8:20

A tiny brown mouse scurried into view, freezing in the light for a moment before darting
behind the refrigerator. Felix sighed. Mike had not laid traps yet, despite saying he would.
“You know Felix, I’ve been thinking,” Mike said pensively as he deftly shaved off a strip
of shaving cream and, presumably, hair. “The new boss isn’t really gelling.”
“Gelling?” Felix repeated, already annoyed. “What do you mean?”
“Have you noticed how different it feels at work? Like we’re all being supervised or
something, like we’re children. It’s so tense,” Mike said, wincing as he nicked himself with the
razor.
“It’s only tense if you’re not doing your work,” Felix replied, rapidly losing interest.
“What are you trying to say?”
“I don’t feel tense at all,” Felix said as he adjusted his watch, feeling the cool metal
against his fingertips. “The job is the same, the work I do every day is the same. Why should I
feel different?”
“So you’re saying you don’t miss Reggie.”
“Not really. He wasn’t my friend,” Felix said, noticing the dirt and hair caked in the grout
between the bathroom tiles. Mike’s dirt and hair to be exact.
“But he was one of us! He knew how to run the office, let me tell you…”
“Please… stop. Stop talking. Do you see me waiting for you?”
“Sorry, sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, just get dressed and let’s go.”
“All right, Jesus,” Mike puffed, quickly stripping down to Felix’s visible dismay. “So
you don’t have any problem with this new boss.”
“The only thing I have a problem with is your constant complaining, if you spent half as much time working as complaining…”
“Maybe I’d be the boss,” Mike grinned as he pulled his pants on.
“What a lovely thought.”
After 5 more agonizing minutes of Mike getting ready, they finally were on their way. Or
at least they would have been had Mike not forgotten the keys to the apartment and then had to
head back inside. Felix checked his watch. 8:06. 14 minutes to catch the train. The walk to the
station was 10 minutes. They were cutting it close, too close. The back of Felix’s neck burned as
he watched Mike fumble with and drop the keys as he tried locking the door.
“Oops,” Mike chuckled. “Man, I’m all thumbs today.”
“We’re going to be late,” Felix said.
“Calm down, we got time. All right,” Mike said as he successfully locked the door. “Let’s get going.”
Felix walked quickly to the elevator, mashing the down button a bit too hard, leaving his
index finger with a dull stinging sensation. Mike sauntered over, an insufferable smile plastered
on his face.
“You okay, Felix? You’re looking tense,” Mike said with teasing concern. “Hey, maybe
when we get back from work we can…”
“I’m not tense,” Felix said tersely. “What the hell is taking this elevator so long?”
“Oh, it’s out of order,” Mike said.
Felix’s eyes locked on Mike. “What.”
“Yeah, it broke over the weekend, I found out when I went out yesterday… sorry dude I
forgot to mention it.”
Felix checked his watch. 8:10.
“The stairs,” Felix said, “Move. The stairs.”
“Okay, take it easy, we still have time,” Mike said.
Mike struggled to keep up with Felix, who was bounding down two steps at a time. By
Felix’s estimation if they hurried they’d be out of the building by 8:12, giving them 8 minutes to
catch the train. If they jogged over there, it would take about 7 minutes.
“We have to hurry,” Felix panted, his breath already short. “We don’t have…”
Before Felix could finish his sentence he felt his foot give way and suddenly he was
airborne. For a brief moment, the moment in which his brain was still processing what was going
on, it seemed as if time had stopped. In that moment, Felix felt his muscles relax, his breathing
steady. He closed his eyes and released the tightness in his heart. Drifting through space, his
course seemed free and limitless, uncertain in its destination but secure in its safety.
Gravity slammed him back into reality. His head bounced against the pitiless marble floor, shattering his thoughts and leaving behind a thick soup of blinking spots and swirling lights. He squinted at the fuzzy shape above him, struggled to understand the muffled nonsense it was screaming at him.
He had fallen, that much he could tell. Hit his head pretty badly, too, he realized with a
faint pinch of annoyance. He rolled over and zeroed in on the perpetrator with sudden clarity: a
browned apple core, bitten to the seeds, crushed a bit from Felix’s foot.
“Damn it,” Felix cursed, checking his watch. 8:14.

6 minutes.
Felix summoned all his strength and pushed himself off the ground. Spikes of pain stabbed through his brain. His vision was foggy and his body was rocking like a boat in a storm. But something deep inside anchored him to consciousness, to life. It kept him suspended above the abyss, wrenching him back up to safety inch by agonizing inch. He clenched his fists hard, nails drawing blood from his palms.

“I’m going to work,” Felix declared.
He threw his body against the double doors leading outside and stumbled on to the
sidewalk. He was instantly greeted by a gust of wind that nearly knocked him over, but he found
his balance again. Sheets of rain poured down on him, leaves slapped him in the face. He looked to the sky and saw angry clouds puffing up, challenging him to step forward. He gritted his teeth and forged ahead.
The weatherman had not said anything about rain. Thunder rolled down the street like a
barrel on asphalt. The drums of war boomed in his ears, pounding his brain. The weatherman had not said anything about thunder.
“Clear skies!” Felix raged. “What a moron! Can’t anyone just do their fucking job?!”
Felix tried checking his watch but the rain was blinding, or maybe his vision was going
on him. He guessed he had 3 minutes to get there, but at his current speed he would get there in 8 minutes. Felix’s heart dropped.
But then something got caught in his eye. He blinked and wiped at his eye but there was
nothing there. Yet there was, there was something that stung for a second. He looked up and he
realized that it was not a speck of dust or dirt that had been caught in his eye, but light. A single
thin ray of light that had managed to break through the clouds and poke him in the eye. It glowed like a beacon. Felix stared at it for a moment and ground his teeth.
“I said… I am going to work,” Felix snarled, bloodstained saliva leaking from the corner of his mouth.

Then, by some miracle, he was running. Racing so fast down the street it felt like he
could spread his arms, leap into the air and take flight, soar between buildings and cars. He cut
through the wind and the rain as if they were nothing. He felt the sun’s sole ray planting fiery kisses on his cheek, branding him with marks of valor and tenacity.  It beckoned him forward, pleading, yearning. The driving rain and thunder roared in his ears, but he could not falter. In that moment, Felix was a hero. He could not lose.

Soon he saw the sign for the subway station, and he plunged down the stairs. He checked his watch. 8:19. He was going to make it.
He blew past the turnstiles and scrambled to the boarding area for his train. He made it. He made it. He panted, exhilarated and light-headed. Very light-headed. He looked around. Everyone was staring at him. Nausea rippled through his body.
“Are you all right?” an older woman asked, cautiously stepping closer.
“I’m… fine,” Felix said as he collapsed.
The train came and went. The paramedics could not arrive in time. Felix’s watch read
9:32 am when he was pronounced dead.

 


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