• A man walked into an elevator, the dreary cheery music wafting out, filling the air with its hopelessness. He carried a suitcase, black, dull. Full of papers, work, death. His eyes drooped. Just another day in the office, his 1,232nd to be exact. 1,232 days, 8 hours a day. That’s 9848 hours of his life spent sitting in a little chair typing away on a little computer for a corporation that wouldn't last another hundred years. All of those hours into something that wouldn't last, all of those seconds. 35,452,800 seconds. He would never get those back. People always warned that smoking would take years off of your life. He avoided cigarettes like any good fellow would. Who wants to lose their years, their treasured years? And yet, as he walked into the elevator, he knew that today he would lose another 8 hours, another 480 minutes, another 28,800 seconds. His life dwindled away, pointless, useless. None of it would matter after he was gone, his existence, what he did. He would be wiped from memory. A man who spent 8 hours a day working so he could afford the small things. Food to keep him alive. His little apartment that he bought specifically because it was close to the office. The nice furniture, tables, rugs he bought to keep his space nice for people who would never visit. The suits and ties he bought to impress people who didn't see him as he passed them. He was invisible to the world, a ghost. His life, he knew, was already gone, his years ahead taken by the office. He was already dead to the world. The elevator doors closed, and the motion that would bring him to another day in the office, his own cigarettes that drained 8 hours a puff, began. He began his routine check of large mirror in the rising room. His suit was perfect, like everyday, his shoes shined. His hair was combed to perfection, hiding the little bald patch no one would notice anyway. He was alone, like everyday. Everyone stuck to their schedules, and he to his, and no one was ever in the elevator when he got on at precisely 6:45 every morning. And no one would get on either. This he knew as he knew the sky was up and the ground was down, because no one ever got on. His office was on the 27th floor of the building, He had no window in his office. The elevator trip every morning took exactly three minutes and seven seconds. Elevators in his office building were slow. He stared at the digital display over the door, as soon as he’d checked himself over, that told him where in the world he was now. Right now it was the second floor. Now it was the third floor… the elevator stopped. What was the matter? A malfunction? All that was right and sensible in the world crashed down around him. What WAS this? Images of fire and chaos flashed through his head. People in suits running around screaming, flames consuming desks, papers scattered across the floors. The doors opened and a man in a blue suit stepped in. He was tall, maybe six-foot-three. His hair was uncombed, messy, disgraceful even. His face was sweaty and troubled and his clothes were too baggy for his slim figure. Who was this man? What was he doing in this elevator at this very moment? WHY was he here? No one EVER got on the elevator at this time, none but the man whose life had become the office. All of this flashed through his head, and yet none of it did. He did not notice this man in the blue suit as he was sure the man in the blue suit did not notice he himself. Because everyone in this building was a ghost, invisible to each other, their lives already lost to their work.

    “Hello.” The man in the blue suit said to somebody.

    The other man looked at the display of rising numbers…five…

    He felt something poking into his shoulder and turned his head slowly to look.

    “Hello?” It was the man in the blue suit; his fingers were pressed into the other man’s shoulder. He recoiled, horrified. No one touched him, no one noticed him, and no one ever got onto this particular elevator between 6:45 and 6:48 on weekdays. Was this some strange dream? It all seemed surreal. Get a hold of yourself. This type of thing happens sometimes. He’s just someone who doesn't know where he is. If he did, he wouldn't be in this elevator right now at this time in this building. He would be somewhere else, somewhere different.

    “I don’t think I've ever spoken with you before.” His eyes were bloodshot, sweat running down his face, “I’m Trevor, who are you?”

    The other man just stared, wide eyed, unable to respond, unable to think.

    “Hmmm…” Trevor in the blue suit said, “you look like a John. A John Q. Taxpayer if there ever was one you look like. Yes… may I call you John?”

