This Slaughterhouse Earth

This Slaughterhouse Earth

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chapter 5. Slaughter In The City

The lights were off on the first floor, but it was only gloomy, not dark. There was some kind of light source off to the right. Lloyd looked in that direction, still with just his shoulders out through the stairwell door, and could see the circular guard's desk down there, about forty feet away. To the left of the guard's desk were the back doors. They were glass and daylight was coming in through them. It shocked Lloyd, but then he realized it couldn't be later than six in the evening.
Faintly, Lloyd could hear all kinds of unpleasant sounds – breaking glass, screams, strange smashing, tearing, rending noises. They were distant and muffled but a constant backdrop nonetheless, once you opened the stairwell door. They must be coming from outside the building. The outer wall was just across the hall from them.
Lloyd dropped Megan's hand as soon as they were through the stairwell door and in the corridor. Holding hands was all well and good, but the only weapon he had was another bottle of water from his briefcase. Pointing and squeezing it would be easier with two hands.
Not that Lloyd really thought they had much of a chance of surviving the next hour or so. Unless he was wrong and the fishzards had, for some reason he could not imagine, only invaded this one office building. But that seemed wildly unlikely. And if the city outside was crawling with fishzards, Lloyd didn't think he and Megan were going to live long.
Lloyd had to make an effort to stay focused on the task at hand as he moved quietly up the corridor. His mind kept drifting back to the blowjob Megan had given him in the stairwell. It was the first sex he'd had since his divorce eight years before. It had been hot as hell. Probably the situation had added to that, but still, Megan had been amazingly good. His orgasm had been more intense than any he could remember since he was a kid.
Lloyd hadn't had a great many lovers in his 46 years. And in the ten years his marriage had lasted, he'd never cheated on his wife. It was lack of opportunity more than anything else. Lloyd's wife had been really boring in bed – certainly she'd never sucked him off, not once. He would have cheated, probably, if he'd had the chance, but Lloyd had never been the kind of guy that women went for.
He had had a few flings before he got married, and dated a few women. His girlfriends generally hadn't been great in bed. A couple of the flings had been really good, but both of them had been slutty chicks who were messing around with Lloyd, and probably other guys, behind their husband's or boyfriend's back. Lloyd had no moral issues with slutty chicks cheating on their significant others, but it usually kept the relationship from lasting long.
Lloyd had seen the wedding ring on Megan's hand, and didn't figure whatever they had was going to last any longer than it took for them to get out of this bizarre situation. She sure as shit wasn't going to fall in love with a guy like Lloyd, and that meant he had to be careful not to fall in love with her. Because despite the fact that she was married, obviously kind of slutty, and at least twenty years younger than him, Lloyd knew his own nature. He was actually very romantic. And she really had curled his toes back there on the stairs.
So he was going to have to be really really careful not to get too attached.
Obviously, these were not thoughts he was going to discuss with Megan.
They moved about forty feet down the corridor and emerged near the circular guard desk. The corridor from the front doors, which were off to the right, bent into an L here. Lloyd and Megan had just come up the other leg of the L to reach here. The guard's desk was about ten feet inside the back doors, with a clear view of both sets of doors, and about 15 video monitors they could watch, built into the space under about half of the circular desk.
There was nobody visible within the desk's inner circle right now, but the curved door – actually, it was just a four foot section of the curved desk itself, on hinges – was open. There was a reddish black smear, like a drag mark, leading out of the inner circle and up the hall, towards the elevators.
Goddamit,” Lloyd whispered. “So much for that.”
No, wait,” Megan said, moving past him and into the desk's inner circle. As she'd brushed past him Lloyd would almost have sworn she had deliberately pressed against his back, dragging her breasts against him. It had felt delightful... but very distracting.
She went over to one of the steel filing cabinet drawers to the left of the guard's seat. There was a brass key in the lock. She pulled the drawer and it opened. She reached inside and brought out a pistol.
Charlie was on duty today when I came in,” she said. “He always says the pistol digs into his hip when he sits in the chair. So he puts it in this drawer.”
You flirt with the security guards?” Lloyd whispered.
Nearly any other woman Lloyd had ever known would have gotten pissed off at him for that. As far as he knew, they all flirted with guys they liked, but none of them ever wanted to admit to it. Megan just looked at him, then gave him a really dirty smile. “I like older men,” she whispered back to him. Then leaned in and licked the tip of his nose, and giggled.
Lloyd's cock immediately stiffened in his pants again. “Hey, we can't...”
Megan rolled her eyes. “I know, I know. Do you want this? Can you shoot it?”
Lloyd looked at the gun in her hand. “I've never fired a gun,” he said. “I mean, it can't be that hard, right?”
Megan did something and the gun's chamber popped out. She held it up into the light coming in through the glass outside doors. “Fully loaded,” she said. She looked at Lloyd. “My dad is big in the NRA,” she said. “My whole family target shoots.”
You keep it, then,” Lloyd said. “Just don't point it at me.”
I like all your parts just where they are, sugar,” Megan said, almost absent-mindedly. She kind of shook the gun and the chamber clicked back into place. She pulled the drawer out further and started stirring her other hand around in it. She came up with a small cardboard box, and shoved it at Lloyd. “More rounds,” she said. “Put 'em in your bag.”
Lloyd took them and was putting them in the outside pouch where they could get to them easily when they heard a scream – not muffled this time at all, but clearly coming from somewhere nearby, probably on this floor.
He grabbed Megan's shoulder and pulled her down, going down into a crouch next to her. Both their heads were below the top of the desk.
The scream stopped – then started again. Whoever it was kept screaming for the next minute or so. Finally, whoever it was stopped. And then Lloyd could hear hissing... which was the way fishzards talked.
