Office Life. Short Story.

Jeremy quickly finished the last few bites of his sandwich and then downed what was left in his bottle of water. He crumpled the cardboard container and tossed it into the bin, checking his watch, he started walking at a quick pace, he’d be late if he wasn’t more careful. He dodged through the milling crowds, moving between shoppers and tourists, the cars were all stuck in a traffic jam, so it made things easier, he didn’t have to wait for lights to get across the roads. He didn’t have to think about where he was going, he followed the same path he had for months. He was the longest lasting assistant that Mr. Jones had ever had, at least according to the others.  They seemed to take great amusement in telling him how the others had quit or been fired. He was going to stick it out, it was after all a temporary position, another two months and he would be free and it would look great on his resume. Everyone knew that Mr. Jones was a pain in the ass to work for and that it was almost impossible to complete a job as his assistant. He could stick it out, he knew he could. The others had failed because they were weak and he wasn’t weak. He was stronger than all of them. Once it was over every other job would seem cushy by comparison. No more distasteful tasks or impossibly late nights. Hell, last month he had been going for 75 hours before he could finally get to a bed, thank god it was his day off, he had slept for twenty four hours straight. It was depressing getting in from work, going to bed, then going right back to work, but he had chosen this role, no one could say it was forced upon him, he made a decision and he would stick it out. He had been lucky the last few weeks, he had gotten full lunch hours. When that happened he went for a walk in the park, then he ate. He liked the fresh air, the sunlight, the happy people, it helped relax him. He had his phone with him at all times, so if an emergency came up he could race back to the office, but things had been calm lately. He knew he should eat lunch first, but he found it difficult to eat so soon after work. He needed some time to decompress. He had tried to eat soon after in the beginning, he would always throw it up again. Jeremy had lost over two stone so far, though the only upside about that was it was extra weight he needed to lose anyway. The only thing preventing him throwing up in the office was the knowledge that it would mean his immediate termination, and that was unacceptable.

 

 

He stopped outside the large building, it was faceless, like the hundreds that surrounded it, shining glass and large doors. No one would look twice at it. He took a deep breath and stepped into the lobby. He walked towards the row of lifts and pressed the button. People milled about the lobby, doing what ever jobs they did, Jeremy mostly ignored them as they ignored him. The receptionists were chatting to each other. That was the cushiest job of all and they fought tooth and nail to keep it. Very rarely were there visitors or phone calls. Mostly they just sat around all day doing what ever they felt like. The lift arrived and Jeremy stepped in, pressing the button for his floor, as the lift rose he thought about what he needed to do now that he was back, first things first, he’d have to visit Angie. The lift stopped smoothly and the doors opened, Jeremy stepped out into hell.

 

It looked like every office, cubes everywhere each one filled with a person and a computer, the only difference was the smell, deep and pervading, Jeremy hadn’t been able to determine exactly what it was, but he never really sat down to think about it. It was a fact of life at this point and he was mostly used to it. He passed the rows of cubicles until he reached Angie’s

 

“Hey, you got those reports?”
“On the desk. Use your eyes.”

 

“Which pile? They aren’t labelled.”
“Jesus, the one of the left. It isn’t that difficult.”
Jeremy picked up the smallest stack, then went to find Andy.

 

Loaded down with reams of paper and a cup of some dark liquid that looked like coffee but smelled like burning hair, Jeremy approached the office of Mr. Jones. He pushed the door open with his shoulder, not bothering to knock, Mr. Jones wouldn’t be there for another few minutes. Jeremy carefully put the mug down on the coaster, then he laid out the files. Once that was done, he looked around the office, there wasn’t much that needed to be done in here, he left and went to his own small desk just out side, there he dug out the day planner and reconfirmed there were no meetings.

 

 

The general noise of the office stopped for a second, silence descending completely, then it went back to normal. Jeremy stood beside his desk, Mr. Jones had arrived. He strode through the office, no one looking directly at him. Jeremy smiled politely, “Any messages?”
Jeremy shivered.
“No Sir, and your schedule is clear for the rest of the day.”
“Good.”
Mr. Jones was dressed in a black suit and look completely normal, he was middle-aged, slim, head full of dark hair. Jeremy had seen what he really looked like. Had seen what everyone really looked like.

 

“The reports are laid out on your desk, and your drink is ready.”
Mr. Jones didn’t reply, he entered his office and sat at the desk, Jeremy let out a small breath of relief. Everything was in order so far. There was nothing he had forgotten. Jeremy’s phone started to ring, he sat at the desk and picked it up.

 

When he put it down again, he felt slightly dizzy, his head feeling too large, too full, he looked at what he had scribbled down, ok, he had gotten the pertinent details. The meeting was scheduled for tomorrow morning, Jeremy would probably have to attend. He hated those meetings, they were always so unpleasant, usually he had a throbbing headache for a few hours afterwards.

 

“On with the Dernwood?”
“How did you know?”
“You’re bleeding.”
“Shit.” Jeremy grabbed a tissue from the box on his desk and wiped the blood from his ear.

 

“Thanks.”
“He free?”
“Nothing scheduled.”
“Good.”
Tina walked past the desk and into the office, closing the door behind her. She was one of the nicer people in the office, at least she didn’t tease him as much as the others, treated him with a little decency. He pulled up the Dernwood file and started reading, he’d need to be able to discuss it all with Mr. Jones before the meeting, also be prepared to fulfil any dietary needs of the Dernwood. As he worked, he reassured himself it wasn’t too much longer, just another few months and he would be done. Just a few more months.

 

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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