Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Short story project: Unidentified Flying Object, Part 17

I strode across the lobby with as much confidence as I could muster.
“What’s your hurry?” Bailey caught up to me, and clamped his hand onto my shoulder.
“It’s getting late.” I eyed the hand anchoring me to my spot. I couldn’t tell from the tone of his question whether he was after me as a woman, or as an illegal intruder.
“It’s not even nine.” Baliey said. “There’s no one else here—and I know there are couches in the executive offices.” His hand drifted down my back and rested on my butt.
I could, as suggested, retire to one of the executive offices, but where would it end? What was I willing to do to make sure I walked out of this building alone? What would happen if I said no upfront? Did Bailey really believe me that I was a new employee at Homian Power, or was he jerking my chain, trying to get as much out of me as he could?
“I’d better not.” My voice cracked. “It would be just my luck to get caught in my new bosses’ office.” I searched blinding with my hand, my arm twisted behind me, for the elevator button. I found it.
“Hm.” Bailey removed his hand from my backside and crossed his arms over his chest.
The elevator chimed and the doors swooshed open. I smiled as I backed in. “Maybe some other time then, when you’re no longer on the bottom rung.” The guard’s voice didn’t ring with humour or enthusiasm.
            “A date then,” I said as I pressed the button for the main floor, then held down the one to close the door. Once I was alone, and the elevator was on its way down, I sunk to my knees. I remained that way, curled up tight for the whole of the ride. My head hung forward, my shoulders hunched as I tried to get a handle on my breathing. When the elevator halted on the ground floor, I forced myself to my feet and staggered across the lobby and out onto the street. I stumbled all the way to the alley without realizing where my body was taking me.
            “Clare?” He had waited for me. “Claire, are you all right? Did you get it?”
            I could sense that Jason was close, although I couldn’t see him. It was too dark…and my sight had gone blurry. Then a pair of strong, warm hands grabbed me by my forearms as my knees gave out, pulling me into a hug, rather than allowing me to sink to the pavement. I hadn’t been held so close by someone in years. Not since my father’s funeral, and my mother had said goodbye to me at the train station.
            “Clare, are you all right? Are you hurt? You’re shaking.” Jason attempted to pull me tighter to him, but I shoved him away with as much strength as I could summon.
            “I am never, ever doing something like that again.” I tossed the thumb drive at Jason. It bounced off his chest, then clattered to the ash fault. “I want no further part in this. Don’t ever call me, or wait for me at the library again or I’ll call the police. Goodbye.” I kicked off my shoes, abandoning them in the alley, then took a series of running steps to get myself into the air. It required all my remaining energy to take flight, maybe it was the excess adrenaline that helped me manage it, but I was aloft, I was free, and I was going to crash as soon as I reached my apartment.

The end!

Well, not really the end of the whole story, but the end of this part of the story.

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