He looked over at Megan. Her eyes were wide, almost bugging out of her head, and he could tell she was so scared she was nearly pissing herself. He felt the same way. He'd hoped they were all up on the second floor, but no... it sounded like there was a group of them just down the hall... probably in the offices just beyond the elevators. There was cubicle space to the right and the left, behind locked doors, for a couple of the other departments... Field Service was one of them, Lloyd vaguely knew. Credit might have been the other.
Lloyd gestured with his head in the direction of the doors. Megan looked at him for a second... then nodded.
The only problem with the doors was, you could push them open from inside with the crashbars, but once you were outside, they'd lock behind you. Although they could probably prop them open with something... Lloyd grabbed a phone book from the top of the two drawer filing cabinet Megan had gotten the gun out of.
He touched her cheek, and without making a sound, mouthed the word 'Ready?'
She reached up with the hand she didn't have the gun in and pressed his fingers to her cheek. Her fingers were trembling, but his were, too. She lifted the gun in her other hand and nodded.
Lloyd leaned in and kissed her softly on the mouth, and just barely breathed “Luck”.
She kissed him back. Then he moved in a crouch over to the open desk-door and moved on out. She scuttled out after him. Keeping the desk between themselves and the hallway, they stayed in crouches, moving in a kind of sideway crab-scrabble to the doors.


The muffled shrieks and sounds of breakage were louder, here. Lloyd risked a look out through the glass.
He'd been right, it was awful. But he'd been wrong, too... it wasn't fishzards. Or just fishzards, anyway.
Through the glass doors he could see a swatch of downtown Louisville. On the far right he could just make out the MONY Tower. Something that looked like a two headed caterpillar was crawling up the side of it. It had to be as big as a Greyhoud bus, maybe bigger. Each of its heads was smashing in windows as it crawled slowly up the side of the building. There were long, cilia-like tendrils around each head, and Lloyd could only assume it was reaching into the rooms behind the windows and grabbing any people that were in there and yanking them into its two maws. There was a trail of broken windows, empty of glass, behind it, running down the building.
There was smoke pouring out of nearly every building on the skyline, and from places he couldn't see, too. As he watched, two creatures that looked kind of like skinned giraffes with eight legs each and horrible looking bird heads sporting really long, sharp beaks paced by, from the left of the doors to the right. They were walking slowly through the parking lot behind the building, bird heads bobbing down at the end of their long necks to peer in through the windshields of cars on either side of the row they were walking through. Beyond them, there were several cars that had their metal roofs torn open like some giant had taken a can opener to them. Even as he noticed that, one of the giraffe-birds screeched horrifically and brought its long sharp beak down hard, smashing through what must have been the back window of a Mercedes, then ripping up again, shearing straight through the center of the car's metal roof with a screaming, squirming person – a black guy Lloyd had never seen before – in its bill. He must have somehow gotten to his car... or maybe he'd been coming in to work when this happened, and he'd just stayed out there, waiting for a chance to run for shelter which now would never come...
...and if the poor schmuck had managed to get into the building, then what?
Over to the left were the Clarksdale Towers, a housing project high rise full of low income apartments built back in the 60s. The top of the tower was strangely misshapen, as if covered with some kind of tarpaulin that was rippling or moving in the wind. Then a piece of the 'tarpaulin' detached itself and fell down the side of the building... spread out into a sort of manta ray shape, and glided downwards quickly. Lloyd lost sight of it, but he couldn't shake the impression of a bird of prey stooping on something tasty...
Jesus Christ,” Lloyd said. “We can't go out there. We won't get ten yards.”
As if to underscore that they couldn't stay in the building, either, someone began screaming again behind them. From the voice, it wasn't the same person who had been screaming a few minutes ago.
Lloyd thought frantically. This was kind of like that Stephen King story, “The Mist”. Except there was no mist; it was broad daylight out. In the story, a mist with a lot of horrible, unearthly monsters in it had rolled in one summer day in New England, trapping a bunch of people in a supermarket. Eventually one small group had figured out that the monsters must track their prey by scent. So they'd made a break for one of the cars in the parking lot, and once they'd gotten inside with the doors closed and windows rolled up, they were okay.
Although two or three of the group had died on the short run to the car, Lloyd recollected. And there was no mist here, and these things weren't just horrible monsters. They all seemed to be intelligent... and those giraffe-bird things, at the very least, could see really well. And were smart enough to check each car to see if anyone was hiding inside it, too.
It was like the entire universe was full of horrible aliens and every alien race thought humans tasted delicious. And apparently, a bunch of them had just discovered Earth...
Gurm-hoons,” a voice said, behind Lloyd and Megan. “I applaud your quick wits and resourcefulness. But you will not live out the day without my help.”
Lloyd spun around on his haunches, to see who was talking...



Chapter 4 – The Stairwell

Megan ran along right next to Lloyd.  She'd never even known his name until today, when she'd heard Bryan from her department use it.  But it looked like maybe he was going to save her life now... at least, he'd managed to get her out of that stupid conference room, which was more than anyone else had done.  Especially Steve, her useless 'work husband'. 
It was pitch dark down at this end of the building -- the were no windows on this floor, and all the lights were out.  But Lloyd seemed to know where he was going -- and then he yanked her to a stop.  "Hold up," he kind of breathed.  "Lemme see if my light will work."
Standing in the dark, Megan could hear rustling sounds, and realized Lloyd must be feeling through that big leather man-purse he carried -- which was another reason she'd wanted to team up with him.  She'd been pushed into that conference room without her purse, and so had every other woman in there, and the otherguys hadn't had much, but somehow Lloyd had grabbed hold of his brief case and kept it with him, and so far it had proven to have useful shit in it, too.
