Sixteen stories to the street. That has to be enough.” David jammed the crowbar into the door frame and pulled. The wood cracked and snapped, pieces falling. Tossing the tool aside, he retrieved the wine bottle of from the top of the stairs. There were a few mouthfuls of red left. Couldn’t let it go to waste.

The rooftop was still wet from the afternoon’s rain. It was rush hour, but the thunder of engines was carried away on the wind long before it reached the rooftop. This far up, there was only the sound of birds. The words “Deimos Inc” were written in gigantic, steel letters on the side of the building. A family of pigeons was living in the “D”. Every morning, the birds flew from the sign and searched the street for scraps. If they saw something they couldn’t eat, they covered it in shit.

In a few more days, it would be six years since he had graduated from California State, six years of sitting at a desk and staring at a flickering rectangle. His father had spent his life designing office buildings like this one, grand structures like urban mountains. “But everything I’m doing is just ones and zeros, just shifting the pattern in the pixels. A thousand years from now, my father’s work will be unearthed by some alien archaeologist, but my entire life will be digital dust by next week.”

Not everyone felt the same way about their work. Downstairs, the other screen slaves were dancing. This was a good year for Deimos. The wall charts in the accounting department had sprouted tall, black lines like prison bars. The boss had invited everyone to a formal cocktail party to celebrate and, hopefully, to get drunk enough to forget about asking for raises.

David threw a leg over the railing and stared at the black pavement below. He swallowed the last of the wine, wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his jacket, and let the bottle fall over the edge. On its way down, the bottle bounced against the side of the building, exploding like fireworks.

He didn’t...

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