Fiction Fragment – The Door Beyond

The door had reappeared sometime overnight between the cleaners clocking off at eleven the previous evening, and the office manager arriving at six in the morning. Even then, nobody commented on it until a few hours later. The first mention was when a courier mistook it for the entrance to the IT team’s area and came to ask what was going on. From such mistakes and near misses are these things noticed – and if luck is with people, connections made to old stories and warnings.

As it happened, the office manager had been hazed by the refit project manager with stories of the doorway that wasn’t on the floorplans and that led to areas that hadn’t been listed for renovations. Jokes about their back rooms had mixed with internet memes and gamer’s jokes about glitches to fuel a nagging fear of the ill-defined. The office manager – Eileen – had promptly signed for delivery of the package and stowed it in a locker before going in search of hazard tape.

Ten minutes later, the door was adorned with black and yellow stripes and sticky vinyl warning signs forbidding entrance. She’d found them stuffed at the back of the office supplies cupboard. The calm lasted for maybe an hour or so before a grumpy IT helpdesk lad called Khurrum took a closer look after picking up the delivery. Despite Eileen’s protests, he swept aside the tape and poked his head in. He reported a corridor with some empty rooms off it – and while she held the door open, he went in to investigate a little further. To humour her, he didn’t leave her line of site and so didn’t go too far. Each room seemed to be decorated in an identical slightly yellowed off-white colour with unbroken beige hard-wearing carpet. Old fluorescent lights lent an unflattering blankness to the whole place by washing out what colours there were.

He pretended boredom, but he had to admit later that he was unnerved by Eileen’s nervousness. For her part, Eileen was even more troubled as the space described couldn’t possibly fit into the floor layout as she knew it. If there was a corridor there, it should have come out by the meeting room by the kitchen galley rather than opening into other rooms.

It might all have stayed a minor oddity, consigned to obscurity as a thing that made people scratch their heads as a ripple in reality, if other people hadn’t also had the same thought and started to try and use it as a cut-through. Eileen even caught a member of the sales team trying to set up a secret private office in there. That had come to her attention when he’d come round to complain at her desk about a lack of network ports and wifi signal. She’d sent him packing back to his assigned desk with a flea in his ear and a sheaf of new leads freshly printed from the calls database.

People, however, can’t resist an empty office space, and before long the department head got to hear about unused floor space and put in a call to IT. Despite Eileen’s private misgivings and attempts to appeal to the detail of rental agreements, the tapes were torn down and contractors hired to quote for running new cabling into the rooms beyond.

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