The Receptionist (Part 2)

Free stock photo of marketing, woman, apple, desk

Emily stayed behind her desk, though her body and mind were eager to get up and go. Pretending to type and look at paperwork, she kept her eyes on the door leading out. She heard the elevator, a few footsteps and passing voices before everything fell silent.

Stealing a last look around, she pulled out her tiny phone again and checked the messages. Nothing flashed on the phone. She closed it and grabbed her voice recorder instead.

‘I don’t think he’s coming back. Time to snoop around his office again. Maybe I can find out why he left,’ she whispered into the mic.

Switching it off and making sure it and the secret phone where in the small pockets of her jacket, she got up. Picking up two files that needed go on to his desk, she walked over and opened the door.

His office looked just like her work space did; spotless. The large glass desk dominated the room and the small white laptop on top was almost unnoticeable. There was a large fake green plant in the right corner next to a row of floor to ceiling windows. Thankfully, the blinds were closed. Two landscape paintings faced each other on the right and left walls, they looked old and expensive.

Emily placed the files on the desk and lifted the laptop. She turned it on with a tap of the screen, remembering seeing him do that once. She sat on his chair, feeling it cushion her back and behind straight away. She smoothed her skirt out and watched the laptop demand a password.

He fingers reached out then she paused. Of course, it would be passworded. She glanced around, pouting her lips, hoping she would spot something that would give her a clue to what the lock was. Her eyes landed on something on the floor she hadn’t noticed before.

Getting up, she walked over and picked it up. It was a napkin from a bar with a number penned on it. Wondering how it got there, she slipped it into her pocket. She walked back to the desk and the wired bin that was next to it.  Emily bent and looked through the scraps of paper and other rubbish.

If anyone comes in, just say you lost an earring, she reminded herself.

She found nothing of interested.Straightening, Emily heard the phone ringing on her desk. Sighing, she walked out and answered it.

‘It’s me. I forgot something,’ her new boss’s voice growled into her ear.

In the background, she could hear traffic and beeping car horns.

‘Oh?’ Emily answered.

‘There’s a paper file, a red one. Do you know where it is?’

‘Yes. I just put it on your desk,’ Emily gushed.

‘Get it and bring to this address,’ her boss uttered then sighed deeply.

Emily snatched up a pen and wrote it down. She nodded into the phone and said, ‘I’ll find someone to bring it to you, right now, sir.’

‘It’ll take you less time to walk there then it will to find someone! And bring my laptop too.’

The phone clicked off. Emily looked at it in her hand then placed it back down. Her mind spun, but she didn’t give it time to develop any of those thoughts. Going back into his office, she grab the red file and his laptop. She went back to her desk and slipped both into her large black fake leather handbag.

She pulled out her recorder, made a quick note then prepared to leave.

   To Be Continued…

The Receptionist

Free stock photo of marketing, woman, apple, desk

There was a reason Emily Jonesson played dumb as she stood behind the front desk, fluttering her fake eyelashes at her new boss. She smiled sexily, feeling the stickiness of the too thick pink lipstick in her mouth once again. To distracted her self, she twirled a bit of strawberry blond hair that had fallen at her throat.

She watched him closely, taking in the red of his fat cheeks, his thinning black hair and the fact that his bright blue tie wasn’t done up right. Emily  waited as the boss signed in, flung the cheap pen down and stormed off. The door slammed behind him and shouting drifted back to her.

Emily sank into the leather chair and watched through the frosted glass as her boss carried on arguing with someone who she couldn’t see, but was possibly on the phone to someone. Slowly, she picked up the phone next to her and connect it into his office. His shouting voice hit her ear and she listened as he demand a cancelling to some kind of order.

She held her breath and listened hard, but after a few more minutes realised that there was nothing interesting about that call. Hanging up again, she pulled a small voice record out of her black jacket pocket and began mumbling into it.

‘He takes a call at nine twenty, but it seems to be nothing more then a wrong order for printing paper and filing boxes. Seems to be normal. Everything is quiet so far.’

