The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Last Company Cookout
by Sheri White
Doug sat at a picnic table under the pavilion, drinking a beer and wishing he could be anywhere but at the stupid mandatory company cookout. He sipped at a beer and nibbled at some chips, watching his coworkers play softball and volleyball. He thought about joining a horseshoe game, but couldn’t be bothered to get up.
To make matters worse, the DJ played music – “music” – he didn’t recognize, but knew he hated. His head throbbed in time to the obnoxious beats that were so loud he couldn’t think.
“Hey, Doug. Looks like you’re having a good time.”
“Yeah, right.” Doug rolled his eyes at Matthew as he sat down across from him. “I’d rather be paying bills or taking a vacation with the RAISE or BONUS we should have gotten instead of this stupid cookout.”
“Hell, yes! This fucking party isn’t going to put gas in my car.”
“So you’re not a joiner either, Matthew? Don’t like games?”
“Nah, not my thing. Plus it’s so freaking hot. I’m so out of shape I’d probably drop dead of heat stroke.”
They chuckled together. “One good thing about this heat, though,” said Doug.
Doug gestured towards the park with his beer. “Female coworkers in skimpy clothes. Much better than Casual Fridays, huh?”
Matthew laughed. “Guess I hadn’t really noticed.”
“Are you kidding? Check it out – who knew the president’s secretary was so…” Doug gestured with cupped hands to mimic huge breasts.
“Apparently the president did – I hear she can’t type for shit and can barely get callers through to the right person.”
“Oh, damn – look at that tight little caboose,” Doug said, gesturing at the volleyball game. “I’ve never seen her before. Is she new to the company?”
Matthew shook his head. “No. She’s my wife.”
Doug’s cheeks reddened. “Well, now that I’ve put my foot in my mouth, I’m going to hop over to the port-a-potties and take a leak.” He swung his legs over the picnic bench and stood up. “Look, I’m sorry, man. That was really uncool.”
Matthew chuckled. “It’s fine, Doug. No worries. Want me to grab a beer for you?”
“That’d be great. Something like Bud in a can, though. None of that craft beer crap.”
Doug re-joined Matthew at the table a few minutes later. He grabbed the beer in front of him. “Thanks, man.”
“Sure.” Matthew stared at Doug, as if waiting for something.
“You okay, Matt? Did I do something besides insult your wife?” Doug laughed a little uncertainly.
“No. Like I said, no big deal.” He took a pull of his craft beer but didn’t take his eyes off Doug.
It’s time to go, thought Doug. He tipped the can to his mouth and drank the beer quickly. Suddenly he screamed and dropped the can. He clutched his throat, then clawed at his lips.
“Something wrong, Doug?” Matthew sat calmly and took another sip of his beer.
Doug forcefully coughed, pounding his fist on the table. A few bees flew out of his mouth. “Help,” he whispered.
“Man, that is fucked up. Sorry, guy – I didn’t realize bees had gotten in your beer.”
“Epi pen…my car…”
Doug fell off the bench and got on his hands and knees. He kept coughing, trying to dislodge bees that were in his mouth and down his throat. He turned onto his back, weakly using his fingers to get into his mouth. His medical alert bracelet shone in a sunbeam.
Matthew knelt down beside Doug, watching the man’s tongue swell, and his eyes squeezing almost shut.
“You…knew. Bees…kill…me,” Doug barely got the words out.
“And you knew that was my wife. You knew it when you tried to rape her at the Christmas party.”
Matthew put his face right into Doug’s.
And you knew it today, you piece of shit.” He sat back as Doug lightly convulsed, watching bees crawl out of his mouth and nose.
Fiction © Copyright Sheri White
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Sheri White:
Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Featuring stories from R.L. Stine and Madeleine Roux, this middle grade horror anthology, curated by New York Times bestselling author and master of macabre Jonathan Maberry, is a chilling tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Flesh-hungry ogres? Brains full of spiders? Haunted houses you can’t escape? This collection of 35 terrifying stories from the Horror Writers Association has it all, including ghastly illustrations from Iris Compiet that will absolutely chill readers to the bone.
So turn off your lamps, click on your flashlights, and prepare—if you dare—to be utterly spooked!
The complete list of writers: Linda D. Addison, Courtney Alameda, Jonathan Auxier, Gary A. Braunbeck, Z Brewer, Aric Cushing, John Dixon, Tananarive Due, Jamie Ford, Kami Garcia, Christopher Golden, Tonya Hurley, Catherine Jordan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis, N.R. Lambert, Laurent Linn, Amy Lukavics, Barry Lyga, D.J. MacHale, Josh Malerman, James A. Moore, Michael Northrop, Micol Ostow, Joanna Parypinksi, Brendan Reichs, Madeleine Roux, R.L. Stine, Margaret Stohl, Gaby Triana, Luis Alberto Urrea, Rosario Urrea, Kim Ventrella, Sheri White, T.J. Wooldridge, Brenna Yovanoff