Floor Thirteen

""Hi My name is Jack Oliver Clews.  I am in grade 7 at Glen Waverley Secondary School in Melbourne in Australia.

I was born in England on July 6Th 1994.  My mum is from Mangalore and her name is Marilyn and my dad is British and his name is Alec. I have a younger sister Lisa who is 8 years old.

I will soon be getting my black belt in Taekwondo and am a pretty good swimmer.   I love reading and playing on my PS3.  I also am learning to play the viola. My favourite subjects are Maths and English.  I am also learning Japanese at the moment and know a bit of Mandarin.  I know a few words of Konkani as well.  I love sushi and sashimi and like reading Manga books and am into Anime.  I like doing origami and  puzzles.  I have a great sense of humour.  I hope to one day visit Japan and Mangalore.

Meet Bob Marshes. He is an everyday cubicle-dweller, who loves to hate his job. He works at ArguTech, a company selling high-tech gardening tools. His boss is so stupid that it drives him nuts. His wife recently left him and took the house, the car and his child.  He has to live in a block of apartments with a pyromaniac cat lady for a neighbour. And worst of all, he has no will to live. He can’t bring himself to suicide, but he just wishes it would all end quickly. How wrong we can be.

Tap? tap. Tap tap. Tap. Click. This was the world of Bob. A small cubicle on floor 14. On his desk was a small tin can containing 2 stained pens and the stub of a pencil.  A white stapler with no staples sat on the shelf at eye level, along with a small glass orb trying to pass itself off as a paperweight (it wasn’t doing very well). A pile of paperwork lay next to it, this was being ignored today. He just sat at his screen thinking of all the ways he could possibly die. Tap tap tap taptap? click. Uggh? the cheap coffee he drank earlier probably had something bad in it. His stomach hurt. Maybe it would go away. Taptaptap? tap tap tap taptap tap. Ow. Now *that* hurt. He got up, and nearly collapsed with another wave of pain. The heck I’m going to that coffee place again, he thought. He shuffled over to the bathroom. Out of order? Out of order!? Aaarrgh! There was another toilet two floors down, on floor 12. There was no floor 13 because whatever stupid triska-whata-phobics designed this place decided ‘it was bad luck’. He clambered into the lift and viciously stabbed the button marked ’12’.

That was a heck of a lot better. Whatever that crud was that passed for coffee at the caf? was definitely banned by the government. The pain was lessened, but still there. He pulled up his pants and strode out of the grubby toilet stall. He washed his hands in the stained sink, looking at the artistic masterpiece that had recently been installed by one of the public. I. R. PWNED JOO has a long way to go in the artistic world.

He entered the lift once again. He pushed the ’14’ button and waited. There was a loud clang and the lights went out. "Crud!!" He yelled. The lights came back on after a few seconds. The lift went upwards. It stopped. "Oh crud? This is not my day." he said under his breath. Then he noticed something. Where the ’13’ had been scratched into the paint between 12 and 14 by someone with a sense of humour, there was an actual button marked ’13’. This wasn’t there before the blackout. How did it get there? "Ding" the lift announced proudly. The doors opened. The button-board indicated it was floor 13, yet there was physically no floor 13. Then he saw what was outside the lift.

It was like the Aurora Borealis, but with only white light. It danced around in front of him like a dream. The doors closed. "Wha? Wha? What the heck was that!?

The lift continued on its journey upward stopping at floor 14. The doors opened to Bob’s workplace. Suddenly he found he couldn’t move. As he stood there, a strange ghost-like double peeled itself off Bob. The double walked out of the lift, got as far as the copy machine and fell to the ground, clutching his stomach and groaning. It lay still. The woman using the machine screamed and attracted the attention of about a dozen people who crowded around. As the real Bob stood there helpless, he saw the nearby medical student check his pulse and other signs, before shaking his head. It is strange, watching yourself die. It’s like seeing an action replay of a magnificent goal miss completely. A voice in his head boomed "Bob Marshes? We have been waiting for you." "How long?" he replied. "A few minutes, but that’s not the point. What is important is if you want to change what you just saw." "Uuuummm?." He thought. He remembered his downwards spiralling life, his non-existent family, everything. And, strangely enough, he valued it. He replied "Yes? Yes I do." "Prepare yourself. This may feel? a little weird."

 The colour melted away everywhere, leaving a ghostly white scene. Then the shapes and shadows disappeared as well. He became terribly disorientated. He didn’t know if he was moving, or up or down or god knows where. Suddenly it all stopped. Shadows came into view. Then the colour fell from the sky and everything was normal. At least, by current standards. This? This was the godforsaken hellhole the council had given the title of ‘caf?’ to. He came here this morning. And there he was, his past self, ordering the coffee that would kill him. He watched himself, helpless as he handed over the money and received change. He charged, pushing himself out of the way and onto the floor. Suddenly he remembered this happening. A rusty knife, precariously placed on the edge of the counter fell off and plunged into his past body. Oh crud.

 The whole world froze. Present Bob got up, dusted himself off and looked up. "Well?" The colour melted again and the world disappeared. "Would you like to try again?" The voice enquired. "Fine. How am I meant to save myself?" Bob asked. "That’s up to you." It replied. The world flowed back, rewound and stopped. This time, he would take the coffee instead of stopping himself. The world started again. He strode round the corner and bumped into himself, retry 1. The two Bobs stood and gawped. Retry 2 Bob started first. "I came to help you." "Wait, how?? Does this mean I fail?" "Ordinarily yes, but I have come to change the change and help you. I know what you’re thinking. Don’t target your past self. Instead, target the coffee." "Okay, fine. I will. How?" "Maybe if we grab the coffee and get rid of it I, you, him, we will all return to normal." "Let’s try it." "He’s taking the coffee now! Go, go ,go!" They grabbed the coffee and ran. In his surprise, the past Bob fell over and fatally split his head on the table next to him. Oh crud. (Again)

There were now 23 Bobs in the street, all debating what to do. Retry 17 Bob suddenly realised that they were going in a loop. But he lost track of this as everyone reached a conclusion and walked off. They never reached their goal. They tried again and again, failing each time. But Bob never lived.

Any who try to cheat death, will be cheated by death.