❯ Briefcase Full of Guts – 1 ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

AN: This is not a songfic, but it was inspired by Dethklok�s song �Briefcase Full of Guts�. May you find this story metal.

Briefcase Full of Guts

�Ash, report to the office. Ash, report to the office,� the grainy intercom squealed.

�They need to fix that thing,� he said, and then he went back to helping his customer. Ash was a professional. He was a considerate salesman who always gave his customers personal attention, especially when they were wearing shorts and a black halter top.

�So, like I was saying, this baby will solve all your blending needs. You�ll never need another blender. So when I come over next weekend it will make the best Margaritas.�

She giggled. Ash liked the giggly ones. They made him forget things, and giggling made breasts bounce nicely. �So, how did you lose that hand?� she asked, and she ran her forefinger up the prosthetic hand replacement. She gave him a coy look.

Ash smiled; chicks loved the �how I lost my hand saving the world� story. �Actually, I lost my hand saving the world once. I could have been king, but I felt like I was needed here.�

�Ash, report to the office immediately!� He knew that voice well enough to tell when to stop fucking around. Mr. Mordland�s secretary, Susan Grier, was a dangerous lady.

�Sorry, mama. I have to go; duty calls.� He winked at her and gave her a business card. She smiled and tucked it in her bra.

�This had better be important,� he said to the dragon lady. �I was just about to close a sale.�

�I don�t think chatting up the customers is considered closing a sale. This is important. Jaime Fulton just called.�

�The district manager? Shit, what did I do to get Vagasauras Rex�s attention?�

She scowled. �You might want to let that little grudge go, Ashleigh. Mr. Mordland�s not coming back. He died mysteriously last night. The regional manager wants you as the new store manager. I have no idea why.�

�Me neither.� He pinched her cheek. �I�ll take it though � need the money. Keep up the good work sweet-cheeks. I�ve got a sale to finish out there.�

�I wasn�t done Ashleigh.� It was too late. Either the door had cut her off, or he was pretending not to hear her.

He searched the whole store, and he got a few weird looks in the lingerie section, as well as a proposition. The girl was gone.

�Damn,� he said. �She was hot.� Aw well, there were other girls in the world, right?

He couldn�t sleep that night. Something the old bat had said was bothering him. What was it? It reminded him of when he was THERE, the place that had no name – that place that was always waiting for him, the man chosen by the Necronomicon. There was something subtly wrong about the store today. He couldn�t place it though. It was probably something silly, like new light bulbs or a bad smell � something just below his radar. He was just anxious since he�d returned from fighting the Deadites.

The next day he had the same feeling that something just wasn�t right. Nothing looked out of place; it was just off. He kept feeling like he wanted to turn around and make sure nothing was watching him. The old bat had more paperwork for him.

There were going to be trainings and conferences. Jaime wanted to meet with him, and he missed three short-skirted �sales� because of all the managerial bullshit.

Ash wasn�t manager material, and he knew it. He was smart enough to let the old dragon run things, and he made sure to give her gift certificates to steak houses and some nice presents as bribes. He just wasn�t the suit and tie kind of guy. Every day that he had to wake up at 4:30 A.M. because something at the store had to be done before opening at 6 made him die a little inside.

He did a fairly sloppy job of it, but he figured he�d hang on until he was fired or demoted. The pay was good, and he was building up a small nest egg before they figured out what a colossal mistake they�d made when they gave him the keys to the store.

He did like hiring people though. Ash had always been a social type, and getting paid to talk to new people was fun. Especially today. He was interviewing three applicants for his old position in house wares, and they were all chicks. This was going to be a good day.

His intercom buzzed. �There is a Miss Amy Tangiers to see you.� Ash noticed the old cow didn�t say �sir� like she had with Mr. Mordland, but he really didn�t care.

�Sure, babe. Send her in.� He looked over Amy�s resume quickly. �Let�s see. You did three years in sales over at Stevenson�s Hardware. I see some food service before that. What can you tell me about yourself?�

He looked up from the papers to the sight of perfect legs dominating a short black skirt and white button down shirt. He grinned. �Back again, huh?�

It was his �lost sale� from a couple of days ago. He�d never gotten her name.

�You made those blenders sound so interesting. I thought I�d like to work in a store with such interesting�blenders.�

�Well, since they shoved me upward, we need someone to sell those amazing blenders. You think you can do it?�

She leaned forward, and he got a good peek at her cleavage. �I think I can sell anything,� she said.

�I�ll bet you can,� he said. �Can you start tomorrow?�

He turned to get some employee training materials. He missed her slipping something into his briefcase, the empty one he kept on the desk to look like he knew what he was doing.

�See you tomorrow,� he said, and after she left he leaned back in his chair and put his arms behind his head. He indulged in a few daydreams and then spun in lazy circles for a few minutes until his intercom buzzed again.

�The employee evaluations are due Wednesday,� Ms. Grier said. �Just a reminder.�

�How am I going to evaluate them? I�ve been manager a whole two weeks. I don�t know how well they�ve been working.�

�I took the liberty of doing the paperwork for you. I�ll bring them in to sign later.�

�Ms. Grier, have I ever told you I love you?� Ash asked.

