The Creepy Thing Under the Desk
By R.R. Stark

Just another humdrum ordinary day at the office -
when something horrible began to happen!

         Hank Fish was hunched over with eyes glued to his computer screen, playing Solitaire - when suddenly the boss meandered by his cubicle, peering in as the sneaky occupant stealthily clicked a key, switching the screen over to some ambiguously nondescript business spreadsheet.
          "Were you playing Solitaire again, Hank?"
         "Uh, uh, no sir.  Just working on the Blickman report."
         "I see.  It's funny that when you give me a double-uh, it usually means you're stretching the truth."
         "Uh, Uh, not at all, sir."
         Nodding, the boss replied, "I see.  Just remember, this is a place of work, not your personal playpen. Next time I see you clicking a single key like that again, Hank, I'll be handing you you're walking papers."
         "Uh, uh, yes, sir."
         The boss slowly walked away.
         Bob Hatchet, the guy in the cubicle opposite his, snorted a chuckle, "Man alive, that was a close call, Hank!"
         "Yeah.  I'll have to be quicker with that key."
         The cubicle partition between them concealed their faces, but if you peeked over, you could see the top of the other fellow’s head at least.  The theory was, according to the latest forced office etiquette regulations, that higher walls prevented employees from talking to each other - but the stubborn numbskull's did it anyway - despite their clueless bosses. The employees’ theory was, just because you couldn't see the adjoining person, that wasn't going to deter them from talking, telling jokes, or gossiping, or spreading rumors, and so forth.  Bosses were pretty dumb sometimes.
         After a few minutes, Hank Fish switched back to the Solitaire game - when suddenly he felt an irritating itch on his ankle. He reached down to scratch it.  After a couple minutes, strangely, he felt something fumbling with his loafered left foot.
         "What the bloody hell?!"  He yelped.  He swatted his foot and said, "There must be a mouse running around down here."
          "Really?"  Bob inquired, almost anticipatingly.
          "Or something, I dunno what."
          "Maybe it's a monster. Grrrrrrrrrrrrowlllll!"
          "Har har."
          Shawna Tisbee, the young sexy gal in the cubicle next to Hank’s, griped, "Are you boys playing footsie or something over there?"
          "Yeah, something like that," Hank chuckled. "But I'd rather be playing footsie with you, dearie."
          "Forget it, bub," she giggled.
          Hank shrugged, "It was worth a shot."
          Then Bob called, "Say Hank, I dropped my exercise ball and I think it rolled somewhere over your way.  Could you get it for me?"
          "Why can't you get it yourself, lazy bum?"
          "I'm all tied up at the moment."
          "Alright."  He stood up from his swivel chair, turned to take a step, and suddenly keeled over like a felled tree and fell flat on his face.
          Bob was laughing like a demented maniac. "Look who's really tied up!"
          Hank managed to climb back up to his seat, look down, and found his shoestrings tied together. "Alright, you pathetic prankster. I don't know how you did it, but I admit that was a good one."
          "What?!  You're blaming me?  I just witnessed you're stumbling klutzcapades over there.  That's all."
          "Yeah, right."
          After untying his shoes, he glared under his desk, rather dark and dismal however, observing that the cubicle walls extended all the way down to the floor, just as he expected.  So Bob was right, there's no way he could have tied Hank’s shoes together. He grunted, and continued playing Solitaire.
         Suddenly, something grabbed his foot and began gnawing on it like a vicious rabid dog.
          "Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" hollered Hank, trying to pull his foot away.
         With the other foot he pushed backward in the swivel chair, wheeling back, freeing his captured foot.  He quickly bent down and looked under his desk, glancing this way and that, but saw nothing.
          Right at that moment, the boss came by, looking down, and said, "What on earth are you doing down there, Hank?"
          "Uh, uh, I'm just looking for, uh, something, I must've dropped something or other - uh, my stapler I think, yeah, uh, uh, that's what it was, my stapler.  You, that's right."
          The boss shook his head.  "Somehow I got a hunch that your stapler is not down there.  In fact, I see it right on top of your desk."
          "Oh!"  Hank looked up, acting surprised, and sure enough, his stapler was on top of his desk.
          "You'd better get to work and stop horsing around. Time is money, and if you're wasting your time, you're wasting my money."
          "Yes, sir."  Hank climbed back into his chair and proceeded to gawk at his screen once again, bored out of his gourd.
