Steve stepped out of his apartment, and was greeted by the sight of a twenty foot tall pyramid made of a dull green material sitting in the middle of the apartment building parking lot. He walked around the base of the object, shrugged, and got into his car. The pyramids arrived about a week before in a most bizarre way; in one split second they just appeared all over the world. Nevertheless, he had a steady job at a government agency’s downtown office, and did not want to jeopardize that by being late yet again.
On the way in to the office Steve saw that there were numerous other pyramids scattered throughout the city, all of which were the exact same flat green color and all had perfectly smooth surfaces. They were located in apparently random spots, including streets, yards, and even intersecting with buildings. Steve found himself driving slowly around one in the middle of the freeway, joining the crawling movement of cars as they passed around it like a steel current curling around a stone in the middle of a concrete river. He held his temper in check even as traffic came to a complete stop for half an hour. He called into the office to make sure his boss knew he was going to be late, and why, but from the sound of the administrative assistant’s voice, Steve knew that he was on thin ice.
There was another pyramid directly in front of the office’s main entrance, blocking everybody from getting in. As a backup measure the building staff had opened up a side door and were manually checking each person’s badge one at a time. There was a line of office workers stretched out almost to the road, and Steve took his position at the end. He looked down the road and saw that another of the large green objects had taken up residence in a nearby park. He wondered briefly what had happened to the trees that once stood where the pyramid now crouched.
The elevators in the office building were out, so Steve had to take the stairs up a dozen floors. It seemed that a pyramid had appeared in the heart of the building, blocking the elevator shafts completely, and the stairwell was crowded with sweating and puffing people stomping their ways unhappily up to work. By the time Steve got to his floor, his shirt was soaked through with sweat.
“You have to learn to plan for the unexpected when you leave for work in the morning,” his boss, Ken Johnson, chided. “There’s no excuse for being late for work,” he continued, “when you can just get up a little earlier to account for traffic.” He stared at Steve from across his desk, his gaze betraying his contempt for him through the lenses of his over-large glasses.
“Yes, Ken,” Steve replied. He had wanted to call the man “sir,” but had been corrected on that months ago. The management in this small government agency preferred to be addressed by their first names as some sort of egalitarian measure, and the district supervisor had even sent out an email to the staff formalizing the use of first names. “I’ll make sure I’m not late again,” Steve said.
“See that you’re not,” Ken said, as he turned to face his computer monitor. “Make sure you record your time accordingly.” He then fell silent, his way of letting his subordinates know the discussion was over.
“What do you think they are?” Steve asked a coworker, Eric Busgang, as they stared from a large window an hour later. There were a couple of pyramids in view, one blocking traffic on a one-way street, and the other apparently having integrated itself into the structure of of a bus stop.
Eric shrugged. “Aliens, maybe,” he replied. “They say pyramids are sources of power. Spiritual healing and such.”
“Do you believe that?”
“I don’t know,” Eric said, “but we’d better get back to work. Ken’s been watching us pretty closely, and I don’t want to risk losing a promotion.” He adjusted his tie and returned to his cubicle, leaving Steve to continue to ponder the mysterious objects alone.
A few hours later, on the way home, Steve made a last minute decision to pull off of the road and into a parking lot where one of the pyramids had appeared. He sat in his car and stared at the green thing for about five minutes, the radio blaring some inane tune about jaded lovers and angry girlfriends. Switching the car off, Steve got out and walked to within a few feet of the olive colored walls. He had never actually been this close to one of them before, and could discern a soft humming sound. He leaned in closer until his hand was resting firmly against its side. The hum passed through the flesh of his palm and deep into his skeleton, resonating through his entire body.
“What are you doing?” a woman’s voice came from behind. It had an irritated tone to it, and seemed to be designed specifically for the task of setting a man on edge.
Steve pulled back from the pyramid, and the deep pulse slowly faded from his bones. “I’ve never really looked at one up close,” he said, as he turned to face the questioner.
She was a blonde woman wearing a look of judgment like other people wear hats. Her eyes betrayed her suspicious nature as she glared at Steve, her arms crossed. “Don’t you have other things you could be doing, instead of hanging around grade school parking lots?” she asked bluntly, as though social graces were something that did not apply when talking to strange men.
Steve glanced around and saw that the parking lot was indeed in front of a school, and class was apparently about to let out. There were numerous mothers sitting around in cars, waiting to pick up their children, and some of them were staring at him with the same accusatory look this woman had. “I’m sorry,” he muttered as he walked back to his own car, not sure what he was apologizing for.
“Who are you?” the woman demanded. “What’s your name?” When Steve didn’t answer, she ran to the back of his car and wrote down his license plate as he drove away.
As he made his way home, Steve considered what he had felt while in contact with the pyramid. Just before the suspicious woman interrupted, he had begun to move beyond the deep and subtle hum of the pyramid, and passed through a sort of wall. Gravity briefly lifted its iron grip, and Steve could almost feel his body dropping away with it. Something changed within him at that moment, and a seed of unrest settled in his gut.
It was sunset when Steve finally pulled up into the apartment complex parking lot and parked his car next to the pyramid. He had driven around the city for a few hours, thinking about his life, his job, and the how the pyramids fit into all of that. It wasn’t until today that he realized that most people didn’t really pay much attention to the things anymore. In fact, he didn’t know anybody who talked about them, which was starting to seem really odd to him.
Climbing out of the car, Steve stood and faced the green pyramid that had come to dominate the parking lot. Almost of their own volition, his feet carried him to within a foot of the base of the object, where he stared dumbly at the perfectly smooth face before him. The resonant humming again made itself apparent to him quickly, and he put his hand out to rest against the cool material. The machine’s pulse pushed itself into his psyche, and Steve began to understand. His head hung low and he shut his eyes, letting the signal wash over him. He saw, and he understood.
When the police arrived the sun had been down for a couple of hours, and the figure of the man leaning against the pyramid was illuminated from behind by a green streetlight. The police officers were momentarily blinded by what appeared to be a halo around his head.
“Are you alright, sir?” one of them asked as they shined their flashlights on him, but Steve was unresponsive. As they stood a few feet away, one kept his hand on his pistol, while the other cop reached out for Steve’s shoulder. When his form collapsed to the pavement, both men jumped back and drew their pistols. They only holstered them once they determined that the crumpled body before them was dead, and an ambulance was on its way.