Chapter 10 (Fragment)

In the morning, when Norman arrived (late again) at Human Resources, Louise was sitting at her desk, staring at a pile of memos.

"Good morning," said Norman. "Is anything going on this morning?"

"It's strange here today, Norman," said Louise. "No calls. Nobody coming in. And this morning, I found these on my desk." She scooped up the pile of memos and handed them to Norman.

Norman took them and looked through them. They were termination memos , dozens of them. They all appeared to be in Jacqueline's handwriting.

"What's going on, Norman?"

"I don't know anything about it," said Norman. The remark had become a kind of slogan to him.

"You're the department head, and they need your approval," said Louise.

It was a rather insubordinate remark for Louise, but Norman decided it was best to overlook it.

He went into his office and sat down at his desk to wonder why Pierce wanted to see him this evening. Jacqueline's remark about border collies seemed ominous.

He heard Cheryl come in and strike up a conversation with Louise.

"It's just the same old story" said Cheryl. "Only it seems a little different because it's set in a small town in Maine."

"That's why it works so well," said Louise. "You don't expect vampires in a small town. You don't expect a little town in Maine to have unspeakable evil."

Unspeakable evil. Norman had never really thought about the idea of evil before, much less unspeakable evil. The company had a chance to make some kind of progress on AIDS, and Pierce was throwing it away to do something with direct marketing. Was that evil? Was it unspeakable evil? Norman got up from his desk and walked over and stood beside his doorway so he could hear better.

"Oh, come on, Louise," said Cheryl. "Don't you think it's just a little bit simple-minded? They screw around sharpening baseball bats until dusk before they go looking for the vampire, and then they're surprised when he catches them in the dark. Why is it that the only character with any sense is the vampire?"

"Excuse me." Norman stepped through the doorway to the outer office.

They both turned to look at him.

"Have either of you seen Jacqueline today?"

"Not yet," said Cheryl.

"Why did they sharpen baseball bats?" said Norman.

"They make good stakes," said Louise. "A nice handle, and the end is flattened, so it's easier to hit with the hammer."

"Did they get him?" said Norman. "Did they steak him? In the book, I mean."

Cheryl rolled her eyes, as if she'd been trapped in a roomful of fools.

"Yeah, they got the big one, at least 200 lbs" said Louise. "But then it was too dark, and they had to let the rest go."

"What happened then?"

"Everybody in the whole town became vampires, except for a man and a boy, who got away."

"The whole town?"

"Yeah," said Louise. "The man came back later and barbecued them."

"Oh, God," said Cheryl in disgust.

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