    John. John. This was not his name. John was not his name. What was his name? He could not recall. The movement of the elevator caused a sinking feeling in his gut. The music was too loud. The box too hot. Seventh floor… John. John. John was okay. John was fine. Yes, Trevor in the blue suit could call him John. He nodded slowly.

    Trevor in the blue suit smiled, “John it is then. Nice to meet you John.”

    He extended his hand. John stared at it. It was sweaty and red. And it was shaking as though he couldn't keep it steady. John didn't want to touch that hand. Something was wrong with him. Trevor in the blue suit wasn't looking too hot. Eighth floor. These goddamn elevators go too ******** slow. Why was this hand extended to him? This didn't happen to him. Everything that was right and true in the life he’d built was crashing down around him. This man didn't notice him, no one noticed him. He was a ghost, his life lost to the office. This man didn't notice him, and he didn't notice this man. They didn't notice each other. The other man wasn't even here. This was all happening in John’s little head, and he was just staring at the little digital display over the door…still eight…

    Trevor in the blue suit repeated, “Nice to meet you John.”

    He was staring intently with bloodshot eyes at John. His hand was still held out, and John watched as a drop of sweat dripped from the man’s fingertip. You’re losing it John. This man doesn't even exist, he’s a figment of your imagination. Of course he is, or he wouldn't be talking to you John. Your name isn't even John! Why are you thinking of yourself as John? Why was he? He was, because he didn't know what to call himself. John reached out and grasped his new imaginary friend’s hand. It was hot. ********, it was really hot! Scalding almost. The music was getting louder, pressing on his mind, running down the walls…ninth floor…ninth floor… He let go of Trevor in the blue suit’s hand, and a squirting popping noise like a water balloon bursting jumped over the elevator music. The dreary cheery ******** LOUD music. John looked up to see blood pouring out of Trevor in the blue suit’s right eye socket. His face was beat red, and the sweat was starting to steam off of it. His eye had just popped. He had a smile on his face. John pressed back against the elevator wall. Tenth floor, another seventeen to go.

    “So, John. You work here?”
    The blood was staring to pour down his face, and some was running into his mouth as he spoke.
    “On the,” he glanced at the panel with the button on it, and at the glowing one… “twenty seventh floor. Eight hour days, am I right?”

    John just nodded, not taking his yes off Trevor in the blue suit’s face. It was starting to bloat, the remaining eye almost completely red…Eleventh floor…
    Trevor in the blue suit was still smiling as though his eyeball hadn't blown out of his head, “Ah… interesting. And my, but what a nice suit that is John. It must have been expensive!”
    John just stared at the digital display, come on, carry me out of this nightmare. The numbers changed from “11” to “12”.

    “Was it expensive John?”

    John turned to face the man again, wide eyed and pressed back into the elevator wall so tight he thought his clothing would fuse with it. The music was pulsing demoniacally, losing all rhythm and simply driving into his ear like some burrowing rodent.

    “Was it?”

    “Yes,” He gasped. His voice sounded weak and scared to him…thirteen…
    Trevor in the blue suit didn't seem to notice at all, “Of course it was. Suits like that don’t come cheap. If you don’t mind my asking, why such a nice suit? Is there someone you’re trying to impress? The boss? A lovely co-worker down the hall?”

    John remembered buying the suit. Walking into the store, flipping through their selection of suits and picking his favorites. Trying them on and finally choosing the most expensive of the lot. He simply had to have the best of all of the suits in the store. The entire time he was in the store, he never thought of why. Why did he need this amazing suit? He never thought about it as he swiped his bank card and punched in his pin number. He never thought about it as the man behind the counter thanked him for his purchase and he left the store. And here he stood in an elevator – not only was he not alone, but the person, as well, whom stood before him looked as though he was bursting at the seams – and he was thinking about why he’d bought the suit. Why he bought the ******** suit. WHY. No, he did not buy it to impress someone. No one saw him. No one would notice. He didn't buy it to look good; he didn't buy it to look superior. He didn't even buy it because he could. He just… did. He cocked his head slightly and stared at the bloating face of Trevor in the blue suit… and shook his head slowly.

