The woman had a plain face that was easily forgotten. It was a face that was empty and expressionless, unless the woman was moved by emotion, and it instantly twisted into something dark and sinister. There was nothing specifically interesting in her looks (average) or clothes (frumpy). The important and terrible thing about this person lay hidden in her actions, specifically, what she did to each of her co-workers.
I suspected early on that this co-worker was cagey and unpredictable. However, I couldn’t have known that at least once a week she waited until everyone left the office and crept around the cubicles. Only a fly on the wall would have seen her rifling through unlocked drawers for treasures, tossing important papers and sticky notes, and readjusting the height and back support of the chairs.
There was something inside of her driving her to do mean things, like a termite gnawing under a house, she couldn’t stop. It was taking over her reason and common sense and making her more brazen each day. Then one day, in the middle of the week, in the middle of winter, she reached an all-time low in her meanness and exploits.
I had settled into my cubicle for the morning and was fiddling with the gears and levers to re-adjust my chair for the second time of the week.
From over the wall, a voice yelled out in frustration, “Goddamned chairs.”
“These crappy chairs never hold their place,” I agreed with the voice from over the wall.
On hearing this, the edges of my co-worker’s mouth began to curl upwards into a smile. She was hidden safely away in her cubicle. She felt a keen sense of gratification that her efforts from the previous night had not gone unnoticed and thought with glee, Now, I’m ready to start the day. Uh-oh, she felt a tingling take root in her nose and a pressure started to spread through her face.
“Achoooooooooooo!” she gave a mighty sneeze. It was a sneeze so mighty, it shook the walls of the cubicles and rattled the papers on my desk.
Briefly pausing from the email I was typing, I said, “Sounds like someone’s sick over here,” and continued typing.
“What’s that?” a voice asked from behind me.
I turned out and jumped out of my newly adjusted seat with a shout. The sneezer had silently snuck up on me, into my cubicle, bringing her dripping nose and germs with her. On closer inspection, her nose was red and swollen, the rims of her eyes were pink, and she was mouth-breathing.
I thought to myself, Why did you come to work sick? You’re going to get the rest of us….
And then it happened without further notice or the chance to finish my thought. She let out another mighty sneeze, in my cubicle, on my face. It came faster than I could react or escape and with a force of putrid wind straight out of her evil belly filled with drops of flemmy moisture.
“Whoa, ‘scuze me. Didn’t see that one coming,” she said, and wiped her nose with the side of her hand.
I took off my glasses to clear the droplets from the lenses and glared at her.
“You Are Disgusting.” I carefully articulated each word.
“Don’t get bent out of shape, can I grab one of those Kleenex’s?” she asked and without waiting for an answer, she reached over and grabbed the box.
“I better hold onto these today,” she said.
Another co-worker foolishly leaned her head out into the hallway, “What happened?” she asked. She soon became the next victim of another mighty sneeze.
No one was safe, this rotten, germ-filled person even moseyed her way into our supervisor’s office where we all heard another mighty sneeze, and another victim was made.
Sure enough, several days later everyone on the block was sick, sneezing and coughing, with red noses and pink eyes.
Everyone, that is, but the Office Terrorist.