According to my computer, it's Tuesday, March 15, 1994.
I haven't spoken to anybody in days. I haven't eaten anything nutritious either; just candy bars and chips from the junk food machines I've broken into. I don't know what I'll die of first; malnutrition or loneliness. Or just insanity. Can you die of insanity?
Oh, I know I'm insane. That much is clear. I remember my life when I was sane; it was like any other bland and boring life you've seen. Get up in the morning, kiss the wife goodbye, go to the office. Pound out computer programs for 8 hours or so. Then it's back to the home, the wife, the meal, the television, the bed.
I think that must have been three weeks ago. I can't be sure because each morning my computer tells me the same date: Tuesday, March 15, 1994.
I even stayed up till midnight one night to watch the clock turn over from 11:59 to 12:00. The date didn't change.
It started innocently enough on that Tuesday, March 15. The FIRST Tuesday, March 15. I had a question about about a program that only Mark could answer. So I walked to his cube. Our office is a maze of cubicles, with 5 foot partitions that I can just see over. You can never tell if somebody is in his cube until you get right there; then you can peek over his wall. Or just go to his door. Which is what I did with Mark.
As I walked in, I saw that Mark wasn't there. However, I was just in time to see the sewer cover on the floor drop into place.
A sewer cover.
A SEWER COVER?
I had never seen a sewer cover in his (or any other) cube. This is the second floor, for God's sake! There IS no sewer system! I stood there contemplating this, shaking my head. I had been in his cube hundreds of times. How could I have not noticed it before?
Ah, it must be new. The building maintenance department needed some kind of pipe access hole and this is what they came up with. A big, black, iron sewer cover.
A smile spread on my face. Isn't that just like maintenance departments? I walked over to John's cube to show him. John always likes a good joke at the companies expense. I walked in his door.
Just in time to see the sewer cover on the floor drop into place.
My smile faded.
I went back to my own cube. No sewer cover.
I went to Bill's office. Just in time to see the sewer cover on the floor drop into place.
Now my skin was starting to crawl. I stood on my tip-toes and looked around, over the tops of the partitions. I saw several people walking around a little ways away; people I didn't recognize. I started walking toward the closest one. But I couldn't take a direct route. The aisles between the cubes are offset from one another so there isn't a direct route anywhere.
I made a right and a left. The person I was chasing had moved farther away. I broke into a trot. DAMN! A dead end! Have to double back, make a left, a right, and another right, and a left. Hey, where did he go? I lost him.
I scanned the maze and found another likely person and started going after her.
With the same result.
Each time I passed a cube and peeked inside, I was just in time to see... I tried to call to the people and wave. But they didn't seem to notice me.
After chasing two other people, I found myself out of breath and standing back in front of my own office. I decided that I needed to rest a bit. I sat back in my chair and fell asleep.
When I woke up, it was dark. My computer said it was 1:39 AM, Tuesday, March 15. Damn! I had intended to just take a short nap; here it was the middle of the night. My wife was probably sick with worry. I called home, but got no answer.
So, I dashed downstairs and pushed against the door. And pushed. And pushed. It was locked, or stuck, or something.
My heart was beating so hard I thought it would burst. I ran through the whole building, pushing on emergency exits, looking for a guard. No luck. I even tried calling the police and fire departments on the phone. No answer.
That was it. No more playing by the rules. I went to the lunch room, picked up a chair, and smashed it against one of the big windows. The glass didn't break. I ran into the kitchen and found a 55 gallon drum and battered the window with it. Nothing. Not a scratch. I fell to my hands and knees and wept.
Finally, empty and dazed, I slowly walked back to my office. It was 2:38, Tuesday, March 15.
I've tried everything. I've destroyed all the ceiling tiles trying to find some escape route. I've tried prying up the hundreds of sewer covers that are always just dropping into place. I've written huge signs and put them on all the windows asking for help. I've called thousands of phone numbers. I've even tried electronic mail.
For days and days and days and days and days...
What else can I do?