It felt like ages before I finally found a soda machine near a door marked Stairs. Sipping my coke, I walked over to the door. I wasn't in any hurry to get
downstairs, seeing as I still had about two hours left before my unwelcome guest would arrive. I opened the door out of pure curiosity and looked inside.
The stairs went through the building in a rectangular pattern with a landing and a door for each floor. In the middle, as there often was for these kinds of staircases, there was a hole that (presumably) lead to the bottom of the building. I walked forward, the soda foaming slightly in my hand. The staircase had a large wooden railing that stood up to my chest, but had huge gaps between the supporting posts. Apparently, there was little concern for children falling through.
I yawned, leaning forward on the railing so I could see over the edge. I lifted the soda to my lips, but immediately stopped, my hand shaking, when I realized I couldn't see the bottom of the staircase. Instead, it seemed to fade away in a haze of red, as if this was the Stairway to Hell.
Those must be the lowest levels. I thought, ignoring the rail that was digging into my chest as I leaned further forward in the hopes that I might see something. The red light looked like it was coming from deep within the building. Occasionally, I thought I saw a jet of steam hiss through the air.
I suddenly realized an unsteady wooden railing was the only thing between me and a plummet to certain death. I stepped back into the hallway and closed the door to the stairs, deciding then that I would avoid using them if I could. It took me another few minutes to find the elevator again, and by that point it was 10:45.
Annie was still at her desk, only now she was talking on the phone with someone. I stayed a reasonable distance away, but I could still hear her side of the conversation.
She was smiling, a bright and cheerful smile. "Well don't put it on the counter! Just take it outside, I'll buy us a new carton. Honey, do you know what rotten milk smells like? Exactly. Just use some paper towels. I'll talk to you later. Love you." She hung up, chuckling before she noticed me. "Oh hey Todd!"
"Hey." I smiled. "Making a few drug deals?"
"Yup." She grinned. "Gonna stash the stuff at your place. That ok?"
"You don't even know where I live."
"That's what you think."
"That break room still open?"
"Yeah, 5th floor, directly on your left. Kumar is up there. He's a friend of mine." She said casually, typing something on the computer.
"Sweet. Oh, and, when Gary gets here, don't make eye contact."
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