The sound of that old analogue clock never ceased. Michael came in for work every day with a little prayer that the ancient teller of time would just die. The fact that one simple machine could outlive a human being was beyond him. He would have gladly hid the infernal contraption in the garbage long ago if it hadn't been the pride of the company. Apparently it had belonged to the now deceased founder of the Veriasta Corporation, where Michael currently worked.
Michael Lanning was only twenty six years old, but had been an accountant for almost five years straight. He never wanted to do anything extraordinary; a simple job and a regular paycheck was enough to keep him happy. He lived in his own apartment, ate out at nice restaurants, and enjoyed the finer points in life. Though occasionally he wondered where other roads and decisions may have taken him...
"How are the numbers crunching, Mike?" A booming voice came in from the doorway, completely throwing off his thought process.
Michael winced, he hated when people used that nickname. "Oh, hello Mr. Landermen. I am just finishing up an invoice; so I will probably be here for another half an hour... Is there anything I can help you with?"
Landermen shifted his massive weight to lean on the door frame, scratching his chin with one hand. "Oh well, there's this problem with my computer.. I kind of need to save my work before I leave.."
Michael sighed wearily. Great..You're such a saint, Mike. "Sure thing. Let's see what the problem is."
The two of them stepped out, Landermen leading the way. Michael noticed that the man was dressed in a long, brown overcoat that went all the way down to his legs. That was unusual; he looked more like he just got off the rainy streets. I'm sure he was just about to go home for the night, like I should be doing. As they reached the computer, Michael instantly recognized the large error box preventing Landermen's efforts to wrap up. Michael chuckled, "Oh, that's an easy one, it should only take me a moment." He sat down and started tapping away at the keyboard. Within moments, the problem was resolved and Michael swiveled around in the engineer's high back chair. "Well I should..."
"Don't move Mike." Landermen was holding a black .22 pistol in his grubby hands. Sweat was pouring down the large man's red face.
Michael brought his hands up slowly, not blinking. "John...what are you doing?" In all of the years Michael worked here, he had never thought John could even conceive even holding a gun.
"Mike, I need money...my family...things are rough."
"Just put it down and lets talk, nobody has to know."
"SHUTUP! I know you've always mocked me. I've seen you talk with the others."
"John. That's not true, we've known each other for how long now?"
"Hey guys I'm out for the night. Have a good..." A young, short engineer, who had been recently hired, stopped short, spilling a styrofoam coffee all over himself. He screamed at the scalding pain but was quickly cut short by a weak bang from the gun. A large, dark red stain of blood crept outward from the bullet hole in his chest as he slipped onto his knees, eyes wide. The man was dead before he hit the ground. John did a double take between Michael and the dead man, making strange noises.
"Sorry Mike. My family needs me."
John's arm was a flash as it whirled towards Michael's head. The butt of the gun made a sick thud as it connected with Michael's skull. The world was quickly fading into black, his head rolling back into the chair's thin headrest. The last thing Michael felt as he slipped in to blackness was the small, black pistol being slipped into his right hand.
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