Austin R. Pick

The Acquisitions Department


       He was thinking about boxes inside boxes, sensing suddenly that the rectangular conference room he was sitting in possessed the same proportions of length and width as the sheet of paper in his hands. He noticed too that the triad of cubed windows alongside the door were themselves frosted with tiny squares of translucent glass, like a screen of pixels that revealed or reflected only shifting blocks of light and shadow, from either side.
       Alone in the rectangular room, the words danced in meaningless strings as he held the page before him. He'd been left here following his first interview, and simply instructed to wait. It seemed as if time were unfolding on some mythic scale, and the paper struck him as at once precious and irrelevant: his resume, confined to a single sheet, with his name across the top in a distinctive font, which itself had a name he couldn't now recall.
       There was also the conference table at which he sat, an oblong suspended lid the color of old plasticware. It seemed to share its size with the closed door of the room, which was heavy, dark, and had sealed sometime ago with a pneumatic gasp, as if hermetically. He could lie flat on the table, he imagined, and not dangle. Invisible beneath him, his feet felt lost somewhere down in the vaulted shaft of the building, wavering indeterminately in the cold unseen heights of the glass reception hall, perhaps, dozens of floors below.
       Flush with morning sun when he'd entered, the reception hall comprised the entire ground floor, where the building's entrances gave way to the rectilinear expanse of the main lobby. Approaching the elevator banks across a broad tiled floor, his steps had been muffled by an echo that made every sound seem distant. The hall was like being inside an enormous display case, he'd thought, and exhibited to the rushing intersections outside, where sidewalks treadmilled under the syncopation of swinging briefcases and hands hailing cabs as people hurried in all four directions on their way to work.
       Elevators plunging upward, reaching toward this closed conference room from the paned glass lobby of a building occupying a single square block in a city structured on a grid. Boxes inside boxes. He felt his stomach drop, thinking about it...

Epiphany 14

This story appears in the Winter 2014 issue of the New York-based literary journal Epiphany, No. 14: "Risky Words."

The print edition of the journal can be purchased online and at better bookstores across the land. You can join in supporting Epiphany's campaign to Pay the Writers of Issue 14 by donating via Crowdrise.

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