James (of the O.P.B.) and his cousin Wardo, eight years his senior, work under the umbrella of the same company: The National Cemetery Management Committee (NCMC).
Wardo outranks James by quite a bit, but despite the fact he takes home more bacon, for eight hours a day, five days a week, they are on a level playing field in at least one respect: each of them is stuck in a gray cubicle.
They each hold down office jobs you see, and in recent weeks, Wardo had been forwarding James excerpts of a correspondence he was engaged in with Ed, another NCMC employee and off-and-on creative.
It was a little hard to follow, but the back and forth was novel-like in style, talked about a “wagon full of women,” had a western-like setting, and perhaps most importantly, there was a shortage of guns, ammo, and hints of a looming threat from zombies…which they had quite originally decided to call “walkers.”
From what James could gather, the two of them had also adopted character names. Wardo was “Ellis;” Ed was “Hondo.”
At the NCMC, creatives are a rare breed. Mostly it’s all “‘Widow Exploitation’ this” and “‘Plot Dump’ that,” but somehow, they always manage to find one another.
Some years back, when James was still an M.A. student in Corpse Management, all three had taken one small step into blogging and co-authored their very own page. Keep in mind, this was back when hardly anyone knew what a “blog” was. As word spread, it proved to be one giant leap into stardom.
Before long, they were writing to an audience of hundreds of thousands!
However, when Ed suddenly lost his taste for it and announced that he was quitting, James “half-killed” him off, writing that he had been hit by a city bus. Immediately afterwards, Wardo picked up the baton and, after visiting a depressed, completely bandaged, and practically deaf and dumb Ed in the hospital, he mercifully had him put a gun to the roof of his mouth and pull the trigger.
An image of an incredibly graphic, actual firearm suicide Wardo had obtained from a Google search was posted alongside. Everything about it was revolting and undignified.
…which is why it was also hilarious.
“Ed’s dead, baby,” he wrote. “Ed’s dead.”
This is why James had delighted in reading their recent emails, for he secretly hoped that the group would get together once again. Though instinctively, he knew that this sort of thing was invite-only, and said nothing.
Weeks went by.
Then, one day, between the trivial office gossip, Wardo mentioned to James that Ed had pussied out once again, after taking offense at a real-life embarrassment he had read in what was supposed to be fiction!
Suddenly Wardo found himself without a co-writer and decided to call up an understudy.
After hastily writing a block of text, he clicked “Send.”
Seeing as how James’s business is offending rather than being offended (see blog title!) when he saw the email in his inbox, he wondered why this hadn’t happened earlier.
…for about two seconds.
For it had begun.
Tune in next time for the first episode of what is sure to be a serial, my loyal band of readers.
It will not be long now.
It will not be long!