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forty seven.

I walk up the stairs and stare at the building before opening the doors. I notice that there are no windows, just the two glass doors inviting you into the waiting room. There’s something peculiar about this building.


Holding my briefcase, I scan my card and swing one of the doors open as the intercom reads in a smiling tone, “John Caperno. Room 207, please.” Inside the building, giant glass walls emerge from the floor and ascend up to the ceiling as arrows on the floor light up, telling me where to go. I peer through the walls and see people standing in a waiting room, holding briefcases just like mine. They are in line to talk to a friendly looking lady at a desk. I pound on the walls, hoping they will hear or see me, but none of them do. I want to get out of these walls. Why can’t I be in that line with the nice looking lady? But none of them look in my direction; they just stare at the front of the room, waiting for something. Although it still sounds friendly, the voice shouts in a louder voice this time, “John Caperno. Room 207, please.” I look on the floor and follow the green arrows. It’s not like I could go anywhere else with these glass walls preventing me from doing anything.


I make my way up into my room, where a very young nurse greets me. “Good afternoon, John Caperno.” I smile back at her, trying to be friendly. The nurse then directs me to a platform where I stand, and the number 142 blinks at me as she asks me to step off. “How old are you, John Caperno?” she asks me as she makes some notes on her large electronic device. “Forty seven, thank you,” I say, remembering the birthday I had two weeks ago. The nurse holds her hand out and directs me to a reclining chair, where she hands me a cup of water. I wait for her to tell me the doctor will be here shortly, but she doesn’t. I take a sip of the water she has handed to me, and I suddenly feel drowsy. I then become enraged, wanting someone to explain this to me. I had my eight hours of sleep last night and all of my morning vitamins. Not wanting to spill the water all over my suit, I place the cup of water inside the cup holder on the side of the chair. My head jerks back and I hit the headrest as the chair slowly moves down to a flat position.

*****


When I wake up, I am in that same reclining chair, and there is a large television in front of me. “Hello, John Caperno,” it greets. I wave at the screen, since it seems friendly enough. “You may now proceed home. Please follow the arrows once you leave the room. Thank you.” I look to my right and notice the cup of water I never finished. I grab it out of the cup holder, and notice my right arm is sore. I roll up my sleeve to see if I had hurt myself in my sleep, but I don’t notice any marks. I toss my cup into the trashcan, where I see an object I have never seen before. I pick up the object, which is in the shape of a T, and then push my finger against the sharp end at the bottom of the object. Red liquid comes oozing out of my finger as I scream in pain. “Doctor, help, please,” I shout, hoping someone will hear me. I listen for someone to come rushing in, but it is silent. The television comes on again. “Good evening, John Caperno. Please proceed to exit the building. The green arrows will direct you. Thank you.” I rush out of the room before anything happens to me again, and I wipe my finger inside the pocket of my black pants, where no one will be able to see it.


I get to the front of the building, and see the same men in line, waiting for the same friendly lady at the desk. I pound and pound on the glass, but none of them notice. They continue to look forward at the clock, which reads 7:12. I glance at the clock again, and try to run outside, but the door is locked. I need to get home. I’m already late. My wife will be angered. A message flashes before me. “Thank you, John Caperno. Before you leave, please, have a sip of water.” I notice a cup sitting on a pedestal next to me, which I take a small gulp out of. I suddenly wonder what I am doing inside the building, and push open the large glass doors. I toss the cup into the trashcan as I stare back at the building. Was I really in there just now? If I was, what did I do in there?


I glance at my watch, and realize that I am late. I need to get home. My wife will be angered. But I take a quick look back at the building and wonder why I was even there. There are no windows. Why would I want to be somewhere with no windows? There’s something peculiar about that building…




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