“Hello?” Dennis answered on the second ring. The portly, middle-aged man was dressed and waiting to go to work.
“Hi Dennis, this is Gina from HR. I’m trying to track Glenn down because he hasn’t opened up the deli yet. Any idea where he might be?”
“Glenn? Last time I saw him, he looked kind of beat up. I mean, you know, tired from a long week,” Dennis paused for a moment but spoke up again before Gina said anything. “Or now that I think about it, maybe he was worried? We had the Decimation last night, right?”
“Yeah,” Gina sighed. “I was kind of afraid of that. Well, until he shows up again, we’ll have to assume he’s gone. Listen, I know you’re not scheduled till ‘noon, but can you come in and open up the deli? We can finally get your promotion approved tomorrow if he’s still a no-show.”
“Me?” Dennis stood up from the table to pace around his small kitchen while on the phone. “C’mon Gina, don’t tease me like that, I’d love to run the deli, even for just a day. You don’t have to get my hopes up for nothing.”
“I’m serious. If Glenn was Decimated, you’re the most qualified, and it’s hard to find anyone that wants to run a deli. How soon can you get here?”
“10 minutes,” he said then promptly hung up the phone. Exactly 10 minutes later he found Gina waiting for him in the darkened Deli. The rest of the lights in the grocery store were on and morning shoppers were already exploring the aisles.
“I’m impressed,” she said as she handed over the storage room keys. After Dennis accepted them, she turned to walk away. He stopped her.
“Did you check the storage room for Glenn?” he asked.
“Huh?” She stopped and turned around. Dennis was headed toward the storage room and she followed. “What do you mean?’ she asked behind him.
“I’ve caught him falling asleep back there a couple of times. Usually in the middle of the day, but maybe he was so worn out he fell asleep overnight.”
“No, I didn’t know he slept on the clock,” Gina said. “It’s probably why he was Decimated,” she mumbled under her breath. Dennis didn’t hear her, he was already in the storage room by the time she reached the door. “Anything?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Dennis said then returned to the door. “He was Decimated,” he gave her a wrinkled, unfolded sheet of paper.[If anyone finds this, I wasn’t around to pick it back up. That means I was Decimated. I’ve been expecting it for a couple of years now, so I’m not surprised. This isn’t a confession or anything, no one needs to know what I’ve done. But, I don’t want the Deli to suffer. Give Dennis Solis my job, hell, give him everything. I don’t have any family left but I’d rather someone I know gets my things instead of that stupid Decimation Reclamation process. These are my final wishes if I’m Decimated. -signed Glenn. S. Gonne- ]
Gina read it, the stepped forward into the storage room, pushing Dennis in too. She closed the door behind her.
“I don’t want the deli to suffer?” She laughed. “Jesus, Dennis. What the hell did you do to Glenn?”
“NOTHING!” he protested. “I swear!”
“I did check the storage room. I didn’t know Glenn was using it for naps, but it’s just common sense to check everywhere I can. This note wasn’t here 10 minutes ago. You can either tell me what you did so I can help you, or I can get the cops involved right away.”
“Help me?” Dennis asked. “Why aren’t you calling the police yet?”
“Because you’re an idiot, no offense. I’m not sure what happened to Glenn, but I’m willing to listen to your side. You can be damn sure the police won’t be as interested.” Dennis nodded.
“Okay. I had a perfect plan. Kill Glenn on the night of the Decimation and make everyone think he’s one of the ones that disappeared,” he sighed. “I kidnapped him after work last night and took him to my place. I was going to keep him there for a day or two, then when people believed he was gone I’d take him somewhere else to kill him and dispose of the body.”
“Idiot,” Gina mumbled. “That’s the worst plan you could have thought up. Decimation isn’t just a thing that happens and everyone ignores. Population is closely monitored. Every year we know exactly how many humans 10% is. People have been trying to get away with murder on Decimation night forever, it can’t be done. So.. he’s still alive at your place?” she asked. Dennis shook his head.
“I beat him up a little so he wouldn’t know it was me,.. and then he just disappeared. He actually got Decimated. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stuck to my plan.”
“Get out there and open the deli,” Gina said while crumpling the forged note. “If he was Decimated, then you don’t have to worry about a thing, it’ll be recorded and that’s that.” Dennis’ eyes went wide and a grin tugged at the corners of his mouth, but he tried to fight it.
“I… I can still work at the deli?” He grabbed her hand excitedly. She nodded.
“You didn’t actually do anything except beat him up a bit. If he got Decimated he probably deserved it. I don’t know what it is with you and the Deli, but I can kind of see why tried to do what you almost did. And it’s not like you got Decimated, but no more plans or violence. If you have any problems, come see me first, okay?”