My work's nothing special, just accountancy, bank transfers, that kind of thing. Apparently I have the kind of brain that works well with numbers, though I'm not so sure. It's not unusual for my colleagues to catch me staring blankly at a particularly long list of amounts, wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do. Of course, I usually work it out, and I make sure I confirm the next few transfers double-time to make up for it.
I often work through breaks, not because I'm running behind, but mainly because I'm not great at talking. I don't have an awful lot to talk about, only one and a half years. I have no recollection of my life before then, I'm told there was an accident, presumably I sustained a head injury of some kind. That probably explains my eye as well, although I'm not quite sure of the details.
"Hey, Volani, come over here a sec." A call comes from Ed, my supervisor. He's strangely laid back, since I got moved to this department last month I've realised just how different his managerial style is. I finish a transfer of just under a million and walk over. He offers me a coffee, which I decline quickly.
"Listen, I have a bit of a situation, and I was wondering if you could help me out." He says, under his breath, seemingly embarrassed to be asking this of me.
"What do I need to do?" I ask quietly, respecting his established level of secrecy.
"Well, it seems someone screwed up somewhere and both Ruby and Cal have been double-booked for appointments with some pretty major investors," He looks at me for a moment, presumably to detect any signs of panic. "So, I was wondering if you could step in for one of them, I know it's not really your area but as long as you had all the right-"
"-I'll do it." I cut him off before he could finish his spiel. The sense of relief in his face was unlike anything I'd ever seen, his uneasy grimace became a beaming smile before my eyes.
"Thank you so much, I'll let you know more as soon as I can." He said, grabbing my shoulders and grinning before walking away. Leaving me to smile to myself at this opportunity.
I never really wanted to be stuck behind a desk all day, staring at a computer screen for God knows how long. I want to be able to meet important people, discuss important things and make important decisions. I want to shake someone’s hand and have the authority to agree a deal. I don’t want power, but I want to feel like the choices I make matter.
I return to my desk to continue with my eternal number-crunching, but the sound of screeching tyres and the crunching of metal stops me. I join my curious colleagues by the window, looking down at the network of junctions and crossroads. I search for the source of the noise, scanning each road quickly for hints of carnage.
Ruby spots it first, an overturned lorry embedded in the base of an old concrete skyscraper to my right. Leaning into the window, more becomes clear, although the harsh sunlight begins to give me difficulty. I can just make out a second lorry, jack-knifed a little further along, presumably trying to avoid the collision. A number of cars are also involved, some obviously quicker to react than others. A small figure jumps from the first vehicle, running to something on the pavement and kneeling beside it. It takes me a moment to realise that it is not an it, but a pedestrian. The figure starts waving to the others, before beginning chest compressions. A few of my friends gasp, some look away, I stare.
An invisible blade works its way towards my heart, which begins to beat erratically, I clutch my chest and start to scream, the pain unbearable, I feel my body writhing on the floor in utter agony. But it is not me. I watch from a distance, letting myself detach, break loose from the woman in such pain. I remember. Crushing weight on my stomach, hollow eyes filling my view, screams and distress. That is not me, twisting, contorting, squirming as if her life matters. Death means so little to me. Death means nothing to anyone, though I could never tell them, I am trapped, constrained, chained.
Destined for isolation.
She is still on the floor, where does the pain come from? Is it me? Is it my memory? So long ago now, so many lives since that first, when I knew nothing of what lay ahead. When I, like the rest of humanity, was still afraid of death.
I move further away, strangely free, unexpectedly released. The onlookers try to help her, nothing seems to be working. Like a broken clock, a cog is missing, and the time won’t change until its return. The hands point to pain, but I don’t feel it, so I won’t return. My cog continues turning, but at its own pace, in control.
Who am I kidding? Damn. I’ve never been in control, always pushed, grabbed, tricked, manipulated into the will of a heavy hand. Damn him. One day I swear I’ll kill him, though it wouldn’t make a difference.
As I said, death means nothing.
I’m running now, down the stairs, out of the door, into the light. Not blinding me, I have normal vision, though still things seem out of touch, unsaturated. Laughter fills me as I dance and jump in the open air, the fumes of no consideration. Looking back, a man is running into the building I just left, he seems familiar, perhaps he knows the woman on the floor. Perhaps not. Why should it matter? She is not me, she has no power.
A heavy hand on my wrist.
Everything goes white.