Annie sat alone in the expansive office, tapping her pen impatiently against her desk. The day was dragging by much too slowly. The sharp clicks echoed through the empty building like the ticking of a clock, a clock with hands that stubbornly refused to move. The fish in the aquarium at the center of the room seemed to ogle at her and she stared back at them in resentment. The office was too cold for her liking, and she felt like she was in a fish tank herself.
What a joke this job was. Annie hated it. Was this the height of her career, freezing her ass off staring at a bunch of dumb fish? Dumber than dumb. She was certain if they possessed any brain at all they would be laughing at her. They, in their aquatic amnion of isolation.
It could be worse though. A courier had showed up just before lunch with a package for one of her colleagues. It was the highlight of his day to drop a few fish flakes into the tank while he was there, only to return to… to what? To a truck full of mysterious cargo and a world full of different people and interesting places? Was that truly worse? Maybe the pay. Suddenly she stopped tapping and looked over at Melissa’s desk. How odd. The courier had never delivered anything. What could he have been…
“Where is it?” a man’s voice interrupted her thoughts.
Annie jumped. A charge of adrenaline shot through her and her heartbeat instantly accelerated. She hadn’t realized the fish were no longer her only company. A tall, well-dressed man stood next to her desk. His hair was all perfectly in place to the strand, like a manikin and he was still wearing sunglasses, as if eyesight held less import than his image. She blinked up at him and had to hold back a smile at her thought. Fish don’t blink, do they? The man seemed instantly aggravated.
“Where is it?” he demanded louder, hitting his hand heavily on her desk. His suit jacket fell open as he leaned forward to reveal a gun holstered beneath it.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” Annie said flatly.
This guy really needed to get over himself. Go ruin someone else’ lunch break. She turned away non-nonchalantly to stare at the aquarium again. Do they even have eyelids? What protects their eyes from the water?
Annie’s aloof disregard was too much for her intrusive guest. The man grabbed her by the neck and pulled her from her chair. He dragged her over and pushed her face to the side of the aquarium. The fish stared at her the way they always did, emotionless and unperturbed.
“You find this interesting?” he growled.
Anger welled up inside, squelching her instinct to scream. “You’re hurting me,” she growled back under her breath.
“Where is the microchip?” the man snapped angrily, pushing her forcefully against the glass.
The aquarium rocked. Water splashed up over the side and dripped down onto Annie’s cheek. The currents stirred the sand at the bottom of the tank and something metallic glittered in the corner of her eye. The courier! She strained her eyes for a better look. One of the fish darted down and sucked up the shiny flake before she could get a good look at it.
© 2011 Anne Schilde