The woman scanned through her calendar.
Perfect, she thought. The appointment lines were blank, a clean white for the afternoon. She breathed a sigh of relief; there was nowhere to be and no one to see.
She began to wonder who would notice if she disappeared for the remainder of the day. There was so much of the world to explore beyond the heavy doors of Employer X. She caught herself in a day-dream of a place without time, oh to be able to wake up naturally and lounge about God’s-green-earth at will. She imagined kicking her shoes off to feel the grass under her feet and to squeeze warm mud between her toes. She ran along and followed a bee as it buzzed between flowers and rested under a willow tree to read a book for the afternoon.
Wake up, she told herself, staring back at the computer screen. She was back in the climate controlled office, sitting in the middle of a maze of cubicles. There was no breeze, no birds, and no life. Plants had just been banned for being too distracting.
That’s it, she decided. I’m leaving, I can’t do this anymore.
Not willing to waste any more energy trapped within the dingy blue walls of her cubicle, the woman grabbed her purse and casually walked out, through the door, and down the stairs. Play it cool, she told herself, forcing herself not to sprint. There was only one more door to make it through and she was free.
“Yoo-hoo, Jules,” a voice shouted behind her.
She felt her heart fall out of its place and into the pit of her stomach. She knew that whinny voice.
“You forgot to sign out, Jules. I was right behind you, silly. I tried to get your attention but you just headed right down the stairs.”
The woman gritted her teeth; she hated to be called Jules.
“Don’t worry, I signed out for you. I guessed you were headed to lunch for the next sixty minutes.”
“Hi there, Shelly,” Julies ground her teeth. “That was really thoughtful of you. Thanks so much. I’ll be sure to get you back sometime.”
“No prob,” Shelly said with a flip of her blonde hair.
They pushed through the doors together and stepped out into the world. Sunlight streamed down onto Julie’s face and shoulders. She took a deep breath of the air, it smelled fresh and warm.
“Oh, I need my sunglasses. It’s too bright out here,” Shellly complained. She put her thin hand up against the blue sky to block the sun as she dug around in her oversized purse.
“This world was not meant for one as fair as you, Shelly. You are better off staying inside, don’t you think?” Julie asked.
Shelly pursed her lips, “Jules, why do you say things like that?”
Suddenly, a shadow loomed over the women. It came so quickly, they hardly had time to react. Shelly began to sneeze, again and again.
“My allergies are going out of control…..” Shelly’s voice rose as she looked up.
Julie followed Shelly’s eyes above them and took a step back for a better view.
“Oh my God!” Julie shouted.
It was a giant orange cat, bigger than tiger or lion. The feline was on the same scale as a small Godzilla or King-Kong. Where this creature had come from was a mystery as long as its whiskers and sharp as its teeth. It stared down on the women, small and motionless, interested in what they might do next. A purr began deep in the monster’s hairy throat. It realized these were playthings, snacks, mere diversions in the very busy life of a hugely overgrown cat.
Shelly sneezed and began to creep backwards, towards the heavy door.
The cat got down low and began to switch its massive tail back and forth.
“Stop it, Shelly. Just stay still,” Julie whispered out of the side of her mouth.
“NO!” Julie shouted as Shelly bolted.
Julie jumped out the way just as the cat pounced on her co-worker. The cat grabbed Shelly gently in its mouth, gave her a playful shake. A perfect mane of blonde hair bounced with each step as the cat carried the screaming Shelly off behind the building.
Julie stared in shock and wondered what just happened. She noticed the birds chirping again and felt the sun on her face. She glanced down at her wrist to note the time, and her watch was gone. She rummaged through her purse to check her phone, it too was missing. Strange, she felt different, lost. Something had changed. Suddenly, she realized, it had happened. She was there. She made it to the place without time.
She laughed and thought, Finally, I get to sleep in on a Wednesday.