�No, you have not � something I�m grateful for.�

He did some paperwork and went to get the evaluations. As he left the office the difference between his office and the outer secretary station became apparent. �Ms. Grier, could you have someone get me some better light bulbs? Mine are dingy or something.�

�Of course,� she said. �I�d hate for you to hurt your eyes, what with the massive amount of work you have to do.�

�Hey,� he said. �That chair doesn�t spin by itself you know.� He tried to think positively, but there was no way a few dim light bulbs could make the office feel cold and clammy as well. He pushed it out of his mind. He was probably being paranoid.

That night he had the DREAM again, the dream so bad it had its own zip code in his mind. He fell among monstrous beings and reaching hands, screaming Linda�s name and hurting for her all over again. His hand throbbed and a guttural voice reached his ears, speaking dark things in a language that seemed specifically built to howl and grind madness into words.

This time was different. He saw a woman. He couldn�t identify her; he could just see that she was female. She was reaching out from the blackness, and she motioned for him to come to her. �We won�t let you go, Ash,� she said. Her form changed and she became a harpy. �You belong to us now, child!� She cackled and flew toward him. He woke up just before her claws would have impaled him.

Ash sat up in bed, panting and glancing around nervously. His heart was beating wildly. He got up and went to the kitchen for a beer. On a whim he turned on every light in the apartment. He knew it wouldn�t help, but it was a small comfort to have as few shadows as possible. It was just a dream, anyway.

The next day, Amy started work. He made sure he introduced her to the store. He showed her the employee lounge with a stern warning against any horseplay, followed by a suggestive leer. He was sitting in his office doing some actual work when all the lights flickered and died: the overhead light, the hula-girl lamp, even his ugly EXIT light. He pulled a flashlight out of his desk. Ash was always prepared for the darkness; he had a creeping feeling it was coming back for him someday. His preoccupation with light was a trauma induced love affair at this point.

He got a brief flash of welcome brightness, and then the flashlight dimmed and died. It didn�t pop like a light bulb should. It just faded, like it had been smothered. He shook the light, but nothing happened. Ash opened the door, half-afraid he�d be greeted by something from THERE. There were no strange creature sounds or howls of pain, just the mutterings of confused employees. That and the damp, heavy air. There was no reason for S-Mart to feel like a refrigerator. For just a second, he thought he saw a pair of glowing red eyes to his left, but when he turned his head he just saw the dim outline of shelves.

There was a �pop� and the lights came back on. His flashlight came to life again in his hands. �What was that?� Amy asked.

Ash jumped. He hadn�t even been aware anyone was near him. �I�m sure it�s just a breaker. I�ll go check.� He made his way to the basement, glad no one mentioned that it wasn�t really the manager�s place to check breakers. He had another reason for wanting to be out of the public�s eye.

Ash checked, and there were no obvious problems with the breakers. He hadn�t expected any though. As much as he�d like to pretend otherwise, he had recognized that feeling. Somewhere very near a door had opened � a vortex to THERE. Only this time no one had been sucked in, which made him wonder if something had been sent out instead.

Near the breaker box was an old foot locker he had put down here when he became manager. It had a strong padlock and the words, �Property of Ash�. He felt vindicated as he opened the rusty box. He pulled a hunting knife out and placed it inside his waistband, under the suit�s jacket. He moved a blanket to uncover his old shotgun. He was glad now that he�d decided to keep it ready. He broke it open, checking its load. It was more ready than he was. He wrapped it in the blanket and headed back toward his office.

Employees were gathered in clumps, whispering to each other and sparing him frightened looks. He understood why when he caught a glimpse of himself in the office mirror. He had an intense, angry look that he associated with battle. Whatever had invaded his store would pay. He hid the gun and patted his rowdy hair down a bit.
Ash took a deep breath and made an effort to appear sane and composed. He would take care of this tonight, but until then he needed the employees to be the docile sheep they were.

He stepped outside. �Ms. Grier,� he said, louder than necessary, �could you call the maintenance man and tell him I found a wire that�s frayed? I think that�s our problem.�

�You really think a wire could do all that?� she asked.

�Do all what? It�s just a few lights out.� He hoped they would go with it. He saw most of them relax. Sheep. Cattle. Fucking cannon fodder for the apocalypse. And it was up to him to protect them, as always.

He went back inside his office. It was 10 degrees colder than the rest of the store, and there was a slight mist about the floor. Ash placed the shotgun under his desk in a simple holder he�d installed, in case of emergency. He sat and waited. He�d done this shit before, and he felt just as angry and scared as the last time.

About ten minutes before closing time, he made an appearance and checked the store. It was sloppier than usual, because even thought they had no idea what was going on some basic part of their human mind reacted with a survivalist fear. Even sheep knew to run from wolves. He made sure the store was empty and saw everyone out. As Ms. Grier was leaving she asked, �are you sure it�s a good idea to work late tonight? All things considered?�

�I�ll be fine,� he said. �I need to get some things done. See you in the morning, hot buns.�

He locked the door with a loud �clank� that resounded through the store. �Let�s do this, bitches,� he said. �It didn�t work last time, and you won�t get me this time.�

He made his way to the office. He wanted his gun. As he opened the door, however, he knew that the shit was about to fly.
he mist had thickened until it was calf-deep, and he didn�t want to walk through it. There could be anything down there. Who knew if there was even floor under there anymore? For all he knew his office could be lying on a foul swamp now.

