Voices From Beyond The Door
Benedict discovered an empty space. Rare in this city, where the masses crammed into corridors and spilled into the streets, filling all but the most inhospitable corners. Rare, precious, and something he did not want to share. He put his back against the wall and slumped slowly down to the floor. Removed his suit jacket, loosened the noose on his tie and folded it into a neat parcel. Took a long deep breath. Wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.
There were voices coming from beyond the door, but far away, obfuscated, muffled.
The space was an office floor in waiting. Barcode carpet, large windows stretching around three long walls, small squares of lights dotted amongst the ceiling tiles. Clean and new, bearing the crisp freshness of potential, the illusion of order. But Benedict was not fooled. He knew that people would be along soon and be human in it, corrupt this space, like a black pencil smudge on a pure white eraser.
Voices closer now, clearer. A gruff, slow male voice and a high, clipped female one.
“It won't be long before he's gone.”
“He just doesn't have what it takes.”
Benedict felt for his pulse and counted them out. Damn. The pills were back at his desk.
His blood pressure had been tested. The doctor had breathed a long sigh and shook his head. Leaned forward in his chair and peered over his glasses.
“Benedict,” he'd whispered. “Understand I'm also asking this as your friend. Have you had any unusual periods of anxiety or paranoia at work?”
Benedict had stared back at him, incredulous.
“No,” he'd said. “Not unusual...”
Benedict got up and removed his shoes, padded, paced around the office floor, wondering how to make his next move. The voices were louder now.
“You do know he completely screwed up the Joplin account?”
“I would have killed for the Joplin account.”
“Joplin account or no, one more screw up like that and he's out of here.”
Perhaps the doctor was right. He needed a holiday. But his type weren't supposed to take holidays. His type were supposed to be the winners. Eventually.
No, what Benedict really wanted was a coffee.
“His office should be mine. I've earned it more than he has.”
“God, yes, I love that office. So much space. Not too long now.”
He couldn't know if they were real. But then nobody here was real. All smiles and nods on the outside, planning your accidental death on the inside. He needed a piss, but couldn't leave, couldn't risk showing he was anything but cool, calm, collected.
“He strikes me as a jumper.”
“Well, his office window is seventeen floors up.”
Benedict froze, hand on the doorknob. Breathe in. Breathe out.
It's a cut-throat world out there. Come on Benedict. Time to get back to business.