New flash fic – The Body

Enjoy this weird little, which I’ve been threatening to write for a while now, but I put a tiny twist on it. Maybe it’s an allegory or a metaphor, who knows? It can be what you want.

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    The Body

When April first saw the body on the floor, she thought it was a joke.

Another terrible, thoughtless prank by an office full of men who peaked in high school. She was about to tell Petersen it was very funny – sarcasm dripping from her voice – when Brooks came into the meeting room, and stepped on the body on his way to his chair. He didn’t react at all. Now she wasn’t sure it was there at all.

As everyone took their seats for the meeting, April wondered why she’d be hallucinating a dead body. He looked to be an average man, in a cheap off the rack suit, face down on the floor, his great bald spot like the drain of a kitchen sink. The carpet beneath him was wet, mostly due to blood, but also some other fluids. She thought she could smell it too. Could she possibly be hallucinating all of it? Did someone slip something in her latte this morning?

Jenkins got the meeting underway, and went and stood by the corpse, as he started his Power Point presentation. The carpet squelched beneath his feet, but he didn’t notice.

She couldn’t focus on what anyone was talking about. All she could see was that body, and how she was the only one to apparently see it. Was this how psychotic breaks happened? She’d have to Google that.

An intern came in with box of doughnuts, and dropped the box in shock, seemingly seeing the body. Petersen laughed at the intern, who hastily picked up the box, which luckily hadn’t opened on impact. The intern looked searchingly at them all, clearly wanting an answer, but all April could do was shrug. Okay, it was there – it was just … they didn’t care? Was that it? How could they not fucking care about the body? Did they think if they ignored it long enough that it would get better on its own?

The intern left the box of doughnuts on the table, and headed out, shuddering. Petersen was still laughing about her “clumsiness” as he opened the box, oblivious to the smear of blood on the bottom of the box. Most of the men at the table reached in after him and pulled out a pastry. She watched them tear into them with their teeth, like lions at a carcass, and was overcome with a wave of disgust.

She raised her hand, and after a moment, Jenkins called on her. “Yes, April?”

“There’s a body in the room.”

Jenkins half smiled, like she was telling a joke he didn’t quite understand. “There are several bodies in the room, in fact. It’s a meeting.”

“No, I mean a dead body.”

His half smirk remained, like a flag at half mast. “Uh, what’s the joke?”

“It’s not a joke. Look down.”

He did, and for some reason, it took him a moment to see the body right beside him. “Oh. Huh.”

“Shouldn’t we call someone? The police, maybe?”

His eyebrows rose high on his shiny forehead. “For what reason? The cleaning staff will take care of it.”

She had hoped he was joking this time, but he seemed serious. “Are you crazy?” she exclaimed. “One of our co-workers is dead at your feet, and you want to leave it to the janitors?”

He shrugged, glancing back to see what was currently on the screen. “That’s their job, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not. What if he was murdered? And who is he, anyway? We have to do something.”

“No we don’t,” Petersen said. “These things work themselves out.”

This had to be a joke, right? No one was that insensitive, or that much of an idiot. “No they don’t. We have to do something.”

He shrugged. “You can if you want to, April, but you’ll have to wait until the end of the meeting. Now, if I may continue,” he said, sliding right back into corporate babble.

She looked around the table, but everyone was paying attention to Jenkins and his report, and seemingly didn’t care about the body.

It made her wonder, considering how they were reacting, if this had happened a lot. Did that mean she had walked past bodies before, and never noticed them?

Holy shit – what if this was happening all the time? April got up and left the conference room, fearing what she’d see on her way out the door.

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