    Trevor in the blue suit nodded and smiled, “Is it okay if I ask you another question John?”

    No, no it is not okay. Just leave me be. You've already torn my world down around me. He glanced up at the digital display again…seventeen… ten more floors. Just ten more floors. He nodded.
    Trevor in the blue suit grinned, “Do you enjoy your job here John, do you?”
    John shook his head, no he did not. Did he hate it? No, he did not. He just… did it.
    Trevor in the blue suit rubbed his steaming face with one hand, and his left cheek split open with a wet snapping whoosh. Eighteenth floor, “So then John, why do you do this job?”
    That was an easy one, “To make,” his voice cracked, and he cleared his throat., “to make enough money to live off of. To pay for my food, apartment…”


    “Ah yes, food and shelter, that’s right, that’s right. The necessities of life they are.” The music blared. John’s image in the elevator mirror had become that of a lunatic, his hair messed and his head sweaty. His eyes were wide and deranged. “But John, tell me, what do you do when you aren't in your apartment, when you aren't… eating.” Trevor in the blue suit’s smile had dropped to a slightly amused grin, and his head jerked. His nose started bleeding simultaneously out of both nostrils.
    John licked his lips, “I, uh. I… work here.”

    “Oh come on John, you must do something else, don’t you go out? Where do you go?”
    Where do you go Where do you go Why such a nice suit What is your name your name your name Where do you go? The music blared, the lights grew brighter and brighter, his head, his life, it hurt, no sense.

    …Twenty-first floor, five to go, five floors…

    “I go shopping…”

    “What do you buy?” Trevor in the blue suit was no longer smiling, no longer grinning, his face made a sick popping noise as his bulging skin split. His other eye burst.

    Sweat was now dripping down John’s face. He glanced up at the dial, “22”

    “I buy,” John wiped his forehead, “furniture, clothing… food” The music was unbearable. Could he really have been here for only a little under three minutes?

    “So you buy food to live, and an apartment to live. You buy furniture for your apartment. You buy clothing to wear to while you work, and to wear while you are out purchasing these things. And you work so you can buy these things.” Trevor in the blue suit was shouting. His suit was drenched with sweat and blood, and the elevator was getting foggy with the sweat he was steaming off.


    “Stop, please stop…” John begged. The elevator was swirling around, the light all but burning his eyes, the music plowing through the steam like a bull.

    “You work so you can live, and you live so you can work.”


    …Twenty-fourth…three floors…

    “You don’t like your work so you don’t like your life.” Trevor in the now purplish blue shirt reached out and grabbed John’s shirt with both scalding hot hand, and John’s eyes rolled back into his head. The music…the light…the steam…the blood…


    “So why are you living John?” Trevor in the drenched suit screamed, “Why the ******** are you even alive?”



    “I’m not.” Whispered John, and he screamed.

    A woman walked down a hallway. It was 6:48. She always went to the bathroom at 6:48, everyday. She didn't always need to go, but she always went anyhow. She heard a ‘ding’ as the elevator stopped at the floor. The elevator always stopped at this floor as she passed, and a man always walked out. But she never noticed him, because he was a ghost to her. Just as she was a ghost to him. They were ghosts to each other and ghosts to the world. The doors opened, and a piercing scream poured out of the elevator, blocking out the dreary, cheery music. She looked in, and saw the man sitting in a corner screaming. He was doused in blood, as was the rest of the elevator. And the blood was steaming as though it were extremely hot. His face was a mask of pure agony. And the room had chunks of some purplish fabric all over it, plastered to the walls. She stood for a second, staring at it all, even at the shoes full of blood in the center of the box, and then she started walking again. Because she didn't see anything. She did not hear the screams of a man fading as she headed further away. For he was a ghost to her, and she to him. They were invisible to he world, and the world was the office.
    The office was life.