Behind them, now... no more than forty feet away, they hadn't run far into the darkness of the Marketing section, just around the corner, really... they could hear screams and hisses.  Megan hadn't paid much attention to the last six seconds or so as she and Lloyd had run like fuck out of the conference room, but it sounded like the rest of the people in the room had scrambled out from behind that overturned table and were stampeding out the conference room door -- or trying to.  The hisses sounded like fishzards.  
And then there were some of those bluish flashes, and zapping sounds.  "Goddamit Lloyd --" Megan whispered.  If she had to run off into the dark by herself -- 
"Got it," Lloyd said, and a fairly bright beam of light shot out of his hand -- he had one of those little thumb sized halogen flashlights.  "Come on!"
It was good that he'd gotten the light out, because directly ahead of them, on the floor of the aisle between cubicles that they were running through, all kinds of shit was scattered -- in addition to all kinds of loose papers to slip on, there were chairs, some kicked over on their sides, and some stuff that looked like it had been yanked off desks as the fishzards grabbed up everyone from this area -- keyboards, a couple of computer monitors, a lot of personal crap -- framed pictures and potted plants and little desk fountains and junk like that.   If they'd tried to run through it in the dark they'd have broken their necks.  With Lloyd's little light out, though, they could easily avoid or jump over shit, even running at nearly top speed.
Still holding hands, the two of them ran through Marketing.  Lloyd led Megan to a door in the corner with an EXIT sign over it.  The EXIT sign was still dimly lit.  He shoved it open with his shoulder, ignoring the WHEN DOOR IS OPENED ALARM WILL SOUND sign.  Megan saw the sign and braced for a blast of noise... but nothing happened, and Lloyd was pulling her through into the fire stairs. 
"That alarm hasn't worked for three months," Lloyd said.  "My supervisor has written up four people  from my team for sneaking into the stairwell to smoke."
He started down the stairs... and Megan tugged on his hand.  "Hold on," she breathed.  "I wanna listen a minute."
Lloyd rolled his eyes -- Megan made a note of that, she'd get him back for it later -- but held still, one step down from her.  She turned and pressed her ear to the metal door.
After several seconds, Lloyd whispered, "Well?"
Megan held up one finger to him, listened for another twenty seconds or so.  Then, finally, she whispered "I don't think anyone is following us."
She looked back at Lloyd, who was only a silhouette against the flashlight beam he was pointing down the stairs.  
After a second, he said "They have to know we're gone.  They would certainly have counted people as they put them in the room.  And I'm sure they caught at least some of the people who were in there.  They'll rat us out in a heartbeat."
Megan wanted to dispute that... would other people do that?  Tell a bunch of alien monsters that two other human beings had escaped?  She wanted to think no one would do that... but what she knew of how petty people were, and what they would do when they were scared... yeah.  They'd do it.  Steve would do it in a Kentucky minute, just to get back at her for running out with Lloyd.
"Maybe the lizardmen don't speak English," she said.
Lloyd was quiet again for a few seconds.  Then he said the last thing in the world she would have expected to hear:  "All right.  In that case, maybe we can sneak back and get the rest of them out."
Megan was absolutely astonished.  "Are you CRAZY?" she said, forgetting to whisper for a moment.  
"You think we should just leave them there?" Lloyd replied.  He didn't sound angry.  He sounded like he honestly wanted her opinion.
Megan thought about it.  It sure wasn't what someone on a TV show or in a movie would do.  And a few of the people in that room were supposedly friends of hers... work buddies, anyway.   If she were a good person, then certainly she should be trying to think of a way to get everyone out, or at least her friends.  But...
"Yes," she whispered, squeezing Lloyd's hand.  "I'm sorry, I guess I'm a selfish cunt, but yes, I think we should just leave them there."

Lloyd didn't say anything.  He didn't drop her hand, either, so after a second, Megan went on "This isn't a movie or a TV show!  You're not, like, Jack Bauer or something!  I'm sure as shit not fucking Wonder Woman!  All that would happen if we went back is we'd get captured again and probably killed!"
She could feel Lloyd's hand trembling in hers.  "I don't..." he started to say.
"You think if you leave them behind you won't be able to live with yourself?" Megan asked.   That would be interesting.  Megan had only ever known that sort of person theoretically, from TV and movies.  She'd never would have thought there were real people like that.  Was Lloyd like that?
"No," Lloyd said, finally, kind of sighing.  "My conscience doesn't work that way.  If I don't go back for them... it won't bother me."  He stopped.  "But it would make me an asshole."
"Yeah, just like the rest of the human race," Megan whispered.  "And in this case, a LIVE asshole."
She pressed her ear to the door again.  Lloyd waited, quietly.
After almost a full minute, she said "I really don't think anyone is coming after us."  She turned her head towards Lloyd.  "Maybe the lizardmen can't count."
Lloyd kind of shuffled on the steps.  Then:  "Or they just don't care that much.  They've got a building full of prisoners, after all."
"Yeah..." Megan moved away from the door.  
The stairwell smelled of old, damp concrete and rusty metal, but there were other smells in there, too... or so it seemed to Megan, anyway.  Stale cigarette smoke.  Sweat.  And, just faintly... semen.  It was just a very slight tang in the air, but Megan could smell it.  People had had sex in this stairwell.
"Come back up here, Lloyd," she said.
Lloyd stepped back up onto the landing, next to her.  "Why?  Are we going back to try to save..."
Megan put her hand gently over his mouth.  "Nope."  She pushed him back against the wall with her other hand on his chest.  "Sit.  On the top step.  Facing down the stairwell."
"What are we..."  Lloyd went quiet for a second.  Megan traced her hand down his shirt, found his belt buckle, moved her other hand down to start unbuckling it.  "Oh.  Jesus Christ."  He didn't say anything for a couple of seconds, as she worked on the buckle.  She got it open and unsnapped his jeans.  "Shit.  Megan.  We're too close... we don't have time... we can't..."
