The cardigan burned with the smell of singed hair. Cassie watched the material twist and catch, her grin manic. She would escape, even if it cost her all the functional modest sweater apparel in the world. Dark ugly smoke rose around her face, she could smell the toxicity of it but she savored the choking taste. It would settle in her hair so that her artfully twisted bun bore the aroma of her sacrifice.
Like an ancient pagan priestess Cassie stepped close to the fire, letting the heat wash over her. She withdrew the next sacrifice, her blackberry. The polished blue plastic and metal glinted in the fire. With a primal cry she raised it up, ready to send the device to its demise.
Someone said her name and she flicked her eyes open. Her beautiful shrine and its smoldering contents vanished. “Cassie?” A few gazes flicked to her, catching her unawares was enough to bring her fellows from their own musings.
“Yes.” She chanced the vague response and frantically looked up to the presentation filled with red boxes and dollar signs. Her supervisor, who looked expectantly at her from his seat at the head of the table, raised his eyebrows. Finally the arcane squiggles coalesced into a recognizable pattern and Cassie realized she was tragically lost. “Well….”
The artful bullshit she spun would have been glorious to behold, even her supervisor nodded with appreciation as she explained third quarter expenditures. Cassie could feel no satisfaction as the ashy smell of the pyre faded from her nostrils and the warmth of the flames left her skin, yielding to the stuffy air-conditioning of the office.
In the pocket of her cardigan her blackberry vibrated in silence. The motion echoed against her hip, pulling at her attention and she flashed a baleful glare towards the pocket. Soon, she thought, all would burn. Her phone, the professional coach bag she and the rest of the women here possessed, the expense reports, and her chair with lumbar support…even the jeans she wore on Fridays. Everything that had ever touched this horrible place would be gone in the cleansing fire and she would be free.
Cassie finished and her supervisor went to his next victim, the poor man sat up, startled into a bumbling explanation of the next slide. Cassie wasted no sympathy for her fellow captives, she was already stepping up the stone steps towards the bonfire and her sanity.