Two girls in uniform, a lime-green shirt and black pants, were sitting at the small, round table in the break-room. Abigail Goodings was cheerfully talking to her co-worker, Haley Rajani — talking to because Haley hardly responded.
Everyone referred to Abigail as Abby. She had a round face, short stature, and was slightly plump with lingering baby fat. Her deep-red curls sat neatly in a bun. Abby’s forest-green eyes sparkled as she told Haley about her cat, Mr. Meow, which was short for Mr. Meowllion Bucks. Haley rolled her eyes when she heard the name.
Haley couldn’t be any more different than Abby. She had purple highlights in her jet-black hair which extended past her shoulders. The right side of her head had a buzz cut whereas the rest of her hair collected into a loose low ponytail over her left shoulder. She was quite thin and was of average height. Her large brown eyes were reduced to half their size as she sported a deadpan expression. It would take a magnifying glass to find any hints of a smile on her heart-shaped face.
Jenkins von Hartmann, a tall, scrawny young man who was also in uniform, walked into the break-room and quickly checked the change-room, knocking beforehand.
Abby continued chattering away.
Looking rather disappointed, Jenkins returned and slumped down at the table, anxiously rustling his chestnut-brown hair. His rectangular black-framed glasses were in disarray, revealing his cloudy-grey eyes. He was very pale, and his face was long and pointed.
“What’s wrong, Jenkins?” Abby asked. Her voice was high-pitched, but pleasantly so. “Is something bothering you?”
“Oh … uh … have either of you ladies seen Tim?” the man inquired, pushing his glasses back into its proper position. “He's supposed to be on clean-up duty with me today …"
“Sorry, I haven’t seen him yet," Abby responded.
“Aaaaaah!!” Jenkins exclaimed, rustling his hair anxiously again. “I really don't want to be stuck here by myself …”
“Scared of the dark, are we?” Haley asked in a monotone voice, crossing her arms. “You really need to man up.”
“Haley, don’t be so mean to him!” Abby exclaimed. “Everyone's scared of something!”
Haley shrugged and got up to pour herself another coffee. She clicked her tongue in frustration when she remembered the pot was empty.
“Let me help you!” Jenkins offered quickly, scrambling out of his seat.
“I can do it myself.”
Jenkins was crestfallen as Abby tried to console him.
“Don’t worry, Jenkins. Tim always pulls through for us. He will definitely show up—”
“With a couple of bumps and bruises,” Haley interjected. “Do any of you actually believe his stories? I mean tumbling down a hill, falling down the stairs, getting bitten by all of his neighbour’s dogs …” Haley tapped the counter impatiently while she waited for her coffee before turning abruptly to face them. “Does he even have neighbours? He lives in the middle of nowhere!”
“Well, he was probably just joking about that part,” Abby reckoned, amusement crept into the corners of her lips. “You know how he is—” She paused, her brows furrowed with worry as an idea dawned on her. “Do you think he’s being bullied?!”
“What is this, Grade school?” Haley paused for a moment as well. “You might be onto something … is he being harassed by Loan Sharks?”
“Tim never mentioned anything about needing or owing money!”
“M-maybe he’s actually involved in some d-deep, dark, underground stuff …” Jenkins suggested as he pulled out a carton of cream from the fridge.
“You mean illegal dealings?” asked Haley.
“Tim is a sweet guy!” Abby countered in Tim’s defence. “He’d never do something like that!” She fidgeted in her seat, clearly a little upset.
“Sweet and bad can co-exist,” Haley explained, intertwining her fingers to stress her point.
“Haley’s right! M-maybe he’s just acting all nice to deceive us or something … h-his body is probably covered in tattoos!” Jenkins stammered as the coffee machine beeped in the background, notifying that the coffee was ready.
“What's wrong with having tattoos?” Haley demanded, sounding offended. She was referring to her own tattoos: a phoenix with a black left wing and a white right wing on her left shoulder, a cracked wolf’s skull on her right shoulder facing the phoenix, and a crown below the collarbone where her heart would be. None of them were currently visible.
Jenkins immediately raised his hands in defence, his right hand still holding the cream as he continued stammering, “N-nothing! They look good on y—”
Without warning, the door swung open behind them as Tim limped inside with a loud, “Hey, guys!”