He was only supposed to be working the south side. The east side runs were a lot longer, his scooter wasn't fast enough to make the deliveries in a timely fashion and people hated a late pizza. And if people got a late pizza it wasn't the company or the dispatcher that got the blame, it was the poor, silly bastard standing at the door with a tepid pizza.
Getting off his bike, Paulie looked at the building and checked the address again. The address matched, but instead of the expected house or apartment building, the premises turned out to be a large warehouse that was stingy on electricity. All he needed was to get stuck out here in the suburbs because some kid was playing silly buggers or despatch had screwed up the details.
Sighing to himself, Paulie grabbed the pizzas in their hot box and walked up to the door. The boss was insistent on this part of delivery protocol, he complained that he was losing money to drivers skipping houses with their lights off and employee safety had never been high on his list of priorities.
The door was lit only by the streetlight, but there was a small self-lit intercom button on the doorjamb. Paulie pressed it and waited, thirty seconds and he pressed it again. When no one answered on the third ring, he turned and headed back to his bike.
A crackling, closely follow by the electronic door lock release stopped him. Paulie considered pretending he hadn't heard the buzz and leaving, but the prospect of a bawling out by his boss and docked wages put paid to that idea.
He had to put his shoulder to the door quite firmly to open it, it felt like it was on a heavy duty spring closure and as his shoulder slipped past the edge, the door slammed shut with an echoing bang, leaving Paulie in darkness.
Cursing the lack of light, Paulie swore softly to himself and groped the wall for a switch. It was by the door and he snapped it on, grunting and throwing a free hand up to shield his eyes at the sudden flare of light.
Blinking rapidly to get used to unexpected brightness, Paulie could see that he was in a small white room that was split by a glass partition. On the other side of the glass the walls were covered in an erratic framework of small shelves. Paulie looked closely and realised that the shelves were actually machinery and tracks.
Paulie mused that perhaps the light switch had activated the mechanism on the other half of the room, because a steel ball was running along the tracks. He set the hot box on the floor and pressed up against the glass to watch as the ball raced along the far wall, tripped a lever and was shunted onto another track, where dropped into a sling that triggered a ratchetting mechanism that climbed a chain and released another ball.
Glued to the glass in fascination as the various balls rolled, levers moved and things climbed and spiralled, Paulie thought that it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen. He watched as a ball was set off from near the ceiling to roll down a ski jump and launch towards where he stood, hitting the upper lip of a large funnel off centre and spiralling down into the hole at the bottom. He was so mesmerised that he didn't pay attention to the sound of the release of the final element of the machine.
Paulie's head hit the ground, a look of surprise on his face, his body crumpling moments later.
Thomas turned off the cameras and reset the delivery address on the pizza company's server. The fixed path of the blade's arc severed the head a little lower on the neck than planned. He made a brief note about taking height into account for next time and went to retrieve his pizzas before the automatic hose-down system activated.
All in all, he was quite pleased with the results. Free pizza, a second hand motor scooter to sell on eBay and his very own game of Mouse Trap, what more could a man ask for?
15minuteficlets — word #88: complicated