She worked his jeans and underwear down to his knees, crouching down to do it.  He smelled funky, but she was sure she must be pretty rank, too.  She knew his junk was hanging down right in front of her head... if she looked up, it would be right there.  She could smell it.  She'd always liked the smell of a man's cock and balls... not just the smell, either.  The taste, the texture.  She wasn't sure, but she thought maybe the tip of his dick, or maybe his balls, were just barely touching her hair.  She might have been imagining it, but she thought she could feel very slight tactile pressure from that area.
And the very real danger they were in made it even more exciting for her.  Plus, she was cheating on Jim.  All of that had her nipples aching inside her bra, and she knew her panties were getting sticky.
"Sit," she said.  She put her hands on his legs, on either side of his knees, and moved him like a big doll.  She wouldn't have been able to if he hadn't cooperated, but he let her move him.  She turned him so he was facing down the stairs, and then he sat down on the landing.
She knelt on the third step down.  "You think they were only getting written up for smoking in the stairwell?" she giggled, and leaned in to puff hot breath on his erection.
"I heard... rumors..." Lloyd kind of whisper-moaned.  "Jesus.  We really shouldn't do this...."
Megan couldn't talk, she was using her tongue.  Skillfully... or so she'd been told in the past.  After a few seconds, she said "I want to.  It will help us both be less afraid.  And I want you to know you can trust me to keep my promises."
She leaned in again, and didn't say anything further for the next seven minutes or so. Megan hadn't been raised in a barn, after all.  She knew she wasn't supposed to talk with her mouth full.  Lloyd moaned a lot though, under his breath, and about ten seconds after she started working on him, his hands went to her head and took a tight grip on two fistfulls of her hair.  Megan gave a throaty little grunt when he did it, to let him know she liked that.
When she finished him off, she pulled her head back... reluctantly, she really did enjoy it... and whispered, "Okay.  Now we can go."
Lloyd let go of her hair and whispered back "You want me to do anything for..."
Megan shook her head; Lloyd could see her in the light from his little flashlight.  "No, I'm cool.  Later.  That was good for me, too."
She and Lloyd both stood up at the same time.  He was having a hard time getting his pants back up with the flashlight in one hand.  Megan could have taken the flashlight, but instead she grinned and helped him pull his pants up, made sure he was all tucked away inside, zipped him up, snapped his fly, and helped him get buckled.
"You seem to know your way around this whole kinda thing," Lloyd said, after she finished.

"Baby, in high school I was the queen of the stairwell suck off," Megan said.
Lloyd shook his head.  He took her hand in the one that wasn't holding the flashlight and started down the stairs.  "High school was 25 years ago for me," he said.  He squeezed her hand.  "Thanks, by the way.  You were awesome.  I haven't had anyone do anything like that for me since my wife and I got divorced eight years ago."
Now Megan shook her head.  "Eight years.  I graduated from  high school eight years ago... wow.  I couldn't go eight years without sex.  I'd lose my mind."
"We live in very different worlds," Lloyd said.  They reached the door to the first floor and stopped.
"Not any more," Megan said.
Lloyd looked at her.  "That's a good point," he admitted.
Now he pressed his ear to the door.  After thirty seconds or so, he said "Okay.  I don't hear anyone.  So here's the plan... we're going to head down the hall to the lobby."
Megan thought about that.  "Why?  There's an exit to the outside right across the hall from this stairwell."
Lloyd nodded.  "I know.  But it's a metal door like this one and you can't see out through it and I have no idea what's going on outside this building."
Megan... whose stomach had been feeling nice and warm and full a second ago... now felt her guts turn over.  "Omigod.  You think... oh fuck."
Lloyd nodded.  "Why would they just invade our building?  I think they might have invaded the whole city.  Maybe the whole world.  There are windows and glass doors off the lobby.  I want to look outside before we leave the building.  Maybe it's safer to stay inside and just try to avoid the fishzards up on the second floor.  We could always go down to the basement."  He paused, then went on, "Plus, there's a security guard in the lobby, and they're all ex cops and they carry guns.  If his body is out there, maybe we can get a gun off of it."
Again, Megan's stomach contracted.  "You... you think he's dead?"  A voice inside her head spoke up at that point:  Of course he's dead you stupid blonde bimbo, what do you think, the lizardmen took over the building and gave him a lollipop?
Lloyd just looked at her.  Then, after a second, he looked away.  "Yeah. I know.  Honest to christ, Megan, I'm freaking out about this whole thing, too.  But we've got to try to keep our shit together."
She looked down.  If she'd been horny before, she sure wasn't any more.  "Okay."
Lloyd said "At least I don't hear anything on the other side of this door."  He hesitated, then said "You want to stay here while I check out the lobby?"
Megan immediately said "No."  Then she couldn't help it, she giggled.  "I don't know who you are, but I... I'm with you."
Lloyd chuckled.  "Honey, I bet Avril Lavigne don't give head the way you do.  Okay.  Let's do this thing."  
He pulled open the door and they went out into the hall. 



Chapter 3 - Jailbreak

The more Lloyd thought about it, the more he doubted that his plan would work.  It was all pretty wild and unlikely.  But what he hadn't considered was that, no matter how tired everyone got, or how long they were all in here for, they'd all be too terrified to sleep.  Too much adrenaline in their bloodstream.  Something.  
It had been another two hours.  120 minutes.  And the fishzards had come in three times, and each time, although the crowd of people in the room had all shrunk back as far away from them as they could, the fishzards had grabbed someone and dragged them out.
