The wind was cold and filled with what might have been rain, before the vicious wind got a hold of it. Now it came in through Harmon's driver's side window. The window had fallen off the track some time ago and he kept meaning to put it aright. But for now it was held a little more than half way up with chunks of wood. The rain - or ice, whatever - and the wind didn't bother him. The company jackets shed the wet and cold pretty good. So did the blasting stereo. Surely the noise ordinance didn't apply to 4:30am.
When he got to the empty parking lot he got his regular space. The good one, the parking spot right in front of the doors. The doors that led into the hulking, impossibly big, sheet metal structure that had made up his life for the last four years, were set with tiny windows just above the line of site. Reinforced with wire mesh, that always amazed Harmon, the windows were grimy with decades of grease and inattention. He swiped his key card and waited for the hum of the electromagnetic lock to cease and pulled the heavy door open and went inside.
Wide expanses of freshly buffed floor greeted him and over in the corner lay the work shop. Sided with cage material and a big sliding cage door chained and padlocked, stood the shop that he called home for the last four years. After the padlock released and the chain fell the big cage door slid open. Harmon was still bopping and bouncing, that last song on the radio was one of his favorites. Heavy man, real heavy.
Time for coffee. No better time in the world, if you asked Harmon. 5:00am was the perfect time for coffee. He went about it, replaying that song over and over. When the coffee started brewing and that wonderful smell of awake, of morning, started to drift up and out of the pot into the stale air of the parts-house, he patted his pockets to find his cigarettes and went outside. He had a hard time opening the door on account of the wind but when you've got an addiction to pacify, no hill is too high to climb.
Three cigarettes later, Harmon came back in out of the cold. The coffee should be about done now. He checked it and it was still dripping the last few drips. Slowest coffee pot ever! He said to himself, but his dad had given it to him and there was no way he would give it up. He didn't mind waiting on the slowest coffee pot ever. To him, it made the best coffee ever. He got his cup out of his locker, complete with a brown ring from yesterday's morning beverage. By the time the cup was rinsed out, the last drop had fallen, he was ready to pour. Now it was time to wait.
He waited for the coffee to cool down. The short stint as a waiter taught him that the older you get, the hotter you like your coffee. Harmon wasn't that old yet and he couldn't figure out how those old people drank nuclear hot... anything. So he waited for his coffee, and he waited for the rest of them.
The rest of them. The walking dead. At six o'clock sharp they'd come out in droves, in herds. Each one a zombie. Going through the motions they've gone through for ten, fifteen, twenty years, the zombies filed out onto the floor to begin the days work.
To the average person, these... zombies looked like, well, average people. But Harmon saw, Harmon knew. He could see the cracks in the masks they had donned how ever many years ago. The contracts they signed locked up, caged in, starved that young person who traded a life of variety and experiences, for job security, layoff benefits and pensions. The average person didn't see it, but Harmon did.
He reached down to get another drink of coffee as the zombies started their day, and he caught a glimpse of himself in the small square mirror hung on the cage. His heart sunk. It had been doing that daily, only a little farther each day. Harmon knew he wasn't a zombie. But in those split second glimpses in the mirror on the cage he could see it starting. He could see the mask poised above his head waiting until the decay reached a noticeable level. Waiting for him to give in completely.
Harmon wasn't a zombie like the rest. But, sadly he could see what the future had in store