The lights turned off, leaving the entire seventeenth floor of the office complex in darkness, except for the computers with their screensavers showing exotic locations.
Swearing loudly, Maggie staggered out of her chair, it’s wheels squeaking on the scratched lino, and flicked on one of the desk lamps.
It’s yellow light shone over her desk, illuminating the pile of papers she’d neatly placed after completion, and casting shadows across the surrounding cubicles.
Shivering, Maggie wrapped her coat around more tightly.
“Why the hell is it so cold in here?” she muttered to herself, as she gently blew on her fingertips. “ They must turn the heating off, or something.”
Casually, she checked her mobile. No missed calls. No texts. Full signal. Had no one even noticed she hadn’t gone home?
Maybe they were all stranded as well?
Yes, that’d be the answer, she thought.
She glanced at the time. Midnight.
“Well, time for a snack,” she said loudly, making herself jump.
Sadly, she looked around at all the empty desks. It felt weird to be the only person there.
The rest of them must have made it home, she thought.
Thick snow fell past the window in clumps, the glass frosted.
Sighing, Maggie looked down at the street, far below. She couldn’t see any lights from the traffic.
The office buildings around her were all dark.
“I could be the last person alive,” she whispered to herself.
A shiver travelled down her spine. The thought was too creepy.
The vending machine was still fully stocked with calorie laden sweet treats. She spent some time deciding between two chocolate bars before choosing both.
“How often am I stuck in a blizzard?” she said aloud, as she moved back to her desk, a steaming cup of coffee in one hand, and propped both feet up on her desk.
Munching on one bar, a trickle of melted chocolate running unnoticed down her chin, she didn’t notice at first, the far door click open until a beam of light shone brightly onto the nearest cubicle.
“Hello?” Maggie called out, sitting up hastily and wiping her hand across her face. “Is there anybody there?”
Throwing the empty wrappers into a bin, Maggie slowly walked towards the door, weaving her way between the scattered desks, as she sipped the last of her drink.
“Hello?” she asked again as she reached the door.
Mr Daniels. Vice President, was etched in fine writing across the front.
“Mr Daniels?” Maggie whispered as she gently pushed the door open further and poked her head around.
There was nobody there.
The office was empty, ready for the next day’s work with a file placed in the center of the desk, the far wall lined with an old fashioned bookcase crammed with dusty books.
Maggie shook her head, “I must be going mad.”
Reaching out to switch off the lamp, her gaze wandered to the title sprawled across the file.
Her fingers hesitated for a second.
What if some one came in and saw her? She could be fired, or killed, if it really was top secret!
Don’t be stupid, she reminded herself, you’re the only one here.
Quickly, she flicked it open, her eyes horrified at what she read.
“Oh no, this can’t be for real,” she whispered.
This is why no one is allowed in here, she thought, so no one can find out.
The main lights in the offices flickered on.
Maggie froze as she heard a man talking and laughing. Mr Daniels. What was he doing here?
Closing the file, she looked round for a hiding spot, her empty cup left on the desk.
That was the problem with a neat and tidy office, there was nowhere to hide.
Mr Daniels was moving closer, his mobile clutched to his ear.
Maggie could feel the sweat beading on her forehead.
She raced to the book shelves. Maybe he’d believe she was just tidying? she thought.
She pulled out a random book.
The wall behind the shelving clicked and groaned, before part of it slid to one side revealing a wooden door.
Maggie felt her lower jaw drop.
“What is this place?” she whispered.
Mr Daniels reached the door to his office, she could see his shadow on the floor.
She had no choice.
Throwing herself into the space behind the shelves, the door slammed behind her.
Maggie held her breath in the darkness, her eyes scrunched tight as she imagined Mr Daniels looking around his office with his eyes narrowed into slits, and his hands on his hips.
The wooden door groaned and clicked and slid to one side.
Maggie blinked in the light as she stared at Mr Daniels.
“Maggie?” he asked in surprise. “What are you doing in here?”
“Would you believe me if I said I was tidying?”
He frowned as he shook his head, “Well, I’ll admit, this could have been worse. Thought you were a spy.”
He moved towards his desk, giving Maggie space to move away from behind the shelving.
“You aren’t a spy, I take it?” he asked.
“Me? As if!”
“And what have you seen?”
The answer was too quick, even Maggie realized it as she said it.
Mr Daniels glanced down at his desk where her cup still sat, her lipstick against the rim, next to the top secret file.
‘Really? You’ve seen nothing?”
His voice was soft and quiet.
Maggie felt the shiver run down her spine again.
Slowly, Mr Daniels strolled around his desk and shut the door.
“You know, there’s a camera in here, don’t you?” he asked, quietly.
Maggie felt her stomach drop. Of course there would be a camera.
“Oh alright, I had a quick look through the file,” she said, holding her hands against her thighs to stop them shaking. “And I found your secret hiding spot. But that’s it, I swear.”
Mr Daniels shrugged,” It’s enough.”
“What are you going to do? Fire me?”
Mr Daniels shook his head.
“You’re not going to kill me, are you?” Maggie whispered, nervously licking her lips.
“Well actually, I was looking for an assistant,” Mr Daniels said, smiling.