by Andy Rausch
It seemed like a perfectly normal day at Burger Town until people started getting killed. None of the seven employees working had even the slightest idea something was askew until it was too late.
Mark, the skinny-as-a-toothpick mustachioed 46-year-old manager with slicked-back black hair, was in full emperor mode, bossing everyone around. But no one paid him any mind, because they thought he was a joke. Whenever Mark would ask Terrence, the pimple-faced teen cook with the mullet, to do anything, Terrence would raise his arm in mock Nazi salute and say, “Heil Asshole!” This had been happening for weeks now, and Mark had been too afraid to do anything about it. Mark was all bark and no bite. He was about as tough as a freshly-trimmed pink poodle, despite his overwhelming desire to be a rottweiler. The workers knew they could say or do anything to Mark, and he wouldn’t do anything except cry in his Subaru out in the parking lot once the shift had ended.
Carli and Tyresha were working frontline today. Carli, the 20-year-old bitchy blonde princess, was nursing a hangover and was complaining nonstop about having to work on Sunday. This was nothing new. As every worker at Burger Town knew, bitching and whining was Carli’s modus operandi. Tyresha, the 22-year-old tough, dark-skinned black girl was putting up with Carli’s bullshit, per usual, but today was different. Today, more than ever before, Tyresha wanted to knock the blonde bitch into the next week.
Then there was Alonzo, the way-too-old-to-be-working-at-Burger Town creepy fry cook. He was doing what he did every other day, which was acting creepy and leering at female coworkers. Alonzo routinely made inappropriate comments, and had been reprimanded twice for texting dick pics to coworkers. This behavior was a clear violation of the Burger Town code of conduct, but Mark felt a camaraderie with Alonzo and had saved his job both times.
Coy, the pudgy, dimwitted, seemingly-mute twenty-something cook was also working backline. Finding humor in Coy’s silence, Terrence mocked and poked fun at the poor bastard every chance he got. Although Coy never responded to the chiding, Mark fully expected him to erupt in a rage one day and beat the living shit out of Terrence. Since Mark hated Terrence as much as he’d ever hated anyone, and that included his fifth wife, Charlene, he hoped and prayed each day that today would be the day.
However, this was not to be. Coy would never lose his shit and pummel Terrence because he wound up getting shot in the face while taking the trash out to the dumpster. It was a few minutes after one, and the lunch crowd had started to thin out. So, there were only a handful of customers inside the restaurant when Coy got shot. The sound of the gunshot was as loud as an M-80 exploding in a coffee can, and it sounded a little too close for comfort. Every person in Burger Town stopped what they were doing and looked around curiously, trying to determine what the sound was.
Libby, the 32-year-old heavyset acne-faced girl who’d had sex with Mark one time in exchange for a day off to attend her mother’s funeral, witnessed Coy’s demise. “Oh, my God!” she howled, staring out the drive-thru window. “Somebody shot what’s-his-name!”
Within seconds, Mark appeared behind her as if by magic. “What in God’s name are you blabbing about?”
Libby pointed. Mark peered out the window and saw a group of twenty or so well-dressed people holding signs at the far edge of the parking lot. He squinted to read them. One marker-scrawled screed read “THE SEVENTH DAY IS A SABBATH TO THE LORD YUR GOD!” Unsure he’d read the sign correctly, Mark re-read it, realizing that the word “your” had been misspelled. He then a read a second sign, held up by a little elementary school-aged redhead, that read: “GOOD BOOK SAY NO WORK SUNDAY!” Mark was trying to understand what he was seeing when he noticed Coy’s lifeless body on the bloody pavement at the crowd’s feet.
Mark gasped and raised his hand over his mouth.
At that moment, the eyes of the crowd turned toward Mark and Libby watching them. Someone out there yelled something neither Mark or Libby could make out. A bespectacled man with a long white beard raised a hunting rifle and pointed it in their direction. Before Mark or Libby could react, the old man fired. The shot rang out, and luckily, went wide, shattering a window to their right.
