Short Fiction

Short Story: The Horoscope

Sunday Short FictionAvoid feeling trapped in confined spaces. Avoid the numbers 11, 15, 21, 28, 31.

That’s creepy, he thinks. The horoscope usually tells him his lucky numbers, ones he then plays on the Power Ball lottery tickets, but never numbers to avoid. Why would he avoid those numbers? And how?

Simon clicks off the daily horoscope app on his phone and sighs. No mention of great happiness coming his way. It is 7 a.m., and he’s getting late for work. He grabs his laptop messenger bag, stuffs his wallet in his back pocket, takes his keys, and heads out his apartment door. Living in the city means he feels lost in the crowds but that also means living a life of anonymity, a quiet life he chooses to spend in a pixelated space instead. He barely notices the people on the bus or the light rail as he makes his way to work. Earbuds block out all the noises of the world and replace it with the melodic beats of his choosing. Today he likes it classical.

His job sits him on the 51st floor of one of the city’s skyscrapers. He does not even notice the view anymore coming from the eastern windows. Usually the sun shines and the sky is blue. He concentrates on his cubicle only. His coffee is the same hazelnut latte he gets every day.

For a single moment during that day, he sits back and wonders – is the cubicle considered a confined space? He thinks back to his horoscope from the morning. All of a sudden, the gentle colors of fabric surrounding him make him suspicious.

The phone rings. “They need you up on the 55th floor.”

Nothing else. Just that. He opens his mouth to ask more, but the line is already disconnected. Was it a wrong number? He peeks around but then shrugs. His legs are cramped. He can’t remember the last time he stood up so a walk to the 55th floor wouldn’t be a bad idea.

If nothing else, he needs a break.

After locking his computer (because the last time he forgot, Jason from two cubicles down got on his computer and sent prank emails to people), Simon walks over to the bank of elevators. This time, he notices the view outside the windows. It’s another gorgeous day so far, but dark storm clouds bubble high in the distance.

Thunderstorms spook him, especially being stuck so high up when they hit. He can never shake the images of being struck by lightning. Like the lightning actually reaching inside the building, a giant hand of deadly electricity striking him down. Since he was a child, he has been convinced that he will die by lightning strike.

Or being eviscerated by a boat propeller. Which is why he avoids boats at all costs. Along with swimming in lakes and other bodies of water that hold the potential of boat interaction.

Boats and lightning. At least his horoscope said nothing about them today.

Simon presses the elevator button again, knowing full well that it is a useless gesture. It always takes these elevators forever to get to his floor. Time seems to stand still. He knows if he does not press the button again, somehow that will make everything go even slower.

The arrow dings above him but he lets out a sigh when he sees it is the DOWN arrow. Wrong direction. The doors slide open to reveal an empty car. His eyebrows shoot up. No one in the elevator means he would have control of it, down arrow or not. Better than waiting to see if the others free up anytime soon.

He steps on the elevator, smirking, and the doors slide shut behind him. He lifts his finger to press the 55th floor when he sees that the panel is already lit up with pre-pushed buttons.

“Oh man,” he groans. This will take forever now. No wonder the car had been abandoned.

He sees what floor he is to stop at first – the 31st. He shivers.

One of the numbers to avoid.

He checks the rest of the buttons, and his blood runs cold. The numbers pushed on the panel – 11, 15, 21, 28, 31.

The elevator gives a sickening shake as it descends. “God,” he whispers in horror. “No, no, no…”

A grinding noise. The sound of metal tearing so loud that it drowns out his scream. He feels the strange weightlessness as the elevator plummets. The buttons glow brighter.

A second before the crash, the horoscope app pings a notification from his phone in his pocket.

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