In which we go down less and less realistic and artistic paths.
Parts 1 and 2 are here: http://dannyhatch.tumblr.com/post/21696133696/what-i-have-so-far
November 2, Year 3
New Guy, who tells me his name is David, throws something away in the trash can under my desk. Our desks are identical—every desk in this office is identical. I turn to look at him, puzzled, but he’s turned back to his computer and can’t see the puzzled look on my face.
I shrug and push it out of my head. About twenty seconds later I realize.
You dumb fuck. That was a message.
I blow my nose, and when I drop the tissue in the trash, I pull out David’s message. There are cameras everywhere; they cover every square inch of this planet, but as long as you’re not doing anything sketchy, you’re paid no mind. With every single person on Earth to monitor, there are bound to be a few that slip through the cracks.
The crumpled piece of paper, as big as an index card, is trapped in my fist, getting soggier and soggier as it collects sweat.
I drop it on the desk, hiding it between my computer’s keyboard and monitor.
David gets up from his desk and heads toward the bathroom.
I can’t risk looking around—that’s the biggest clue you can give that you’re about to do something not allowed.
But is this really not allowed? I’m just reading a note. Since when is that illegal? It’s probably what’s in the note, or what the note suggests I do that’s illegal. Am I this worked up into a mess of paranoia?
Well, yes. Yes I am. Everybody is.
I un-crumple the note and look at it without bothering to check if anyone’s watching. Do or die. Well. Do and die, my mind is screaming at me. That, and don’t do this, don’t die.
It’s just a memo. A “note to self.” A reminder for a lunch meeting.
Goddamn it. Leaning back in my chair, disappointed and angry at myself, I can feel spiky adrenaline rushing out of my body, making my skin itch. I swipe at the damp memo, angry at it. I send it floating in the air. It plummets back to earth, weighed down by my sweat. Moving to pick it up, I notice it’s landed on the reverse side of the memo. Printed on it is one word. Bathroom.
I crumple the note up again, drop it in my pocket and head for the bathroom.
November 2, Year 3
“Jesus,” David whispers. “What took you so long?”
“I was afraid to open the note,” I mumble. I’m not looking at him. I’m looking at the ground. If there are cameras in here (which there most certainly must be) I don’t want them to pick up on my face.
“You sat next to Reggie.”
I nod, head still tilted so far down that my neck is becoming sore.
“He was right,” David whispers.
At this I look up at him in disbelief. My eyes are wide.
“Are you fucking insane?” I ask. “You saw what happened to him. Move.”
I go to the door, but David steps in front of me, blocking the exit.
“Move,” I repeat.
David’s voice changes. “Go into the far stall. I am going to go into the middle stall. Follow my exact instructions.” Something about his tone makes me obey him. I go into the far stall, lock the door and sit on the toilet.
“Pull down your pants and underwear so that they’re bunched around your feet.”
This is the least odd thing that’s happened since I joined David in the bathroom.
“Lift up your toes, but keep your heel on the ground.”
I’m confused, but a few seconds later, there’s a faint fwip noise as a folded sheet of paper lands on the floor where my foot was.
“Cover your foot with the paper and do not move it until I’ve left the restroom.”
I set my foot down all the way. A flush comes from the next stall.
David washes his hands and dries them luxuriously. It seems like he’s taking an exaggerated amount of time on purpose. Maybe this is a prank. Or maybe it’s a…a setup.
The door opens and closes and I am alone in the bathroom. I dive for the piece of paper under my shoe, my fingers shaking with some combination of greed and fear.
There’s a dusty shoe print on the paper. I fold it open.