“Get down!” Mark screamed as he grabbed the back of Libby’s Burger Town shirt and spun her to the floor. The rest of the crew was trying to comprehend what was happening. Tyresha said, “What the actual fuck?!” Terrence stepped into the drive-thru alcove. Standing over the cowering Mark and Libby, he said, “What the hell are you two dipshits up to?”
Mark looked up, but before he could speak, another gunshot rang out. A window shattered and Terrence let out a whooshing sound. Mark looked at Terrence and saw that half the kid’s face was gone. Terrence stood swaying for a moment with a look of shock on what remained of his face before finally toppling to the floor. Several employees screamed, and the sound of the crowd outside cheering and chanting filled the air. Still stunned, Mark happened to look up at the open drive-thru window just in time to see a bearded fat man’s face smush its way in. The fat man’s wide eyes were looking over Mark and Libby to Carli and Tyresha. “Now you gon’ die, bitch,” he promised one of them.
Suddenly, Libby sprang over Mark and was hurtling toward the smushed-faced fat man. Her flabby arm was extended, and there was something in her hand. Mark couldn’t see what it was at first, but then the blade caught light and glinted just before it pierced the fat man’s eye. Libby’s momentum carried her forward. Her body crashed into the window, and the blade pushed knuckle-deep into the man’s eye. When the tip of the blade first went in, the man screamed a high-pitched squeal but quickly stopped. Both Libby’s and the man’s bodies fell back in different directions, and the blade slid out of the eye, making a sucking sound as it did.
Libby sat up, rubbing her injured head.
“Where the hell did you get that?” Mark asked.
“Pocket knife,” she said. “My daddy gave it to me when I was six.” She shook her head to clear it, and then looked down at the knife in her hand. There were tears in her eyes as she said, “I never used it before.”
“Well, you sure used the hell out of it today,” Mark said dryly.
Tyresha got down on her hands and knees and crawled toward them. “You guys okay?” As she crawled past Alonzo, still standing at the fry station, he watched her wiggling ass go by and said, “You want some fries to go with that shake?” He chuckled, finding his shtick hilarious. “Fries! Ya get it? Fries!” Then he laughed again.
Ignoring this, Tyresha looked at Libby sitting under the drive-thru window. “You okay, Lib?”
Libby nodded. “Just banged my head is all.”
Tyresha started to speak again, but her words were stopped by the sound of a police siren, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. The cop car was in the parking lot outside.
“The cops are here,” Mark said.
“No shit,” Carli said from the far end of the frontline.
Libby turned toward the window and raised herself a little. Mark and Tyresha did the same, and they all peered out to see what was going on. There was a cop car with its red cherries flashing parked beside the crazed crowd. A single cop got out and sauntered toward them. He kept his hand on his pistol, but he was attempting to talk to the crowd peacefully.
“What do you think he’s saying?” Libby asked.
“How the fuck would we know?” Mark said. “We’ve got the same information you do.”
“I’ve never said these words ever, in my whole life,” Tyresha said, “but I sure hope they got more cops comin’.”
The three of them stayed down, watching the cop talking to the crowd.
“It looks pretty calm,” Mark observed.
“A little too calm, you ask me,” Tyresha said.
The cop was still out there, talking calmly with the protesters. His hand wasn’t even on his pistol anymore. One of the protesters turned and pointed at Burger Town, and the cop looked, nodding as he spoke. A man came up from behind the cop and raised a red brick up over his head, bringing it down hard, smashing the cop’s skull. The cop plopped to the pavement, and the crowd was on him at once, punching, kicking, and stomping.
“Holy fuck,” Libby said.
“Ain’t nuthin’ holy about it,” Tyresha said.
The sound of a gunshot cracked—probably the cop’s own gun—and the crowd began to clap and cheer.
“Hell yeah!” a man yelled.
“Death to sinners!” a woman cried out.
Libby turned and looked at Mark and Tyresha, wiggling her nose like a pig hunting truffles. “What— what’s that smell?! It smells like—” Her eyes went to Mark, and she looked down. At the same exact moment Libby saw the source of the smell, Tyresha said, “Dammit, Mark! You done pissed yourself!”
