Myra looked out the window. The world outside was hot and still. She didn’t know what she thought she’d see, everything was as dead as it always was and nothing ever changed. Sure, there might be a storm, the lightning was always interesting here, but what else? The sunrises were bland now, as were the sunsets. There was no life out there, nothing to secretly spy on, nothing to stare at and fawn over. There hadn’t been anything alive since climate change ramped up and the sun was muted in response.
The truth was, Myra didn’t know why she was looking out the window, she just was. It wasn’t something she had planned to do, it wasn’t anything she particularly enjoyed doing. Today, she just looked because she was here and it was there and even the hot dead planet outside was better than the shitty day she’d dealt with so far. And it wasn’t over yet.
“Your appointment is in five minutes. Five minutes. Please begin your descent to the designated area,” a tinny computerized voice from the metal band around her wrist announced.
Myra flinched at the sound of the voice as though it had struck her. It had. Not in the physical sense, but on an emotional level. Her day was an avalanche she was staying just head of, but this next appointment promised to over take her. She thought she was mentally prepared to be buried alive, but in this moment, looking out at hot, bland desolation, she was no longer sure.
“Your appointment is in four minutes. Four minutes. Please-” Myra struck the metal band with her hand to silence the announcement.
“I know about the stupid appointment,” she said under her breath, but it didn’t matter. The announcement would blare in another minute as it continued its incessant count down, and if it reach a minute before she was on her way, she knew the penalty.
Gathering up the last of her will power she tore herself away from the window. It took more effort than she might have imagined, but once it was done she felt herself carried by the momentum towards the stairs. Once upon a time she would have been able to take the lift, but energy rationing had been in effect for over six months now and the lifts were only for officers and executives, not the likes of her. Still, it made no matter. The appointment was only three floors below and she still had time.
When she arrived at the door the metal band on her wrist, she called in a shackle, but they were officially referred to as ‘Employee Motivational Aids,’ or EMAs for short, beeped loudly signaling to the computer inside that she had arrived. The sound was even more unpleasant than the tinny computer voice, and its suddenness made her wince. The door before her slid open instantly and as she walked through. The EMA vibrated softly, acknowledging she arrived for her appointment on time.
Before her was a large office, the third largest in the complex, or so she was told, and why not? It belonged to the Senior Vice President of customer affairs. The SVP, Mr. Aldennaldo, oversaw her division and was principally responsible for Marketing and Customer Relations. It was estimated that his position was responsible 85% of the shareholders value, and few doubted it. The rumor was that he would be talking over as head of the whole operation when The Founder retired.
Myra didn’t know if any of the rumors were true, and she really didn’t care. The politics of executives didn’t concern her in the least. What concerned her now was why she was asked (a euphemism for ordered) to this appointment. She looked around the office and saw that she was alone. Knowing that she had barely made it on time at all, she doubted that anyone else was going to be in attendance. She scanned the room again and noticed that she was really alone. Mr Aldennaldo wasn’t present yet either, nor was his assistant who usually stood guard outside the door when an appointment was expected.
There was something very disquieting about the whole situation, but Myra just stood by the doorway waiting. The vice president was an important man, after all, so he must have gotten caught up in other, more important meetings. Meetings that undoubtedly required his assistant too.
She tried to explain it all away, but things still didn’t add up. If Mr Aldennaldo was otherwise occupied, the EMA would have notified her of the change in schedule. If there was no one in the office, the computer wouldn’t have opened the door. Myra began to feel sweat on her palms as she began to get more concerned. She looked to the clock on the wall, it was some ridiculously old antique with the digital numbers from before the Fall. She had to do the math in her head to figure the real time, but she remembered her lessons from the Childhood Educational Programs, CEPs, she had been selected for, and made short work of it. The time was 72 past 8 before evening. The appointment had been for 65 past and nothing, not so far as Myra had ever experienced, ever ran that far behind.
From her vantage point by the door, everything in the office looked like it was in order. She could see the the SVP’s desk from where she stood, a massive hulk of glass and titanium, and nothing about it looked unusual. It was clean and the holo-orb in the center dormant. She looked around to the bar area, nothing seemed out of place. The sofas she could see from where she was standing seemed normal, although she could only see the back of the one closest to her. On the other side of the office was a small alcove for the SVP’s assistant. There were a few things on the desk there, but nothing that seemed out of place.
She decided to take a closer look. If someone entered and thought she was snooping the penalty would be sever, but the oddity of this moment seemed to warrant a quick peek.
She headed towards the alcove first, thinking maybe there was a note or something that might elucidate the situation, but when she got there, there were just a few invoices for EMAs and holo-pads. Turning back towards the middle of the room, she had a different angle now, she finally saw something out of place. It was by the sofa, but her mind didn’t connect the dots at first.
Was it a shoe?
She craned her neck to see better without moving. It looked like one. Why would there be a shoe sticking out from under the sofa? The question seemed punctuated by the way the shoe was positioned. It didn’t seem like it should be able to stand on its heel like that. Finally, taking another quick glance around the office, she moved to investigate. She didn’t get more than halfway to the sofa before she realized it wasn’t just a shoe. Now there seemed to be a sock, and the bottom of a pant leg, connected to the shoe. The fact that there was a leg inside of these things didn’t quite compute in her dazed and frazzled mind.
She just stopped and stared blankly at what she was seeing. She stood there for a full thirty seconds before she finally moved closer. When she got close to the sofa she saw the rest of the body. The blood had absorbed into the white carpet, the dark red contrasting the pure white so strongly it looked black.
Before her lay the body of a man whose face was so bashed in she couldn’t recognize him. She guessed, by the low quality shoes and cheaper suit it was Mr. Aldennaldo’s assistant, but couldn’t be completely sure. Beside the body was a crystal vase, half of it covered in blood, bits of meat, and tissue. Her eyes went from it, to the body, and back to it. She felt her stomach churn as its contents considered the exit. Without thinking she knelt down near the body and the leaned over to touch the vase. She didn’t know why she was doing it, shock maybe, or maybe just to confirm it was all real, that she hadn’t suffered a break with reality.
She picked up the vase. It was heavy in her small, dainty hand. She dropped it almost immediately. It fell back to where it lay, leaving a brighter red smudge on the carpet as it rolled a little. It was then that the situation set in and her wits began to return. She stood up and turned to the door, she needed to leave. But as she moved towards it, it opened.
Three security guards along with Mr. Aldennaldo himself came flooding into the office. They fanned out, surrounding her, the VP hanging back behind the line.
“That’s her,” Mr. Aldennaldo said, his voice accusing and carrying his full authority.
Myra tried to process this, but came up short. All she managed to do was open her mouth and the close it again while she looked on in shock. Her wits were too slow, too slow by three minutes, according to the relic on the wall.
“This is Officer 619 of Mr. Aldennaldo’s division, requesting a termination order for one Myra 347–621,” the security guards closest to her said, speaking directly into his EMA.
Myra knew what it meant, but still her synapses refused to fire. She was frozen, paralyzed. She stood, stone still, watching her execution unfold before her without the slightest bit of resistance, as if she resigned herself to it long ago.
“Thank you Officer 619, your request has been processed. Executing now.” It was the same tinny computer voice she heard earlier.
Myra felt a sudden shock from her EMA, then her lifeless body fell to the floor.
The security guards moved in to clean up the mess, making their apologies to the SVP as they did.
The End… for now.
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