She turned the device off and slipped it back into her pocket. Looking at the computer screen was more, she fixed her boss’s appointments in her head and noticed that none of them seemed out of the ordinary. Scanning through the other programs she had open, her mind wander as to why her actual bosses thought this guy was up to something. Everything looked to be in order and above board.

Tabbing all the programs, she looked down at her diary, open next to the keyboard. The pages were filled with her neat handwriting telling her where and when she need to be. Slotting the pen in, she closed the sparkly pink book that looked more like a child’s play diary and sighed deeply.

‘Soon it’ll be over and I can give up this want to be beauty queen look.’

The door to the boss’s office crashed open and Emily jumped. Quickly, fixing a look of shock horror on her all ready looking shocked face, She stood up and lend over her computer. She watched him storm out, walk past her as if she wasn’t there and go out the other door to the corridor. It banged behind him and Emily felt the vibrations running through her legs.

Yanking out her voice recorder, she made a note about what had happened then pulled out her secret mobile phone and dialled the first of only two numbers that were stored in the tiny thing.

‘He just left,’ she whispered into her hand, ‘I don’t know where he’s going….He’s cleared his appointments for the whole day. I just got the notice now.’

Emily hung up and looked at disbelieve at the message box that had popped up on her screen. Maybe her bosses had been right about this guy after all?

To Be Continued…

 

Phone Call

She picked up the phone and for the first time in twenty years called him, ‘Dad?’ she whispered.

Office Window Part 1

I grabbed my mug as I abandoned my headset on my desk. Around me, the office flowed with voices, phones ringing and the taping of keys. It was mid-afternoon, time for my second cup of coffee and my first sneaky break. Getting up, I stretched and heard something cracking in my back. I sort the slight pain with my free hand and rubbed the spot.

Something flickered in the corner of my eyes and I looked across at the window. The city’s tallest buildings stared blindly back at me. Behind their glazed windows, people like myself were busy at work. I placed my mug down, lent over my desk and looked harder outside.

I could only see a touch of the skyline because the rest was blocked by buildings. A few birds circled passed then I saw it, a white drone. It was hovering a few windows down from mine, it’s four propellers a wild blur. There was black camera attached to the top of it. I looked down, but of course couldn’t see anything.

Grabbing my mug again, I walked away from my desk and counted the windows as I went down. At the fourth I stopped. Peering into the cubical, I saw the blonde head of a woman. She was talking on her headset, but was almost slummed down on her desk. The drone was outside the window and she seemed not to have noticed it.

‘Hey,’ I whispered, ‘hi.’

She didn’t respond.

‘Hello? Sorry, excuse me?’ I said louder.

With a deep sigh, she moved and looked up at me. Her hair was a mess and her face was strangely blotchy. Her makeup was all in place, but it didn’t hide the tiredness etched into her skin. With a single movement, she ended the phone call and turned to me fully. She was wearing a black suit and a white blouse.

‘Sorry. There’s a drone outside,’ I stated when it seemed like she wasn’t going to speak.

‘Oh? There are drones everywhere. Is that all?’ she threw back at me.

‘It seems interested in you.’

She shrugged and turned back to the computer screen. On it was the normal list of numbers and names we had to connect. She selected another number and called it up.

I looked at the drone, trying to see if there were any markings on it. I felt her eyes on me and instinctively, I left.

I went back to my desk then suddenly remembered my coffee and hurried to the kitchen. No one else seemed to have noticed anything and were hard at work cold calling the latest company deals. I made my coffee and went back to my desk. As I went to sit down, I noticed the drone hovering outside. I took my chair, put on my headset and ignoring everything, selected a new number to dial.

Whatever was going on, I didn’t want to know. I listened to the dial tone in my ear and quickly scanned through my lines in my head. Nobody answered the phone. I hung up and went for the next one, my eyes slide to the side and I saw the drone. It was still there, hovering and with the camera still staring at me.

The dial tone rung in my ears, but no one answered. I hung up and took the headset off. I picked up my coffee and walked back into the kitchen. I drink my coffee, acting like I was taking a break. A few people came in and out. I kept my back to the window, not daring to look. My mind whirled, who owned that drone? What did it want? Was it actually tracking me?

