To recap, our character was a young woman with aspirations to get out of her boring routine at the office and get more recognition. She is cautious but determined, smart but can’t seem to get a break. She works an office job for a boring box manufacturer.
She arrives at the office. It’s busy and everyone moves with purpose. In contrast she has to actively duck and weave around others to get where she’s going.
Her desk: tidy, small personal touches, remnants of previous coffee rings. A book on how to project confidence: “Fake It Till You Make It!”. She’s next to the office plant and it’s encroaching on her space.
Her boss passes, barely looking. He tells her she had a good idea in a previous meeting as he does, and she perks up, trying to be more assertive, gets up and chases him, weaving past people who just move out of the way for him, trying to give him more of her ideas. Till he calls her by the wrong name and she realises it’s someone else’s work he’s praising. As she falters, disappointed – nobody ever recognises her – he disappears through a door (still talking) and it closes in her face. There’s a number pad on the door, one of the buttons having just a star on it. She glances around, straightens up and tries to look like she’s meant to be there, tries a few buttons. There’s a pleasant beeping noise – she looks encouraged – and then a nasty buzzing sound. No dice.
She sighs and goes back to her desk. Jess, new-ish girl, flighty but enthusiastic, shoves a folder under her nose, startling her and knocking some papers over. Jess fumbles, apologises, was told to give this to [a different wrong name], it’s really important, and she skitters off as Anna starts saying “I’m n-”
She’s gone. She breathes out a long sigh of exasperation. Puts the file to one side. She’ll deliver it herself later. She half-heartedly thumbs through the confidence book, then sighs again, puts that down too and gets to work.
Lunch. She’s on the phone to her sister, who lives abroad, who wants to know if Anna asked for a raise yet. Anna tries to avoid the question, badly. Her sister scolds her for being a pushover, and tells her she needs to go after the things she wants if she wants anything to change. Anna nods, eyeing her book, and says she’s working on it. Gradually. Across the room, she spots Jess getting a real talking to by their boss. Feeling a pang of unease, she remembers the file Jess gave her, and picks it up to see where it needs to go. It’s unhelpfully unmarked. She huffs and flicks through.
…This isn’t stuff about a box factory. There’s stuff here she’s never seen, cloaked in shady language. The last page has the day’s date and a time for later that evening… And a six digit code with a star at the end. She looks at the door. Hides the file in her desk drawer. The boss finishes telling Jess off and leaves. Across the room, Jess catches her watching and glares suspiciously at her.
After hours scene at the office – Anna’s car pulls up. She takes a moment to eye the building. Glances at her dashboard clock. As she waits, one light comes on in the building. She slips out.
Inside it’s dark and quiet and seems much bigger without people in it. Anna creeps toward her desk. The plant makes a weird creepy silhouette in the darkness. It moves suddenly and startles her – but it’s Jess behind it, and she was digging around Anna’s desk. She has to recover the file or be fired. Anna hesitates to give it back.
Jess accuses Anna of reading what was in it. Anna begins to tell her something’s wrong and she’s disbelieving. Anna takes a breath and tries some of her assertiveness techniques, and she begins to sway to her way of thinking… but then they hear more people coming into the office. They duck behind her desk and watch as (in silhouette) someone is dragged forcefully behind the door. They glance at each other and make a decision.
The same pleasant beeping from before, and an ominous tone sounds. The door opens this time, revealing a long hallway with fancy offices. There’s voices coming from one at the end of the hallway. And punching noises. They hide in the next room and listen. Several people are in the room, higher-ups in the company, and a few more who must be guards or enforcers. It becomes apparent that these are mobsters, and the company is a front for their actual criminal dealings. The enforcers are giving a royal beating to someone who ‘didn’t get the message’. Through a gap in the door they see one of the company’s boxes being pointedly flung at the poor sap.
The violence dies down. Jess wants to leave. Anna wants to grab evidence first, as they wouldn’t be believed without some kind of proof. They shrink back as the mobsters pass them by, dragging a limp body after them. Once they’ve gone, Anna ducks into the end room and seizes the box, carefully opens it, peers inside…
It’s empty. It’s just a sealed, empty box with a mailing label. That’s it.
They go to escape, following the mobsters out at a distance, but Jess catches the plant in the main office space and knocks it over, alerting them. The two of them bolt to the fire escape and manage to scramble into Anna’s car and pull away.
The next morning, the two anxiously meet up before work. Anna’s hopeful they got away unrecognised – nobody ever recognises her, after all – but Jess is worried, she woke up to find one of the company’s packages delivered to her. It, too, was empty. This surely means something, but they aren’t yet sure what. Anna tells her maybe she should skip work but Jess is reluctant, not sure splitting up is a good idea.
Anna goes in to check the office, everything seems normal. People are working, plant has been picked up again, self-help book sitting judgementally on her desk. Takes her seat, makes actions of getting ready to work, but keeps glancing around for anything unusual. Jess sidles in a few minutes later, and they exchange relieved looks that everything seems fine. Just as Anna relaxes, her boss passes by again, agitated, and she overhears something that makes her realise – the boxes are meant to be empty, it’s the box itself that’s the ‘message’ being sent. It’s a threat to whoever it’s sent to.
Suddenly Jess is hustled by “security”. She’s being taken to “see the manager”. Anna gets a real bad feeling.
She watches them go through the coded door, waits a moment, and takes a deep breath. She straightens up and walks purposefully to the door, as though she’s meant to be doing exactly that. This time, people move around her.
She enters the code with only a slight hesitation, and goes through, chin up, shoulders back. Walks directly to the end room. And opens it in one smooth motion.
Inside, Jess is being held by goons, and their boss is on the phone to some lackey about where she should be taken and dealt with. They all stop and gape at Anna. Not recognising her. They never do, after all.
Jess almost doesn’t recognise her either – there’s something very different in her attitude now. Anna gives the boss an icy stare and asks why they grabbed her assistant. She begins talking at length about things from the file, as though she’d known them all along… as though she had written it herself. She’s posing as someone even higher up in the organisation. And one by one, they fall for it. As far as they can remember, they’ve never seen this steely self-possessed person before. Jess catches on and wrenches herself free.
And just like that, Anna’s installed herself as the regional head of the local mob. It’s not exactly the promotion she was hoping for, but they pay’s better, and Jess isn’t telling.