My job is to sell insurance: There are lots of types of insurance to sell: insurance against auto accidents, home fires, personal injury, dental problems… My company offers no policies to specifically mitigate risk in a workplace with an Abyss.
It was a Tuesday when the Abyss opened next to my cubicle. It took out one of the walls. Dave used to work on the other side of that wall, next cubicle over, but he fell into the Abyss when it yawned open. I think I can distinguish his voice, sometimes, among the others screaming down there.
Sylvia put this sign on the wall: “You don’t have to be crazy to work here…but it helps!” Here is the truth: It will never help to be crazy. It just adds a layer of threat and confusion. Nobody in this crazy world needs more crazy.
I keep making calls: There is this widow in Boise that is a likely prospect. She wants to leave something to her kids if she dies before they’re out of college, since her husband selfishly used up their savings by dying slow of some sickness. And this Zoo manager in Gary, Indiana, wants pricing on insurance of fingers, hands, arms and whole persons operating the giant meat grinder that makes his old and/or injured zebras, emus and rhinos into popular exotic sausages served in the Zoo Cafeteria.
Anyway, the Abyss is modestly scaled: maybe 12 feet across, 4 feet wide, a jagged crack through the grey linoleum. It’s immeasurably deep, though. I tossed a stapler into it and heard nothing- like there was no bottom. But people are screaming down there somewhere, so there must be ledges or caves or something.
Sometimes horrible things crawl or fly up and out of the Abyss: batwings, spiderlegs and a lot of twisted teeth. Staring googly eyes. Clutching hands with extra fingers. I can’t talk to my coworkers about it. They keep changing the subject to sports and TV shows when I mention the Abyss, or when I mention the way that Dave fell into the Abyss, and that’s why he hasn’t been around. They’re uncomfortable with the situation, and I don’t press them to address the issue directly if they seem confused or pretend I’m joking around.
Working on the phone the way I do, It’s the sound that bothers me the most. Well, and the wind. Besides the screaming, there’s this constant sucking, moaning sound that issues from the Abyss, and capricious sulfuric breezes waft around the hole. I have to keep my mind on selling insurance. This was a challenging job even before the Abyss opened up next to me.
I have to tell you this wouldn’t have used to bother me. For one thing, I used to have Betty to talk the little things over with: like music, and art, current events, personal struggles, Abysses… but my wife used to bring me lunch, sometimes, and the way this place is laid out, I guess she must have stepped into Dave’s cubicle by mistake. I found the egg salad she packed me on the floor by the Abyss, a couple of Fridays ago. I was upset, and it was difficult to concentrate on selling Feinbergé his employee homicide policy that afternoon.
These days I go home alone to a dark house, once the night janitor starts looking at me significantly. I work on my hobby:
I make tiny, scale-model dioramas of happy, ordinary scenes: people getting medals and promotions, dancing, having picnics and sex, playing games, eating nice holiday meals, on vacation at the beach or in the mountains- I have made thousands of them. They filled all my closets and shelves at home, until I started taking them to work every morning and tossing several into the Abyss every day. I figure the tormented screaming people might find them decorative, for their ledges or caves or whatever, and the dioramas are too small to hurt anyone they fall upon, so why not?