I was born with the name, Calvin. Although it was the name that my mother gave me when I was born, it wasn’t the name people at the office called me. They usually called me Cal.I never knew what name to call any of them. I had worked at the office for years, but I had not gotten the name of any of my co-workers or even my boss.
Yellow United Company was an insurance company. It was the only place that I have ever worked. Whenever I told people that I worked there, a glaze would come over their eyes and they would say, “hmm, very interesting,”
It didn’t seem like the people who worked there thought that the work was interesting either. They always seemed to be training someone new when I was finally around the office. So many different faces, all without names. It was alright for me. Once every couple weeks I would get on a plane and travel around the country. When I would often come back I would see new people in the office.
I never recognized anyone. I preferred it that way. But it was after my 37th birthday party that I began to feel an uneasiness that never left as long as I was at Yellow United. The people I had worked with were always a bit strange. Never in any way that I could explain to people without them saying that I was being sensitive or that I was the strange one.
I went back to my desk. Brushing off the dust I sat, and reorganized my desk. I looked to my left. There was a strange scent wafting from the cubicle there.
“What is that? Tuna?” I asked, trying to make conversation.
“Hey Cal, happy to see you. Welcome back to the office. It’s not tuna.”
“Yeah nice to see you again… remind your name? I’m sorry,” I said putting my hand behind my head and giving a grin.
“My name is Joseph.” He said. I stared at him.
“Okay,” I looked to my left just in time to see my other co-worker clipping her toenails at her desk.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked as a shard of toenail flew into my mouth. I turned green and spat out the offending projectile. Slamming my hands against the table, I stood. “Would you stop that? Do you have to do this now?”
“Oh, Cal. I didn’t see you there. Do you want to borrow my toe clippers after me?” She asked. My stomach turned over and my face twisted in revulsion. Her toes were yellowed and thick. I could see the fungus overgrowing and flaking off of her foot onto her desk.
“No thanks, uh what was your name?”
“Dorothy,” She said, even her smile was yellow.
“Right,” I said and nodded. It wasn’t long before 5 o’clock blissfully came around.
“Goodbye,” I said.
“Goodbye Cal,” The whole office said in unison. I shivered.
The next morning I had to sit in my car for a few minutes before going in.
“Hey Cal,” There was a young blonde sitting across from me.
“Oh, hello, do I know you?” I asked. I pushed back my receding hairline. The young blonde laughed as if I had told a hilarious joke. My laugh was hollow as I joined her.
“What department do you work in,”
“I work in HR,”
“Oh, I thought Joseph did,” I said, earning myself a blank stare. Something squirmed underneath my feet. I looked down. The whole floor below me was covered in slugs. Brown slugs, with their mucus trailing behind them, staining the carpet with black streaks. Shining in the fluorescent lights like precious stones. Gasping, I stood on my chair. I looked around. The slugs were coming from the cubicle to my right. Where Joseph had been.
But, instead of the well-groomed if a bit fish-smelling man from yesterday, there was a boy, who couldn’t be older than 20 sitting there.
“Do you have any salt?” He asked me. I shook my head.
“No, I don’t”
“Pity, it’s the only way to get rid of slugs, is to throw salt on them,” He reached for his briefcase and opened it. It was filled to the brim with slugs. My stomach turned over again, looking around. Was anyone seeing this? This had to be against the rules.
“Oh, I see. Yup, slugs, got you,” I said, wiping sweat from my forehead.
“Is something wrong Cal?” He asked. I shook my head and didn’t answer. I rushed to the men’s bathroom. But a sound stopped me just as I began to push on the door.
There was a soft chanting noise coming from the woman’s bathroom. It took a bloodcurdling scream for me to rush in.
“Is everyone okay?” I said, bursting through the door. I looked to see a roomful of strangers holding a chicken without a head. It’s blood splattered across the walls and a pentagram was drawn on the ground.
“I see that you are all busy, and I’ll leave you to it,” I said, turning white. “Goodbye,” I said and I ran out of the women’s bathroom. I loosened my necktie, took everything of value from my desk and shoved it into a white box.
“Cal, where are you going? It’s not even lunch yet,” A stout woman blocked my way through the door.
“I’m leaving, I’m quitting, I have no idea who you are and I would appreciate it if you would step aside,”
“Oh that’s too bad, we’ve had a change of management recently and I would really like to introduce you to your new president,”
“No thanks, really I have to go,” I said. I pushed her aside with force and ripped off my nametag, throwing it into the garbage. I kicked open the door and went to my car. Driving away I looked behind me to see that the ground surrounding the Yellow United Company building was cracking and descending into hell. Literal hell. I laughed incredulously and wondered what I would say when I had to tell people why I had left my last job.