Ever Upward

  big_testBrian was having a bad day. He headed to the break room to commiserate with his office-mate Bill.

“Can you believe these interns they send us? This new guy Bob, he thought he could file a 1027-P for a 423 exemption! I had to redo an entire afternoon of his so-called work.”

Bill’s eyes went wide with astonishment. “Seriously? A simple 423? Where did they find this guy?”

“Down on 182. I’m thinking of sending him back there,” replied Brian with a sigh.

The two colleagues sat drinking bad coffee, swapping stories and shaking their heads at the incompetence of their peers and underlings for a few more minutes.

“Well, I’ve got to get back,” said Bob. “I’ve got a stack of 1080-B’s to get through before lunch.” The two parted company.

Brian decided to take a break from the office stress to gaze out the window-wall before heading back to his desk. Having noticed that he was the only one under 40 wearing glasses among his co-workers, he’d had some work done to correct his myopia a few weeks back, and he liked to test his new vision on the earth below. Brian was pleased to be able to resolve the details of the encampments, and the faces of the children that roamed them. Looking farther afield, he could even make out movements in the forced labor camps, the gunmen and peasants going about their business, and many of the bodies strewn about in the fields.

“Oh, Brian! There you are,” his secretary Barbara interrupted his reverie. “A man from legal and compliance at Sarrek Auditing Services called. It seems there was some small discrepancy in the medium-term amortization numbers you gave them…”

Brian rolled his eyes. “I’m sure it’s their mistake. Thanks, I’ll take care of it.”

After work, Brian caught the lift over the East Skybridge, and he was home in plenty of time for dinner. He found Jill lounging with a fashion magazine in the living room.

“New nails?” he noticed. They were a trendy shade of aqua blue.

“Do you like the color? I had them done today for our anniversary.”

Brian had completely forgotten the date, but he recovered gracefully. “Four years already! Time flies when you’re having fun. Where should we go for dinner?”

Jill had already reserved a table in a swanky bistro on the observation deck. It was quite popular, owing to the full panoramic vista over the west side of the tower. That evening, the happy couple enjoyed each other’s company over a dazzling sunset and a nice bottle of synthetic Pinot Noir. The evening was made complete by an unusually brilliant display of explosions and tracer fire over the earth below.

The next morning, Jill woke before Brian. She quietly rolled out of bed and ordered bacon and eggs from the kitchen for him. She had been munching her dietetic formula and watching her usual Tower in the Morning show for five minutes before Brian came into the dining area.

“Did you hear? There was another bomb down on 78 last night. That’s as high up as I can remember.”

“Oh… shit!” muttered Brian.

“What’s the matter?” inquired Jill, looking up from her breakfast.

“No cream. How am I supposed to drink my coffee?” Brian pouted.

“Cream shortage, sir. Delivery scheduled for next Wednesday,” answered the refrigerator.

“Well, that figures. This place is going downhill, I tell you. I bet they get all the cream they want up there on 300.” Brian motioned with exasperation at the ceiling.

“So call the mover. I’m tired of this view anyway. We could move to the west side.”

Brian agreed with this idea. They spent the next half hour finding a spot on the west side. It was in a nice area, up on 291. More expensive, but worth it. He programmed the move for that afternoon.

Brian came home early from work to help manage the move. The mover arrived on schedule at 15:00. It was a big, noisy thing, and Jill preferred to take the regular transit lift rather than ride up in the cargo lift with the apartment.

“After that explosion, a security drone rounded up a dozen or so of the terrorists. They’d made it all the way to level 91 somehow.” Jill made conversation on the way up. She had heard the news from her girlfriends while getting her hair done that morning.

“I hope they chuck them out them with the trash, back to where they came from. They should just seal the tower at the 100th floor, like they keep talking about,” replied Brian. “Did you know that we’ve pretty well stopped trading with anything below 120? They’re useless. Nobody in their right mind goes down there, and anyone who comes up is most likely a terrorist.”

“Yeah… I was thinking we should get new curtains, since the sun will be brighter in the evenings. What do you think?” The couple discussed their redecorating plans for the few moments it took the lift to carry them skyward.

“You know, they finally approved the 400+ Project. If things go well at work, we could move up there in a few months. I hear the new levels will be pressurized!” This notion excited Brian.

“Sounds fabulous!” Jill looked into Brian’s eyes and smiled as she imagined the views from 2000 meters. “I love you, honey.”

“I love you, too,” replied Brian on cue, but not without sincerity.

The lift came to a gentle halt at the new address. Brian and Jill stood before the marble steps that led to the entrance of their home. Together, they gazed up at their new place in the sky, their minds filled with shining images of a glorious future.



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