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.