Fiction Friday: Daren, Chapter 1

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Welcome to the ongoing saga of whatever story we are telling right now  It’s Friday.  Let’s do something else for a few minutes…

The room had gotten very dark in the last few hours, it seemed.  That happened when Daren worked late.  With his eyes on the screen and not on the window, the world around him just gradually tunneled until the screen was all that existed, and before he knew it, the office was a labyrinth of shadows, silent save the the hum of the equipment.  Oh well.  Wasn’t the first time, wouldn’t be the last.

As a creative professional, Daren found the 9-5 ideal ridiculous, not because he was a workaholic but because he was a work spasmodic, meaning twelve hours straight on a single project was balanced by two late mornings and an unproductive afternoon later in the week.  His work ethic was fine, office hours just weren’t designed for designers.  If a project was going well, or was scathingly close to deadline, society’s concept of time was irrelevant.  That could also be said of mornings that weren’t going well, and afternoons that were too boring to bear.  

“If the Muse has gone home, they may as well send us home, too,” he used to scream dramatically while pounding his chest in the safety of his mind, when in reality he was silently scribbling meeting notes on the ambivalent pad before him.   No one used paper notes, but using his tablet looked a lot like texting or playing, he had endured the accusing glares more than enough for that already, and it just made more sense to use paper than to try to position himself to show the whole room that his screen was on-task.  No one would read the notes in any format.  They would be tossed without a second glance, but the office recycled, so no one cared.  He wondered if maybe the act of writing things down helped him remember them so he didn’t need the notes after writing them, and just decided to run with that.  

Today, the Muse ordered delivery and decided to stay for the night.  In the past few hours, Daren had done easily a week’s worth of work.  He was starting to impress himself, actually, but the fact that he noticed the darkness was the first step towards calling it a night.  Muse or no Muse, sleep and food were biological needs that eventually broke through, and they had started knocking.  Daren had been there so long, he could almost hear the knocking as though it was in the room with him.  Or coming from down the hall.

The knocking was coming from the equipment room.  No more soft, invisible hum.  The sound wasn’t loud in the hallway, but the soundproofing was the reason so much power was usually nothing but a hum, and opening the door would reveal a sound loud enough to knock all the way to the hall through all the insulation.  Daren wasn’t an Engineer but he knew one thing for certain—this was not a good sound.  Nothing positive ever started with, “The banging was coming from the equipment room,” and it happened to happen while Daren was there, alone.

When was the last time he had backed up his work?

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