From where he was, crouched on the ground in the corner behind his chair barricade, Lloyd couldn't get a real good look, because the crowd tended to shove back around his area, pressing in as close as they could, to get as far back from the fishzards as possible.  Through the smoked glass, he could see the silhouettes of what were obviously two fishzards walking up the hall.  Everyone else would see them too, and the chicks that were left (and some of the guys) would start screaming and everyone would get up and move as far from the door to the conference room as they could.  And that would keep Lloyd from seeing what would happen.  And over the screams it was hard to hear what was happening (although the screams were getting pretty hoarse, which helped a lot).  
But he could hear what sounded like an electrical discharge -- ZAP! -- after the fishzards had been in the room a minute or so.  And there would be like a blueish flash from beyond the crowd.  Lloyd figured they were stunning (or killing?  how would you know?) someone, then grabbing them and dragging them out.  
It reminded Lloyd uncomfortably of the lobster tank at a seafood restaurant.  The fishzards didn't have big tongs, they used their zappers and their bare hands.  But they did look about half fish.  Maybe they were taking revenge on generations of Red Lobster patrons.  
But Lloyd was pretty much coming to the conclusion that these idiots in the room with him were never going to go to sleep, and he felt stupid it had taken him this long to figure that out.  He wouldn't have been able to sleep, if he were out there in the room just waiting for some fishzard to snatch up.  And he didn't dare sleep back in his corner, either.  There were already quite a few people eyeing his little chair fort with obviously hostile envy.  Nobody had done anything about it yet, but he figured, every time the fishzards grabbed someone, it pushed the people left in the room a little bit closer to violence... not against the fishzards, but against good ol' Lloyd.  Eventually a couple of them were going to evict him from his corner by force.  Then they'd fight over who got it... Lloyd was pretty sure it would be a 'no sharesies' situation.  But that wouldn't do him much good.
So why wait?  Especially since they weren't being allowed to go out and use the bathroom, and the room was starting to smell pretty rank.
Also, everyone was thirsty.
"Okay," Lloyd said, pushing himself up to his feet.  "I've been thinking.  Here's something we can try."
Everyone looked up at him.  Nobody exactly looked great at this point... the AC had been off for hours and people were sweating.  Some guys were getting five o'clock shadow.  Even the blonde with the big jugs looked like she'd seen way better days.  But still, everyone looked up at him.
"It's not fair for me to hog up the safest spot," Lloyd said.  There was instantly a murmur of agreement at that.  "So what I suggest is that we turn the conference room table over on its side and put it across this corner of the room.  Then we can all crowd in behind it whenever we see the fishzards coming.  It will make it harder on them, grabbing us."
"They'll just throw their lightning into the whole crowd of us," the bald young guy with the tattooes said.  "So we all get fried!"
"Yeah," Lloyd said.  "That's why we each need to take turns keeping watch on the other side of the table, out in the open.  One at a time.  We'll each take a turn."
The blonde with the boobs... her name was Megan, Lloyd had heard a couple of the other people from Sales use it in conversation with her... opened her mouth to say something... then stopped.
Lloyd knew what they were all thinking... but no one would say it out loud.  Whoever was outside 'on watch' when the fishzards came was just shit out of luck... the rest of the group wasn't going to let them come over the table.  
They muttered amongst themselves for a few minutes... but eventually, everyone agreed.  Especially when Lloyd volunteered to take the first watch.  He said it was only fair, and everyone else agreed with him.
Lloyd knew he should push them to decide beforehand how long people had to stay out in the open... once someone was behind that table, they weren't going to want to come out.  But he didn't care.  Lloyd had already realized that nobody in the room had any way of keeping time; people used their cell phones for that now, and all the cell phones were dead.
He planned to stay out until the fishzards showed up again... and then, well, he'd see how his plan worked.
It was interesting to Lloyd, watching how everyone worked together getting the conference table into position.  The table was  huge, and as it turned out when they tried to shift it, its central stand was bolted to the floor.  But the guys with multitools got to work on that shit with a will and inside fifteen minutes, the corner of the room was neatly walled off by the overturned table top, and 13 people had crammed themselves into the rough triangle of space behind it.  Even Barker had abandoned his own, less advantageous, corner fort and joined in with the others.  
All except Megan.  When everyone else was packed in behind the table, Megan stayed outside with Lloyd.
"Come here," she said, her voice barely audible because she was so hoarse from screaming.  She took his hand and led him away from the table, over towards the door.
Lloyd, who had a pretty good natural sense of time, figured there was maybe another ten minutes before the fishzards showed up for the next victim.
"What?" Lloyd asked, keeping his voice down.   There were people staring at the two of them suspiciously from the other side of the tabletop... but no one back there was going to come out here.  Not unless something really radical happened.
"You've got some kind of plan," she whispered.  "I know you do.  I want to help."
"Megan, come back here," the bald guy with the tattoos said.  "Come on.  He said he'd stand watch.  It's not safe out there."
"Boyfriend?" Lloyd asked her, keeping his voice down.
"He's a friend," Megan said, sounding irritated.  One of the other women said "Megan, you listen to your work husband" and she and another woman actually giggled.  Lloyd rolled his eyes.  He'd heard the younger employees doing that shit... pairing up as 'work spouses'.  It was pointless flirting, as far as Lloyd knew.  There wasn't any sex involved, just mock coupling up.  "Playing house" at work.  Like fucking kids.  Everybody that did it had a real spouse, or at least a regular significant other, at home.  
No one had ever been interested in having Lloyd for a work spouse.
"I don't have a plan, I just thought it wasn't fair," Lloyd said, doing his best to sound sincere.
"Bullshit," Megan whispered back.  "You've got a plan and I want to help.  Or if you don't need my help then I want to get out of here with you if you get out."
Lloyd just looked at her.  Could she tell what he was thinking?  Because he was thinking, one person could probably move a lot faster than two.
