First Draft

Page 17

Ben happily chewed his second bite of egg roll, himself now slowly rotating in his swivel chair. The office was silent, empty, and the egg roll was delicious. The clouds had parted late in the morning, and now the one o’clock sun was flooding in through the windows. Before sitting to eat, he’d turned off the fluorescent lights and cracked open one of the windows for a bit of fresh air. The honks and sirens of the roadway were soothing. He gazed out the window, at the sunny distant hills of trees, and the sunny buildings next door, as he took another bite.

He glanced up at the duct above him, and just barely caught the reflective flicker of two greenish eyes, as they vanished into the dusty darkness, to the sound of thumping and banging that quickly grew distant. Contentedly, Ben continued to munch in the peaceful din of the shopping plaza.

He looked over at Maria’s own swivel chair. That one was a little comfier than his own – maybe he’d commandeer hers for the rest of the day. He glanced over at the other two chairs in the room, and then up suddenly, at the gargoyle-like figure which had just shifted into a perched position on the outside of the window, staring in at him through her frizzy mass of hair. And from the corner of his eye, he caught a tiny wisp of grayish-black smoke, swirling through the air around him.

Popping the last bit of egg roll into his mouth, Ben swung around in his chair to face his desk, blatantly ignoring Mara. He could hear her foreboding growl trickling in through the opened window, but he did not see any accompanying movement from her through his peripherals, and so he tapped at his keyboard to wake his computer. Quickly, he brought up his web browser, typed in “” and clicked on the first thumbnail that caught his eye, as he reached down into the brown paper back for his next course.

Wing suit skydivers, all in a colorful array of silky, seemingly oversized outfits, were weaving and winding in a mid-air single-file line between tree tops and boulders. Ben’s eyes widened as he watched the screen, and opened a cardboard box of chicken and broccoli. A small movement to the right of his screen, near the corner of the room, caught his eye. Another wisp of grayish something wafted down from above him, and then evaporated into nothingness before reaching the desktop. Ben paid it no mind as he returned his attention back to the harrowing, adventurous twists and turns of the video playing before him. Though, for the briefest moment, he did glance to his left, to see that Mara was still seated on the window sill, watching him intently – though now she was inside of the room.

Again, he tried to ignore her, returning his full attention to the screen and his meal. The box of chicken and broccoli was every bit as delicious as the egg roll.

Benjamin sighed as he collected and crushed his trash up into a bundle and dropped it into the bin beside him. Starting work again was going to difficult, he could tell. He opened up his architectural software again, and began scanning through the scribbled list of to-dos on the sticky note before him. He felt his chair bounce slightly, as Mara clicked her way up its back rest and perched herself on top.

“Kitchen interior elevations,” Ben muttered to himself.

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