Fire exits, for most, is that part of the office that just exists, like a locked maintenance closet on the thirteenth floor of the building. It just exists, and that’s it. No one has the time to give it a second thought. I mean, who would, right? What the hell were elevators invented for if people had to take the stairs? Moreover, Office fires? They just happen on Television, don’t they?
But then, this story isn’t about one of those people. It’s about a young man who was practically in love with Fire Exits. He knew everything that was to know about them. He had stacks of research lying around his single bedroom apartment in the heart of the city. He knew the exact dimensions of the stairs, what materials were used for the doors, what kind of paint was used – every little detail; that you could possibly think of and more. It was his obsession. It was popular opinion that he was simply odd, and was avoided by everyone, except for his managers maybe.
Pratik was twenty-six , a Software engineer living out of Bangalore and working for a respectable IT Company. He had jumped four companies in the last three years. The reason – the fire exits just didn’t feel right. But something had clicked with the present company and he had managed to stick around for almost eight months. This was the longest he had stayed with any company. Maybe it had to something with the trail of ice-cream he had discovered one Sunday afternoon in the fire exit on the second floor. What was he doing at work on a Sunday, you may ask? Well, he liked it there. The peace, the absence of people giving him odd looks, it suited him. He was free to do what he looked best – studying the fire exits. He was almost on the verge of jumping ship yet again, because he, after his numerous Sunday escapades, had found nothing interesting about the fire exits.
But that one day had changed everything. The trail of molten ice-cream on the second-floor landing. This was odd because the office canteen stays closed on Sundays and so do the shops in the vicinity of the office building. And as for the people, he always made sure it was just him and maybe a few security guards who usually stay outside and never bother him. And it was no different that day. But what was peculiar was that the trail of ice-cream wasn’t there when he had entered and what was even more weird was that, it had been happening ever since.