Attenuated – Part One

Myles stared at the LED readout on the DocuMax copier, segmented numbers slowly declining. Fresh copies slid into receiving slots, stapled and bound. A new financial quarter, a new batch of detailed reports for the early morning meeting. Myles wondered what it was like to sit at the long table in the main conference room.

It probably smelled like money.

Myles wouldn’t know, he didn’t get invited to those kinds of meetings. As an intern, he was on the barren beach of probation. If he could keep his head up and not make a mess of things, SuccINCt would grant him an entry-level position with full benefits.

Anything would beat standing here minding the copier late at night. Yawning, Myles looked up at the wall clock. 11 pm. The cleaning crews had come and gone, hauling out trash and stubby wheeled vacuum cleaners. He envied their purposeful existence. The reports he was duplicating made little sense to him. Myles had gone to school for design, not statistics and finance.

The last set of reports plopped into the receiving tray. Myles sighed, removing the last batch of originals and positioning the next. Punching in a depressingly high number, he hit the green “Start” button. The DocuMax whirred into life, green light bleeding out from the edge of the scanner.

Myles was tired. He had arrived at SuccINCt that morning at 6 am, rubbing sleep out of the corners of his eyes. Only one more set to go. Walking out into the hallway, Myles headed towards the break room. Caffeine was his only true friend. Due to his lowly status he didn’t have many work friends.

Due to his work he didn’t have much time for any real friends either.

The hallway to the break room was lined with past advertising campaigns, and large photographs of clients and investors. SuccINCt owned the entire building, though most of it was used for creative space and product prototyping. The best copiers were on the top floor, right near the CEO’s office.

Devon Lunsford was an imposing man, steel blue eyes staring through stylish glasses. His portrait had that feel of a stern parent about to lecture their offspring about an important life lesson. Myles didn’t want that kind of meeting. More than once he had seen someone paged over the intercom, trudging upstairs to the CEO’s office, never to be heard from again.

He wondered if they took the freight elevator down to the lobby in disgrace, weeping over a bankers box of meager possessions.

Not a fate he would enjoy. He walked past the pictures, feet softly padding on the designer nap carpet. Wait a second, that’s odd. Myles stopped in front of the CEO’s office, burnished nameplate in elegant designer type. The door was open a crack. Perhaps the cleaners hadn’t closed it properly.

Myles put his hand on the door latch, inching the door open involuntarily. He was alone, everyone had gone home a long time ago. He wondered what Devon’s office looked like. The faint clacking of the copier echoed down the hallway. He had plenty of time to kill.

Myles swung the door open just enough to fit through.

A large desk made of rare reclaimed wood sat in front of floor to ceiling windows. Awards and diplomas were framed on the left wall, current advertising campaigns on the right. A large chart of SuccINCt stock was displayed on a thin-bezel screen, bold numbers showing the recent closing price.

Myles walked around to the large leather chair, taking a seat. So this is how it felt to be in the throne of power. He was half-tempted to press the intercom button and make an announcement. Better not, security would hear it and come looking.

“I’m telling you, you are a fraud. Your work is UNACCEPTABLE! Now get out!”, Myles burst into a fit of laughter trying to imitate the firing of a hapless employee.

A bright neon post-it note caught his eye. The mesh wastebasket was lined with a translucent bag. The cleaners must only change them out if they were really dirty. The note must’ve stuck to the edge when the bin was being emptied. Reaching down, Myles grabbed the note.

He walked out into the hallway, carefully closing the door until the latch clicked. Myles read the note under the dim hallway lights. “SAS Initiative 50%”, underlined three times. What was this? He might not be at the highest level in the company, but he did see most of the paperwork.

Someone had to make the copies, after all. Myles had never seen “SAS” referred to in any of the promotional or planning materials he had handled. It was extremely odd. Sticking the note in his pocket, Myles walked up to the coffee machine burbling on the counter.

Myles poured a steaming cup of coffee, sipping slowly as he turned the acronym over in his mind. “SAS” could mean any number of things. He knew who might have the answer, though. The Prototype division took up an entire floor, and it was there anything interesting was being worked on.

Better have a quick visit, the copier was still churning through the last pile of reports.

Myles rinsed out the mug and hung it on the nearby rack, metallic SuccINCt logo gleaming with droplets. Everything was designed with a purpose here, right down to the dishes. Myles wondered what purpose “SAS” was meant to achieve. Pushing through the heavy stairwell door, he carefully descended the stairs.

(To be continued.)