“Frederick, please!” Devin yelled. “I know you have a lot going on in your life and a lot to be happy about, but can you please get out of my cubicle and let me work!”
Devin hunkered back down in front of his computer, his large for blocking it from view as he began typing with ferocity. There was a lot to get through and not much time left. Still, Devin was always working and would always be working. It was curse that was his own, something he held close, but the others were free from such responsibility. Devin was jealous of them, of course.
Looking above his cubicle now he could see no more people. No doubt all had rushed to their cubicles afraid he may berate them for not working. Devin had that way with people, especially his coworkers. The funny thing is he wasn’t their supervisor, just another worker like them, but he certainly placed some of his stress on their shoulders and it was crippling.
His eyes returned to the monitor and he began counting in his head. Carrying numbers from one column to another and adding them to each other. The old mind was struggling to do so and eventually he was cringing in fury as he pulled his draw open violently and began punching numbers into it. It wasted time and that’s what annoyed him the most.
As he struggled he heard laughter behind him. Now his gritted teeth began to pain him, so he stopped working and rubbed his jaw. These people were killing him slowly and he wished dearly to see what was behind him. How could they laugh when he struggled with so much work?
Eventually it reached the point where he could not take it anymore. He stood up abruptly and walked out of the cubicle. The laughter disappeared.
“What? Suddenly it’s not funny anymore?” Devin asked them all. “Perhaps it has all hit you and you will finally take your work seriously? No, wait, you won’t and you never will. All of you, every single one of you, have damaged this company by wasting its time and resources, but why would care about that? What do you care about?”
There was a silence.
“What about me? This is all I have left and this work isn’t easy for me anymore. The numbers won’t add, the computer is slow and the harder I try the more I make a bigger fool out of myself for your enjoyment!”
Once more, silence was the only reply and Devin decided to resign himself to the break room. Once there he shut the door and threw his food into the office microwave. It didn’t work for over twenty years now, so he made all the sounds himself. While humming like a machine he noticed tiny feet in the dust on the counter.
The rats were back and hopefully this time he would catch one in his trap. Twenty years since the apocalypse began and he had yet to catch one. Instead, he was stuck with throwing expired, canned food in a broken microwave and humming to warm in up.
Once Devin had calmed down by stroking his beard, he took his plate from the microwave and over to the small desk.
“I’m really trying,” he told the others who watched him. “There is so much needed of me...and I can’t give anymore. My mind won’t even let me do my old job anymore. I’m sorry guys, I’m just having a bad day. Tomorrow will be better, it always is after these moments and I...I am talking to myself. I must really stop doing that.”
“Don’t let it happen again, Devin,” Marvin ordered. “You know how we worry about you.”
“I...I...I won’t, boss,” Devin replied surprised. “Wait, wait, now, you died, I watched. Don’t talk to me, none of you talk to me...please don’t.”
Devin finished his cold food slowly, tightening his jacket around him. It was going to be another cold night, so it was best to make the rounds now.
For twenty minutes, Devin walked around the fifth floor of the building securing all the windows and blockading the door that led to the stairs. Nobody could break in while he slept without him knowing about it. Returning to his cubicle his eyes caught sight of something in Tim’s cubicle. Devin hesitated at first, but decided to enter and approach the dash of colour amongst the greyness of everything.
It was a photograph, in a small frame. In it Devin could see his co-workers and himself posing with ridiculous expressions. What day that was, because even he couldn’t help smile for the photo. Devin tried his best to remember it, but the memories wouldn’t come to mind.
Still, he held onto the photograph. Even if he could not remember it, the sight of him in happier times made his heart feel a little stronger. He was about to leave the cubicle, but then stopped himself.
“You know, you were always the sentimental one, Tim,” Devin murmured approaching the desks drawers.
Opening them Devin found photo albums, not work related folders or paperclips, just photo albums filled with pictures of everyone in the workplace.
Devin collected them all and took them to his cubicle, lighting a small candle and looking through them in these nightmarish times. He found pictures of himself, the boss, the receptionist, Tim of course and the many others who seemed to get on Devin’s nerves.
Still, the sight of these people helped get Devin’s mind working again and memories came flooding back. The times where work fell away and all that everyone cared about was having a good time in their bad circumstances. None of them were wealthy, none of them were truly brilliant, but they all had passion within them.
Each one found joy in what they did and that joy was often each other. Tim knew that and now Devin remembered. He wept softly for the people he knew, feeling so weak and broken after all this time, but knowing that when he woke up the next day, he would be stronger than he had ever been and finally leave the office.