As they say, better late than never. I’m kind of anal when it comes to post times. I like to have these scheduled to go live at midnight, but that was not an option today. I’ve been dragging me feet on this Fiction Friday prompt from Write Anything. For one reason or another, it just didn’t give me that warm fuzzy feeling when I sat down to write. I wound up jotting down some things then getting up to find something better to do. I managed to maintain this routine all week.
When the time came to just get it done, I was engrossed in a project for Stogie Review. Before I knew it, I was out of time. I managed to flush something out this morning, but just like the prompt, It doesn’t excite me. I also took a little liberty with the prompt “A writer’s computer begins to flash messages on its screen, as if trying to communicate” and omitted the writer part. With it I felt too restricted and imagined all the Fiction Friday pieces having too much in common. I suppose I find the prompts which are more vague more intriguing because of all the possibilities. In any case, I hope you enjoy reading this weeks piece.
Fiction Friday #157 – Quiet Warning
“A writer’s computer begins to flash messages on its screen, as if trying to communicate.”
The buzz of office chatter filled the air as David glared at the clock. With each movement of the second hand, the imagined mechanical clicking reverberated through his mind. When the second hand returned home, a mighty gong sounded in his mind as he leaped to his feet and joined the rush of workers going home for the evening. As he neared the elevator, a familiar voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Hey Davey, I’m going to need you to stay late tonight and finish up those LW7 forms. Thanks a million.” Before David could react, Larry Quartz turned on his heel and joined the crowd of people boarding the elevator.
“But Mr. Quartz, I was hoping to surprise Melissa tonight. Can’t those forms wait until tomorrow?”
“No can do Davey. I need those papers first thing in the morning.” There was a smug smile across his lips as he disappeared behind closing doors.
“It’s either Dave or David, asshole.” Larry would never hear him utter those words but just saying them aloud was a comfort. After a long audible sigh and a bit of self pity, David made his way back to his cubicle and plopped down into the chair. The humming of the florescent lights and the occasional clunking of the air conditioner were his only companions in the empty office.
Before engrossing himself in work, David reached into his backpack and removed his iPod. Company policy didn’t permit employees to wear headphones in the office but he always indulged in a bit of music when left to himself. As of late, there has been a lot of working alone after hours. Supervisor Quartz seemed to have it out for him but he didn’t understand why the man pushed him around.
Venting his frustrations, David popped in his ear buds, cranked up the music, and began pounding away at the keys. One after another, forms were completed to the rhythm of the music. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead and stung his eye. With his concentration broken, he glanced at the clock. Nearly seven with only a few more forms to complete. Humming along to the music, he leaned forward to begin typing again. The screen flashed then went black. Leaning back in his chair, he shook his head in frustration.
“Thats just great.” He was deaf to his own words as the music roared in his ears.
In the upper left corner of the screen, the cursor mocked him with its repetitive flashing. Letters begin to appear as if he were typing
“Run what, Windows?” He mumbled the words aloud but they were drowned out by the roar of the music.
With confused eyes fixed on the screen, a new word formed on the line below.
Adrenaline began to pump as a trickle of fear ran down his spine. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. David reached up and tugged at the cord for his ear buds. With a thunk, they popped free of his ears. As the music abruptly halted, the dull sound of an outdated fire alarm filled his mind with panic. He leaped from his chair and hurried to the stairwell.
As the door was thrown open, a wave of heat slammed into his body causing him to stumble backward. The old-time construction of the building made for a perfect oven. Brick walls insulated the stairwell while iron stairs absorbed heat. The fire was above him on the forth floor.
David took a deep breath, covered his face with the sleeve of his shirt, then dashed into the stairwell. The heat was astonishing, he gasped for air. Hot air and smoke filled his lungs. With eyes watering and his body trying to purge the smokey air, he reached for the railing to steady himself. Upon contact, he almost tumbled to the floor. The bubbling paint slid under his palm while the hot iron branded his flesh.
With one hand covering his face, one hand clutched to his chest, eyes watering, and lungs heaving, David stumbled down the steps and further away from the fire. The ground floor was eerie with its roaring fire four floors up. The smoke was accumulating high above and slowly began its descent to the ground floor.
Bursting through the emergency exit was like entering another world. The sun was beginning to set, casting a red hue on everything around him. The air was warm and humid. In the distance there was the wail of an approaching fire truck. Just to be sure that help was on its way, he jammed his unburnt hand into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. Flipping it open to make the call sent a chill down his spine. There was another message waiting for him.
“IT HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN”
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