I’m standing near the Maro, Inc. headquarters, staring up at its massiveness. It has to be at least thirty floors or maybe more because it keeps going up and up into the heavens. The size of this thing makes me feel like an ant ready to be squashed by whatever comes out of it. Being so close to this building makes me feel as if I have some dirty grime laying waste on my arms. The building is not dirty; actually, it is state-of-the-art. It’s just the idea that it came out of nowhere. One day there is nothing there, and the next, the building, in all its glory, is overtaking the city. I am glad I’m wearing dark sunglasses for the glare coming off the building’s monstrous windows is blinding. As I stare up at its vastness that looks like it could be some type of Transformer, I feel as if I am being watched in return. I feel a sudden urge to run, but I came here for a purpose and I will not leave until I have some answers.
I grasp the steel rod that serves as the front door’s knob and feel a chill as it travels the length of my body. The thing is ice cold. I push my shoulders back and push the door open. The interior of the building is as boundless as the exterior. The first floor looks like it could be twenty feet tall. Along the top of the first floor and at the base of the second is a steel ledge. However, there is no wall to keep someone from slipping off. People scurry along the walkway, staring straight ahead.
A couple of men, who are pacing the second floor, resemble the men who visited me in my home. They are dressed in the same black suits and starched white shirts. Walking in a straight line and staring ahead at nothing in particular, they are the perfect picture of mannequins. Every so often, women dressed in beige form-fitting skirts and dress white shirts hurry past them. Other than that, the building is quite.
“May I help you?” One of the form-fitting women stands before me. I look into her eyes and see nothing but darkness. No emotion, no life shines through.
“I am looking for the Office of the Committee,” I answer.
“And who are you?” the woman asks.
“That doesn’t matter. I just need to speak to a person in the Committee.”
I stare at the woman as her face begins to distort. Her head begins to move side to side. I want to laugh, and I feel my eyes involuntarily darting glances around the room. This is wild, I think. I can’t laugh, though. Laughing would be the wrong action. Before I can walk away, two men are at my sides. Without touching me, they guide me away from the woman. “What was that?” I ask no one in particular. Neither of the men answers.
“Well, Mrs. Bernard,” a man says as I and the two goons on either side of me enter a room that resembles an Executive Suite. “What brings you here?”
I stare at the man in the black suit and starched white shirt that is standing behind a steel desk. Even though he looks like the rest, this is the man who had spoken to me in my home. “I want some answers,” I say, looking into his black eyes.
“We already spoke to you in your home. You had no questions then.”
“I have questions now.”
“This is very unusual, ” he answers, nodding his head at the two men who had brought me into this room. They turn and walk out.
“You suggested that someone said my marriage wasn’t working and that’s why you chose me. You said someone had complained.” I feel as if I am accusing him.
“And someone had.” The man sits behind the desk, placing his palms together in his lap. “I am in no position to reveal more than that.”
“But that’s not fair. I have the right to know who complained and who felt it was necessary for me to be replaced in my home.”
“You have not been replaced,” he replies, looking straight ahead.
“But I have been and that’s not fair. When another woman is placed in my home as my replacement, as a clone of me, then I have a right to complain.” I haven’t moved. This is so unusual for me because under different circumstances I would have been storming through the room.
“You have not been replaced,” the man repeats, this time turning to look at me. “Not yet.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” I feel my voice rising and the heat building in my face. I am getting ready to go off on this geek.
“Mrs. Bernard, you must calm down. You know the rules.” The man stays in his seat. I want to push him and his chair over, let him sprawl all over the floor. “We can have no discord. The goal of the Committee is to create a perfect order. If there is discord, we find it and we take care of it.”
The man stands suddenly. His dark eyes are no longer on me, but on something that is taking place outside this room. I turn suddenly and see a scuffle taking place up on the third deck. I am surprised the view is so clear for the third deck has to be at least sixty feet up. As I stand watching, I see someone pushing a steel gurney out of what appears to be the wall. Previous to this, I thought the wall had been composed of glass. The gurney is being pushed into a wide elevator. The man shoves himself before me, and attempts to block my view. Still, I can see legs thrashing. They are bare, white, female legs. The woman on the gurney is kicking wildly as if by doing so she’ll get herself off the bed. The man looks deeply into my eyes as if he is searching for something. I try to calm my emotions. Let nothing show, I tell myself. I turn away and he grabs my arm. The grasp is cold, as cold as the steel pole on the front door. I pull my arm away and step away from him. I have to get out of here, fast, I repeatedly tell myself.
Instinctively, I know what they’re going to do to that woman up there and what they will do to me. I take a deep breath and dash for the front doors.