The lobby of the towering steel structure was bustling with people headed in a hundred different directions. Tinted light filtered through the thick glass panels that comprised the outer walls, illuminating the sprawling room in a mild aqua hue. Amidst the sea of people a man sporting a suit and tie glanced around, visibly lost in the flurry of people.
An oval wooden desk in the center of the room caught his eye; the concierge! Perhaps they could help him. He skirted around a woman standing in the way, her attention devoted to the phone she clasped against her ear. As he neared the desk, his heart sank at the sight of an empty chair. Defeated, he leaned against the dark walnut frame, and decided to wait for the attendant to return.
"Welcome to the Vivaldi Building, how may I help you today?"
The man jerked away from the desk, the voice to his left startling him. He turned to look at the desk, and saw a small figure climb onto the top of the desk, aided by the decorative grooves in the wood.
"You look lost, my good sir!" The figure said, his small voice amplified by the even smaller earpiece he wore. Standing on the top of the polished counter, he was no more than three inches tall. Dressed in a simple collared shirt and slacks, the tiny man looked like an action figure come to life, his movements appeared almost animated as he walked to the edge of the desk. A small black satchel was slung across his shoulders, and bounced gently against his hip as he moved.
"Uh...yes, actually," the businessman replied, "I guess you could say that. I'm supposed to meet with a Mr. McCarthy, but for the life of me, I can't remember the number to his office."
The smaller man chuckled. "Not a problem, sir!" He reached into his satchel, removing a small tablet, and began to sift through the office directory.
The businessman stared in awe as the concierge tapped a few times at the screen. "Wow, they really thought of everything for you guys, didn't they?"
"They sure did," the smaller man replied, not bothering to look up from the glowing tablet in his hands. He was used to this reaction by now, and well aware of the wondering eyes that watched his every move. Even though it had been nearly four years since he, along with countless others around the world, had shrunk to three inches tall, employment for shrunken people was a relatively new concept. The concierge was one of the lucky individuals, working for a large company, with ample resources. Within less than a year of his shrinking, he was able to find a new position within the company where they could accommodate for his reduced stature.
A joyful ding sounded from the device, and the concierge looked up. "Floor 23, Suite 10. The elevators are behind you, and to the left."
The businessman smiled, and grabbed his briefcase. "Thank you, um..."
"Adrian," the concierge replied, "and you're welcome… “
“…Wesley,” the businessman replied, completing the concierge’s sentence.
“Well Wesley, feel free to stop by if you have any further questions.”
The businessman flashed another smile down at the concierge once again, before turning back toward the lobby. Adrian watched as the towering man turned and walked towards the elevator, before sitting down on the edge of the desk. He swiped through several screens on his tablet, catching up on company changes. Every so often, someone would approach seeking assistance. Some didn't seem to mind his smaller stature, but most gawked as he worked.
As the morning progressed, the lobby became quieter, with only a few people quietly rushing between the elevators and the glass double doors. Adrian glanced at his watch. 10:58, almost time for lunch. He stood up and stretched, then started towards the center of the desk. Hopping down to the lower section, he walked over to a corner filled with miniaturized items. A small refrigerator was nestled in the back corner of the desk, with an LED bulb expertly tucked against the underside of the upper counter.
Grabbing his lunch box from the fridge, Adrian lifted a finger to his ear. A short tone chirped in his earpiece, followed by a soft feminine voice.
"Hey Sylvia, just a heads up, I'm going on lunch break." Adrian said as he walked toward an edge of the desk that bordered a large wall.
"Understood," the voice in his ear responded, "let me know when you're done."
"You got it," he replied, stepping through a door carved into the wall.
After navigating a labyrinth of miniature hallways, doorways and elevators built into the walls of the Vivaldi Building, Adrian finally arrived at the breakroom for the ground floor. The space could accommodate both individuals of larger and smaller stature. In the center of the room was a large table, marked “unaffected”, the “politically correct” term for individuals who had not shrunk. Around the edges of the room, were tables against the walls, marked “affected”, the term used for people who had contracted the shrinking virus. The space was quiet, with Adrian being the only one in the room, affected or unaffected. Walking along the table, the small man took a seat at one of the many miniature chairs placed on top of the edge table he stood on. Working the early shift, meant his break was at 11:00 when the room was usually quite empty like this; the main bulk of workers worked the mid-day shift and took their breaks at 12:-00. Adrian welcomed the peaceful atmosphere, a major contrast from the hustle and bustle of the main lobby where he spent the majority of his day.
