Maya awoke in a strange place. She was not at her desk, where she had fallen asleep after working through the night. Her cubicle at work was a warm, friendly place with pictures of her family and friends. It was brightly lit with the help of a little grow light that kept her little terrarium alive. This place was not her cubicle. However, it was definitely cubical. The dim lighting at the edges of the walls made that clear. Moreover, it was cold to the touch, cold enough to be uncomfortable and force her to her feet. It was when she stood up that she realized that her clothes were missing. “This must be a dream,” she said while rubbing her arms to keep warm.
Just as those words escaped her mouth, she found herself bound in chains and stretched out like the man in those da Vinci drawings. “What were they called?” she struggled to remember. She had learned about da Vinci in her art class back in high school. Her arms and legs ached from the sudden changes in gravity. “Come on, Maya, you know this,” she said hoping that focusing on this little riddle would take her mind off the fact that she was scared – no, terrified by her predicament. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Suddenly, it came to her, “Vitruvian man.”
No sooner had the words escaped her lips than the chains were gone. She was now manacled against a cold steel surface. It felt like a wall based on the sagging of her breasts. That soon changed. Maya could sense the movement away from the wall. She could see the rotation of the room reflected in the shape of her breasts. She was now manacled to a table. Her fear reached a point where she could no longer contain it. Maya’s scream echoed off the walls in a crescendo of terror.
Suddenly, it was all gone. The table had vanished. She was free to explore the room, except there wasn’t much to see. She was wearing a long, white gown. There was a wreath of flowers upon her head and something lurking in a dark corner. She could hear the beast breathing. She turned away from the darkness and started to run back toward the light. The beast sprang at her, tearing at her gown. She screamed as the claws of the beast wrapped around her ankles and felled her to the cold steel floor.
Maya rolled over on the fur rug and glanced at her strange companion. “Now, where did you come from?” He smiled back at her. “You don’t remember, do you?”, he spoke accusingly. “How could you forget?” His tone was now angry. He slapped her face. Before Maya could react, he was on top of her. “We’re going to do this again until you get it right.”
Maya shuffled through the papers one more time. They had to be perfect. One mistake could ruin the entire contract negotiation. The last thing she wanted was to embarrass her boss, to embarrass the company. She had worked all night to perfect the paperwork. Exhausted, Maya lay her head down at her desk to take a nap.
“What is this?” Dross said as he slowly turned the small box in his hand. “It’s a toy,” Galvin replied. “There’s a little creature inside.”