Tony toyed with a small twig between his fingers. Traffic rushed by on the busy street as he waited to cross. His stomach was rumbling with nerves. His neck tie was feeling tight around his throat and his suit coat felt ill-fitting. The traffic signal changed to green and Tony started crossing the street toward the imposing concrete building. He fell into its shadow as he approached the front entrance.
Tony dropped the twig that had giving his idle fingers something to do on the long train ride and entered the through the revolving doors. The lobby was cold marble and Spartan furniture. His footsteps echoed uncomfortably through the cavernous space. He approached a white marble security desk and smiled awkwardly at the guard.
“Good morning. I’m here to see Mr. Jerry Sampson on the 25th floor,” said Tony.
The guard nodded and picked up a telephone and made a call. Tony rapped his nervous fingers on the cool marble desk top. He looked up at the imposing corporate logo that hung like a Swastika over the security desk. Tony shrugged off the shivers that ran down his spine. The security guard hung the phone up.
“Someone will be down in a moment to take you upstairs. Here is a visitor pass, please wear it around your neck at all times in the building and return it to this desk upon your departure. Also, please sign this guest book including the time, date, and the name of the individual you are here to see,” said the guard.
Tony nodded and took the pass and looped it around his neck and filled out the guest book. The guard motioned toward the stone seating area. Tony nodded and shuffled toward the seating area. As he has about to sit a woman appeared from the elevator bay. She was a dish-watery blonde, short, bespectacled and wearing far too much make-up.
“Tony,” she asked.
“That’s me, “said Tony as he recovered his standing positing in the midst of his downward sitting momentum.
“Please follow me,” said the woman.
Tony stepped toward her and he extended his hand. She turned too quickly and didn’t see Tony’s out-stretched hand shake. He fell in step behind her as they headed toward the elevators. She stepped in first and Tony stood next to her. She pressed the button for the 25th floor and the elevator doors closed. Tony cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name,” said Tony.
“I didn’t give it,” said the woman, not looking at Tony.
“Gotcha,” said Tony.
The elevator smelled like hot rubber; not smoldering rubber that you might smell near a tire fire, but like a gasket that might be overheating in an engine. It took Tony a second to get used to the smell and he exhaled through his noise loudly.
“Don’t let them see you do that,” said the woman.
“Do what,” asked Tony.
“Make such loud noises,” said the woman.
“Loud noises,” asked Tony.
The woman shifted her weight onto her left side and kept her hands clasped in front of her thighs. Tony wiped the sweat from his forehead and temples. The elevator crept up slowly toward the 25th floor and the smell of the hot rubber seemed to be getting stronger. Tony felt a little nauseous starting to couple with his nervousness. They passed the 20th floor and Tony started to think about how terribly torturous this was. He didn’t even really want to be here but society dictated that he had to have a job and be a monetary contributor to its continued illusion of control.
The elevator passed the 23rd floor and he took a deep breath.
“Shhhh…,” said the woman.
Tony looked at her profile. She never even looked at Tony. She kept her eyes focused on the copper elevator car doors. He wondered if she was some sort of service droid; some sort of flesh covered android programmed to be as inhospitable as possible. He thought that is was pretty typical for a giant corporate monster to have robotic employees. A former person with a soul reduced to bells and wiring and heartless processes.
The elevator dinged at the 25th floor and the doors opened. The woman stepped forward and Tony followed her out. The 25th floor was dimly lit, yet bathed in fluorescent hues. It was like a hospital or better yet, a hospital morgue. The woman led Tony through one of the dimly lit corridors of cubicle walls toward a barren yet cluttered conference room. She pulled out a seat at the long wooden table and motioned for Tony to sit. He sat down and turned to the automaton woman.
“Thanks,” he said.
“Shhhh…,” she repeated as she exited the conference room, still never looking at Tony.
“…it,” said Tony.