Sharp Benefits

“But what are they for?” Marge asked. She turned over the small glass rectangle to inspect the other side; the action was an automatic curiosity. She felt dumb after she flipped it over and peered through the perfectly transparent pane. Her boss, Mr. Brewster winked and walked away. Marge was left alone within the confines of a corner cubicle. She looked down at the thin glass card in her hands and her thumb brushed over the bottom edge.

[Welcome to Sharp Development, Margerie] Bright white text appeared centered on it. The words were clearly visible against the light blue office carpet and seemed to be floating in the air. A white pulsing arrow pointed down under the words and she swiped her thumb down across it. The text changed.

[Follow me for a tutorial!] replaced the welcome in the center of the display. Two more white pulsing arrows appeared. One at the top and one at the bottom. The one at the top was labeled with the text: [Tutorial]. The arrow at the bottom was labeled: [Skip] Marge decided to follow the tutorial.

As soon as she tapped the arrow all text disappeared. Then a red arrow appeared in the middle pointing at the exit of her cubicle. Red pulses of light started at the blunt end of the arrow and flowed forward to gather at its point. Marge looked at the exit but the only thing she could see was the corner of the office floor. Two off-white, windowless walls met in a dim corner.

“There’s nothing there,” she mumbled to herself. Coincidentally, as if responding to her mutter white text appeared on the red arrow.

[Follow] it said. The floating arrow shrunk in size. Its motion was so smooth Marge thought it looked like zooming out of a map. As the arrow got smaller dotted lines extended from it and she realized it actually was a map, and she was the red arrow. A simple square formed around the arrow with its opening facing the intersection of two longer lines. The dots turned right just outside her cubicle. They followed the wall toward where her boss suggested the break rooms were. He did not actually show them to her; he waved a hand at the back of the floor and said, “That’s where the break rooms are.”

Marge stepped out of her cubicle and the arrow spun to the right like a compass. She followed the wall until the arrow told her to turn left at a dark, narrow hallway. It was lined with lights at about Marge’s height, but each one produced less light than a candle.

She followed the pulsing arrow into the hall and felt a chill travel down her spine. She debated quitting then and there but one of the lights in the hallway disappeared. A lean man in a dark suit stepped into the hall from where the light was. Marge realized it was a door when he pulled it closed and the light returned. He jumped a bit when he noticed Marge there.

“Sorry,” he apologized for the flash of fear as he approached her. “Number 2 ended badly and I’m still kind of jumpy. Here’s hoping number 3 is better, eh?” he smiled warmly at Marge then excused himself with a nod. “Back at it I suppose. Good luck, I’ll see you around,” he waved as he walked off into the cubicle farm.

Marge felt more at ease about the hallway after seeing someone come out of it alive and she padded down it. She reached the first door, the one the man came out of, and it had a small name plaque affixed to the door. “Jeremy Henderson” it said. She turned around and found another door behind her with a different name; then, she remembered her map. She looked down at it and the arrow pointed deeper down the hall. She shrugged and followed it.

After passing a dozen doors poorly lit nameplates she found the one with her name on it, “Margerie Garza”. The arrow flashed green and disappeared; Marge heard an electric lock whirr and the door loosened. She smiled down at the glass gadget.

This thing’s neat. But I wonder why I need more than one?” She wondered as she pushed the door open. The room was dark as she cracked it open. “Didn’t that guy say he was on number three?” she ran the mystery through her mind as she stepped in the darkness. Once she was in completely, the rectangle in her hand flashed a white light then the lights came on in the room.

“Whoa…,” she didn’t know what to think. The room was narrow and long. The first thing she saw was hole in the ground against the back wall. It was about six feet long, three feet wide and a foot deep surrounded by rich, moist soil. Along the wall to her right rested a black mannequin. It stood straight up within a small red circle. There were four more empty circles lined up on the floor next to it that looked ready to hold more mannequins. The wall to her left was empty off-white with nothing else in the room. She glanced down at the device for advice.

[Lay Down] it said. Another arrow pointed at the hole in the floor. Marge shrugged.

“What the hell, maybe I’ll get a nap,” she decided and climbed into the hole on her back. She held the small pane up for more directions.

[Put me on the ground. Close your eyes.]

“Definitely taking a nap,” she giggled to herself. The cool soil was soft and surprisingly comfortable. She placed the rectangle on the ground, took a deep breath for courage then closed her eyes.

[Open your eyes.] Flashed across her vision in bright white text.

“How the hell-whoooa.” Marge opened her eyes and a rush of dizziness washed over her. She laid down and was expecting to still be on her back when she opened her eyes. Instead, she was standing with no idea how she got from her back to a standing position.  Once she got her balance she looked around the same room. 

[First life. Be careful.] more words appeared in her vision again. Now that her eyes were open they seemed to be hovering in the air.

“No way….,” she glanced at the hole she laid in to try and piece together what happened.

She was still laying there in the dirt. She looked down at herself and saw she was standing in the same spot as the black mannequin.

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