This story was inspired by a recent conference I had to attend for work. Me and another tech writer took the train into Manhattan and went to the 48th floor of 1 Penn Plaza where the view was absolutely amazing. I’m new to the job and I don’t know everything about the job yet, so me, being a writer, was more focused on the view than the meeting itself.
Can you blame me? How does anyone actually get anything done there? I’d be distracted all day. Anyways, here’s a fiction piece based on this view.
The 48th Floor
I’m not sure how I got to the forty-eighth floor of this hotel without raising any alarms, like they said would happen. I don’t give myself any credit; I didn’t do anything unique. The view is supposed to be one of the best the city has to offer, a view of mythical status for urban explorers. In order to get to the forty-eighth floor, you have to, first, check into the hotel, requiring a deposit on a room. Then you need to learn the security schedule because a certain guard will cover the hallway and the door is in plain sight. This requires some kind of diversion, but too strong of a diversion will either raise suspicions or get you arrested.
Everyone who works in the hotel knows about the door. They will act like they don’t to bait you. It’s for a good reason though. There’s a hidden balcony to the right that can only be accessed via a brick-sized ledge and a water pipe to hold onto. It’s an easy walk distance-wise, but at that height, the wind tries to push you in all directions, blowing away any confidence built up from getting past the guard.
I can say for certain, from this point of view, that it is worth the risk. It’s about 6:45 pm. I always thought I liked October sunsets over summer sunsets, and this makes every sunset I’ve ever seen pale in comparison. Midtown Manhattan seemed to be forever ruined thanks to the endless tourists and bright lights of Disney on 42nd Street, but from this high up, all i see are the skyscrapers from the point we lose track of how tall they are from sidewalks up. From here, the gold, red, pink, and purple of the sunset reflects off the windows turning the bleak concrete jungle into a watercolor masterpiece. The Hudson shines like the river of gold the early European settlers promised to their kings and queens back home. It’s not often when a metaphor becomes the literal.
I want to break the tradition of telling people what to expect so they can really experience this. Surprises of this magnitude are a rare event. Nowhere except the oceans holds the same weight of mystery. We’ve discovered everything. There are no more hidden lands, no more oceans to cross. We have to change our perspectives of the known world to make them new again. I will not share this with anyone below the forty-eighth floor. I’ll leave this up here for the next person to find. Maybe they will honor my wishes, see things how I see them, how everyone sees them. I hear footsteps outside. They’re waiting.
Make them wait. Don’t be afraid. After all, look at where you are. one slip, one gust of wind, and you die. And here you are. Let security know you’re coming so they know not to scare you while you walk back across the ledge. From there, they’ll escort you to the back of a cop car. It’ll be worth it.