Written for September Scene Writing Month
Yes! Lunch time!
All day long I had been setting up my desk with papers and other signs of work being done in preparation for this very hour. I had laid out the thickest binders I could find and scattered around some daunting reports, including one I had written thick red X’s all over which I kept aside for just such occasions. I got up and moved some of them on top of my keyboard and tossed my pen onto the desk. As a final touch, I sprinkled some paper clips around as a deterrent. I planned to put it all away neatly when I came back from lunch. That should kill another hour.
My office is tucked away in a corner of the furniture department on the top floor of the department store. This strategical blessing isolates me from the rest of the store. What I typically do is tiptoe out quietly and get the lay of the land beyond before a customer sees me. From there, I can reach the employees-only stairwell and then home free to the food court! However, there is one—but only one—danger zone which commands a view of every tiled aisle out of the department. Whoever commands this intersection commands the whole area.
Like a mouse sniffing its way out of its hole, I emerged from the office and paused. All I needed to do was get past the mattresses, slip in between some partitions sectioning off beds and table sets, jump across the piles of rugs like stepping stones, climb through a window in a display wall, and out through the blenders in the next department. It was quiet that afternoon, and should have been nothing.
I thought I heard a noise, and looking left and right I darted behind a grey plastered Roman column. I took some slow, deep, silent breaths before I peered around. Oh no! There she is! I ducked back and squatted down.
“Hetty?” My boss.
“Are you there?”
I walked on all fours across the carpet until I got to safety behind a blue bonded leather couch.
Clunk, cla-clunk. Clunk, cla-clunk. She was coming closer. “Where the hell did she go? I could have sworn I just saw her.”
I was kneeling on the floor pressed as tightly as I could to the back of the couch. The uneven steps clunked back and forth in front of it. They receded to my left and I moved up to look around: crap! She stood at the intersection like a sentry!
I looked around the other side of the couch for someone else to hide behind. To my right, there were some beds and kitchen tables. The tables wouldn’t do—she’d see me under there for sure. The beds displaying mattresses were too low. But—over there! That display bed should work just fine.
How was I going to reach it without her seeing me? Plus—the bed was across the aisle, which meant I’d have to step onto the tile. There was just no way of getting out of that department without crossing tiles at some point.
But I had to take the chance. I wound myself up like a cat and leaped over the aisle and fell right behind the bed. No! She heard me! I stayed down. She was rapidly cla-clunking her way over and I had just enough time to army-crawl under the bed.
“Hello, can someone assist me, please?” Clever! Trying to psych me out.
“I’m going to write her up when I find her,” she mumbled.
It was positively filthy under there. Clumps of dirt, an ant trap, piles of loose tags torn from merchandise, food wrappers, and some objects that unsettled me. Oh, please just go away!
CREEEAAAAK! The bed pressed down on my head. Poop! Now what? Either she gets off the bed or I suffocate! My only ray of hope was that her incontinence would strike and she’d have to run, or someone worth avoiding more than finding me came along.
To be continued…