I shook my head, called myself crazy and got back to my desk. The drone was gone. Feeling relived, I got back to work. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, my eyes kept glancing to the window. Of course nothing was there, but I couldn’t help it, something was watching me. I knew it. The end of the shift came and I didn’t want to leave. What if something was waiting for me?

I went to the kitchen and tried to delay leaving as much as possible. Someone else had all ready cleaned up and the rest was normally the cleaners’ responsibility. I rubbed my hands and felt sweaty and agitated. I couldn’t leave, I just couldn’t do it. The rumours always spoke about the spying drones before people disappeared. Didn’t they? But weren’t they seen for a lot longer than just an afternoon?

I stopped and noticed I had been pacing. I had to leave. I got my stuff and headed downstairs. My bag banged against my hip and my clothes were stuck to me. I hurried down, passing three other floors before getting to the front doors. The receptionists and security guards didn’t even look up. I walked out, glanced around then rushed for the coming tram.

I expected to hear the drone overhead and people yelling for me to stop, but there wasn’t anything. I got to the station and boarded the tram. It was packed with rush-hour travellers. I hung on and waited for my stop. I hardly remind calm and when I got to my apartment, I fell up the stairs twice before getting to my rooms.

Everything looked the same. Nothing was out of place and no odd smell hung in the air. I firmly locked the door and went into the bathroom. Locking that door, I dropped my stuff and took my clothes off. I ran the shower and waited for the water to warm. Stepping in, I let the water relax me. I felt myself un-tense and began to enjoy the cascading waters.

A buzzing at the front door burst my bubble. I froze and listened hard over the shower. It was nothing, nothing. I turned back and washed my hair. The buzzer sounded again. Ignoring it, I half drowned myself. I got out a good few minutes later and was drying off when there was a knocking on my door.

To Be Continued…

Cold Call

Diesel’s phone ringing cut through the silence he had so carefully created. Gritting his teeth, he dug around in his army jacket searching amongst everything else in his pockets for the device. Quickly, his fingers closed around his phone and pulling it out, he stole a look over the top of the burnt out car he was hiding behind.

He answered the call of the unrecognised number, whilst clutching his large gun tighter, ‘Hello?’ he hissed into the phone.

‘Hello, I’m looking for Mr. Holtman?’ a male voice with a heavy Asian accent called over a crackling line.

‘Speaking,’ Diesel replied as his eyes rolled across the semi-deserted cityscape before him.

‘I’m Nathanial, calling from Interlink Surveys and you have been selected to take part in our most recent survey. It’ll take only two minutes of your time and you’ll be automatically entered into our prize draw, where you could win a new car or a holiday or shopping vouchers.’

‘What?’ Diesel spit into the phone.

‘Sir, I shall only take a few minutes of your time and your opinions matter dearly to us,’ the voice of Nathanial pressed into his ear.

‘I’m in the middle of something right now,’ he answered and shifted the gun slightly in his lap. Still casting his eyes around, Diesel thought he spotted a movement to the left, beside an abandoned store. Fixing his gaze there, he balanced the front of the gun on the side of the car’s bonnet and keep the phone to his ear with his shoulder, ‘I really can’t talk right now,’ he emphasised.

‘It’ll only take a few minutes, sir, please. And you’ll be entered free into the prize draw,’ the desperate voice stung his ear.

‘I really can’t,’ Diesel explained and hung up.

Sucking in a deep breath, he concentrated again and saw a number of growing shadows coming up along the building wall. Growling, he patted his jacket and finding his grenades, brought them out and set them at his feet. A low moaning sound brushed his ears and Diesel froze. They were coming.

His ring tone blasted out, causing him to jump and scramble for the phone.

‘Hello?’

‘Sorry, we seemed to have got disconnected. Now Sir, can I confirm that you are over the age of twenty-five and own your home? Nathanial’s cheery voice came through the speaker.

‘Fuck. Don’t you know what’s happening in this country right now?’ Diesel yelled.

