A clown carried armfuls of office trinkets, up the stairs. She pivoted, lost footing and shuffled toward the edge and discovered balance by leaning against the railing. A stapler escaped her arms and pinged at random, as it descended with metal greeting metal. The stapler’s death rattle reverberated throughout the stairwell, carried itself to the supply ducts, set up inside the walls and mounted to the ceiling.
Skin flakes and dandruff circulated in the air and traveled upwards, culminating in a grey curtain coating fan blades and surfaces which followed the gale’s leadership. The air ducts sheltered the ping and in exchange the noise vibrated and cleaned tiny spots, leaving polka-dots in the dust, along the sheet metal walls.
Staff confused the noisy central air for something sinister.
“We got rats.” They said, “We must kill the vermin.”
An exterminator arrived late in the afternoon. He slipped into the ventilation system, clicked on his headlamp and army crawled, searching for remnants conducive to an infestation. But the light reflecting off the spaces made in the dust, reminded him of fireflies hovering over dark water, casting a strobe, in the night. He didn’t want to kill anymore. He inched backwards and exited onto the floor.
“Well, did you get them all?” The office manager asked.
“I did.” He said. “You won’t be having any more problems.”
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