Samira Nilima Korrapati fucking regretted every fucking thing she’d ever done in any of her past lives and in this one to deserve the stupid fucking migraines, an association with magic and whatever the hell blasphemy it involved, and Benjamin fucking Callaghan Gray as her fucking best friend.
Also Corrine Denae Walters, Mikhail Chaykovski, Emilio Morales, Matthew St. James, and Naseem Kumar as her friends. Them too. Mostly Corrine. Because fuck Corrine.
Ben, on the other hand, had no such qualms, and very little self control, especially when it came to Samira or any of his friends.
So it was no surprise to anyone involved that when his friends began to disappear off the face of the earth, he immediately dragged his one and only best friend into it to figure out what the hell was wrong.
Samira put a hand to her temple, wincing in slight pain, and sighed.
“So you’re telling me that they all just magically disappeared? That our entire theater troupe is magically gone? Do you have any idea how completely fucking stupid that sounds?”
“Would I lie to you?” Ben asked earnestly.
“That is besides the point, I’ve only done it a lot and also I would never.”
“Fuck you, Ben.” Samira sighed again.
“You love me.”
“I love beating you into a wall.”
“Best friends forever.”
“Benjamin. Migraine. Continue.”
“Ok well… This building is probably the source or something, I’d assume, right? Because that’s the last place they were.” Ben offered. “Plus, it’s very suitably creepy and weirdly empty in this office. Do you think they have a copy machine?”
“It’s an office, Ben.” Samira snapped. “What the fuck do you think? God these LEDs are so bright.”
Ben led the way through them myriad of empty desks, occasionally pausing to look around sneakily, thoroughly enjoying his chance to have a spy adventure. Danger was always looking around the corners of a completely and utterly empty office.
Maybe something ate them. That would require all of his video gaming skill to defeat.
One of the phones began to ring.
“Corded phones. Wow. Even my house phone at least doesn’t have a cord.” Samira commented, distaste evident in her voice.
“I’m still stuck on the fact that you have a house phone.” Ben mused. “Is it because you’re just so behind the times or because you hate all of us and thus whitewash us any chance you get?”
“I ought to slap you.” Samira muttered. Ben squished her in a hug, which she didn’t object to, though he did ignore the mumbled swearing and cursing of him and all her past lives.
The phone kept ringing as Samira finally managed to shove her way out of Ben’s grip.
“Well?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Are you going to pick it up? It’s your stupid ass mission video game self that got us here, after all.”
“Are you kidding me? I don’t touch any electronic device that’s more than three generations old. You pick it up!” Ben declared.
“Ben.” Samira said, exasperation creeping into her tone.
“Nope.” He stared her down, grinning.
“Benjamin Callaghan Gray.” She snapped.
“Nooooope! I meant what I said and I said what I meant!”
“Fine! Fucking fine!” Samira groaned, throwing her hands up in defeat. “Whatever. The things I fucking do for you, honestly. Of all the people I could have had to deal with… I’m being cursed for something, I swear. I just know it.”
She grabbed the phone and answered.
“Director and business bitch Samira Korrapati speaking.”
Ben sort of admired how little she cared about saying things like that.
Her expression then changed from mildly friendly irritation to full on hate driven irritation. The sort of irritation that got Corrine and Mikhail kicked out of the theater and Andrew concussed with a fucking clipboard of all things.
“Would you like to explain this?” She held out the phone and pressed the speaker button.
“-and are you with Ben? Oh my god is Ben there hi Ben! Anyway seriously just like know that I hate you and also you’re my favorite director have I mentioned that before? Please don’t kill me.” Corrine screeched.
“Tell Ben not to touch the phone!” Mikhail called, his voice slightly muddled. “Samira you’re kind of fucked but- OW!”
“DON’T SAY ANYTHING!” Corrine screamed directly into the line. Samira held the phone farther away from her and glared at Ben.
“Blame the Russians! Those dastardly Russians did it!” Matthew yelled.
“Well, yes.” Mikhail admitted.
“I told you so, Samira! Your lying son of a bitch Russian head of tech is behind everything! Shoot him now, shoot him now!” Corrine screamed.
“You keep out of this, he doesn’t have to shoot you now!” Matthew yelled back.
“Fuck all of you.” Samira snapped. “You all make my life absolute fucking misery and I have a migraine. Don’t make me concuss you with a clipboard as well.”
“I can burn down the chemistry department if you’d like.” Corrine suggested.
“No.” Mikhail said. “You leave my chemistry department alone.”
“He loves it more than you!” Naseem called out, sounding farther away.
