BLOOD & SWINE: A Comedy of Terrors
(2009, unpublished) - a novel by A.R.Yngve - Sample Chapters
- - -
CHAPTER 8: Thank God It Was Just a Dream
Carl woke up from a nightmare, turned to one side, opened his eyes and found himself rolling down from Lucia's couch. And she was standing beside it, looking down on him. Fortunately, Carl landed on a thick rug. She offered him her cell phone.
Before his inner eye flickered vivid images from the nightmare, like a flashback:
A face partly obscured by moving bars of shadow, its glassy eyes flickering with reflected strobe lights, stared at Carl and its mouth slowly opened to reveal... not teeth, but angular things that did not belong in this world...
"Waahh!" Then: "I wasn't..." He tried to explain to Lucia that seeing her was not what caused him to scream. But his brain was only working at half speed and he failed to finish the sentence. She was wearing a bathrobe, and her red hair hung like shiny drapes around her face. Though she was tired and grumpy, she still looked lovely to him.
"It's for you," she said, moving the phone closer to his face. "Mackott."
Sleep-drunk, Carl mumbled idiotically: "Who...?"
Mackott's bespectacled face appeared on the phone screen, watching Carl. His face was close to the camera, making his nose seem like a huge beak. "I tried to call you," Mackott's voice said from the tiny speaker. "Come to my office at the HQ today, before lunch."
"In an hour. Be there."
Carl snapped awake and climbed to his feet. "I gotta..." His nose reacted to a rank odor and he asked Lucia: "What's that smell?"
"It's you," she said and sighed. "Get in the shower now. I'll see what clothes you can borrow."
Exactly one hour and three minutes later, a breathless Carl rushed into Mackott's office.
Mackott's owlish gaze scanned Carl from head to toe, taking in his pink sneakers, purple pants, white jacket and wide-sleeved yellow shirt - all the wrong size. Carl knew he looked ridiculous and expected a rebuke.
"Good to see you, Carl. Please sit down."
Baffled, Carl smoothed down his shaggy hair with one hand and slumped into an armchair. The office was sparsely but expensively decorated; the wall behind Mackott was entirely covered by an enormous enlarged photo of a hog's head. Mackott put his palms together, leaned across his desk and eyed Carl quietly.
Seconds passed. Carl got more and more uncomfortable.
Suddenly, Mackott spoke: "Have you considered your future in the corporation?"
At this point Carl wasn't sure he had one.
"My, eh, future, it's..." He searched for some answer that wouldn't say too much, and came up with a pointless phrase from some half-forgotten movie: "... is always in motion." He wanted to slap himself.
Instead of shaking his head at Carl's reply, Mackott nodded. "Good, good. Now, I'll say this in the strictest confidence... you shouldn't go around bragging about it... but Mr. Drasco believes in you. He believes you have a destiny in Hogoration. Do you want to honor that trust? Prove yourself worthy of it?"
Carl stuttered: "I... n... yes, of course..."
"Then accept this small token of appreciation for how swiftly you handled the unfortunate business with the UGG. Your new company car."
Carl was dumbfounded. He watched with a moronic expression as Mackott produced a receipt and a set of car keys. The key ring had a Ferrari logo on it.
"I... I shouldn't..."
The owlish man cocked his head to the side. "Is there a problem? You do have a driver's license?"
With a surprisingly quick movement, Mackott grasped Carl's left hand across the table, placed the car keys and papers in Carl's palm, and shook his right hand.
With a friendly smile, he added: "Now take the rest of the day off and enjoy your new car. Spread a little company goodwill. It's parked in front, space number sixteen."
Carl felt dizzy. Things were spinning out of control too fast. It couldn't be normal to hand out Ferraris to new employees like this... and when Lucia found out, she'd be furious.
He mumbled "Thank You" a few times and walked backwards out of the office. When Carl had shut the door behind him, Mackott looked into the ceiling and whispered:
"You were right, Master. He was easier to corrupt than I thought. But what do we do about Max Freyt? He hasn't been loyal."
"His severance package would cost the company too much," said a voice in the ceiling. "Just make sure Max feels welcome and does not suspect anything. Have you arranged for my quarters?"
As soon as Carl stepped out of Mackott's office, one thing preoccupied his mind: The stranger at the party. Maybe I imagined parts of what I saw, he thought, but not the killings. Where's Martina? She was there! I've got to find her!
He went through the corridor until he found an empty office with a vacant desk and phone. The PC next to the phone was still turned on. He Googled Martina Voytola's phone number and called it.
There was no response. He checked the Internet for her e-mail address, and found one that might work. He typed a brief message, added his email address and posted it: "Are you OK? I'm worried for you, please call! -Carl Krocek Olson"
He left a message for Max Freyt at the receptionist's desk, and walked out to the parking lot. As promised, a red Ferrari sports cabriolet stood in space number 16 and the key fit the lock. He climbed in and tried out the driver's seat. He pushed a button on the dashboard and the roof folded back, letting the sunlight warm Carl's body.
A wide grin appeared on his face; he couldn't stop it. He daydreamed that Lucia was in the seat next to him, smiling, and she put a hand on his thigh. The hand started to caress him...
A hand clamped down on Carl's left shoulder; he gasped and started.
"Hey!" said a voice behind him. He turned his head so quickly he got an ache in his neck. The hand belonged to a young woman with short, bleached-white hair. She was wearing heavy makeup and tight-fitting leather pants. Carl hesitated a moment, then he recognized her.
"Martina? It is you! Boy, am I glad to see you. I was so worried..."
He blinked and looked around to see whether she had come alone. A limousine with smoked windows was just driving away in the distance, to the back of the Hogoration building's outdoor parking area.
"Uh, how did you find me?" Now he noticed more subtle changes in her looks. The eyes appeared to have grown larger and the apple-cheeks had shrunk, exposing the angles of her face - as if she had lost a lot of weight virtually overnight. But how could that be?
For a moment, Martina gazed longingly at the vanishing limousine... then she turned to ogle Carl and smiled - with very white, sharp teeth. "I just had to see you again, Carl. Can you drive me somewhere?"
"Of course. I'll have to go buy a new cell phone, want to come along?"
Martina literally jumped into the seat next to Carl, and leaned her legs up against the dashboard. She had a broad black ribbon tied around her neck, and scratched it. "Just pull up the roof, will you? The sun's too bright. I'll take a short nap."
Carl pushed the button and the roof whirred back into place. He drove off the company grounds and into the city, agitated and overwhelmed and just a little horny...
Martina put on a pair of sunglasses and let her head hang out of the car.
"Hey! You'll catch a cold," said Carl.
"I'm burning up!" she complained.
- - -