He tried not to look. He knew it would be gaping open. He knew it would be a sight that he would remember for the rest of his life, but he couldn’t look. He needed to focus. He needed to get this report done. A small bead of sweat swelled on Paul’s temple and he felt it slowly skate down the side of his cheek. He winced. Could people see it? He wasn’t sure. He wasn’t even sure anyone was looking at him. Maybe he could just have a quick glance. No, he needed to focus.
In front of him, his computer sat lazily. The straight lines of a spreadsheet penned him into his chair; the mass of empty boxes grinning at him and daring him to try to fill them. He’d been in the office an hour now, and still the light sheen of the cleaner’s haphazard attempt to polish his keyboard shone merrily at him. He gingerly tapped a key.
“Ah there it is.” Came Lucy’s gymnastic voice from the seat next to him. Without thinking Paul turned to see what she had found. There it was. He blinked and a second bead of sweat slid down his cheek. There it was.
Lucy was holding a mobile phone in her carefully manicured hand. It was small, white and unblemished by scratches. She held it towards Paul, as if it were a peace offering, her body still curled forward from when she had been rummaging in her handbag. Paul forced his eyes onto the electronic device, staring at it as if he were a cheap sideshow hypnotist.
His resolve didn’t last long.
Lucy lifted the phone higher and started to type a text. It was like the lifting of a curtain on a stage. The red folds of velvet disappearing into the rafters to reveal a new world of interest and intrigue. Paul let out a small choke. Lucy’s breasts were literally close enough to touch. Her top was wide open. The two small buttons were, with calculated carelessness, undone and the rim of her bra clearly visible. Yet, that was all just framing, all just window dressing to the centrepiece of the beautiful, soft, pale cleavage that hung invitingly before Paul.
Paul realised he was still looking. Still staring like a teenager at Lucy’s breasts. He twisted his chair back round to desk, and thankfully his eyes followed him. His palm’s were hot and damp, and his throat dry. He’d just made a fool of himself, he was certain. Everyone in the office had seen him starring at Lucy like she was there for his own delight. Lowering her with his eyes; reducing her to nothing but a sex object. He wished he could go home.
The cursor flashed impatiently as Paul tried to remember what he was meant to be doing. He watched as the status bar quick-saved his near empty document. His mind was blank, all he could remember were the two gentle curves, the implied warmth and softness, the indescribable desire. He grabbed the mouse and closed the spreadsheet with a sharp click.
“Mr Matheson, could I have word please?” Paul looked up groggily to see Blake, his line manager, leaning out of his office door like a stuffed gorilla. Paul, without a word but feeling the whole universe looking at him, trudged into Blake’s office.
“Now, Paul, I doubt I have to explain why I’ve brought you here.” Said Blake with a regal air. “You’re clearly not firing on all cylinders. Is there a problem?”
“No, sir, I’m just… It’s just…”
“I like you Paul, I really do. I’ve defended you in the management meetings, I’ve stuck up for you because I think you’re a good guy, but I can’t keep doing that. Soon you’ve got to pay me back. You’ve got to prove that my faith in you is well founded. Where are we with the Bills-to-Thrills competitor analysis?”
“I need a little more…”
“I’ve got to present something to the board in three days, Paul, I trusted you with this assignment when I gave it to you. I gave you a chance to prove to senior management that you weren’t a poor hiring. I’ve given you full control of your future. Don’t mess it up.”
“I only got given the assignment yesterday, there’s a lot…”
“Paul, welcome to the real world. We have deadlines, we have targets to meet. I’m really trying here Paul, but I can’t take any more excuses. I want it on my desk by end of play tomorrow or I’m afraid, it won’t be my choice you understand, but I’m afraid we will have to let you go.” Blake lent back in his chair, holding his hands up as if surrendering, but his eyes stayed narrow, sharp slits of dark energy focusing on Paul’s quivering features.
“Yes, sir, I’ll have it done.”
“Good lad,” said Blake, relaxing as if he were on his sofa at home, “must be difficult for you though, ey, sitting next to Lucy. I doubt even I would be able to keep my mind on the job, well not this job at least.” He let out a syrup like laugh, thick and oozing. Paul just gave a half respectful nod and scurried out.
Lucy wasn’t at her desk when Paul returned. He hated that that was the first thing he noticed. He slumped down in his chair and meandered through the ‘returning to desk’ ritual of the office grunt. He opened his emails; hit send and receive; watched the progress bar; closed his emails; checked the news headlines; checked the sports headlines; opened his emails again. Lucy still hadn’t returned.
Paul glanced at her empty chair and then down at his own desk, quickly running out of procrastination fodder. A piece of a paper was lying casually on top of his unofficial in-pile. It was hand written, in Lucy’s curly bubbled writing.
Finance archive room, ASAP
He stared at it. He read it again. There was no doubt it was Lucy’s hand writing, it was definitely from her. Paul got up and, as carefully and casually as he could manage, he headed towards finance’s storage room. He refused to let his mind wander, he refused to let his fantasy’s inform his imagination. It was probably just that she needed a box getting down from the top shelf or something, it wasn’t anything more than that. It couldn’t be. He wouldn’t consider it.
The room’s lights were off, which was odd, and Paul started to get nervous again. It must be a prank. He was just reaching for the light switch, when he felt a hand grip his wrist and drag him into the room. The door shut behind him. The hand and faint silhouette led him round a few of the stacks and down one of the rows. Suddenly the hand stopped and the silhouette turned to him.
“Took your time didn’t you.” said Lucy in a hushed whisper.
“What’s going on?”
“I need to tell you something. When Blake called you into his office, I knew I’d run out of time. I need to tell you something secret. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, but I couldn’t. But now, I’ve run out of time.”
“What is it?” said Paul, his voice creaking slightly. He could smell Lucy’s sweet, expensive perfume and her voice, in the dark, sounded even more sensual. He had an urge to reach out and slide his hand on to her delicate hip, but he fought against it.
A spark of light appeared between them. For the briefest of moments, Lucy’s breasts flashed before Paul and then vanished. Another spark, this time sustained for longer and tinged slightly green. For a brief moment, Paul could see Lucy staring intently at a space between herself and him. Her big eyes not wavering for an instant. Then all was dark again. Paul’s eyes chased phantoms around the empty space before him, searching for something to focus on.
Then there was a ball of light. It dispelled the dark, and bathed everything in a faint blue glow. Lucy was staring at it, holding her hands either side as if protecting it from a breeze. The glowing orb itself was no bigger than a cricket ball. Most of its surface glowed a crystal clear sky blue, but running along it were cracks of turquoise. Fault-lines along a perfectly spherical crystal. As Paul watched, the little slithers of greener light rotated and swirled around the surface of the ball and caused a faint flicker on Lucy’s pale face.
“What is that?” asked Paul eventually. Lucy answered without moving her eyes from the swirling orb before her.
“Reality. Or rather part of it.” They both stared at the ball a little longer but soon it started to fade and then blinked out of existence like the flash of a camera.
“What do you mean, part of reality?” said Paul once the darkness had coaxed his sensibilities back to the world around him.
Author note: I know this feels like half a story, so, if I get enough likes… let’s say 10? I’ll write a second half and post it up here. Alternatively, I’d love it if someone else wanted to finish this with their own ending! Why not write an ending and post it on your blog? Leave a comment here to let others know where to find it. It would be interesting to see where you want to take the story.