I’d just like to make an announcement:Tim Booth, 1983
This building is on fire!
I got to my room before anyone else. My ‘phone, vibrating in my pocket, told me that one of my colleagues was out of action with a stomach bug; my immediate superior wasn’t in yet. Vaguely wondering if she was sick too, I sat down at a desk and began to busy myself.
The fire alarm went off.
Sigh. Out I went into the corridor. Nobody was there, but then I didn’t see anyone in the assembly point, either. Rationalising that if this was a real fire, it wouldn’t be safe, I made my way down the stairs. I was halfway down when the alarm stopped.
“It can’t be a real fire,” I said aloud to the unoccupied staircase, adding “like that one at the beginning of Thirteen Erotic Ghosts…” in an undertone. Confident that I was safe and struggling to remember any more of the plot of Thirteen Erotic Ghosts, I stomped back up the staircase to my room, this time passing by a cool, unconcerned-looking colleague.
I hadn’t sat down yet when the fire alarm went off again.
This wasn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, the day beforehand, and the day before that, we had all stood outside in the mizzling rain listening to our boss talk about how opening certain doors tripped the alarm. Who had done it? Staff? Client? It didn’t really matter, though; there wasn’t a real fire. Making a mental note to not open any doors again, ever, I stood there dithering for a few seconds before grabbing my lunch and the Super Mario cup I got in Sweden and making my way back out.
I didn’t stop walking when the bell stopped ringing this time, since I was halfway to the break room and had half a mind to make some morning coffee while putting my lunch in the ‘fridge. As I passed his office, I spotted our CEO Paul sitting back down, evidently having been caught out by the alarm as I had been.
Paul, like Paul Michael Robinson. Paul Michael Robinson, who plays Haffron in Emmanuelle. Grinning internally at what reaction Haffron might have to a fire alarm sound, I made my way into the break room to find, for the first time that morning, more than one colleague standing together.
The fire alarm went off again and nobody said or did anything about it.
I got my coffee and walked back to my room past a door through which grey smoke was issuing.
The word smoke slotted into my brain a little too late, and I half walked, half flew back to the room, wrenching the door open.
“Hey, close the door!” said my colleague in the kitchen. “I had a bit of an accident making the toast, but that’s okay. I threw away the burned bits. The toast’s ready now.”
“Theo, your toast is ready,” I said before I could stop myself. My colleague threw me a half-amused smirk, with which I thought it best to excuse myself.
My immediate superior was in my room when I got back.
“Ah! You’re here!”
“Yes! Have you been here for a while?”
“I have. The fire alarm went off a few times. I was enjoying the quiet and privacy, but that’s not to be.”
“You can have privacy in my room.”
I make connections far too easily.