Creativity Will Save the World, Pt. 12

“Hey, uh, Lisa. Where are we going?”

She squeezed my hand tight, her excitement something pulsing within her, animating her like a mechanical frame animates a puppet. “Basement.”

“I didn’t even know we had a basement in this building.”

“Storage room, then. Whatever. Name’s not important.” Another squeeze. “It’s going to be great. I’ve been working so hard on this.”

“Working on what?”

“Dreams.”

“You mean your dream board? I thought your dream board was up in your cubicle.”

Her hand went from the playful squeeze to something on the verge of painful. She was a small woman, and I was shocked that she had enough strength in her grip to hurt me. She snorted. “Cubicles are poison to creativity.”

The bones in my hand ground against each other, but her words stood out to me. That had sounded like something she might have said a week ago, back before Shiny gave his presentation on creativity. It was something we’d joked about, at least, that the job or the environment or whatever middle manager we were angry with was sucking the life out of us. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. The geometry’s all wrong. It’s a perversion of the divine. I started taking measurements, you know. Once I realized my dream board was too big for my space, I started looking for a place to put it. Started opening doors, you know? Like one of them might lead to the City of Doors. Well, they didn’t, but Bemastis teaches us that when the way is dark, you make your own light. When you’re lost, you wander until you find the right path. And you know what? I found it, man. I found something.”

I sniffed the air, suddenly noticing a new stench in the air as she dragged me down, lower and lower. The air grew warmer, seemed thicker. I thought of jungles, even though I’d never been to one. It was like the earthy smell of a forest, but with more rot. So much life, growing and dying and decaying all around. Jungles. Killing Fields. Aztec temples where hearts are extracted from chests. Rainforests full of chimps making war on each other.

I stopped. I dug in my heels, and Lisa stopped a moment after struggling against me, surprised to find herself suddenly anchored. “Lisa. What have you done? What have you been doing in the basement?”

She looked shocked. Wounded. Her eyebrows went up in the middle, drooped at the sides, hurt and disappointed in equal measure. “I’ve been saving the world.”

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