"You let me come with you and I will do whatever you say whenever you say," she said.  She said it like any good looking chick would have said it... like she was playing the ultimate trump card that she knew would win for her.
It kind of pissed Lloyd off... but even with everything that was happening, he still wanted her.  And she knew it.
So Lloyd just raised his eyebrows.
"Yes, I mean anything," Megan whispered.  She put one finger in her mouth, pushed it in and out a few times, then pulled it out and ran her tongue around her lips.  "Or anything else."
Lloyd figured that promise would last about as long as it took them to get out of the building.  But whatever.  If she slowed him down he could ditch her.
"Okay," Lloyd said, keeping his voice down.  "You can help.  Stand in front of me when they come in.  Try to block me from them so they can't see me for at least a second."
Lloyd could see she didn't like that... but he could also see she was pretty smart.  Maybe he was testing her to see if she meant what she'd said.
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
"Cum in your mouth first chance I get," Lloyd said, with a dirty grin.  He knew it would probably piss her off... talk like that always pissed good looking chicks off, coming from guys like Lloyd.  But fuck it, she'd offered.
She made an O with her lips, then smiled.  "Whenever, wherever," she said, her voice still so low no one else could hear it.  "But seriously, what is the plan?"
"Seriously, the plan is to cum in your mouth first chance I get," Lloyd said.  
She looked like she wanted to stomp her foot and call him a pervert, but she didn't.  That was nice.  If nothing else good came out of this whole stupid awful situation, at least, for once, Lloyd had managed to say something dirty to a good looking chick and she hadn't dared to give him shit about it. 
Although if the fishzards hadn't invaded, Lloyd was pretty sure he'd be on his way to a disciplinary write up.  Maybe even dismissal.  
But that shit wasn't happening any more... or at least, right now.
"Look," Lloyd said, "it doesn't matter.  Honestly it probably won't work and we'll just get killed.  But try to screen me from the fishzards for a second or two when they come in.  That's all."
She narrowed her eyes at him... then grinned.  Her hair was a sweaty mess and her make up was all splotchy but it was still a nice smile.  "Okay," she said.  "I'll do my best."  She paused.  Then, really quickly, still so low no one but Lloyd could hear her:  "If you think we're going to just get killed, you want to cum in my mouth right now?"
Lloyd looked back over at the table.  A lot of people were glaring at him and Megan over it.
"I'd love to," he said, "but if we start that will guarantee the fishzards show up, exactly at the worst moment.  And we'll both get killed because I can't do my plan while I'm hosing down your tonsils."
She smiled and squeezed his hand.  "Yeah if I'm busy gulping I can't get in their way either.  Okay.  But first chance we get, okay?"
Lloyd was surprised.  "You like it?"
Megan grinned again.  "Baby, I fuckin' LOVE it.  You are gonna be so happy we teamed up."
If I don't get us both killed, Lloyd thought.  
Ten minutes later, the fishzards showed up again.
Like every time before, two of them walked up the corridor outside the conference room.  A couple of the chicks screamed and everybody got hunkered down behind the table except Lloyd and Megan.  
A key turned in the conference room door... Lloyd wondered briefly if the fishzards used locks and keys, or if they'd just figured out the human mechanism and found it useful for their purposes.  Then the door was thrown open and the two fishzards stood there, one ahead of the other.
They stepped into the room and stopped, looking at how the situation had changed.  
Megan stepped in between them and Lloyd.
Lloyd flipped back the top flap on his briefcase and reached inside.  He grabbed something from inside and pulled it out, then stepped up past Megan.
His hands were shaking like crazy, and he was scared out of his mind.  There was no way this was going to work..!
The fishzard closest to him was pointing his... her?  who knew?... shock stick at Lloyd when Lloyd squeezed the plastic bottle in his hand, sending a splurt of Asani water out all over the fishzard's arm and clawed hand... and shock stick.  Some of the water even splooshed past the first fishzard and hit the second one.
There was a big blueish spark and a sound like what Lloyd figured you'd hear if you dropped a plugged in toaster into a tub full of water... a zapping, zotzing sound.  The fishzard closest to Lloyd was outlined in blue sparks for a second, and his lizard-like snout opened and he made a yowling noise like nothing Lloyd had ever heard before.  The second fishzard reached out and grabbed the first one... and then he yowled, too, as another giant spark popped between them, and both of them were thrown apart, away from each other.  One slammed into the wall to Lloyd's right and slumped to the ground.  The other went sprawling over a chair onto the ground.  There was a smell in the air like fried chicken.
Lloyd grabbed Megan by the wrist and bolted through the open door.  If he'd had to drag her at all he would have let go of her, but he didn't... she was right with him, letting him get just enough ahead that they didn't get tangled up in the door.
To the left was the direction the fishzards always came from, and took people back to.  A trail of dried blood and snot ran down the middle of it for about ten feet before vanishing.  The central hallway with the elevators was in that direction, and the bathrooms, and the sales department, and a couple of big rooms full of computer equipment -- Lloyd thought they were  huge servers, but he wasn't sure -- that were always kept locked.  
Lloyd wasn' t going to run that way, but he couldn't help but look down there quickly.  He couldn't see much.  The hallway looked empty, but down at the far end the door was open, and it looked like another fishzard was standing in the open doorway, staring at them.
And, behind the fishzard...  was there a lot of blood on the floor and the desk Lloyd could just make out... or was it just his imagination?
It had been gloomy and dim in the conference room, and off to the right, in the Marketing section, it was nearly pitch dark.  The lights were on down at the other end, but Lloyd turned and ran straight into the dark.  He knew the marketing section pretty well.  
Megan ran right along next to him.


Chapter 2 - Q & A

Megan wasn't stupid.  Never had been, never planned to be.  
