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(A short story of 2067 words)

Up The Downstairs


by Edward Cartner

A jaded city commuter and office worker is unexpectedly invited to 'break free' from the herd. His joy is short-lived and he is quickly returned to the treadmill. He will never meet her like again. There will be no repetition - or will there?

At midday I pause reluctantly on the edge of the abyss yet know that in a few hours all will be reversed. Then I will ascend to poor, diminished liberty; no different to any other working day.

There is no counting the number of times I have stood on this escalator in company with other automatons: waxworks shunting along relentlessly like food cartons on a filling conveyor. Every one of us remains obediently on our personal moving platform and descends or ascends one foot at a time to the metronomic beat of the supporting rollers.

The way is steep and, it is said, deepest of all in the city, but each day with clunking efficiency it transports tens of thousands of us with the same impersonal, indifferent boredom that we display.

I have yet to take the alternative staircase, despite many vows to improve my fitness. Perhaps to do so might introduce a welcome hesitancy in my progress as I pace a slow measured tramp downwards...

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