Distracted he pushed through the frosted glass door of the pristine, brilliant white room. The reception desk was large and imposing, even the large letters on the front of the white surface were white. He was in the offices of AoD: Irish Operations. The only reason the letters could be read was because of the shadow cast behind them from the flushed fluorescent lights in the pure white ceiling. The walls, as in the rest of the offices, were symmetrical slabs of white and frosted glass.
The receptionist looked up from her position behind the desk. Even she blended in well with her surroundings. Her face was pale, down to her frosted pale pink lipstick. Her eyes were a light shade of blue and her long straight hair was a shade lighter than baby blonde.
“Mr. Ahern is looking for you, Daimhin.” Even her voice sounded white.
“Good morning, Miss Brown.” He smirked internally at the irony that she could be considered a brown stain in the otherwise untainted room.
“Morning. You’re late.”
“I am on my way to the morning meeting, can’t it wait till after?”
“No. He said he wanted to see you before the meeting this morning.”
Daimhin walked past her and down the long white passage. The symmetrical slabs of white integrated with frosted glass on the walls continued on each side alongside him. The white polished tiles under his feet reflected the lights from the ceiling.
He walked past several closed white office doors. Human Resources, Accounting, System Room. He always felt a pull of apprehension as he walked past the system room with its large interior and machines which regulated destiny, fate, birth and death. It was as if the door knew what he had done a little more than seventeen years ago, and had done more than a few times in between. It was as if it looked at him accusingly, and one day soon it would open and suck him in.
He continued walking down the long passage. He nodded in greeting when Gavin walked past him. He had not yet made a lot of friends here. Relatively speaking he had not been here very long, and should they decide to downscale and applied the principle of last in, first out, he would be the very first out. Also, it was not as if he made friends easily. Granted, surrounded by humankind he was able to see them for who they really were. He could see what interested them, what hurt them and what they wanted from life. He had been given this specific talent because of the circumstances which brought him here.
The day he died, he did not go to any white light and there was no guardian angel to escort him across The Valley. He closed his eyes in the one moment and the next moment he was standing on a precipice. There was a black hole under the ledge he was balancing upon, and a sea of black nothing a mighty long way down. A voice from the sky informed him in a thunderous, echoing voice that he had been granted one and only one, second chance. The voice offered him a job, which Daimhin could not refuse. If he had declined the job offer he was sure he would have experienced the flailing arms falling sensation and he would have ended up in that place the Bible warned souls about. That place of eternal burning and suffering.
Daimhin turned when the passage came to a fork and continued down the white walled passage. A glimmering black door led to the opposite direction. He did not have clearance to enter to the black side, as it was sometimes referred to by his co-workers. The AoD: Covert Operations: Ireland, had their own front reception office and as indicated by the black door, Daimhin assumed the entire office was like the negative of the office for which he did have clearance. On this side, they collected the good souls and escorted their frightened and bewildered souls across The Valley. Daimhin had heard rumours that on the other side of that black door, they were not as accommodating and souls were not escorted toward the waiting area to await a verdict on where their souls will be going next. Sometimes when he saw guardians from the Covert Operations division out in the field, he felt a twinge of jealousy. They had the coolest weapons and they all wore uniforms. Apparently angry souls were difficult to contain, and obviously they had to be taken to the pit of fire forcefully. He could not think of anybody who would want to go there willingly.
He reached the inner office of Mr. Ahern and as he stepped into view of Mr. Ahern’s personal assistant, she looked up at him. “You’re late?”
He ignored her question. “Mr. Ahern wants to see me?”
“Go through. He is expecting you.”
A feeling of apprehension settled on his shoulders as he walked to the large white double doors.
The doors swung open as if on cue, and Daimhin stepped into the large office of the Chief of Operations: Ireland. The décor from the corridors continued into the office, and the only difference was the one wall. One of the perks of being higher up on the food chain in any corporate environment. The view from the wall to wall seamless window was breath-taking. An ocean of white clouds extended as far as the eye could see.
