The Walking Desk

I stumbled up the steps to my apartment, groaning at the aching in my head. I should have drank more water last night, I told myself for the fifteenth time. This hangover is killing me.

When I opened the door to my apartment, however, I paused for a second at the rhythmic sound drifting out from inside; it reminded me of a belt sander, or perhaps a saw wheel. What was going on? Was Joe, my roommate, working on some sort of project?

I stepped inside – and found my living room transformed.

Joe had acquired a treadmill about three months ago, but after a brief but short-lived bit of enthusiasm for jogging, the thing had been relegated to a corner of the apartment. There it sat, unused and gathering dust.

My brow furrowed. No, wait – before I left for the weekend, Joe had mentioned something about getting back in shape, something with step counts. I hadn’t really been listening; a cute girl from Tinder finally started texting me back, and I totally planned on getting some of that-

I shook my head, groaning at how it made my vision swim, but trying to focus on the present. What was going on right now?

While I’d been gone, Joe had apparently dragged the treadmill out to the middle of the room – and then built some sort of standing desk over it, propping up his gaming PC on top. I saw the monitor bolted onto a wooden board, with another board extending out to serve as a keyboard tray. Beneath the rather sloppily assembled standing desk, the treadmill thrummed along.

And Joe stood on top of it, plodding along as he clicked and typed away.

I stepped around to the front of the treadmill, waving my arms at him. “Joe! Hey!” I called out.

Joe glanced up after a second, saw me, and grinned, taking off his over-ear headphones. “Harry! Check it out! Cool, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, something like that,” I replied, frowning. The thing took up most of the space in our living room, and totally blocked the view of the television from the couch behind it. “You did this after I left?”

He nodded. “Yep! And I’ve been marathon raiding since you went out! We’ve nearly cleared all of the legacy content! It’s incredible – I think that the walking really helps me focus on performing my best!” He gestured up and down his slightly chubby, out of shape body. “Keeps the blood flowing, you know?”

“Yeah, right,” I said, not really knowing but not wanting to hear more about where his blood might be flowing. “So wait, you’ve been on this all weekend?”

Another nod. “Yeah, can’t stop when I’m gaming, man!”

I grimaced. The sound of the treadmill’s motor was starting to get to me. “Well, do you think you could stop now? I’ve got a hell of a hangover, and that sound is boring into my skull.”

“Oh, sure. We just finished, anyway.” Joe hit a button, and the treadmill slowed to a stop. He tapped a few more commands, and then stepped away from the computer, off of the treadmill.

When he stepped down, Joe’s legs wobbled a little, and he had to grab ahold of one of the support rails on the exercise machine to keep his balance. He frowned. “That’s weird.”

“What?”

“My legs feel really sore, all of a sudden.”

I caught the flash of orange at his waist, and nodded to it. “How far does the pedometer say you’ve gone?”

He pulled it off, flipped it open – and then his eyes widened, and he sank down into the couch. “Holy shit, man. My pedometer says I’ve walked 32,591 steps!”

Surprise briefly overtook my aching head. “Really? Since when?”

He frowned, thinking back. “Uh, I think I took a nap on Friday night, between Naxx and Strath.”

“Uh, Joe… it’s Sunday.”

“What? No, that can’t be right.” Joe blinked. “It’s Saturday, not Sunday.”

I dug my phone out of my pocket, showing him. “Definitely Sunday.”

“Oh.” He sank back a little further into the couch as realization overcame him. “Oh. Shit. I’ve been walking for the last 24 hours.”

I eyed his legs, both impressed and horrified by how he’d lost track of time. “You’re going to have some amazing legs, though.”

“Yeah, if they ever work again.”

We sat there for a couple minutes in silence, and then I stood up, stretching. “Well, listen, I’m going to go take a nap, pound some water, see if I can get over this hangover. You okay out here?”

Joe grunted, but then shook his head. “Actually, can you help?”

“With what?”

He gestured sadly down at his body. “I can’t feel my legs.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or groan, so I did both – and then struggled to help my roommate limp his way off to his bed.

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