Office detritus floated around his ankles. A stapler as flotsam. A half-used pack of blue ballpoint pens as jetsam. Styrofoam cups bobbed around the like coconuts caught in a tidal surge. Waste paper bins navigated their way between the desks and chairs becoming driftwood as the water began to rise.
He had begun to panic as soon as the handle had snapped off. His scheduled mid-afternoon refreshment break. Sweaty-gripped cup beneath spout. Handled pulled. A little too much downward force. A mocking snap. The water cooler had started to let out a steady torrent. He had initially tried to stop the flow with all the paper towels he could muster but it was relentless.
He had looked around as the water had seeped into the carpet at his feet. It ebbed and flowed over each square tile, turning it from light to slate grey. None of his colleagues seemed to notice the coming flood. They hadn’t noticed when the water had begun to lap at the rubber soles of their shoes. They hadn’t noticed when the water had started soaking the hems of their trousers, dampening their beige tights. They barely even seemed to register when the water level reached above desk height and their computers started short circuiting, firing sparks, screens exploding. They carried on, ignoring his shrill pleas for help and frantic warnings . There was work to be done after all.
He started to wade away from the cooler, broken plastic handle still in hand. He sludged through the sea of office furniture, loosening his tie as he went. Pushing an office chair aside he reached the office door. The force of water was too great for him to open it. The torrent now nipple high, he stood and considered his options. Years of filing meandered over the surface, their ink bleeding out into the murky depths. Photocopiers and fax machines fizzed, smoked and died as they were submerged. Betty from accounts floated by, face-down, her body gently colliding with floating filing cabinets and meandering desk drawers.
He thought to himself how bad this was going to look on his end of quarter review.