July 5th – Camp NANO

July 5th

Prompt: April Showers Bring…Murder

Character: A prisoner

The dreams did not leave him alone and day by day Gerald got more and more worn down until he was practically a zombie. He went through the motions of living, he drank coffee, he attended meetings, he answered emails, but none of it seemed to matter to him anymore.

No one could say how the NIBIRU files had been taken yet, the police were involved as well as an outside firm specializing in forensic data recovery. Nothing. Of course it was just a well for Gerald, he still had no memory of every being on the project team to start with.

His cell phone buzzed next to Gerald’s left hand, startling him out of another day dream about a world with red skies and violet plants. In it a hippo kept telling him to harvest his turnips for good luck or something.

Gerald looked at the display screen. Andy. He had not spoken to Andy in over a week.

“Hey, what’s up?” He answered quietly. It was not strictly against the rules to talk on your phone at work, but it was discouraged vigorously.

“Hey, man, It’s Andy.” The voice on the other end of the line sounded slightly slurred. “Whatcha need?”

“You called me, Andy.” Gerald tried not to snap at his longtime friend, but this was starting to be their pattern. Andy ignored him for weeks only to call him up blind drunk wanting a favor.

“Why you whispering, man?” Andy’s inebriated stage whisper made Gerald angry for some reason.

“I’m at work, Andy, where you should be if you want to be promoted.” A flash of a party at Andy’s house. “I’m here because Andrew in there is my new boss.” Someone said that recently. Or had they?

“That’s in the bag you old stick in the mud.” Gerald heard laughter and the clinking of glasses through the connection. “I was going to invite you to come out with us at O’Mally’s, but if you are still at work this late, I guess you don’t want to.”

“This late?” Gerald looked at the clock on his computer. 6:15. He stopped and listened, no one made a sound. He was in here alone. When had everyone left? To drive the point home, the automatic lights on the other side of the room shut off, leaving his cubicle half in gloom.

“Whatever, man, have it your way. I’ll catch you later.” Andy hung up without any more conversation.

How had Gerald not noticed everyone leaving for the day? This was getting out of hand, maybe a night out with Andy was a good idea after all, it was the stress starting to get to him. The more he thought about it, the better it sounded. True, he hated drinking at bars, and hated crowds, and noise, and Andy’s friends, but he needed to get out. He closed the program he was working in without even looking at what he had up on the screen and was just about to log off for the night when his desk phone chirped, causing him to jump.

The display read “Conf. N1615U” A creeping chill started to spread across his chest. The phone chirped again. With a shaking hand, Gerald tapped the speaker icon. There was no one here to complain if he took a call on speaker.

“Gerald.” He tried to make it sound brisk and confident, but he noticed how his voice shook almost as much as his hands.

“Come down here, Gerald. We need to talk about the NIBIRU project.” It sounded like David.

“Y-yes, sir.” The phone clicked as the connecting was cut on the opposite end. So much for going home. Gerald stood and stretched his back. How long had he been sitting there without moving? He had no idea, but his left foot was asleep as he made his away across the room to find the mysterious N1615U conference room again. He had not been back to the strangely named space since the meeting where it was revealed that all of the project information had been wiped from their systems. He had tried to find it once, but no matter how many times he walked up and down the corridor he could not find the room.

Gerald walked slowly across the now empty main office space. The cubicle were separated by low grey walls covered in cheap fabric even less attractive than the carpet if that was even possible. He did not see a single other person around. He also noticed that the automatic lights did not register his presence and click back on, he was forced to walk in the semi darkness. It was unnerving. Not that he had ever been afraid of the dark, but this felt all wrong.

The hall with the conference rooms on either side was still lit when started down it, but as he passed each room he noticed that the light above him would turn off. He thought it was coincidence at first, but when he stopped, the lights stopped, when he walked they turned off.

Fantastic, he thought to himself. He must be having another one of those dreams. He pinched the back of his left arm vigorously, but nothing happened. He was still standing in a semi-dark hallway looking for a conference room that may or may not actually exist. A conference room that was now right next to him. The door to his right was clearly marked N1615U. Hadn’t it been on the other side of the hall last time? He did not have long to ponder that thought because the last light in the corridor blinked out just as he reached for the handle. Thoroughly spooked now Gerald practically threw himself through the doorway and into the lit room.

The table was so glossy it was almost its own light source and Gerald squinted against the sudden light. He did not remember it being this bright before, but he had also not just been standing in a very dark hall the last time he was in here.

A screen was projected on the wall at the far end of the room and David’s chair was turned to face it, he could see the back of the silver grey head. On the screen was the word NIBIRU in large bold letters and in smaller letters underneath it said, “IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO GO HOME.”

“Sir?” David had not acknowledged his presence yet, thought there was no way he had missed the panicked entrance. “You said you needed to speak to me?” No response, just the humming of the fan from the projector.

“Sir?” Gerald took a step closer. He could now make out a faint pattern behind the projection. At first he thought it was part of the design, but it was beginning to become clear the closer he came that this was something on the wall. Something bright red. Blood red. Something red as blood splattered on the wall. David’s blood.

“Oh god.” Gerald staggered back. He did not need to turn the chair around to know that David was dead. His mind was a complete black, what should he do? Call the police? The phone was next to the body in the chair. He was not sure he could make himself get that close to it to grab the phone. His foot hit something. Something heavy. He looked down and saw a knife, a large kitchen knife to be exact, on the floor at his feet.

He did not have any more time to think about why the murder weapon was lying on the floor because the cops came in just at that moment. Looked like he was going to spending the night in jail instead of Ata bar. This was not what he had in mind when he thought about stretching his boundaries.

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