You’re Fired

The following is the first draft a (very) short story I wrote a few weeks ago. I’ve only worked on it for four hours, so cut me some slack.

I wiped a greasy piece of pepperoni off the last table in Giorgio’s Classic Pizza and exhaled deeply. Nine o’clock, the end of my shift, had finally come around. “Bruno?” I called to my boss—a paunchy, middle-aged man with a runny, upturned nose. “That’s the last of the tables. Need anything else done?”

“Make one last check through the kitchen an’ clean up anything that needs it, and that’ll be it, m’dear. Great first day.” He sniffled, a string of snot dribbling down onto his sweat-stained uniform. “Can I trust you to lock up?”

“Yeah, absolutely. Have a good night.” I pulled my hair out of its bun and slung my apron over my shoulder.

“I forgot something.” Bruno craned his corpulent neck, turning back toward me. “Just stay outta the freezer, alright? No need for you to be poking around in there.”

“No problem, boss.” I watched him waddle out the door without another word, the doorbells jingling cheerily behind him. Suddenly, all was thickly silent. There were no chattering customers, no doo-wopping jukebox tunes, no creaking of chairs and tables. The hush was accompanied only by the humming of kitchen machinery.

The humming of kitchen machinery. And—and—

Wailing.

I furrowed my brow and walked reticently towards the double doors leading to the kitchen. “Hey, anyone back there?” The wailing stopped abruptly, wordlessly responding to my question. “This establishment is closed for the night.” There was a loud thud from inside the freezer. Metallic echoes filled the restaurant. I jumped, panic forming in my throat like a lump of dough.

“He-e-e-elp!” The wailing grew louder and shakier. I wasn’t supposed to be poking around in there, I reminded myself—but somebody needed help. Bruno would understand. Swallowing, I shuffled in to the kitchen and reached toward the handle. Skin clammy and hands trembling, I turned it. The door clicked. Fright struck me with a force colder than the freezer itself. Right there, three feet in front of me, was a head—frozen, lifeless, drops of crystallized blood peppering its face. It wore a Giorgio’s employee visor, one of the old ones they’d used for the uniforms back in the 90s. Beside it, on the shelves, were boxes filled to the brim with mutilated limbs, bags of bloody hair, and sacks of what looked like human ashes.

“Please, h-e-e-elp! Help yourself! Save yourself! Leave.” The head was whimpering, its mouth cracking open on rigid, ice-frosted jaws. I was motionless in terror, petrified like a rock structure. Suddenly, I heard a loud thwack.

“What did I tell you about the freezer, darling?” Bruno was standing at the door, grinning savagely. His fleshy hands gripped a large pizza paddle.

“Bruno—you—“ I gulped. “I thought you’d gone home–“ Before I could finish my sentence, Bruno was charging at me, his lips pulled back in a demonic simper. I tried to sidestep him, but to no avail. He thrust out his leg and tripped me. I crashed to the steel floor, my teeth clacking together. Every inch of my body began to burn and throb as Bruno pummeled me with his paddle. With sinister glee, he grabbed my left wrist and began dragging me out of the freezer.

“Somebody’s got to cook the pepperoni, hon.” The pepperoni? The pepperoni!  I remembered the odd consistency of the pieces I’d been wiping off the tables. I gagged. Warm, chunky vomit filled my mouth. I tried wriggling out of Bruno’s grip, but he gave me another pound on the head with the paddle. I squeezed my eyes shut, writhing in pain. I felt heat, heard flames…

The oven.

Bruno gathered me in his arms, tenderly, as if I was a daughter. His snot dripped down onto my face. “I warned you,” he cooed. “And I’m so, so sorry.” I tried to scream, but only felt more vomit surge from my throat. “You’re fired.”

With one last heave, Bruno thrust me into the seething, famished flames.

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