The elevator probably counts itself amongst the world’s most pitiful objects, for it flies up and down for miles without ever having gotten anywhere. Today, it flew with a lady.

 

“Hmm”, jabbing a button that read four, Claire mumbled into her phone. “…and how’s Albert doing?”

 

“Great!”, a male voice replied on the other side of the phone. “The little devil seems to have calmed down.”

 

“And the dentist said…”

 

“No sweets for a long time. Otherwise, it’s going to be cavities all over again.”

 

“Like he’s going to go for that long without sweets. His sweet tooth is all you.”

 

The male voice guffawed. “Debatable, but ok. Also, got to run. Our monster is stirring.”

 

Silence.

 

The soft mechanical hum of the elevator came to the foreground once more.

 

On the second floor, the doors dinged open. The other passenger was a tall, thin woman. Her neck stooped at forty-five degrees, causing an eerie resemblance to an aardvark.

 

“Which floor?”

 

Vague mumbling.

 

“…uhh, which floor?”

 

Aardvark-lady suddenly turned to Claire. Pain shot through Claire’s shoulders where she dug her nails in.

 

“I need to talk. Please.”

 

The elevator continued to hum.

 

***

 

It was a morning just as regular as any other. As was ritual, Mira had slept in. In a flurry of activity, she limped around the house with one of foot half-shoved into a pantsuit. A highly-abused toothbrush was stuck in her mouth.

 

The sun beat down brightly when she finally reached work. Shuffling past long lines of head sunk deep in concentration, she finally sunk down at her desk. There was a note stuck to the tabletop. Back office.

 

Mira’s heart sunk like the Titanic. She had always been on the fence about the nature of her job. After all, this place was a firm by day and crime syndicate by night. Elimination tasks were handed out every once in a while, and one of two people involved in the task would never be seen again. But the pay was beautiful, and Mira needed the money. Moreover, the work demanded of her did not involve any of the actual elimination; she simply had to gather intel on the targets, and she did it impeccably.

 

Yet, today was the day all moral dilemma reached its climax. Today, she could no longer hide behind a computer screen; it was her life against some innocent’s.

 

With a throbbing heart, Mira turned the knob.

 

The back office met none of Mira’s preconceptions. The room was built very simply for the nature of jobs that elapsed within its four walls. Almost everything was a shade of white, as was the frail, soft-spoken lady sitting in the midst of it all.

 

“Have a seat.”

 

Mira wiped her palms on the sides of the pantsuit.

 

“You know what the back office is for, don’t you?”

 

She nodded.

 

“And that there’s no turning back?”

 

The lady slid a picture in her direction.

 

On it was a man. His eyes, the colour of cranberry.

 

***

 

“So, Mira, you’re telling me that you work for some organized murder firm? In broad daylight?”

 

“We have protection…”

 

Disbelief rose with each successive question. “I don’t care. And you’ve been asked to kill a man with red eyes?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And you have to do it?”

 

“There’s really no turning back.”

 

“Listen, I doubt I’d entertain your mad tales even if I had the time; and at the moment, I don’t even have that. My kid just got back from the dentist’s, and I can’t leave him alone with his father for long.”

 

The lift dinged open on the fourth floor.

 

“You don’t get it, do you? I need help.”

 

Claire made some very feeble attempts at getting Mira off her trail. But like gum stuck to the bottom of shoes, the latter persisted. Together, they wove their way to the end of the corridor.

 

Ah, home!

 

Claire jabbed at the doorbell with utmost ferocity.

 

A man opened the door. His eyes, the colour of flame.

 

Author: Sarvani from Sharavati Hostel (Litsoc)

A special thanks to the IITM Writing Club for making these available to us.