After a couple of months the slight flickering fluoro tube off to the right of desk had finally broken his resolution to smile at the drones lining the walls of the corridors. After a couple more, his eyes had begun to gum up. Nothing much wrong in that. Staring softly out into the fluorescent twilight, he thought to himself how much more soothing the tin can chimes of the tannoy seemed to him now. How much more natural. Just the natural order of things.

Order. There was such peace in order. Where once his desk had been a wilderness of the unfiled, the unkempt, the chaotic, now calm and neatness reigned. A few key words gummed to monitor frame, “proactive people, pushing forward as one”, “Success through conformity”, “A quiet workplace is a productive workplace”. He noted how the little things had assumed new import. The reassuring twice hourly change in pitch afforded by the air-con, the rattle as another file was saved. His was a newer, more acute musicality. The office bore all the instruments he could need. Now and then, far away, unbearably intrusive, the low thud of a car stereo would disturb his mantra of collation. A burst of liquid rage would momentarily fill his shell – memories of past jealousies flooded him, his pipes coughing out half formed expletives. Raised eyebrows from a supervisor, and he forced a handful of gum into his mouth, a handful into each ear, scraped from ever oozing eyes. Better cocooned. Better warm.

Routine. There was peace in routine. Everywhere now were simple patterns. Temps neatly arranged in numbered pods. Longevity was rewarded with privileges. The jarring impurity of colour was gently washed from the corridors of the faithful. A representative from the agency murmured soothing nothings as she extracted a pint of clear liquid from a catheter in his back. Away to his right, in the darkest places in the office, representatives suckled straight from tubes. The pods pulsed slightly in the fluorescent twilight. Somewhere, a water cooler bubbled.