Mr. Ahern was standing by the window. His back was turned toward Daimhin and his hands were twined into each other behind his back. Without turning around to face Daimhin, he said, “Daimhin. You are late.”
“Traffic,” Daimhin joked.
Mr. Ahern continued looking out the window, across the silver snowy expanse beyond the glass. “You do realize things are not looking too good for you now, so if I was you, I would drop the attitude.”
Panicked Daimhin wondered if they had found the glitch in the system. Did they realize by now that Taylor should have been dead? He supposed they would have noticed her existence earlier if she had a lot of friends and she was impacting more people than only her close family. As it was her mother should have taken a different path. She would have made different choices and lived a completely diverse life. A life without Taylor.
Mr. Ahern turned back to face Daimhin. Slowly he walked across the office and sat down in the high back white leather executive chair. He leaned his elbows on the white table between Daimhin and himself and as he held his hands, palms pushed against each other in front of him, he announced, “I have received important news for you, Daimhin.”
The brilliant light from the window made it difficult for Daimhin to distinguish Mr. Ahern’s features. Uncomfortably Daimhin shifted in his chair.
Mr. Ahern continued, “I have received notification of your deliverance hearing.”
Shocked Daimhin sat back in his chair.
“You are fortunate your deliverance hearing date has come so quickly. There are people here who have waited a lot longer than you, so I must wonder if you have higher connections?”
Daimhin said nothing. Mr. Ahern was not expecting an answer to his rhetorical question. Nobody here had higher connections. They did not have the correct clearance and it was above their pay grade, so to speak. He knew everybody in the office and in the offices around the world believed there was a higher power, but nobody has ever met the Chief Executive Officer of AoD, except for a few privileged souls, whom nobody had met either. He knew there was a higher power, because he had spoken to him on his first day here and he was offered a job personally, but that is the only contact he had ever had with Head Office. As it was, he was not even sure if it was the big boss he had spoken to that day. It was only a voice in the sky.
Daimhin tried to decipher the face of the man sitting in front of him across the desk. The silence lingered as Mr. Ahern studied Daimhin’s brightly illuminated face. “The hearing will be next week, before the audit and the arrival of the Chief Operating Officer. This will be the first time he will be visiting our office and I want everything to run smoothly. I want this apparent glitch in the system sorted.” He paused dramatically. “And Daimhin if I find out you had anything to do with this, which I have a funny feeling that you did, you can kiss your freedom goodbye. I will make sure you do this job far and beyond eternity, and it will never be in my position. It will always be out in the field. You have been here such a short time. A blink of the eye of humanity. After a couple of millenniums, I promise you it could become very tedious.”
Daimhin said nothing as fear coiled in the pit of his stomach.
“You can go. Your morning meeting is starting in seven minutes.” Mr. Ahern dismissed him.
Daimhin stood up. “Sir,” he said as he nodded his head.
Mr. Ahern ignored him as he stood up to stand in front of the window again, as if he could see something there which was more interesting than the day to day operations of AoD.
Daimhin rushed out of the office and down the corridor. He could not afford to be late.
He walked into the large meeting room and sighed relieved. His manager was not here yet. Splashes of colour made the room look cheerful. Everybody here was wearing new modern clothes. Granted Daimhin preferred wearing denim jeans and white t-shirts, but Violet lived in purple and every shade thereof. Gavin, sitting across from him, liked to dress in black. Daimhin wondered if deep down he wished he was part of the Covert Operations Division.
Daimhin scanned the pristine white room. Even the gleaming wooden desk was white. He knew everyone’s name here. He had been with them for a long time and depending on his deliverance hearing, he might not see them again after the end of this week.
Realization dawned on him as he watched his manager stroll across the room to his chair at the far end of the table. The light from the window casting his face into a gloomy darkness. He would have to correct his error with Taylor before his deliverance date, before his release. If he was released.