Sitting with his legs crossed, Mark looked at Tyresha and Libby, his eyes big, his face red with embarrassment. “I— I—” But he couldn’t speak. He tried, but his quivering lips wouldn’t form the words.
No one knew Alonzo was on the phone until he started talking. “Yeah, this is Alonzo Day. I’m working over at Burger Town., and—” He paused. Then he said, “Yeah, it does suck to work on Sunday. Anyway, we’ve got a situation over here. We’ve got crazy people with guns surrounding the place, and they’ve already shot and killed a couple of people.” He listened for a moment, saying only, “Okay,” “Mmm-hmmm,” and “Yeah.” Then he said goodbye and clicked off.
Realizing everyone was waiting for him to speak, Alonzo said, “She said there aren’t any officers in town right now. She said there was a big fire over in Pottersville, so they’re all over here.”
“So, that’s it?” Mark asked.
“She said the cops’ll be here as quickly as they can, but it’ll probably take a half hour or so.”
Carli was down on her hands and knees now. There was a look of alarm on her reddened face when she asked, “What are we gonna do?”
“Gimme a minute to figure this out,” Mark said.
Tyresha shot him a look. “No one cares what you got to say, Puddles. Your authority, the tiny bit you had—”
Libby burst into laughter. She couldn’t help it.
Tyresha continued, “—ended the moment those psychos started shooting.”
Mark blinked. “What— what do you expect me to do?”
“The way I see it,” Tyresha said, “you got two choices. You can either go to the bathroom and clean your pissy ass up, or you can sit there stewin’ in it and just shut the fuck up.”
Mark looked wounded, but he said nothing.
“She’s right, Mark,” Libby agreed. “You’re not gonna do anything but get us all killed.”
Mark considered this. He was about to respond when a bullhorn-amplified voice arose from outside. It was a man with a raspy two-packs-a-day voice. He said, “In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we command all you Burger Town fuckers to step outside and give yourselves up! By working on the sabbath, you are defyin’ the word of God almighty!” He paused for a moment to catch his breath. Then he resumed, “I know there’s some customers in there. So, if you’re a customer, we’ll let you go in peace, but only if you come out now. After that, buckle up, buttercup, ’cause it’s all in God’s hands!”
Carli stood and said, “I’m out of here. This is a bunch of bullshit. I don’t get paid enough to get killed here.”
“If you go out there, they’ll kill you,” Mark said.
Carli pointed into the lobby. “The customers are all leaving. If I go out with them, those morons’ll think I’m a customer.” She started to walk briskly around the counter.
“I hate to break it to you, sis,” Alonzo said with a grin, “but you’re wearing a Burger Town uniform. You go out there, those assholes’ll put more holes in you than the walls of a truck stop porno booth.”
Carli stopped and looked down at her shirt, frowning.
“Maybe you oughta just take off your clothes,” Alonzo said, grinning big.
Carli glared at him with fire in her eyes. “I’ll bet you’d like that, wouldn’t you, you gross asshole?”
Alonzo’s yellow-toothed smile was unwavering. “Hell yes, I would.”
Carli turned and watched the last of the customers leave. Once they were gone, she turned around and looked at her coworkers. “If we can’t get out of here, then we’re gonna have to fight,” she said. “Who’s with me? Who wants to fight these assholes? Who—”
Carli’s speech came to an abrupt halt when another shot rang out in the parking lot. Hearing the sound, she started raising her eyes to look just as the bullet ripped through her throat, slamming her back onto the floor. She was on her back, hands clasped around her throat. She kicked her feet and thrashed wildly, making wounded animal squeals as an intermittent geyser of blood sprayed out from between her fingers.
Libby began bawling and blubbering, hard and loud. “I hate this!” she announced to no one in particular. “I want out of here! I wanna go home! I wanna be at home with my cat, Mr. Bojangles!”
Tyresha narrowed her eyes and cocked her head. “Would ya look at this bitch all cryin’ and shit?”
Libby looked at her through tear-glassed eyes. She had a string of snot hanging out of her nose. “I’m sorry,” she managed with genuine sincerity. “I can’t help it.”
“You’d better snap out of it,” Tyresha said. “Because you’re no help to us actin’ like a damn baby.”
