The Enigma Deepens

George spent the rest of that day thinking about the enigmatic door. Of course, the first thing he'd done after his colleagues had sauntered off was to try and open it, and, of course, it was locked. He'd surmised as much when he'd noted the keyhole in the knob. He hadn't imagined anything so mysterious would be so easy to investigate.

And it certainly wasn't.

The next thing he'd done was to pay a visit to Jocelyn, the senior secretary, to ask if she knew anything about the door. Jocelyn knew everything that went on, at least on the tenth floor, and if there were anyone able to shed light on this mystery, it would be Jocelyn.

"Across from the water fountain," she'd said, in a skeptical tone with a skeptical expression on her face. "Is this some kind of practical joke? You know as well as I do that there's no door across from the water fountain."

"You have to see if for yourself," George had said. "It'll just take a minute."

"I don't have time for this, George," Jocelyn had replied. "I have work to do."

And that was that. No amount of badgering or cajoling would pry her from her seat. She'd finally threatened to report him to his supervisor if he didn't go away.

And so George had gone back to his desk. He'd tried to get some work done, but he'd been unable to completely push the thoughts of the door into the background. He'd finally resigned himself to catching up on some small tasks that had built up, and had taken the occasional trip to the washroom, just to check that the newly discovered door was actually still there.

It was.

And he was the only one who seemed aware of it.

It was now Tuesday, and George, after a restless night of interrupted sleep, was again at his desk, again staring blankly at his monitor, and again fighting off distraction caused by thoughts of the door.

Giving in to the utter futility of forcing focus, he sat back, took a deep breath, and allowed himself to daydream. All through the previous day and night, he'd been trying to figure out what to do next. Now, finally, he let the little nuggets of speculation jump out and run around on the plains of his psyche.

Finally, he got up, grabbed his coffee mug, and headed for the washroom. He had a little experiment he needed to run.

After rinsing his mug, he took up station by the water cooler and waited for someone to come by. After a couple of minutes, Dan from Accounting appeared on the landscape, mug in hand.

George put on his most earnest and thoughtful expression and stared intently at the mystery door.

"Hey, George," Dan said with a smirk. "Woolgathering?"

George looked at Dan. "No," he said in his most serious tone. "I'm trying to figure out why I never noticed that door before." He nodded to the area opposite the water cooler.

Dan looked in the direction indicated, then looked back at George with that same expression of wariness George had seen on Bill, Fiona, and Warren the day before. Before Dan could protest, George took him by the arm and led him across the corridor.

"You have to really look," George said.

After a moment's hesitation, Dan gave in and really looked. And, sure enough, that look of uncertainty appeared on his face. And then the realization. Just like clockwork.

"No, I never noticed it before, either," Dan said. "Weird."

And he walked away.

George tried the same experiment on five more people, just to be sure. It was the same sequence of events each time, just like it had been with Fiona, Bill, and Warren the day before, and with Dan today. Disbelief, followed by uncertainty, followed by acceptance. And then the nonchalant dismissal, as if it couldn't possibly be anything strange.

So why was George the only one who thought it was unusual?

He was about to call it quits and head back to his desk when he saw Sharon come around a corner and head in his direction.

"Hi, George," she said. "How're you doing?"

"Good," George replied. "Did you bruise up from yesterday?"

Sharon stopped short and stared at him. "Bruise?"

"Yeah. You rammed your lower back into the--"

"How would you know about my bruise?" Sharon was looking at him oddly. "I don't even know how I got it."

"But I was here when it happened. We crashed into each other, and you went flying across the hall and slammed into the--"

"Yes, I remember that, but that's not how I got the bruise."

"Of course it is. You slammed your back into the doorknob."

"What doorknob?"

"The doorknob right there." George pointed.

Sharon looked at the area across from the cooler. When she looked back at him, her expression was cold.

"If this is your idea of a joke," she said, "it's not even remotely funny."

She shifted her ever-present pile of folders and moved off down the hall. George gaped after her, his jaw hanging slack.

She had no memory of discovering the door.

The End

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