Jos Crane

Official website of Jos Crane, author.

Every day and every thing was the same for her until today. The same alarm blasted off at the same time indicating her to get her ass out of bed. She brushed her teeth in the same pattern while she took a shower, and then rubbed her hair in the same motion with the same shampoo. The loofa would scrub in the same pattern along her body. Once she got out and brushed her hair in the same pattern and a gentle touch of the same makeup, she’d take the same route to work.

She’d hug the handrail on the right side of the stairs – even though she never saw anybody actually come down – and walk down the hall to her office. The sound of a crumpling plastic beneath her feet woke her out of her trance. It caused her to jump as she yipped, “oh!” After examining the clear lining plastic that had glued itself to the floor and meandered through the hall towards the bathrooms, she assumed it was for construction. Though, the sign on the door stating “Under Maintenance” should’ve been the first obvious indication and made her almost smack her head while she whispered “dumbass” to herself. After she passed the bathrooms, the plastic ended and she would continue on the barcode-patterned carpet to her desk.

The mysteriously surface shield – that’s what she discovered the clear plastic is called – that lined the hallway remained there for the next couple of days. She never saw anyone go in or out of the bathrooms and wondered if any maintenance was performed at all. The mystery was exhiliariting; it estranged her otherwise monotonous life. She wondered if another coworker decided to make the bathrooms their office and all of this maintenance was a facade to conceal the illusion. Like most days, though, she never saw anyone else as most of her coworkers traveled frequently. The only time she knew someone was in the office was by that crunching sound of shoes on plastic, and hers were the only ones she heard.

On the third day after returning from lunch, she had become accustomed to the surface shield hugging the floor and her ears had already muted the scrunching sound much like the white noise generator in her office and busy city noises like cars. Once she had passed the increasingly worn plastic and the bathrooms, she transitioned to the carpet. Only this time, the crumpling sound continued with each footstep. She stopped and scrunched her face, curious if she was hearing things or wondering if someone made a guest appearance in the office.

She turned around, but nobody was there. Empty, as per usual. She sighed as she turned away from the plastic and again headed towards her desk. The crunching plastic echoed in the office as she took each step on her journey. Quickly turning around to see if anyone was joking with her, she yelled “Who’s there!? It’s not funny anymore!” There was no response. Just to be sure, she looked down towards the ground and found nothing but the normal quiet carpet. She lifted her shoe to check if any plastic got lodged in somehow. Of course, there was nothing there; they were flat. She turned around to face her desk and took another cautious step. There was no sound. Another step, also quiet.

She shrugged her shoulders and continued. After another couple of steps, the crumpling sound matching her steps resonated in the room once again. “Fuck it,” she stated and ran back towards the bathrooms where the plastic appeared and opened up the men’s bathroom door. There was nothing there. She tried the women’s bathroom, but it was also empty almost as if she opened up a portal to space. She tried to massage the walls to find a light switch, but there was nothing there. She placed one foot inside hoping to find some ground, only to find herself almost falling with no ground to be found. Quickly grasping the wall with her hands, she was able to pull herself back to the surface shield. With her own feet creating crumpling sounds as she gained pace, she ran outside of the office front door, down the stairs, and outside the building.

She never returned. Sometimes at night, however, she could hear the same crumpling sounds of that clear plastic on the carpet.