I took the elevator down. . . I took the elevator down from the thirteenth floor. It was only noon, and I was already exhausted from the day at work. I had long felt my job was causing my mind to stagnate. The elevator stopped on the eleventh floor. A man I had never seen before got on the elevator. He rode it down only two floors then exited. I took it the rest of the way to the basement where the cafeteria was. I got in the line for the salad bar which was always the longest line. The man in front of me turned around as if looking for someone he was meeting. It was the same man from the elevator. I couldn’t understand how he could have made it to the basement before me. He had exited on the ninth floor and the elevator made no other stops on the way down. When I got up to the counter, I ordered a wedge of iceberg with bleu cheese dressing. The server asked if I would like bacon on it. When I looked at him to decline, it was the man from the elevator again. The man who was in front of me in line. I left without my salad and rode the elevator back up to the thirteenth floor. I walked over to the receptionist to ask if he had noticed anything strange. Anything that had seemed out of the ordinary that day. The receptionist was the same man from the elevator. I ran to my boss’s office. I needed to tell him I was leaving for the day. I had to get out of that place. The door was closed. I threw it open.
My pen falls from my hand. . . My pen falls from my hand and clanks against the glass of gin. It’s past the time I’m meant to be awake. I force my eyes open. I must be awake when the clock strikes 2 a.m. Daylight savings time. The hour that doesn’t exist. I must be present for it. Five more minutes. I take a sip of the gin. The ice has melted. This is not what I should be drinking to keep myself awake. I think about brewing a cup of coffee. There’s no point, though. It’s too late. It would take longer than five minutes. I hear a sound coming from the other side of the window. I don’t know what it is. A ringing. I’m not sure how long it has been there. I don’t know if I didn’t notice it before or if it just started. It doesn’t seem to have any intention of stopping. I try to ignore it, because I want my mind to be fully present when I enter the hour that doesn’t exist. I can’t let it go. The sound has gotten louder. I get up and walk out the kitchen door which leads to the small back patio. It’s dark. I shine the flashlight on my phone in the corner where the sound seems to be strongest. There is nothing there. Just a corner where the apartment meets the dividing wall. I turn off the flashlight. The light doesn’t disappear. It seems to be coming from the corner. It gets brighter. Soon, I have to shield my eyes. I get down on my knees and crawl toward the corner with my hand out. I try to cover the source of the light. The force of the light is too strong. Something pulls me in.
Steven Hendrix received his M.A. in English and Comparative Literature from California State University, Long Beach. He co-hosted the pop-up bookstore and reading series Read On Till Morning in San Pedro, CA and is the co-author of the poetry collection Leave With More Than You Came With (Arroyo Seco, 2019). His work has appeared in Chiron Review, Redshift, Silver Birch Press, Hobo Camp Review, and Drunk Monkeys, among others. His website readontillmorning.com will be coming soon. He currently lives in San Francisco.