          After a short time, something grabbed both of his legs and was yanking at them, but Hank pulled away.  Then he stood up, but suddenly keeled over and fell flat on his face - again.
          Bob Hatchet laughed rip-roaringly from the other side of the cubicle partition. Hank realized both shoelaces had been tied to one of the swivel chair legs.
          "Alright, Bob, the joke’s over.  How the freaking hell are you doing this?"
          While still sitting on the floor, he noticed a tiny panel opening under his desk, about five inches wide by four high. Then Bob stuck both hands through it, all the way up to his elbows, as he blathered, "Oogah-boogah!"
          Hank shook his head, then grumbled, "Wonders never cease."
          Bob explained, "It's an access panel for computer cables and whatnot.  Normally you can’t see it since it's dark down below the desks."
          "Why am I not surprised?"
          "Because you're gullible and you'll believe anything!"  He laughed.
          "Not anymore."
          "Hey, cheer up!  Halloween is just around the corner, you old ghoul.  A few spooky pranks are in order to liven up this place, don't you think, Hank?"
          "I suppose so, Bob," he replied reluctantly.
          After a few minutes, once Hank had gathered himself back together and put himself back in his chair, commencing to play Solitaire once again, suddenly he heard Bob screaming.  Hank got up and came around to witness Bob leaning back in his chair and screaming bloody murder.  He pulled his legs out - which had gruesomely been chewed off up to his knees, and there was nothing left but two bloody stumps. Hank screamed now, and then Shawna Tisbee screamed shrilly, and then several others gathered around witnessing the horrid, ghastly, and terrible thing that happened to Bob Hatchet, as he screamed,"There's something under my desk! It chewed off my legs!"
          Everyone around him screamed too.
         But suddenly, to everyone's bewildered surprise, he broke out laughing crazily.
          "What the-" but Hank was virtually speechless.
          Between guffaws of laughter, Bob tried to explain, "Ah-ha-hahahaaa! I had - hahahaha - I had you all - ahh-hahahaha- had you all fooled! AH-HAAHAAHAAA!"
          But Hank and the others didn't understand, because his legs were still gone below the knees. Until Bob pulled out a pair of something-er-other out from under his desk that explained it.
          "Prosthetic legs!  Little does everyone know the truth about me!  Until now! AH-HAHAHAHAHA!"
          He held in his hands a pair of plastic prosthetic lower legs.
          "So that explains your strange artificial way of walking," Hank mumbled."
         Then Bob pulled off fake bloody stump pads from his knees.
          "And I got these from the Halloween store!" he snickered sinisterly. "I knew that a day would come when I would no longer regret having lost my legs in that pathetic farm accident long ago. Damn combine."
          Hank grumbled, "Yeah, well, too bad it wasn't your head you lost."
          The boss came by and growled, "What's all the commotion?"
          Everyone hummed and hawed and stammered with nothing much to really say.
          "I don't see a water cooler around for you to be idly discussing the weather over."
          "Uh, uh, we just saw a rat creeping around, uh, uh, that's all."  Hank idiotically explained.
          "I think you're all a bunch of rats creeping around, and that's all you are!  Now get back to work!"
          Everyone rushed back to their seats, while the boss marched off.
          Bob accidentally knocked his stapler off the edge of his desk with his elbow. "Ooops!"
          "Now what game are you playing over there, Bob?"
          "Just dropped my stapler is all."
          Suddenly Hank heard heinous growling sounds and Bob screaming - then the screaming stopped and then he heard chomping next.  He got up and rushed around, to shockingly gawk at what had happened to Bob, who was on all fours by his desk, but minus his head, for between the shoulders there was only a bloody stump.
         Not believing it, Hank chuckled, "I suppose you have a prosthetic head too, eh, Bob?" Then he added, "It's about time you had another combine accident, anyway." And he laughed weakly at his own joke.
         Then the body trembled and spasmed eerily, then it collapsed, lying completely still while blood sickeningly oozed out of the gaping wound where Bob Hatchet’s head once resided.
         Shawna Tisbee came over, gawked, and then screamed bloody murder. Well, after all, it was murder of some sort.  Then everyone else came over to see what all the screaming was about, and everyone just opened their gaping face holes and screamed and screamed and screamed . . . and screamed . . .
*      *      *
The bloody freaking ending!
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