There was tension in the air. Everyone in the office could feel it, but no one could put their finger on what it was. Joel kept peeking his head above the wall of his cubicle looking for danger like a Prairie Dog keeping watch. Margaret kept clearing her throat nervously and Lucile kept tapping her pen against the desk. Periodically she would realise she was doing it and stop, only to start up again moments later.
Prudence on the other hand had her headphones in as she typed, the latest record from her favourite punk rock band playing for the sixth time that morning. She might eventually get sick of hearing it but she was basking in the joy of that feeling of new found love for a piece of music. It was this focus on the music and her work as a website designer, combined with the tucked-away nature of her cubicle, that meant she was completely oblivious both to the atmosphere of the office and the events slowly unfolding around her.
In the corner office on the far-side of the main work floor, raised voices could be heard. Mark rose nervously and shuffled his way towards the water cooler, an obvious excuse to get closer to the source of the sound and potentially divine some of the conversation. He pulled a cup and filled it from the refrigerated tap and simply stood there, plastic cup in hand, while very obviously trying to appear as if he was not straining to hear what was going on in the corner office.
Joel’s head popped up above his cubicle once again and upon seeing Mark standing around he too rose and went to the water cooler. He whispered conspiratorially to Mark who jumped halfway out of his skin in fright, so intent was he upon the muffled sounds making their way through the layers of sheet rock and timber, spilling some water on his shirt in the process. Mark’s face immediately went from lightly flushed pink to something a few shades off Fire Engine Red as he was flooded with anger and embarrassment.