‘Sorry, I misheard that,’

‘Yes, I am and do. Now get off the line!’ Diesel screamed and tossed the phone away.

A loud clattering echoed as the phone bounced along the road before hitting a blown out tire.

Twisting his head back, he saw a zombie looming over the car at him. Letting out a pent up scream, he squeezed the trigger of the gun and shot off half the zombie’s face. Blood and flesh exploded, raining down on them both and the remains of the car.

Diesel shuffled backwards, backhanding some stringy red muscle strands on his face and took aim again as the creature paused to assess itself. The next bullet lodged into its skull and the zombie fell backwards, revealing many more of its fellows stumbling forward.

Swearing, Diesel scooped up two grenades and unpinning them, threw the bombs into the coming enemies. Grapping the others, he legged it and ran back to his base.

Ex-Family

Norma hadn’t seen any of her family in over six years. She wasn’t proud of that fact, but as she now stared at her old fashioned telephone, she wished it could all have been different. Her hand shook as she reached out for the phone then stopped mid-air as a flood of memories came back to her. Tears started in her eyes and she sniffed. Dropping her hand, she grabbed a tissue out of the box on the coffee table. Sorting herself out, she ignored the TV and turned to her tabby cat, Tiger, who was sitting on the window sill and meowing to be let out.

‘It shouldn’t have been like that,’ she called to him.

Tiger turned his head, glanced at her then pawed at the window.

‘It was his funeral, for crying out loud.’

Norma stuffed the tissue in her pocket and got up on wobbly legs. She hobbled over and as Tiger began meowing loudly, she opened the window. The cat shot outside, jumping and running away into the garden.

‘Some days I wonder if you hate me too!’ Norma yelled after him.

She closed the window and sat back down in a huff. Crossing her arms, she glared at the TV, but the game show that was on couldn’t take her mind off things. Standing up again, she switched it off and headed upstairs. The pain of her swollen joints made it harder and she had to pause mid-way to catch her breath. Once at the top, she went into her bedroom and lay down on the double bed.

She got comfy and her eyes came to rest on her bedside table. It was over cluttered, just like every other surface in the house, amongst the things was a small telephone and a picture frame. It was this that her wrinkled fingers picked up and she held to her chest for a few moments, before returning up right and looking at the photograph inside the frame.

‘Oh, Archie, if only you were still here. You’d know how to fix things, you always did,’ Norma said in a low voice, ‘what should I do?’

Her eyes flickered to the phone then back to the smiling image of a young man.

‘I know what I should do, but what if they don’t want to know?’ she said, bursting into tears.

A few minutes later, her hand reached out for the phone and she dialled her daughter’s number. Her mind made up that if she didn’t do this, she would lose what precious few months she had remaining before she was reunited with her husband.

Lonely

Betty stared out of her living room window as the loneliness raged deep inside of her. She leant on her walking frame and watched the winter darkness envelop the houses opposite. The streetlamps flickered on and she screwed her old pale blue eyes up at the sudden bright orange light. Opening them again, she found that some of the darkness had departed as it always seemed to do in the presence of lights.

In the distance, she heard a car engine and smiled to herself. The cuckoo clock on the wall brought in the hour and from her window, she watched neighbours she didn’t know, arrive home to their families. Once their front doors had closed, she imagined what was currently happening inside. It’s like watching a play, she chuckled in her head, though I’ve not been to the theatre in years. Drawing comfort from the fake imagines she had conjured, she pulled the curtains together as best she could.

Shuffling away, she left the smallish living room and went into the kitchen via the hallway. The lights were off, but she knew the way well enough. Pushing against the cardboard like door, she walked in and fumbled arthritic fingers up the wall, until she found the light switch and turned it on. The low energy lightbulb took a few seconds to brighten the room, but when it did so, it showed a very modest and tidy kitchen.

Betty walked in and checking the kettle had water inside, turned it on. There was a mug on the sink draining board close by and she picked this up and brought it alongside the kettle. As she made her tea, her mind picked up the scenes she had been weaving before. She wondered if the stressed out business man across the way would spend tonight collapsed in front of the TV with his wife and two children. Or, if the single mum at number eighty-seven, who seemed to be a carer, would sit down with her teenage son to do his homework. Those thoughts made her grin.

