Infinite Loop, 1997

          Back then, it was a known truth that Apple was moribund; Apple was dying. Later, Steve Jobs was resurrected and became the Messiah. I sat in a meeting in the moribund time in a conference room that was dim and cool, or maybe it wasn’t, but the people in it, the Apple people, wore suits and breathed with death rattles and moved as though they had been refrigerated for quite a while, a hundred years. We, the investments bankers, made them flip through bound books, page after page, to demonstrate that we, the investment bankers, possessed loyalty. As the junior-most banker, I said nothing. I was there to show that the bank had lots of expendable young people, as many as you needed. The words dripped, back and forth, in the dark and chilled room in the refrigerated building, where the company was being cryopreserved.

          After the meeting, outside in the sunlight and warmth, the bankers stood, waiting for one of us to finish using the restroom. We were thawed and reanimated. One of the senior bankers said to me, “Nice shoes,” and I knew what he meant and that it was lascivious, but then my mind combed through the words again and found no intrigue. I am much older now than he was back then. The door swung open and our colleague came out, putting on his sunglasses in one fluid motion, unexpected and thrilling for a white-collar worker. “That was a snooze,” one of us said. “Like talking to a room full of corpses,” said another. “It’s too bad,” said a third, in a voice that was low in register, rich with melody, suffused with dolor. “That used to be a terrific company, a real franchise.”

          The headquarters loomed over us, dated and angry, annoyed and insulted, slipping down gray scree toward a black obsolescence. We were trapped in its maw, which I had mistaken for an entry plaza, and I saw that I was nothing, we were nothing, everything was nothing, that in this place there was only the place, and it did not want to die. But yea and lo, a new era of hatred and prosperity was just ahead, about to be ushered in and emulated. The libertarians would propagate and multiply throughout the land. There would be new drinks and new flavors; there would be progress, so much progress. A chill went up my spine, back down, and into my shoes. Back then, nothing bad had ever happened to me, and I was filled with fear.

SARAH ROGERS is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons and works in regulatory compliance. Her short stories have been published in Salon, NPR's Three-Minute Fiction Contest, Quick Fiction, and Reed Magazine.