Wednesday, October 19, 2022

WEP October 2022 Challenge: Thriller

It's time for the October WEP Challenge, and this is always a fun month to write for. This month our prompt comes from the famous Michael Jackson song "Thriller." If you'd like to join in, you can learn more about the challenge here.

I hope you enjoy my take on the prompt.

Only a Prank

The rhythmic thump of music reverberated through the metal walls of the warehouse. It had to be nearly midnight, and the company costume party was still in full swing. It was the week before Halloween, and people wanted the chance to have a good time before dragging their kids around the neighborhood in the chilly fall air.

Martina tried to focus on her rolling cart of parts that needed to be put away. Not everyone could have time off for the festivities, after all. That would be ludicrous.

Besides her, there was a forklift driver and one other person on duty. Three people on duty in such a large warehouse meant that the workers seldom saw each other. It had been more than two hours since Martina had seen any of her coworkers. The lighting in the area where she worked was about half as bright as it would be during a normal shift. Shadows fell across the aisles as she worked, but she still had just enough light to perform her tasks.

She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t annoyed that she had to work while so many others played nearby, but she reminded herself that if she were at the party, she’d only be lingering awkwardly in a corner anyway. While she’d been at this job for more than a year, she hadn’t truly made any friends amongst her coworkers. Part of her wanted to blame it on them, but she’d always struggled with social situations as a kid. Adulthood hadn’t made things much better.

Martina stopped her cart and started to put away some boxes of O-rings. A hushed shuffling sound brought her activity to a halt.

She looked up from her task, expecting to see a coworker approaching her with a question. Instead, she was greeted by a werewolf. It loomed at the end of the aisle, bathed in a pool of light from one of the illuminated lamps overhead. The werewolf cocked its head to the side as it studied her. Blood graced the tips of its long fangs.

Once the initial shock of the sight wore off, her surprise turned to annoyance. “Shouldn’t you be at the Halloween party? No animals allowed on the work floor. You know the rules.” She smiled a little at her own wit. 

The werewolf didn’t reply. It continued to stare.

“Fine,” she muttered. “Be creepy then.” Martina returned her attention and resumed her progress down the aisle, her back now turned to her werewolf stalker. She emerged at the other side, expecting to carry on to the next section. Instead, she found two other creatures of the night waiting for her. One was a vampire, dressed as Count Dracula. It loomed in the middle of the large walkway she’d just emerged into. The other stood slightly further in the distance, partially covered in shadow. It lumbered forward slowly, and its movements helped Martina realize it was supposed to be a zombie.

The sound of footsteps from behind alerted Martina that the werewolf was on the prowl.

“What is this? Are we about to have a dance number? Are you trying to recreate Thriller?” The irritation in her voice must have been evident to all of her companions, and she was perfectly fine with that. “If that’s what you want to do, feel free to go back to the party. I have work to do.”

She turned to go down the next aisle, hoping that these pests would listen and go back. When the sounds of footsteps continued to stalk her, she felt her face flush as her blood boiled. How dare they? What were they trying to do? Were they just trying to scare her? Or did they plan to do something worse?

A memory of being thirteen and surrounded by classmates who’d decided they had a problem with her resurfaced. Martina would never forget the blinding pain that came from having handfuls of her hair ripped out by the roots and her ribs breaking from repeated kicks to her sides.

She whipped around and snatched a long screwdriver from her cart. “Leave me alone!” she yelled. It briefly occurred to her that she could lose her job over brandishing anything as a weapon, but she also had to defend herself. She was not going to let herself be victimized again.

The vampire, which was nearest to her, jumped back in response. It put its hands up, as if about to surrender.

Then a heavy hand landed on her shoulder from behind, and she screamed as she twirled to see what had grabbed her. What followed next happened so fast that Martina couldn’t make sense of it. She saw the white face and wild red hair of a clown mask. Then she saw something odd sticking out from the clown’s head, and only a moment later recognized her own hand gripping the object.

The screwdriver.

She gasped as the clown fell to the floor. Her hand released its grip, and the screwdriver remained firmly embedded in the clown’s head. Blood immediately began to stain the floor.

“Colin!” The vampire had ripped off its mask to reveal Steffan, one of the warehouse’s forklift operators. He rushed over to kneel at the wounded clown’s side.

Colin. The name sank in. The clown must be Colin Schrieber who worked in the shipping department.

Steffan was staring daggers at her now. “You psycho! What’s wrong with you? It was just a prank!”

Martina couldn’t focus on Steffan and his rage. Her attention was affixed to the blood pooling on the concrete floor. Screams to “call 911” echoed distantly in Martina’s ears, as if she were hearing them from beneath the water. The sound of her thudding heart mingled with the thump of the music still playing nearby. Soon there would also be the wail of ambulance sirens.

It was a prank. That was all. It was only a prank.

Word Count: 988


Tagline: Pranks can have unforeseen consequences.