Ravi pored over the documents, little realizing that it was way past supper time, and the last his stomach growled a warning was more than a couple of hours ago. He had to complete this report at any cost. It was supposed to be done by Rakesh, but he had not reported to work for two days. The boss had conveniently dumped it on Ravi. He leaned back from his laptop for a second and rubbed his eyes. From the corner of his eye, toward the far end on his right, he could see the small light of the office printer coming to life, accompanied by the now obvious (even anticipatory) hum of the machine, as the cartridges and rollers went to work. An involuntary smile escaped his lips. That sound was reassuring. He widened his eyes to shake off some of the blurriness of the last two hours and hunched forward again to take a final look at the report.
Then, as if someone had just knuckled on his head, he jerked, stopped reading and sat up straight. He glanced at his watch. It was close to midnight. He ran his hands over his hair in disbelief. But it wasn't the time that had jolted him up. It was the printer. He rose slowly and walked toward the longish corridor that led to the printer room.
It was evident that at least on this floor, he was the only employee working late. And he hadn't given any print commands in the last eight hours. As he neared the familiar eight by ten den, the drone of the printer, now louder, made him curious. He looked around the adjacent hall. It was dark. No one around. He slowly walked to the printer and looked at the output tray. Sheets after sheets were sliding out and arranging themselves in a stack. He continued looking. This wasn't just a railway ticket or a smallish document. His hands, now a bit unsteady, reached out to one of the sheets on top. He turned it around.
"HELP! PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
He recoiled at the letters and on reflex, threw the sheet away as if he were holding a live snake. He quickly ruffled the other sheets off the tray. The same thing.
His heart pounding away, he ran out and pushed the door of his wing open. Hurtling down the stairs, he dashed to the ground floor front office area, hoping to catch at least one security guy. To his dismay, the entire bay was deserted, though the lights were on. Damn, they must all be in the TV room, watching some dumb movie. He raced to the TV room, only to be greeted by a locked door. Panting heavily, he turned around and quickly scanned the entire front office. Silence.
He quickly climbed the stairs to his floor; which was luckily on the first floor. To hell with the report, he had to dash out now. He went to his cubicle, but all his things had disappeared - his laptop, jacket, helmet...even his new laptop lug-bag.
He returned to the printer area. There were sheets of paper all over the place, each shouting the same thing out loud in bold letters. He clutched his head and stumbled back to a wall. Then a sudden brainwave. He quickly darted to the back of the printer and switched it off. The sound died for a second, but he didn't have enough time to even sigh in relief, as the bulky machine coughed and sputtered back to life and started printing again. He slowly got to his feet and lifted the top lid of the printer to peer inside.
Sheets continued pouring out of the printer, with a small change in the text - "HELP! PLEASE GET US OUT OF HERE"