Across the grid of low lying cubicles, someone was riding a mechanical scooter and giggling. Cody Steele shrunk further behind his computer screen, pressing his earbuds dangerously further in his ear canals. He stared at the blinking, accusatory cursor. You have work to do. You are lazy, it blinked in imagined Morse. Cody broke his stare and opened his desk drawer--inside were three identical ballpoint pens, lined up, a nearly empty box of paperclips, a pack of stale gum, and a handgun.
The air bit with bitter cold. Ice crystals swirled. Cody breathed out warm air that instantly condensed its moisture on his ample beard. The sky directly above was blue, but the sun hid behind a haze of suspended ice. He adjusted his hood with entirely numb fingers. He had stopped shivering twenty minutes ago.
Cody looked at the gun, wanting to feel it's weight, but he left it and extracted the packet of gum instead. He peeled out a slim stick and unpapered it. He placed the bare stick in his mouth and chewed solemnly. The individual on the scooter was joined by others, laughing, cajoling. Cody grimaced and flung the pack back in the drawer, shoving it closed with a bang. He returned to the screen. Stop fucking around and get something done, said the cursor. Your life isn't worth more than what you get paid here, and you're life will never be better. Type. Press a key. Press any key. Give in. Admit you're a loser going nowhere.
He continued to dig the ice cave with his frozen hands, his breath ragged and his eyes wild. He ripped out the packed snow and flung it behind him. The sun was a white ball hanging in a pink field. Night would come soon. He felt buoyant.
A woman squealed with laughter, her pitch reaching the upper hearing of dogs. Cody got up in a burst, knocking his thigh on the edge of the desk. He suppressed an expletive. He shoved his chair violently under the desk, shaking the computer. He looked back down at the drawer, then across the sea of cubes. He opened it. He withdrew the gun. He held it up at arm's length, focusing on the revelers with the scooter that shouldn't have been there and wouldn't have been there if the owners weren't out on vacation in the Virgin Islands. The elevator dinged. Cody lowered the gun, completely unseen and ignored and looked at the opening doors. No one was inside. The doors slowly slid shut.
Cody watched the sun fall and the sky turn to purple. His arms were asleep, prickling. He wondered how long it would be before that sensation passed. His eyelids drooped and his muscles started to seize up, yet still unfeeling.
He walked around his cube and to the elevator doors. There was a thin layer of frost near the seam. He pressed the UP button. The doors opened again, empty once more, but let out a strong waft of cold, crisp air. Flakes of ice flew out, carried away by the airconditioner. He stepped inside and looked at the buttons on the control panel. An unmarked button was covered in frost. Cody pressed this button.
The doors immediately opened into a glacial valley covered in snow. Cody walked forward, letting the chill set in. he shoved the gun into his waistband. Below his feet another set of footprints led the way, so he started to follow them. When he turned around briefly, the elevator was gone.
At the end of the short path lay a half hollowed-out ice cave. He sat down and started digging, vowing to complete it.
You'll never amount to anything, said the cursor. You might was well type. It's all monkeys can do. Cody's face grew read. The laughter kicked up a notch behind him. Your light will never burn bright. Cody stared at the screen. He mashed his teeth together. The door to the elevator opened. He stood up and withdrew the gun from the drawer, aiming it at the elevator. The doors closed, expelling no one. Cody shifted his weight, a little towards the elevator, then back again. He lowered the gun and shot the computer screen. Someone screamed.
Cody's breath was shallow when the rescue team discovered him. His feet, hands, and nose were full black and his beard was packed with ice crystals. He was wrapped in heated blankets as he was airlifted away via helicopter. He smiled.