Thirty-Seven

“Thirty-seven?” Conrad asked peeking at the illuminated button. “Do I need to worry about a nosebleed up there?” The lips of the man in the gray suit curled into a tight smile, but he remained silent. Conrad leaned against the wall of the elevator, perching his butt on the railing of the small metal box. “You know, I’ve never been higher than twenty-two.”

“Hm.”

A mellow bell chimed with each floor they ascended. After passing half a dozen, Conrad asked, “Do you usually work up here in the rafters?”

“No, not me,” answered the man in the gray suit. “My office is on thirteen.”

“Oh yeah?” Conrad was strangely relieved to learn that this stranger was only five floors more important than him instead of twenty-nine. “Thirteen, pretty unlucky, huh?”

“Perhaps,” the man answered flatly.

“That’s what . . . Marketing?”

“Special projects.”

It was said so casually that Conrad almost missed the significance. Then he remembered the rumors he had heard the people who worked on the thirteenth floor and what made their projects so special.

“Who . . . who’s on thirty-seven?”

“Not ‘who.’ What.”

One final chime as the elevator stopped. The doors opened to blackness, moist air, and the sound of breathing.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash

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