Sitting in front of her, Mark said, “It’s okay, Libby.”
“Like hell it is,” Tyresha said. “There ain’t no time for that shit. Save those tears for Mr. Bo Peep, cause they’re only gonna get us killed right now.”
“Bojangles,” Libby offered.
Tyresha met her gaze. “What?”
“Mr. Bonjangles,” Libby said. “That’s the cat’s name.”
Alonzo, leaning on the fry station, said, “You wanna know what I think?” When no one answered, he continued. “I think the reason—”
At that moment, the loud crash of a brick flying through the last of the drive-thru windows startled them. Libby screamed as shards of glass rained down on her, and the brick struck the tile behind the front counter and slid to the wall.
“Jesus Christ!” Mark blurted.
Alonzo pointed at him. “Exactly!”
Mark looked at Alonzo. He went to speak, but the bullhorn voice called out again, saying, “Come on out, you fuckin’ heathens! Come out and repent! Embrace your punishment and take it like a man!”
Facing the broken windows, Tyresha screamed, “What the hell is wrong with you people?!”
The bullhorn-amplified voice responded: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh there shall be a sabbath to rest for the Lord; whoever doeth work therein shall be put to death!”
The crowd in the parking lot cheered enthusiastically. Then they began to chant: “Death to sinners! Death to sinners! Death to sinners!” A moment later, the protesters on the other side of the restaurant joined in chanting.
“Death to sinners! Death to sinners!”
Tyresha ran her hand through her hair. “I knew I shoulda called in this morning. I almost did, too. I was this close. This fuckin’ close, but no, I decided to do the right thing and come to work like an asshole.”
Standing over her, Alonzo said, “I’m sure glad you did,” somehow managing to make that simplest of phrases sound dirty.
Tyresha ignored him. “We need to think of something. We need a plan.”
The employees weighed their options in silence for a few minutes. The crowd continued to chant outside.
“Hey,” Mark said, looking at Tyresha. “I just remembered something. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but the doors are unlocked. Those people could just come in here and shoot us all to hell at any minute.”
“Shit!” Tyresha said.
“Tyresha,” Mark said, “why don’t you go on out and lock the doors?”
Tyresha turned and glared at him as hard as she could. “Yeah? And why don’t you go fuck yourself, Mark! There’s no way in hell I’m goin’ out there and messin’ with them doors. If you want ’em locked, you better take your pissy ass out there and lock ’em yourself, cause I ain’t doin’ it!”
Libby agreed. “Maybe you should lock the doors, Mark.”
Before Mark could speak, the conversation was interrupted by the familiar chime.
Libby straightened up. “Somebody’s in the drive-thru!”
The employees looked at one another.
“That’s weird,” Mark said. “Can’t they see all those assholes standing out there?”
“What do we do?” Libby asked.
Tyresha said, “Put on them headphones and see what they want. Maybe they can pull their car on up to the window and we can all climb out and get the hell outta here.”
As Libby grabbed the headphones, Mark said, “There’s no way that’s gonna work.”
Libby scowled at him. “You’re always so negative!” She slipped the headphones on and said, “Uh, hello? Welcome to Burger Town.” A young male voice said, “Yeah, I’d like a number two with ketchup only. And, uh… I’d like to extra-size that with a Diet Pepsi.”
Libby didn’t know what to say.
In her headphones, the young man said, “Are you there?”
“Yeah, I’m here,” Libby said. “Why don’t you come on around to the window?”
“Did you get my order?”
“Yeah, I got it,” Libby said. “Come on around.”
Libby removed the headphones. “He’s coming around to the window.”
Mark said, “Those assholes are gonna shoot him all to hell.”
Tyresha looked at him. “Libby’s right, Mark. You really are negative.”
Thirty seconds later, a teenage boy wearing a red ball cap pulled up to the window in an old pickup. He grinned and nodded at the broken windows. “What the hell happened here?”
Libby and Tyresha both stood. Libby pointed out toward the crowd, but before she could speak, Tyresha blurted, “We need help! We’re trapped in here! Could you get us out?”