Picking up the hot mug in a shaky hand, she hobbled back to the living room, which was far warmer than the kitchen. Sitting in her favourite chair, she placed her mug on a side table and turned the TV on. Whispered voices filled the room, reminding her that she wasn’t so alone. Aiming the controller at the screen once more, she pressed the buttons and spent a few minutes deciding what to watch. The buttons, though smooth, were small and sometimes difficult for her numb fingertips to press down.

Settled, she sipped her tea and after a few more minutes, started asking herself what she would eat tonight. Finishing off her tea, she watched the end of the program before getting up again. Her body was stiff and it took a few moments for everything to obey her commands. Walking back into the kitchen, she went to the fridge-freezer and looked inside both. Luckily, she could afford meals-on-wheels as they were know, so nearly all her meals were ready for her to just re-heat. Sighing as she looked, she remembered the days when she could go shopping and how wonderful it had felt.

Selecting stew and dumplings, she carried the plastic box to the microwave and poked holes into the cover. Mumbling to herself, as she sometimes did, she said, ‘I could make this myself and I bet it would taste and look better.’ She put the meal into the machine and hit some buttons. ‘Maybe, if my hands worked,’ she added, softly.

After eating, she watched more TV and tried to listen to the world beyond her windows. Betty felt the loneliness swelling inside her once more and wondered if she should go to the Elder Elms Day Centre tomorrow. She shook her head, ‘place smells like sickness and death, like hospital does.’ She coughed and rubbed the tightening in her chest. She drank from a glass of water wondered if she should go to bed.

The phone rang, startling her and making her jump. Tutting, she grabbed the receiver and answered it, ‘hello?’

‘Good evening, madam, I’m Evelyn. I’m calling from Better Energy and this call will only take a few minutes of your time. Are you the home owner?’ an Indian female voice spoke, in quick, well-rehearsed words.

Betty nodded into the phone, ‘Yes, I am.’

‘Well, I shall only take a few minutes of your time. I can help you find a cheaper energy supplier,’ the female voice continued.

‘Well, I’m not that interested to be honest, but do go on, Love.’

‘Do you know who your current gas and electric supplier is, Madam?’ Evelyn’s clipped voice asked.

‘British Gas, I believe,’ Betty answered back as she started to enjoy the conversation.

‘And what is your current status? Unemployed or employed?’

‘Retired. Have been for twenty years now. I use to be a head teacher at a secondary school,’ Betty explained.

‘And are you single, married, divorced?’

‘Widowed. Of ten years now. My poor Bert. He had a heart condition.’

‘I’m very sorry to hear that, Madam. Do you live alone?’

‘Yes,’ Betty said softly, feeling a sob in her throat.

‘Is your house a semi or detached?’

‘Detach, it’s a bungalow.’

‘And how much do you pay currently for your gas and electric, right now?’

‘I don’t know,’ Betty sniffed, ‘I’m sorry.’

‘That’s all right, Madam. A rough guess would be fine.’

‘It doesn’t matter. I should go…’

‘Wait, a moment, Madam,’ Evelyn’s voice said quickly, almost urgently.

‘Yes?’ Betty asked, her ears having picked up on that desperation.

‘Was your last bill payment; under one hundred, under two hundred or greater than three hundred? Could you take a guess, Madam?’

‘I’d have to look at the bill and I keep those in my spare room. I can’t get up right now and it would take too long,’ Betty explained, ‘I’m really not interested, Love. I just…I just wanted to hear your voice. You know, a real voice.’

‘I understand, Madam, but if you could just answer the question? I’m positive, I can help you today and you could get a better deal on your bills.’

‘No, thank you,’ Betty said and put the phone down with Evelyn’s voice pleading with her from the small speaker.

Taking a deep breath, she rubbed her forehead, feeling the headache that was growing there and decided that she would go to bed. Getting up and heading for the bedroom on aching legs, Betty decided that tomorrow she would go to the day centre.