The first stop was Max’s cube. Steve elected to stay at his cube a dozen feet away so long as Officer Stewart stayed halfway between both areas, with her gun drawn and ready for trouble.
'Another Stevism, making friends and influencing people,'thought Max. Safely in his cube, Max went through his desk drawers looking for the work out clothing he usually kept there. 'It has been awhile; maybe I brought that stuff home? Nope? Ah-ha! Oh no.' Max had not brought his work out clothing home, a pair of shorts, running shoes and a gray t-shirt was awaiting him, the problem was the shirt, one of those funky sayings he was pretty sure was not too appropriate for the day’s events, ‘Smile, at least your alive!’ Somewhere back in his head he remembered picking up several of these lame t-shirts at a Christian church yard sale, all of the logos tried really hard to make a concise, political zinger, all of them were pretty close to ‘Smile, at least your alive’. It was even worse that the spelling for ‘you’re’ was ‘your’, which was another reason Max bought the thing in the first place. Sarah had thought he was being pretty vicious and sarcastic about it and had threatened to throw it out if she ever caught him wearing it again. Hence, it was regulated to the work exercise-clothing bin.
“What is wrong Max?” Stewart asked.
“Ah nothing, nada, just my workout clothes kind suck, but given the alternative, I will take 'em. Hey Steve don’t suppose you have a spare t-shirt I can have?”
Steve prairie dogged over the cube and said, “Nope, only losers work out at work, I hit the gym every day at four thirty before I come in.”
“Every day?” Stewart asked sarcastically.
“Now that you mention it, can we head over to the company gym so I can at least shower off real quick?”
“Abso-lute-a-mente, compadre. I would insist myself, you might get brained if someone who was not your close personal friend saw you right now. I will use the phone in the loser workout room while you shower. Officer Stewart, have I mentioned I am single? You can look in on both of us while I am calling from the list and you are showering off the blood.” said Steve.
“Single? You don't say, Steve. I wonder why you haven't been pulled out of circulation by some lucky lady,” to Max Stewart said, “Don’t worry Max one of you two will have your back covered.”
“See?” said Steve, “She likes me already.”
“Say Max is Steve looking like a zombie to you? He is starting to look a little gray around the throat and face to me. Plus, he is spewing ‘zingers’ worthy of someone without any brains… Yeah I better cap him before he attacks us.” Stewart starts to swing her gun around.
“Whoa! Whoa! I was kidding!” Steve ducked back under his cube wall, after a second or two he said, “Let’s get going, alright? It is bad enough we have to wait around for shower boy and time is a wasting.”
“Team players gotta love ‘em.” said Stewart.
They made their way to the company showers, bat, gun and a golf club that had magically appeared in Steve’s hand as he emerged from his cube, at the ready. Along the way, Max asked Stewart if she had a first name as referring to her, as ‘Officer Stewart’ was getting tedious. Stewart beamed at him and said, “You can call me Jane.” Turning to Steve, she said, “But ‘Officer Stewart’ or ‘ma'am’ will work just fine for you.”
The trip to the gym was mercifully short; it was located just down the hall, through the main receiving dock. The door leading to the men’s room required a three button code to get in. “What’s the super-secret code?” asked Jane.
“Two-One-Three.” replied Max.
With a click, the door opened and Jane, lead the two men inside. Max ducked down and checked under the single stall and then in each of the two shower stalls, empty. Thank God for small favors! He stripped quickly and fired up the shower, a few minutes later he was drying off and poking among all the unlocked lockers looking for some other t-shirt to wear. He came across an old sweater with the 'Corn Huskers' logo on it, ugh! Max was not that desperate, the heat was bad enough, but wearing a Nebraska team sweatshirt was liable to get him brained on general principle here in Buffalo territory. Sighing Max pulled his 'Smile at least your alive' shirt over his head and moved out into the gym, heading for the loading dock where he could hear Steve was arguing with Jane… again.
“All I am saying is not all these people are dead, twenty one calls and no answers? They ran and hid somewhere, we need to get on the PA system and call everyone to the main entrance or one of your conference rooms,” shot Jane.
“Fuck that, they are deaders, leave ‘em and let’s make a break for my ride. We can get out of here then and go check on Max’s family, then head for the hills.”
“Oh, c’mon Steve, just use the PA and call everyone to the conference room.” Max said.
Stewart examined Max briefly, “Nice shirt. At least you don’t look like a butcher anymore. Steve doesn’t know how to use the PA system and he is worried that maybe the dead can understand some words and will meet us wherever we announce. Now that you’re here, you can use the PA and get us rolling. YOU’RE. Get it?”
Steve snorted and Max looked a little embarrassed then said, “Ah, I don’t know how to use the PA either. I picked it up as a joke; at least it is a hundred percent blood free. Who is on the list of people who came in today? Are any admin assistants?”
Steve looked down the list, “Well, well, we do have one ‘Miss Amelia Bryon’; she is Kirkpatrick’s assistant on the second floor. Or was; she ain’t answering her phone.”
“Try again. Didn’t you hit on her at the last company party? I seem to recall something about…”
“Yeah, yeah, let’s mention how Steve got shot down again. C’mon, man I was two months out of my divorce! The phone is ringing,” holding the phone out to Max, “See? No answer, she is a goner.”
“Nah, she is probably holed up in Kirkpatrick’s office, this is perfect he has like the biggest office on the second floor and it looks over the main entrance and into the parking lot, so we can see when the national guard gets here, makes sense to go there anyway, eh?”
“Ah, I still say we make a run for the parking lot and our cars, once in our cars we should be safe, we can just run anyone down who gets in our way.” said Steve.
“Steve! Come on!”
“Fine.” Steve hung up the phone.
On the other end, a voice finally answered, too late for Steve to hear.
“Hello? Is anybody there? Kirkpatrick has gone crazy he…he’s noticed me! Help me! Send help! Oh God! Stay away from me!”