Happy Halloween, book lovers. Below, UNP Associate Acquisitions Editor Heather Stauffer shares a spooky tale of an office haunting.
The steady hum of the breakroom fridge woke something in the molecules of the cultured Greek yogurt hidden behind the slightly curdled creamer and Ranch-growing-mold dip. Curiously, the yogurt began to grow.
The yogurt peeled up the aluminum lid of its container and expanded up and out, replacing the space between water bottles and plastic tubs and Styrofoam containers with its own creamy mass. When the space became too constrained, the fridge door flew open with such force that once the hinges caught, the door snapped shut again with enough momentum to pound the blob back into its temperature-controlled habitat.
This became the yogurt’s first experience with emotion—surprise and fear mixed with shame that all morphed into anger. The door was no match for an outraged yogurt blob. The next push mercilessly severed the hinges. The metal door fell to the linoleum with a defeated thud, the blob spilling out on top of it.
The new space was mostly dark, interrupted only by the fridge light and digital readouts of the vending and soda machines along the opposite wall. The yogurt drew itself upward, experimenting with its newfound ability to make its own shape rather than simply filling ready-made plastic cups. It pulled in fashionable elements close by, adorning itself with packets of ketchup and taco sauce, and an open can of La Croix with contents long since evaporated.
Exiting the breakroom with shaky, rolling steps, the yogurt paused only briefly at the prickling sensation of the carpet fibers extending into the larger office. Safety lights in the ceiling eased the darkness, offering false warmth amid the shadows.
The blob plodded through an opening in the nearest cubicle walls, finding a desk lined with papers that it gobbled down like buttered toast. It tapped at the computer screen, leaving gooey smudges on the plasma. The mouse should have been a good snack, but the cord tethering it to the computer was an unsolvable problem, so the yogurt regurgitated the device and left it dangling off the side of the desk, dripping with viscera.
The yogurt continued on, now oozing its way over cubicle walls, absorbing and redistributing pens, paperclips, sticky notes, and random staplers along the way. The trail of slimy detritus traced a path down the nearby hallway as the blob became drawn to the mechanical whirring of something on a different frequency than the fridge it was used to.
It found a copier/scanner/fax spitting out pages lined with hot ink of a late-arriving fax. The screeching of the gears and self-adjusting paper trays stirred the blob into a panicked frenzy, causing it to excise the inorganic objects currently circulating within its blobby mass. Writing utensils, rubber bands, condiment packets, and plastic forks all jettisoned in the direction of the copier/scanner/fax. With a slight sizzle, the machine’s touchscreen went blank and it fell still.
The yogurt moved away but halted with the realization that it had not been able to grow on its own since leaving the coldness of the fridge. Inexplicably, it had been shrinking in size as it lurked around the office, and the duel with the copier/scanner/fax noticeably hastened its declining stature.
In addition, the carpet was diffusing yogurt into its fibers while the blob considered its options. Time was of the essence. A return trip to the breakroom would be futile—the blob had gone too far past the point of no return. It didn’t have enough mass to travel the distance.
It shifted onward, losing mass with each new set of inches traveled. Rounding the corner to a new hallway, it caught the faint sensation of a familiar hum. Somewhere, in an office nearby, was a fridge.
Frantic, the yogurt splatted from one doorway to another, the vibrations increasing but the fridge still concealed. Each wrong office cost the blob density. But the yogurt continued, guided only by its innate will to survive.
The first office workers to arrive the next morning theorized that perhaps the breakroom fridge had exploded; its door still tossed on the floor and its contents strewn about. The cultured ooze covering the office could not as easily be explained, nor why it began in one fridge and ended three inches from another. The end point, an old dorm fridge buried beneath books and teetering stacks of paper waiting to be filed, merely hummed, offering no explanation of the previous night’s activities.