Wisdom, on the other hand... well... yes, she could be foolish.  She knew that.  But stupid?  No.  A lot of people assumed she was, because she was pretty, and blonde (a natural blonde, at that) and had 36DD boobs.  But she wasn't.
When the green-things, the lizardmen, first showed up, it was around 10:15... Megan knew that because her break was at 10 every morning and she was just sitting down at her desk when someone... someTHING... grabbed her by the hair and dragged her out of her chair.
Everyone was screaming, and when Megan got a look at the thing that had her by the ponytail, she screamed too.  It was green.  And had claws.  And the hand she could see -- the one not in her hair --  was scaly, and clawed and holding some kind of metal rod in it.
There were a lot of these things... Megan didn't know how many.  Her memories of the next few seconds or minutes were all a jumble.  Somewhere in there the smell hit her... it must have been coming off the lizardmen.  Fishy and rank and awful, like  that one summer her brother's aquarium had gone bad while the fam was away at the cabin.  
There was an electrical smell in the air too, like there had just been a thunderstorm.  And a sound like one of those insect zappers going off, over and over again.  And screams.  Blueish flashes of light.  And she was being dragged, and then shoved.  She stumbled and went to one knee on carpeting, and looked around.  She was in the conference room at the other end of the floor, where they had team meetings some times.  It was gloomy because the lights were out... and then someone else knocked into her from behind and sent her sprawling forward onto her boobs.  When she fell forward her boobs always hit first, and it hurt.
When it all settled down a little, there were like 20 of them in the conference room.  No lizardmen, which was awesome.  Not that 20 people, all scared nearly (or in some cases, she thought, literally) shitless, shoved into one room with no air conditioning, smelled much better.  
Steve was there, and Megan hugged him.  "What's going on?  What the fuck is this?"  Like he would know.  Steve was good looking and in great shape and she loved his tattoos and he played in a band, but he probably hadn't been smart even before he spent most of his life smoking dope.  She wasn't sure he'd ever read a book all the way through.  She'd tried talking to him a couple of times about whatever she was reading, but his blank, confounded looks had pretty quickly made her change the subject.
Now he just kept saying "It's okay, baby, I'm here."  He'd say that a couple of times, and then he'd switch to "Fucking ASSHOLES, I'm going to KILL YOU!"  He'd go back and forth between the two.  Jim would have said he was oscillating from one to the other.
After a while Megan let Steve go.  She'd gotten herself together and now she needed to look around and make a plan.  Megan was big on plans.  
She'd just realized that the two far corners of the room were occupied by people who had barricaded themselves in with chairs when some of the other girls in the room started screaming.  She turned to look and saw silhouettes through the smoked glass partition... not human silhouettes, they had like triangular ridges on their backs.  And tails that were thick at their butts and that tapered down to points.  Lizardmen.  Then the conference room door opened.
Megan screamed too, she couldn't help it.  Screamed and put her hands to either side of her face like the stupid little kid in the HOME ALONE movies her mom liked.  If they'd wanted her, she would have been dead meat.  But they didn't.  They ignored her.  One grabbed some guy she didn't even know.  He tried to brace his feet against being dragged out, and the other one reached past the first one and touched the guy with a little metal rod.  There was a crackling sound and the guy stiffened, then went limp.  The first lizardman dragged him out by the ankle.  The guy was face down and his nose bumped over the doorsill as he was dragged out of the room and it must have broken because there was a trail of blood on the floor on the other side of the door.  The lizardmen didn't seem to care.  But they did remember to close and lock the door behind them.
Megan didn't know when she stopped screaming... probably not for several seconds after the door was closed again.
But she noticed her throat was hurting, so she stopped.
Everyone else did right around the same time.
She looked around, and the first thing she noticed was Steve.  He was as far away from her... from the door... as he could get, all the way on the other side of the room, plastered against the wall.  He must have moved like a shot, because he'd gotten to the wall first and apparently nearly everyone else in the room had had the same idea.
Now they were all moving around again.  Kind of tentatively.  Keeping an eye on the smoked glass partitions to see if lizardmen were coming back.  
Steve came up to her.  "Are you all right, baby?" he asked, putting a hand on her arm.
She shrugged him off, and turned her back on him and walked a few steps away.  
"Aw, baby," he said.  "Don't be like that."
"Pretty sure Trudy wouldn't like to hear you calling me baby," Megan said.  Trudy was Steven's baby mama.  They lived together, and she called him like five times a day.  "I know Jim wouldn't like it."
Steve didn't say anything for a couple of seconds, and then she heard him mutter, "Yeah... whatever, bitch."
And that was that.
Megan shook her head.  Nobody had time for stupid work bullshit any more.  This was serious.  Motherfucking lizardmen had locked them up in a conference room, and apparently they were going to come get them one at a time.  Why?  Why would you do that?  Why would anyone do that?
Megan took a few deep breaths and tried to think things through.  Why would you put a group of people in a room, and then come get them one at a time?
Maybe the lizardmen were questioning them, one at a time.  Maybe they were like alien cops, and there was another alien criminal hiding out in the call center.   Disguised as a human?  Maybe.  And they needed to inspect everyone one at a time to see who it was.  Yes.  That could be it.
Although Megan couldn't imagine how a lizardman could disguise itself as a human.  They had snouts.  And those back ridges.  
Unless they could change shape, like the one guy on that old Star Trek show.
Obviously, they wanted whoever it was alive, so maybe it wasn't a criminal.  Maybe it was some lost space princess, or something!  Maybe...
Although they'd seem pretty casual about that one guy they dragged out, so... no.  Probably not a space princess.  
