NEW YORK—Rushing into the offices of Bird & Webb Publishing and aiming his semiautomatic rifle at a swath of empty cubicles, disgruntled office manager Harrold Schoepke was surprised Monday to find that his coworkers had not yet returned from their lunch break.
"Huh, I wonder where everyone is," said the emotionally disturbed publishing professional, bringing the high-powered assault weapon down from eye-level and slowly snapping the safety back on. "Definitely thought they'd be back from that sandwich place by now."
"I mean, lunch was more than an hour ago," Schoepke added as he scanned a floor plan posted near the elevator for any and all available exit routes. "It's not like I don't have things I need to be doing."
Schoepke, who has grown increasingly enraged over a series of perceived injustices, indignities, and personal slights in the workplace, claimed that he had planned to begin Monday's office shooting at precisely 2 p.m.
However, by 2:15 p.m., not a single one of the roughly two dozen or so employees he had planned to gun down had returned from lunch.
"This is just like the time I arranged that meeting with our sales reps," said Schoepke, calmly loading an additional six slugs into his rifle. "I bet Janet [Greenblatt] is running off to the bank right about now, and Peter [Harrison] is no doubt taking his sweet time smoking downstairs."
"Just you watch. They'll probably stroll in at around half-past two and look all shocked and surprised when they see me waiting for them," Schoepke continued. "Honestly, sometimes it feels like I'm the only one around here with any professionalism left."
With his coworkers still nowhere to be found and his aimless pacing not accomplishing anything, the sociopathic 35-year-old decided to make the most of the unscheduled delay. Over the next 20 minutes, Schoepke reportedly brewed a fresh cup of coffee, tidied up the copy machine area, stopped into the men's room to practice his chilling final message, sent off a couple of work-related e-mails, and then returned to the office break room where he had accidentally left his rifle behind.
"If it weren't for me, absolutely nothing would get done around this place," Schoepke said as he smashed the office's central telephone switchboard and pushed over a bookcase to bar access to the fire escape. "Initiative—that's what these people lack. They might see a problem, but they never stop and think of a way they can solve it. They don't spend night after night considering all the options, lying awake in their beds, as the latest burning humiliation plays over and over again in their heads."
"Especially not Linda Patterson," Schoepke continued. "Especially not little Miss I-don't-think-of-you-in-that-way Linda Patterson."
According to the unstable office manager, his shooting spree has thus far been largely uneventful, save for a brief moment of excitement during which Schoepke believed his coworkers had finally returned from lunch, and he rushed to the front door only to have to sign for a delivery package.
"I should've e-mailed them ahead of time and told them we were having drinks in the conference room to celebrate some new book or something," Schoepke said. "I mean, it's ridiculous. Shooting up your coworkers in a blind and violent rage shouldn't have to be this hard."
Schoepke reportedly spent the next 13 minutes quietly muttering to himself about how he would start off with editorial director Bob Humpreys, who would probably "nitpick" every little thing from the way he held the rifle to his slight hesitation before pulling the trigger.
Schoepke also smiled to himself upon realizing that copy editor Paul Sturges would most likely find some way to claim that the successful office shooting was all his idea.
"I'm sure those backstabbers will find something wrong with the way I riddle their bodies with bullets," Schoepke said. "Heck, I'll probably leave here feeling like this whole stupid mess was somehow my fault."
At press time, workers in buildings adjacent to Bird & Webb Publishing reported hearing a single, solitary gunshot.