Business Plan
Andrew R. Crow

“We know what you did Tuesday.
You won’t be warned again.”

Petersen wiped the sweat from his brow, fighting to keep from loosening his tie. Better be on my best behaviour, he thought; he was in enough trouble.

It had been easy the year before. Abstinence Week. Cut whatever they told you out of your routine for the week prior to Halloween. Last year, it was no exercise, apart from simple walking to get around.

But this year. Jesus! Nothing but bread and water for 7 days? He soon realised this Systems Analysis group was a little strange when they’d hired him. Monthly midnight meetings for all Senior Staff. Petersen, manager of Mainframe R&D, was present at them all. One hour of business and then another of nervous twitching while the Board read aloud from queerly bound volumes in what sounded like Latin. And that creepy Mr. Owens, the owner, stuck way in the corner, under a voluminous robe, seeming to nod off every now and then.

He fidgeted again as he sat in the quiet office, waiting for tonight’s meeting to start. Halloween, the start of the company’s fiscal year. He thought about the note again. It had been in his mail Wednesday morning. How? How did they find out? One goddamn hotdog, at 2 o’clock in the morning for Chrissakes! Did they have fucking cameras in his place?

By Wednesday night, he was ready to die. By Thursday, he was hallucinating. Lights flashed in the corners of his eyes, like triangular flakes with sharp edges. He knew he’d never make it until Friday night. So He’d done it. Gone out for dinner. He’d taken 3 cabs to get to the restaurant on Olvera St, in the historic district. Gorged, he’d repeated his changing cabs route to get home.

When he’d left work Friday to shower and change before the meeting, one of the VPs called him aside, asking him to wait in his office before midnight instead of going straight to the board room. Phillips hadn’t seemed the least bit out of sorts, so he wasn’t worried. Probably wanted some last minute figures.

He started as the door opened, and an unknown young man waved him forward. He followed to the conference room, confused. As they entered the room, he could see everyone was already seated and Mr. Owens was no longer wearing his robe. The huge man shuffled forward, revealing his cloven hoofs as Phillips spoke: “We’re going to have a fine year, Mr. Petersen. I did say You’d be an asset to the company. Please, allow me to introduce you to the President of the company...”

Petersen could only whimper as the fangs sunk into his flesh.

First published: November, 2003