WHERE WAS I? My head wasn’t even in the clouds, they were several hundred feet below. A future. Yes, a future was where my head had disappeared to. Self help gurus yak about staying in ‘the now’. I never found that difficult. The now was always too dam prescient; pain, sorrow, regrets – they never stayed in the future or the past. I was conscious of every moment; my breathing, my environment, my illegal work status and my squeegee. Tomorrow is where I desired to be, and the next day. Because the future can bring anything when you think hard enough.
Slurp! My camelbak was discerningly low already, about half way through my shift. A few vending machines on lower floors offered nutrition deficient snacks, my only alternative source. I’d hold out, I’d be tired by the end of all the rope dangling and being slammed against glass by air streams guaranteed. The prospect of climbing, unclipping, then clipping and rappelling again didn’t appeal.
I zipped up my backpack and tied it to a metal railing near the hatch. I’ll be back I promised it, delivering the Terminator line with faultless Austrian diction. Squeegee in hand I grabbed the belly bucket. The bucket had been designed not to spill and had a lid on it to stop me from having to perpetually climb back up to access points for a refill.
‘Mundane’. Like they do, this word popped into my head, seemingly from nowhere. My life so far was summarised by it, so why did my brain have to dredge up a word I’d only read, never say, at this moment in time? Science was many years away with an answer to this.
I clipped on and looked at the laminated window-chart attached to my belt. Next up, the east side before I moved down to the next section. Inch by inch I rappelled out to the precipice. Despite years of experience my adrenaline spiked hard. I steadied myself and looked at the Toby McGuire badge, smiled and launched myself into the known. One man and a bit of interwoven rope for support.
As I got to work sweeping back and forth across the windows with lazy expertise, I noticed that there was nobody around. Usually there were people milling about on the tourist deck admiring the view. Further round CEO’s of corporations worth trillions should have been screaming into phones, battering keyboards, shouting at subservient employees or taking a sly nap – they all had different managerial styles. As usual I had my ear-buds in, streaming various mixes from a minuscule hard disc in my pocket. Music managed to make me drift away, until I caught my reflection and realised I was very much here, dangling by a rope cleaning windows. Face pressed against a huge panel I peered into an office. Usually there were at least two secretaries and some head honcho beavering away, presiding over telephones: today nothing moved except a dozen exotic fish in an extravagant aquarium. I felt a connection, they lived an existence much like mine, faces bumping off glass. At least two songs played through as I watched mesmerised by the patterns and grace of the fish that should be around coral instead of corporate greed. Still they had one claim to fame, though they wouldn’t know it, they had to be the highest of their species above sea level in the world.
Suddenly I saw something in my peripheral. A door opened. Framed by it stood a woman in smart attire. And her face! Her face conveyed a deep sense of terror. Not the sort of terror that suggested that someone had forgotten to feed the fish. No. The type of terror that screams with visible vocal chords due to an underlying panic and fear that suggests something terrible has happened. As quickly as she appeared she was gone, leaving the door open where a very faint flashing was visible in the corridor.