The Button

Emergency Stop Button

It was a slow day. Every time I looked at the clock the numbers seemed to have melted together. Which give the hot stale air that the many fans couldn’t cut through, wouldn’t have surprised me. I leant back in my plush chair and listened to the phones ringing like lazy flies buzzing in the background. I fanned myself with a paper fan and breathed deeply.

I avoided checking the time again and instead looked at the spreadsheet before me. My desk was scattered with paperwork and a few folders were balanced neatly on the edge. I listened to my co-worker chatting to someone on the phone as someone else began hammering at a keyboard.

Dropping the fan and sitting up, I got back to work. Keeping busy would pass the time, I told myself, whilst not believing a word of it. I scrolled about on the screen and looked at which client’s details needed up dating or deleting. Shuffling the papers, I found the matching data on the information on my screen and started.

I couldn’t contract and my eyes wondered away and settled on the wall opposite me. Underneath the clock and next to a small noticeboard was a large emergency stop button. It’s bright yellow and red form looked as out of place as an elephant.

I frowned and my thoughts spiralled down the familiar staircase of questions. What was it for? What would happen if someone pressed it? Etc. Perhaps and this was a theory by a co-worker, the builders who had renovated this historic building had forgot it or not been allowed to remove it.

Sinking back into my chair and kicking off my black high heels, I curled my legs up. My chair twisted a little bit and drew me level with the button. The background noises of the office faded and I was alone with my thoughts. A daydream started up and I pictured myself getting up and pressing the button. There was a sawing like sound and the ceiling opened up. I looked up at the blue sky and felt a cooling breeze on my face.

In the next daydream, a trap door opened under me and like Alice I tumbled into a land of fun and nonsenses. My co-workers quickly joined me and we were free to live much better lives. We’d have tea parties with rabbits and mice, explore the queen’s garden and sing with flowers. Okay, so maybe that was a bit too far.

The phone rang on my desk, jarring me back. I scrambled for the receiver, silencing it and speaking too quickly. A dull dial tone beeped in my ear then a faint voice began running off a too rehearsed script whilst other people did the same in the background. I hung up, muttering about call centres under my breath as I did so.

I turned back to my computer screen, pulled a stack of papers into my lap and tried to make it look like I was reading. My eyes though didn’t take in any of the information and instead stayed still. My thoughts reeled once more and I pictured the emergency stop button once again. What else could it be linked too?

Maybe it was for a fire? Did it stop the elevator or something? Maybe it was for bomb or other alerts? Wasn’t the risk of attack at an all-time high? But if that was the case, the logic side of me spoke up, then there’d be a notice or we’d all know. My eyes went to the noticeboard, but it was too over crowed with small posters and flyers. The only way to know would be to get up and press it.

I shook my head, there was no point in risking it. What if the button was important and I lost my job? I turned back to my computer and picked up my work again. I pushed all thoughts of the button away and got on. Maybe it was the heat or because I had thought about it too long, but I couldn’t really get rid of the thoughts. The urge just to press it and run away like a school girl bore down on me like a dare. My mind bubbled over with thoughts about what it could be linked to again. Some hidden piece of machinery in the walls? Maybe we were all robots and that was the button to stop us all? Did someone come in at the end of the day and press it then hooked us up to something that made us believe we were human and had lives?

I shook my head violently. That couldn’t be true!

But what if it was….?