Continued from Part 1
Before I open the door to the hallway, I glance down at my watch. 7:45. Shit. Closer, but still fifteen minutes late. Fifty bucks says he’s in there leaned up against the wall, just waiting to give me a hard time. I take a deep breath, put on a grin, and push through the door. He is nowhere in sight. Maybe he is busy and hasn't noticed that I am late. I can hope. I stroll into my office and flick my computer on, willing it to boot quickly so that it won’t betray my absence.
After about an hour of making myself appear busy, I decide that I am in the clear. I stand up, stretch, and head down the hall to check on Fred. He’s not bugging me. That must mean that he is up to his eyeballs in something and if he has something that hot, I’m sure he will need my help. His door is open and his office is empty. I check my watch. Almost 9 o’clock. I scroll through my mental calendar, coming up blank for any recurring meetings or other plans of which I had been informed.
As I wander back to my seat, it hits me that Fred isn’t the only one missing. The entire office is quiet. There is no one at the photocopier or the water cooler. There is no sound of hushed chit chat and gossiping. There are no overly loud speakers indicative of a telecon.
I knock quietly on Kimberley’s door. When I get no answer, I cautiously crack the door. I find an empty room, silent but for the groaning of the AC unit. I do the same with Richard’s office and then Steph’s. Both are empty. I eye the door across from my office. The Den. That’s what we call it. It’s a group office with a half a dozen cubicles installed. It’s where we keep the interns and the most junior team members. I was in there up until a year ago when an office opened up after an encouraged retirement.
I am met with more silence as I barge through the door. Not a single prairie dog pokes its head up over the fabric dividers. I wander through the cubes. All are empty. My brain floods with confusion. It’s one thing for the senior team to be missing, but for all of the prairie dogs to be hiding? What the hell?
Crossing the hall, I sit back down at my desk and look through my calendar and double and triple check my email to ensure that I am not missing an assembly. Anxiety has settled in my stomach and paranoia has set in. A million impossible scenarios begin playing in my head. Nothing fits. Any kind of a group evacuation would entail alarms; security guards; the police; or the fire department, none of which are apparent.
Sitting at my desk and starring at my computer, I strain to hear the sound of a door opening or a co-worker laughing, signaling the return of my colleagues. Anything.