Nmesh, “Climbing The Corporate Ladder”

Sam Benanti

Nmesh

“Wake up,” the corporate-issue alarm clock gently coos into your ear as a warm, relaxing light enters your field of vision. “It's time for work.”

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The blankets on your company bed begin to roll themselves up neatly at your feet at the same time that the frame tilts forward, lifting you into an upright position as you rub the sleep out of your eyes and try—in vain—to recall last night's dreams. Your shoes are waiting at the foot of the bed, and there's no need to dress since yesterday's suit was neatly cleaned and pressed by your bed while you were wearing it in your sleep last night.

You step out of your bedroom and enter directly into your quadrant's break room, where Jan and Steve are already chatting over donuts and coffee. “Did you sleep well?” Jan asks as she hands you a mug. “The beds take a little getting used to, but you'll adjust.”

“Isn't it so convenient, avoiding rush hour traffic every day?” Steve inhales deeply and exhales with a smile. “I could never go back to the way it used to be. I just feel so productive—so alive.”

Silence. You clear your throat and finally muster up the courage to ask, “How long have you been with the company, Steve?”

“Oh, me? I've always been here,” Steve quietly mutters. You start to smile as you look up from your mug, but quickly realize that your coworker is not joking. You both look down into your coffee and say nothing. Jan exits the break room without a word.

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