He jumped onto his desk from the entrance and reached under the desk. He liberated the shotgun and cocked it loudly. �You hear that?� he yelled. �Come get some.�

He heard something nearby. He felt a certain smugness. The void needed him for something. Well, he didn�t need the void, and there was about to be one nasty breakup. The briefcase on his desk began to pulse and shudder. He scooted away from it, knocking the hula-lamp down into the mist. He heard it shatter, which was a relief. There was still a floor down there solid enough for glass to break on.

The briefcase opened slightly, and a tentacle reached out and felt around. He fought the urge to simply blast it back to the void it came from. He needed to know why it was here, if possible. The lid lifted more, and a small amount of black ooze slid out, barely contained in the shape of an intestine. More intestines slid out, and the smell hit him � old and dead, garbage and blood. He retched. Movement from the briefcase stopped, and then the tentacle and intestines began moving very slowly but purposely toward him.

He had plenty of time. The stuff was moving slowly enough for him to watch and learn. He reached into his desk and retrieved his metallic hand, keeping an eye on the moving mass the entire time. He screwed it onto his arm and flexed his hand.

�Bitchin.� He pulled the knife out and stabbed the tentacle experimentally. A shriek came from inside the briefcase, and the tentacle thrashed.

�You can hurt, huh?� he asked. He opened the briefcase and moved back as far across the large oak desk as he could go.
There was something�alive? It was hard to say. He recognized some things, like intestines and what seemed to be a kidney.

There was a vaguely heart-shaped something. There was also a lot of gore and bits of unidentifiable flesh. And blood � lots of blood. It overflowed the briefcase, running down the desk and into the mist. The desk began to smoke and hiss as if the blood were acidic. Where it touched the floor, the mist withdrew, and melting carpet was added to the smell of decay.

He let loose with the shotgun, absorbing the recoil into his shoulder. The briefcase flew off the desk and crashed into the wall. There was another shriek from whatever inhabited the briefcase, and he watched as the mist began to dwindle. The carpet and floor steamed around the pile of guts and leather, but there wasn�t any more movement.

�You can come down off the desk now, Ash,� he heard from the doorway. He spun and began to reload at the same time. He had been paying so much attention to the briefcase that he had forgotten the door.

�Whoa,� she said. �No need for that. Who�s going to sell your blenders if you shoot me?�

�Amy? What are you doing here? I know I saw you leave.� He kept the shotgun pointed at her chest.

She put out her bottom lip in a pout. �Ash, you don�t trust me? I could have killed you already if that was what I wanted.� She began to step forward.

�I like you better where you were,� he said. She stopped.

�We want you, Ash,� she said. Her eyes glowed red. �You can�t fight this.�

�Wanna bet?� he asked, and fired. Her arm came off along with most of her shoulder. She flew backward and hit the floor.
The blood that flowed from her wound burned the floor and left rising smoke ribbons.

He watched as she changed into the harpy from his dreams. �You can do this all you want. I�m not going back there,� he said.

Her only answer was a teeth-baring snarl, and she launched herself at him. He turned the gun and smacked her across the face with it. She was barely knocked aside. Before he could reload she was on him, pinning him down to the desk with her drooling fangs just a few inches away.

�Join us Ash,� she said. �You�re powerful. You could be a king.�

�I�ve heard that before,� he said. �Use some mouthwash.�

She looked toward the wall, and he followed her gaze. What was left of the briefcase lifted and floated in the air. A black hole formed inside, with whirling lights and the things that inhabit wherever THERE is.

�King or slave, you�re coming with me,� she said, and he felt the breeze that he knew was the beginning of the wind that would suck him away from the world he lived in to an insane place of death.

The piece of tentacle he had impaled stirred in the growing wind. He grabbed the knife from it and watched the bit of flesh fly back into the black hole. He stabbed the harpy in the eye, and she let go of him with a shriek. She grabbed her eye with both hands, and her blood burned his shoulder.

She raised one clawed arm above her head. Things began to fly into the hole; office supplies, pictures, chairs. The shotgun flew across the desk and almost seemed to jump into his hand. Ash had learned not to question such coincidences. He just assumed that if there was one force out to dominate and destroy him, there was another force that gave him assistance. He hoped that force had reloaded his gun. As her hand began to come down, he unloaded the gun into her neck. Her head flew from her shoulders and dissolved in a fine red mist that left hissing, searing sounds behind it. Without Amy as an anchor to his reality, the vortex dwindled and died. The briefcase fell with a loud thud.

�I�m not going anywhere,� Ash said.

The smoke reached the fire-suppression system, and the sprinklers came on, soaking him and soothing the ruined skin where Amy�s blood had burned him. There was going to be a lot of explaining to do in the morning.

�Cleanup on aisle three,� Ash said.