“Do you ever feel––,” Stan paused, flicking something off of his jacket, “––I dunno, disenfranchised?”

Korthrana’xu glanced down and sighed; it sounded like a thousand oiled-up newborns being ground into paste. From one of his six dozen mouths, he oozed: “You know you just killed our new supervisor, right? Management isn’t gonna be happy about that.”

Surveying the spatter of neon green blood on his finger, Stan looked by his feet and noticed the twitching remnants of Cahdu’ranaa. His antennae swirled around his head, death throes giving off a small tornado of slime.

Shit, he thought, There goes my bonus.

Covering his third and fourth ear clusters, Korthrana’xu shivered, “I asked you to not think around me; you know I can’t stand the screaming.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s fine. Let’s get going; Management is going to have a field day when they find out they need to grow a new Shift Lead.”

The ground being them bubbled open to reveal a stained set of enormous, cracked teeth. The Break Room, having not been fed in over a fortnight, happily accepted the disfigured corpse of Cahdu’ranaa.

As they walked through the mysterious acrid orange mist that had appeared overnight, Korthrana’xu watched Stan out of the corner of his eye; the man looked tired; bedraggled, even. Not his usual chipper self.

Carefully counting his steps so as not to overtake his friend, he gave into his internal nagging: “What’s wrong?”

Tearing his eyes away from the new bouquet of corpses that Margana’tha had decorated reception with, Stan shrugged. “Dunno what you mean.”

“You don’t seem like yourself lately.”

“Eh, things have been a little rough at home. Just need to––”

Bursting down through the ceiling with an ear-piercing screech, one of the Engineers from upstairs melted the floor as she passed through the pair. Stan leapt to the side, avoiding the bubbling concrete, and brushed a drift of ashes off his shoulder. “Just need to get my head back in the game,” he finished with a heavy sigh.

“Yeah, wouldn’t want to lose it again.”

Stan glumly recalled the last time Management had killed him. Skull regrowth had taken almost six months. He’d gone on a few dates, but they’d all ended in a stifled goodnight kiss and nothing more; fucking size queens, he thought.

Korthrana’xu keened beside him, clutching the mess of bleeding vines that made up his head.

“Sorry, sorry; I forgot.”

They stopped in front of the Conference room; the doors were quivering and Stan could see a brackish stream seeping towards them across the floor.

Korthrana’xu placed a tentacle on the door, a half-grin spreading across his upper mouth, “You ready for the quarterly review?”

Stan looked at his right hand, wiggling the fingers, wondering which one he’d lose today. “I guess.”

As they entered the room, the Black Womb in the basement shuddered and hiccuped, sending an eruptious fountain of blood up through the elevator system, and rocketed half of the Marketing team out into the Eternal Haze.