Rated R. Contains an office which in turn contains despair which in turn contains hope.
by Jeff VanderMeer
A vision of the building from on high: five glittering floors surrounded by a dull concrete parking lot. To the west lay a forest. To the east, the glint of a shopping mall, substantial as a mirage. To the north, highways and fast food restaurants. To the south, a perpetual gloom through which could be seen only more shadow.
The building housed hundreds of people. They worked day and night, as relentless and constant as the seasons. The first four stories lay open to all, but no one could visit the fifth floor without a special key. Few had ever seen the roof.
The stairs were used for emergencies only. Some of the elevators clanked and groaned. Some of the elevators, quiet and smooth as ghosts, rose and fell with limitless grace.
Most inhabitants of the building, even the janitors in the basement, it was rumored, preferred the noisy elevators. When the quiet elevators reached the first floor, a scream could sometimes be heard, as of an animal trapped and then crushed beneath their feet. The screams might continue for several minutes. No one knew what kind of animal it was, or how it came to be trapped there.