Adrian was well into his break, when an incessant beeping noise cut through the podcast he was listening to. Removing his earpiece, the three inch man sighed, realizing the battery was low. Not having any batteries on him, he would have to make the long journey back to the main lobby to get a fresh one, cutting his break short. Adrian reluctantly got up and stretched, preparing for the long walk back to his desk. As he reached the door, a noise behind him caught his attention. Glancing behind him, Adrian noticed a man sitting at the unaffected table. The concierge hadn’t noticed them come in, but then again, it wasn’t unusual for him to simply keep to himself while on lunch break. Staring in their general direction for a moment, he thought they looked familiar, but couldn’t quite put a name to their face.
As Adrian turned back toward the doorway, a voice called out, startling the three inch tall man.
Whirling back around, Adrian saw the man at the unaffected table stand up from his seat, and slowly walk toward the table on which he was perched.
“Everything okay?” the man asked, now standing beside the affected table, staring down at Adrian.
“Uhh, hi. Actually…”
Adrian was abruptly cut off by the larger man who now loomed over him.
“Sorry, your earpiece mustn’t be working. Let me re-adjust so I can hear you clearer”, the man said, before getting on his knees, his face now nearly level with the tabletop on which Adrian was standing.
“There, that should be better.”
As he spoke, the larger man’s warm breath wafted over Adrian, ruffling his blonde hair slightly and filling the air around him with the faint, minty scent.
“Actually, yeah, my earpiece needs a new battery. I was just on my way to change it now.” Adrian explained.
An understanding look appeared on the larger man’s face.
“Gee, that’s a long walk for you guys, isn’t it? Here, I might have some extras with me.”
The man proceeded to reach into his shirt pocket, before pulling out, what to him, was a miniscule black box. Carefully holding the box between thumb and forefinger, he deposited it on the tabletop next to Adrian. Adrian walked over to the box, opening the lid and replacing the dead battery in his earpiece with one of the many fresh ones inside.
“Thank you,” Adrian called up to the man once his earpiece was working, relieved he was spared the long walk.
“No problem, glad I could help,” the larger man replied as he stood up to his full height once again, “Sorry to just barge in like that by the way. I’m Wesley, guess I should have introduced myself earlier. I’m pretty sure I met you in the lobby earlier today… uh, Adrian, right?”
“Yeah,” Adrian replied, now realizing where he had seen this man before. “And don’t worry about it. I’m jus glad I don’t have to cut my break short,”
The smaller man proceeded to pull out his tablet once again, continuing from where he’d left off in his podcast. His attention was never fully with the podcast, however, instead, focused on Wesley, who was now sitting at the unaffected table once again. The smaller man was no stranger to interacting with people who towered over him. After three years in his line of work, how could he be?... but with Wesley, something felt different. Before he could let his imagination wander too far, however, doubts began to creep into the three inch tall man’s mind. He’d never been with a guy of that stature before; how would things even work between the two of them? Hell, he barely spoken with many unaffected people outside of work. Besides, Wesley clearly held some sort of higher position in the company, from what Adrian could tell. Why should someone like that even give him, a mere secretary, the time of day?
Yet the longer Adrian sat there, the more he studied the larger man. He was Asian; Chinese? Korean? Adrian couldn’t tell. The dark red collared shirt he wore contrasted his olive skin perfectly. While the clothing he wore wasn’t particularly revealing, it was obvious that Wesley kept in shape. To cap things off, he was a taller man, even by unaffected standards.
A repetitive beeping noise in Adrian’s earpiece cut into his peace and quiet once again, this time, signaling the end of his break. As Adrian gathered his things and began to navigate his way back through the labyrinth of hallways, thoughts of the Asian businessman continued to run through his mind, distracting him for the rest of the day.