Chapter 5

As he walks towards the entrance the nerves swell in his stomach. He remembers a phrase his Dad used for such occasions, “healthy fear” he used to called it, uttering it before every football game, exam and even on the night of his first date.

He reaches for the doorknob just as the door swings open, and a tall dark haired girl totters past him, heels clicking on concrete. He turns his head to catch a final glimpse of her as he steps forward through the open door.

The dull light of the corridor mirrors the smell of age and he wonders again why he is here, why he said yes after all those strange questions, why he found himself accepting the job without fully understanding what it entails. At the far end of the corridor a small light flickers and he walks toward it.

Upstairs, sitting behind a large dark wood desk sits an ageing man. He has been sitting there for some time now, quietly contemplating the past, considering his future and has come to realise how soon the end will come, far sooner than he’d been told. He accepts his fate willingly as he knew it would arrive someday and so he counts off the hours, then the minutes until his death. Quiet solace that he has done all that has been asked of him.

He knows that by the end of this day his chair will be filled by another, a younger man, fresh and confused, just as he was on his first day in this strange job. He smiles as he recalls his first day, the nerves building in that long elevator ride to the 31st floor, the slow steps along the creaking wooden corridor and can almost feel the weight of the door to the very office in which he now sits.

He listens intently and recognises the faint rattle of the elevator door opening, hears every groan and croak of each footstep, and finds himself holding his breath, his eyes fixed on the cold metal doorknob as it slowly starts to turn.

“Ummm hello?” says a voice from the other side of the door, “anyone here?”

“Come on young man, the door is not locked”.

The door swings open and, finally, the office is complete.

Standing in the doorway, Alan looks around the cramped office, bookshelves piled high and at the centre of the mayhem a large wooden desk, behind which sits Mr.Bachman.

“Ohh hi Mr.Bachman, sorry if I’m a bit late, but there aren’t any signs so … yeah I wasn’t sure I had the right office..”, nervously he glances round the tiny room.

“Ahh, but you found your way here nevertheless, a good start I think, yes yes, a good start. Now tell me, have you had breakfast? Would you like some coffee, perhaps? Or are you a man who likes to charge onwards, I think, yes yes, I think perhaps you are, so please sit and let us talk of this place”.

And so they sit, both men, young and old, at opposites sides of the desk and so the story begins.