that was hanging out of a gap in the ceiling and sparking menacingly, turning a corner just in time to see his boss standing in front of the copier.
“Good man, Thurston, right on time!” His boss looked at his watch. It was also broken. “We’re in the big conference room. Shall we go in?” He said, gesturing at an empty doorway. The door had buckled in half and was wedged against the opposite wall.
Thurston followed his boss into the conference room and was greeted by the sight of bodies, wrapped in sheets, laying across the broad table. It seemed that the Human Resources department had set up a triage. One man that Thurston vaguely recognized as the CFO was clumsily applying a bandage to an intern’s head wound.
“Hey guys, I hate to interrupt, but I booked this room for a pretty important meeting.” Harris addressed the makeshift medics. “Can someone clear these out?” he said more than asked, gesturing at the shrouded bodies.
There was some grumbling as the wounded began shuffling out. Two IT technicians rolled their eyes at each other and began to carry out the corpses. Harris sat down at the end of the table and gestured for Thurston to sit next to him.
“Listen, first I have to congratulate you.” began Harris, “your client satisfaction surveys are through the roof and your suggestions to streamline payment processing went totally gangbusters with the boys in accounting.”
Thurston smiled and nodded, not bothering to remind Harris that the accounting department personnel were almost entirely women.
“With that in mind-” the manager was cut off as the wall behind his head exploded in a puff of gypsum dust followed by a sharp report.
“Whoops, sniper fire.” he declared calmly. Both men dove under the heavy table as two more shots tore into the back of the chair Thurston had just been occupying.
“Anyway, as I was saying, your reports are fantastic. We’ve had an opening for a sales VP since Jacobson’s office was firebombed and I nominated you for the position.” Harris continued with his knees up near his ears.
At that moment, whatever was left of the window was shattered as bursts of machine gun fire came in over the top of the table.
“THERE’S A DECENT RAISE, AND I THINK THE OPPORTUNITY WOULD BE A REALLY GOOD EXPERIENCE FOR YOU.” his boss shouted calmly over the din of gunfire.
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY EXCEPT THANK YOU, SIR” Thurston smiled as he shouted back.
The machine-gun fire suddenly ceased. Harris poked his head above the table.
“Looks like they’ve moved on”
The men crawled out from under the table and dusted off the knees of their pants.
“Anyway, take the weekend to think about it and let me know on Monday.” Harris continued, shaking Thurston’s hand vigorously. “I think we can wrap up here, I’ve got to go and prepare a report for the shareholders. Don’t forget to file your timesheet today.”
“I will, sir”
Thurston hummed happily to himself as he stepped over Susan’s body, searching for a phone that still worked. He couldn’t wait to tell his wife about his promotion.