Reaching for what I think is my last sip of coffee, I tip the mug’s contents to my lips. Warm drops dribble on my tongue, spreading their nutty creaminess along my front taste buds, leaving nothing to fill my mouth.
Heaving a sigh, I resign to the fact that I swallowed my last swig of Joe probably 5 minutes ago. Engrossed in my current writing project, I didn’t even realize I was finishing my cup as I absentmindedly drank sip after sip while I wrote my article.
My eyes are pulled from the computer screen, looking into the bottom of my mug. Remnants of a couple grounds mixed with a residue of cream pull my attention from the unfinished thoughts I’d been typing. The scent of coffee wafts to my nose, despite the now-empty container.
Since my work was already interrupted, I clutch the tall, blue-green mug’s handle with one hand, caressing it’s bulbous shape with the other hand’s fingertips, feeling the purposeful bumps and cracks of a kilned and glazed mug.
Handmade at a fair, it’s large enough to hold two cups’ worth of coffee or tea, depending on my mood. I rarely need to refill it. However, today is a sluggish day, and since I’m in a rhythm writing, losing the additional step of taking a sip every paragraph or two is throwing me off while I collect my thoughts.
Staring at the screen while my mug remains empty, not really thinking of work anymore, I inhale and scoot my chair backwards, resigned to walk my mug to the break room.
Strolling through the labyrinth of tall cubicles, it’s no wonder I was in such a trance. It’s so quiet this afternoon. Everyone must be out to lunch. The time just slips by when I’m in a writing rhythm. Didn’t realize it was after noon already.
Turning the corner, my step nearly transitions from the carpet to the kitchen’s linoleum, until I realize I’m two steps from running into a darkly dressed figure.
Before an excuse me can escape my lips, I freeze, catching my breath, refusing to let it go.
Taking in the scene, a group of 4 of my coworkers are standing on the far side of the lunch room with their hands up. Eyes wide with frozen stances.
The dark figure I almost ran into, has his or her back to me, and it is the reason my coworkers are standing so still, backs against the wall.
Melody, my petit office friend, gives a small “Eep!” when she sees me round the corner.
“Quiet,” the hooded stranger threatens, keeping his voice at a low, but scary level.
Turning 100 degrees back and forth, I see the gun pointed back and forth, keeping everyone from moving.
“Just, everyone stay calm and quiet,” he says in that same steady voice, though his hand shakes like a wet dog.
He still hasn’t seen me, but I follow his instructions anyway.
My mind races as fast as my heart pounds in my ears. I’m still holding my breath, though I caught a whiff of his musky, sweaty sweater with my last intake.
Should I run away to call 911? Would he hear me?
Should I enter the room? If I scare him, would he automatically shoot?
I feel the weight of my heavy mug in my right hand.
My favorite mug.
No. I couldn’t. I’m not a fighter –
I accidentally exhaled. It was audible. I forgot I’d been holding it in.
The dark hood turns my way.
Knowing my image is now in his peripheral vision, I have no time to waiver with a decision. In reflex, my right arm swings the mug above my head and I pull down with all of the force in my body. Hitting the hilt of his forehead and bridge of his nose, a spatter of blood squirts from his face onto the linoleum.
My co-workers scream and yell as the intruder falls. The gun slips out of his hand and slides across the floor.
A couple of my coworkers run from their spots – Bruce and Kylie.
Taking a deep breath, I step back from the body at my feet. Hands shaking.
Kylie grabs the gun. Bruce flips the hoodie’s skinny frame over and stands one foot on the gunman’s chest to look over his young, pock-marked face that was now bloodied.
“Out cold!” Bruce exclaims, looking at me with a mix of shock and admiration.
“Oh!” Melody exhales her panic like a stifled scream.
She must have been holding that in the whole time they’d stood frozen.
“Nice one,” Kylie smiles at me.
I smirk shakily. Then I look down at my blood-spattered hand still holding the blue green handle – the only part of my mug not broken in bits on the floor.
Joel, comes from behind Melody, covering his mouth as he laughs nervously.
“You really nailed him!” Joel says with a quiver.
“Had to make it count,” I respond, looking down at the handle in my hand.
“That was my favorite mug.”
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