“No he doesn’t it’s an inanimate object Mikhail you love me right say yes and I don’t hurt you.”
“I thought you loved me!” Ben chimed in, grinning at Samira, who glared back at him.
“No Ben, you’re terrible, we’ve established this.” Corrine responded.
“That’s very rude.” Ben sighed.
“Look.” Samira snapped. “I’m already blaming Ben for all of this since he’s the one who dragged me here and therefore by extension exacerbating my migraine to unprecedented levels. But I’m already being punished for my past lives and I regret every fucking thing ever already so let’s please, for the love of fucking god, not even get into the blasphemy part of this! Now, I’m going home. Have fun with Ben. Good. Fucking. Bye.”
Samira slammed the phone down with another glare at Ben and despite multiple voices emanating from the phone and telling her not to hang up.
Then, much to Ben’s surprise, Samira disappeared.
“Uh… Sam?” Ben stopped grinning and observed the phone, now concerned. The lights in the building dimmed from white and yellow to blue and black. Admittedly, Samira’s migraine probably would have been more exaggerated by that, so maybe it was best she wasn’t there to see it.
With all of his friends now gone, and the office suspiciously empty and much darker, he knew there was only one thing to do first.
Build a desk fort.
Which is exactly what he did.
Half an hour of work later, his fort stood several desks tall, with multiple fortified entrances, including a secret back entrance just in case this was actually the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and not some creepy dream world thing.
The phone rang.
“Hello?” Ben called out. “Is someone here? There’s someone in here, isn’t there? You’re coming to kill us. Did we offend you with our shitty theater references? I’d say we’re sorry but we’re not so please don’t kill me.” No one answered him, but the phone did continue ringing.
“Whoever’s there, I’m part of the Assassins! I’ll kick your ass if you come near me!”
Just in case someone was in fact stalking him, he decided to begin a Creed style parkour sequence around the desks. Whoever was causing all this trouble had absolutely no chance against the might of Ben Gray’s video game knowledge.
Up to the top of his fort, to the convenient four desk platform he had built just in case there was a scenario like this where he would have needed it. He dropped down with all the grace of a man who knew his way around falling in theater, then landed on the floor and rolled out of it.
He’d probably break his neck if he kept up with it, though. Training could only save him for so long. The phone stopped ringing, then started up again. He continued to ignore it.
He looked around the office, observing the plethora of office supplies, including a lot of staplers and tape dispensers, and the suspiciously similar lamps on every single desk. The suspiciously similar lamps.
He gathered up several dozen of them and began making a pile of them. Maybe he could shove them out the window or something. Actually, that wasn’t a bad idea. He began chucking loads of them out of the window. Evil identical lamps. They’d probably come alive and eat someone’s children like the Pixar lamp. Or at least murder all the lowercase i’s in the world.
When this failed to find return Samira (who he missed) or anyone else from the troupe (who he also was concerned about), he tried a number of other things, including praising Lord Helix, building a pyramid of office furniture in the CEO’s office, and sacrificing all the unworthy pens in the office to Lord Helix and any other god he could think of. Mostly video game gods, really. The video games were really doing him justice today.
Meanwhile the phone continued ringing. And ringing. And ringing. And ringing.
The staplers were coming in handy for his stapler art, and also smashing through the overhead lights in a grid pattern. True, there was also glass all over the floor as a result, but it did make for a fabulous checkerboard. He could play checkers or even chess with the desks if he wanted. If he got bored enough. Really, he probably would.
An actual idea came to him for once, though.
He wasn’t sure about touching the phone.
But Fresnel lenses in the various pieces of technology around the office could burn through the cord and shut it off without him even touching the creepy evil phone by extension, while also have the bonus of potentially burning down the office building if he so desired.
That was a fantastic idea. A fabulous idea. Better than the chemistry department incident.
The phone kept ringing as he tore apart a couple of the older TVs and computers to scrounge for the lenses. A jerry rigging of some of the lamp lights would probably provide enough concentration and heat to work, especially with the older lightbulbs. Much like spotlights, they heated up more.
So he aimed the Fresnel lense contraption at the phone cord and melted the plastic away, leaving only the frayed wires, which were kind of sparking oh god this was a bad idea wasn’t it. The acrid smell of charred plastic and smoking carpet filled the office and he ran out before it killed him.
Admittedly, he’d never expected to become an arsonist at 17. But it was probably a great experience. Now he has a valid reason to force the rest of the troupe into doing the genderbent version of the Cell Block Tango.
Pop, six, squish, uh uh, Cicero, lipschitz.
Then he looked around and realized, suddenly, startlingly, that he was actually in Chicago.