The following is a work of fiction. The characters are fictional. Any resemblance of characters to real people is a mere coincidence and unintentional.
He nearly went into a panic when his name was called out. His forehead was riddled with beads of sweat. He loosened his tie trying to get more air to his lungs.
"Peter!" came the announcement again.
He got up out of his cubicle. It was the same cubicle he had for years. He made it homey with pictures of his wife and kids. Now, he might not see it again.
He slowly made his way to the hallway. When he got there, it seemed longer than before. In fact it was getting longer the more he looked down it. He took steps forward.
It's only a hallway. What so scary about that? His confidence slowly was coming back. He straightened his tie out, combed his hair, and straightened and tucked his shirt in. Then he reached the door to the conference room.
He couldn't hear any noise. He opened the door, and what he saw turned his face white as a sheet. The large conference table was circumseated by the Board of Directors. The president of the company was at its head. He was standing.
"Come in, Peter and participate in our inquest."
In the middle of the large table, was a French Revolution style guillotine. Its red dripping blade was on top ready to fall. Its neck-rest was covered in blood. The head basket was empty but with obvious signs of crimson use. Spatterings of blood was on the table and on some of the shirts of the board.
Peter wanted to instantly flee. He wanted to flee back to his cubicle and forget this nightmarish scene, but he couldn't move away though his feet were desperately trying. Two goons in suits had latched on to each arm forbidding him his flight. The goons dragged him forward to a step stool. He fought every step of the way but to no avail. His screams of panic didn't make the goons flinch. The goons forced him on the table and his neck onto the neck rest. Then they locked his head in with another block.
"Peter!" said the President standing with one foot on his chair, one foot on the table, and pointing to the devise of death. "You have been found guilty. Guilty, I say!"
"Guilty," resounded the voices of the board.
"Of being mediocre at your job," went on the President.
"Oooo...." cried the board.
"A crime worthy of death." The President enjoyed an applause from the board.
"Mediocre? But I work harder than anyone in my department. I closed many accounts successfully. I.....," cried Peter.
"SILENCE! You have not contributed to the presidential retirement fund. For this you are deemed mediocre and stubborn, I might add."
"Off with his head, off with his head, off with his head," chanted the board.
"Stubborn? Given the circumstances, I think stubborn is an appropriate response. Don't you think?" Peter had nothing to lose now.
"Your salary is much too high." The President's face offered no sign of giving in.
"My salary is below the national average for people in my position." Peter thought he may get away with his life if he keeps engaging the President in negotiations.
"Hmmf....How dare you research such things. Insolence shall be your crime. Put him in."
"Wait! Wait!" the goons stopped. "What if we renegotiated my salary?" Peter grew desperate.
"Renegotiate, you say." Peter tried to gather his wits and think while the President stroked his chin. "What do you have in mind?"
"I'll pay to your retirement fund what I haven't paid plus 5%." Peter thought that to be tantalizing to his boss though it was still unfair to him. Hell, this whole thing is an unfair nightmare. But I got to get away.
"A measly 5%? I think you underestimate my need, Peter."
"Off with hid head, off with his head," chanted the board again. The goons started to force Peter closer to the instrument of doom.
"Wait, wait. 10% then." How much does this creep want? The goons stopped awaiting the presidential response.
"10% he says." The President addressed the board. "How fair is that? I should have at least 100% more. Don't you think?"
"More, more, more....," clamored the board.
"Away with him. I'll use his head to decorate my office. That's more than what it's doing now," said the President.
The goons put poor Peter's head in the neck-rest and locked it in. The President got up and pulled the line that released the blade. It came speeding down its rails as Peter screamed in terror.
The blade hit Peter's neck and bounced off. It bounced a couple of times before it rested on his neck because it wasn't made of steel but rather foam rubber disguised as steel.
The board laughed and laughed. The goons and the President laughed and laughed. The President laughed so hard his stomach was hurting and he had to hold it with his arms and kick his knees up. Peter did not move.
It was some minutes before someone noticed his immobility. The President went up to him and shook his shoulder. One of the goons removed the lock on Peter's neck.
"Peter. Come'on now you can get up," said the President. Peter did not move. The goons checked his pulse.
"Peter. It's all fun and games now." Still no response. The goons looked at the President and shook their heads.
"Now isn't that just dandy. The schmuck just got out of paying my retirement fund. Put him out. Bring in the next contestant. I still need my fund."