So maybe they thought that somebody in the building knew some important secret.  Like the nuclear secrets.  Or maybe where the whatchamacallit was... that cube thing in the AVENGERS movie.  The Tesseract.  Maybe something like that was  hidden somewhere on Earth, and the lizardmen figured somebody knew where it was.  And they were going to torture it out of them.  Okay.  That would account for them trying to keep everyone alive but not caring if they got a little damaged in transport.  Okay.  Sure.  
But that meant, if they kept working their way through people in the room without getting the secret out of anyone, then eventually they'd get to her, and she didn't know any secret...
Okay.  Back to the plan.
Megan looked around.  What did they have to work with in this room?  Huge conference table.  A bunch of chairs.  About half a dozen of them had been piled up in each corner to make a kind of fort, and there was someone back in each of those corners... that was pretty smart.  Not a great plan, but better than anyone else had come up with.  At least they'd probably be last to go... and maybe by the time they would have been dragged out, the lizardmen would have found what they were looking for and left.
She wished she'd thought of it.  
Or Steve.  She could have gotten Steve to share with her.
Well... it was two guys back in each corner.  If they were straight... Megan looked around the room.  She knew four of the girls who were there; they were from Sales, where she worked.  None of them were as good looking as she was, and that was what guys cared about.  There were two other women she didn't know... they must have been from Marketing.  But they weren't as good looking as she was, either.
Megan had paid attention to how things worked, and she'd talked it over with Jim sometimes, too.  Things always came down to the most attractive person available.  Like if you were on a bus.  Nobody admitted it, but everyone checked out everyone else on the bus, and you'd rank them, too.  Men did it.  Girls did it.  Everyone did it.   Except Jim said that guys generally only did it for the girls; they didn't care about how hot the other guys on the bus were.  Megan thought that was stupid.  You ranked the guys by which ones you'd pair up with if something weird happened and you had to, and you ranked the girls by which ones would be your most serious competition for those guys.
Megan was clearly the hottest chick in this room.  She could have her pick of the guys.  Now how did that help her?
Steve?  No.  Fuck that.  For all the good he was, she could already have been dragged out of the room by her hair.   Not that any of the guys in the room had seemed to exactly be knights in shining armor... although would you really want one?  If a guy tried to protect her from one of these things, he'd just die.  And, okay, that would probably save her one time...
She probably shouldn't hold it against Steve.  He'd done what anyone else would have done... what she would have done, if she hadn't just freaked out instead.  But still.  He was supposed to be her friend.  He could have tried to help.
No.  Screw this, this was stupid.  She needed a plan to get out of this room.  Maybe she could come up with something on her own, but chances were, she'd need help.  This was the kind of situation were being smart was good, but you might need some strong, too.
And, again... Steve.
But no.  Fuck him.  Not that she ever had.  Megan had only had one affair since she and Jim had actually gotten married (before that it didn't count!).  And that had been at her last job, two years ago, and Roy had moved to Colorado and Jim had never found out about it, so it really had never happened.  Nobody here knew about it, so forget it.
(It was kind of Jim's fault anyway.  She loved Jim all to pieces, but there were some things Jim just wouldn't do in bed... the first time he found out Megan wanted to do them, he nearly dumped her, so she didn't dare even bring that subject up again.  But Megan really liked a lot of those things.)
Flirting at work didn't count at all.  (Although, if Megan were to be honest with herself, it was probably going to turn into more than flirting pretty soon... if the lizardmen hadn't happened.  Not now, not with Steve, Steve was a jackass.  But... two years was a long time.)
Still.  If she could have her choice of any guy in the room to help her escape, then... who?
She didn't know.  And she was really thirsty.  Was there anything to drink...?
She looked around, and started listening.
No.   Nothing to drink.  Everyone was thirsty.   And the funny thing was, usually this conference room had a cooler with one of those big 20 gallon water jugs on the top of it.  But the cooler was gone.  
Someone was saying "We had a team meeting in here this morning and the water cooler was there then.  Those monsters must have taken it."
Megan thought about that.  So... the lizardmen wanted them to be thirsty? 
Maybe to make them more eager to cooperate?
"Megan," she heard someone say, and turned.  It was Rhonda.  Her jeri curls were all sweated out.  It made Megan glad she'd just put her hair in a ponytail this morning.  "Megan, sweetie, do you have a bottle of water in your purse? I am SO thirsty."
Megan spread her hands helplessly.  "My purse is in my desk drawer, Rhonda honey.  I am so sorry."  Like if she'd had a bottle of water she'd have given it to this bitch.  Rhonda had spent most of the last eight months since Megan got hired talking shit about her to everyone in the building who would listen, and why?  Because she knew that if her husband ever got a look at Megan, that's who he'd be fantasizing about the next time he had to fuck Rhonda, that's why.  Stupid ugly mixed bitch who told everyone she was 37 even though she was actually 42, and looked ten years older than that because she smoked and didn't take care of herself.
"Oh, honey, that's too bad," Rhonda sighed.  "I got me a whole bottle of Diet Coke sittin on my desk and it might as well be in China."
Soda would just make you thirstier... Megan knew that.  Jim had told her that there was a ton of salt, nearly as much salt as sugar, in every bottle of soda.  It was a trick to make you drink more of it.  But it didn't surprise her that Rhonda didn't know that.
But now Megan wondered -- what if she had had a bottle of water?  And she'd tried to take it out, and drink from it?  What would have happened?
These people were scared shitless.  They could turn into a murderous mob any second... not against the lizardmen, because the lizardmen were scary.  But against who ever was weakest in the room... whoever had something they wanted.  All they needed was someone to light a fuse.
Which was when that new guy Bryan had started talking to the older guy forted up in the corner.  He was saying that the older guy read science fiction, and must have some ideas, and the older guy was saying, in kind of a nasty tone, no, he didn't.
"No, really," Megan spoke up.  "I mean, of course, you know, nobody knows, but can you like guess or something?"