The kid in the ball cap smiled, and Tyresha noticed the black crucifix on the front of his hat. She turned to run, but the teen came up with a pistol and started firing. The first shot hit Libby in the chin, and her brains rocketed out the back of her head. The second shot hit Tyresha in the shoulder, and she spun and yelped in pain. The third shot struck Tyresha in the side of the head. The teen fired two more shots, but Tyresha and Libby were dead before they hit the floor.
“Repent, sinners!” the teen screamed before erupting with laughter. “Repent, you fuckers! Repent!” Then he peeled out and sped away.
Mark leaned forward with the thought of trying to help Tyresha, but he saw the damage the bullet had done to her head and recoiled.
“Help her, for God’s sake,” Alonzo said.
Mark grimaced and shook his head. “Nothing can help her now.”
As Mark turned to check Libby, Alonzo said, “What about the big one?”
Mark got up on his knees, positioning himself to get a good view of Libby’s face. When he saw that her entire jaw was gone, he gagged. “No,” he managed. It was all he could say.
Alonzo got down on his knees to keep out of sight from the window. He crawled toward Mark and stopped in front of him. “What now? What are we gonna do?”
Mark shrugged, looking away in a daze. “I… I don’t know.”
“We’ve gotta do something!” Alonzo said angrily. “We can’t just let ’em all kill us.”
Mark tilted his head, listening. “Do you hear that?” Alonzo looked toward the window, listening. He heard it, too. There were sirens off in the distance, and they were coming closer.
Mark’s eyes got big and he grinned, looking at Alonzo. “The cavalry is coming!”
Alonzo’s eyes filled with tears. “Man, I hope so.”
A moment later, the sound of blaring sirens filled the air. The cops were outside. Then there were more sirens. These cops stopped in the parking lot on the other side of the building.
The crowd picked up their chant again: “Death to sinners! Death to sinners! Death to sinners!” This went on for a minute or so, until a cop spoke to the crowd through a bullhorn. “You are ordered to disperse at once! Any of you who remain in this parking lot do so at your own risk! I repeat, you are hereby ordered to vacate these premises!”
Mark and Alonzo remained on the floor, listening. Neither of them made a move to look and see what was happening. After the cop with the bullhorn finished speaking, all the sound died down.
Then they heard a man’s voice call out from the lobby, “Hello? Hey! Is anyone in here?”
Mark and Alonzo looked at one another.
“Glendon County PD!” the voice said. “Is anybody here?”
Mark and Alonzo exhaled simultaneously.
“Yes!” Mark yelled. “We’re here!”
Mark stood up and looked across the counter at the skinny middle-aged cop standing by the door. When the cop saw Mark, he lit up and said, “How many of you are in here?”
Alonzo, now on his feet, said, “It’s just the two of us.”
Mark said. “We’re the only ones left.”
“You can come on out now,” the cop said. “We’ve got the situation under control.”
Mark and Alonzo felt overjoyed as they made their way around the counter. Mark had tears in his eyes and he was trembling. “I didn’t think we were gonna make it,” he said.
Alonzo smiled big at the cop. “We’re so happy to see you, officer. Thank you so, so much!”
The cop smiled in an aw-shucks kind of way. “Hey, it’s what we do.”
As another cop walked in behind the first, Mark said, “Who are these people? Where the hell did they come from?”
The cop grinned and shook his head. “Takes all kinds, huh?”
The second cop said, “They’re from the First Reliant Church down the street there. They’ve got a real hard-on for people working on Sundays.”
The first cop chuckled, trying to distract from the fact that he was sliding his pistol from its holster. As he turned the gun toward the second cop, he said, “I’m really sorry, Dave.” The second cop’s eyes got big as he saw the gun turn on him and realized what was happening, but it was too late. The first cop shot him twice in quick succession, and the second cop fell to the floor.
The remaining cop turned his pistol on Mark and Alonzo. He was grinning big now.
“What are you doing?” Mark asked, already knowing the answer.
“You know what Exodus 31:15 says,” the cop said. “You’re not supposed to work on the sabbath. You’re sinners.”
Then he began to shoot.