10:59:59

by Christopher North

Third Prize in the Bare Fiction Prize for Flash Fiction 2014

fluorescent tubes were flickering in the executive suite. The central gutter had backed up half its length. An apparently empty white van was parked by the entry steps. A single drip of water ploinked into the main cistern. The service lift was stationed one below the top floor. He was crossing the room whistling between his teeth. She screwed up her face in the mirror and moved closer. On the eighth floor a door was pushed open. Air was motionless in the conference room. A scrunched up ball of cellophane was beginning to expand in a waste paper basket. He was looking down at a man walking rapidly along the approach road towards the roundabout. Three were exiting a lift. Leather was squeaking as he rubbed the outside of the seventh storey window. A key was scrabbled in a lock. The unattended copier was producing sheet after sheet of blank paper. A petal had just fallen from a cut rose in a pewter mug. She was double clicking ‘Systems Control’. Five were standing up pushing chairs back with their calves. Behind a flush door he was picking his nose, a telephone receiver crushed beneath his ear. The white van was ticking as it cooled. Four letters were lying in the top tray. She was staring forward in a day-dream at her desk. He kicked loose a thermo-plastic tile beneath the drinks dispenser. The Sales Manager was restraining comment having just noticed the girl’s love-bite. A refrigerator was whirring. Four were sitting at a table, one yawning. A phone was trilling. A screen saver was covered with the words ‘I love you!’ It was starting to rain. On a doodle pad, scribbles depicted ammonites and open fans. One corner of the road map stuck to the post-room wall suddenly lost adhesion. The uniformed man behind the security screen looked up from a memo. A saucepan of milk was starting to foam over. A mother with a complaining child approached the entrance steps. The hills to the south were just becoming visible through the late morning haze.

At 11.00 the white van was no longer parked by the entrance steps.

 

Christopher North

10:59:59 won third prize in the Bare Fiction Prize for Flash Fiction 2014 and first appeared in Issue 5 of Bare Fiction Magazine in March 2015.