Storage

Inspired by: Olvidados by Jesus Solana

In the dusty storage room of a downtown office building, the cast-offs and detritus of dozens of office’s Lost and Found had been collecting for some years.

Leon, one of the maintenance workers, held one of the few keys to the storage room. He’d long ago abandoned any hope of organizing the chaos inside, there simply wasn’t any plan or pattern for the variety of items that came in every week. Umbrellas, purses and brief cases were quite commonly lost in office buildings like this one, and the maintenance and security personnel delivered those pretty frequently. The commonplace, every day items Leon had mouldering in the storage room across the hall.

Leon reserved this particular room for the unusual, the inexplicable items. That 40-inch television, for instance—left behind by an Audio-Visual presentations team? Looked almost brand new, wrapped in plastic. Did it work or not? A shoe box, with unworn shoes inside—intended as a present for someone? Pieces of computer equipment, common enough of course, but unopened shipping containers? What was inside them?

The most unusual, perhaps, was the life-sized mannequin. Fully dressed in business attire, gray suit, power tie, briefcase. It looked like it stepped directly out of a Men’s Warehouse or Macy’s or Nordstrom catalog. Leaning in the corner, next to a spool of coaxial cable, collecting dust on the Standard Peppered Gray Corporate Haircut Number Six.

This building was a dozen blocks, at least, from the nearest clothing store. And miles from any mall. Where did it come from, who might come looking for it?

But the mannequin bore a marked resemblance to the Standard Cube Farm Units that moved in and out of this building every weekday. Nine A.M. to five P.M., 50 weeks a year. The hundreds of men that passed Leon daily, without seeing—they just didn’t share the same universe with Leon.

Studying the mannequin became one of his favorite idle pastimes. He checked in every day during his rounds. Idle curiosity and plenty of time on his hands to look, wonder and speculate.

This morning, Leon unlocked the storage room and flipped on the light, just like a thousand times before. He pushed the door open, and jumped back in surprise.

The mannequin flatly stated, “Annihilate.” Pushed past Leon (without seeing him), and marched for the elevators.

There are times when being invisible is a real advantage, Leon thought, locking the storage room back up.

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