Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Passport (07/25/05)
TITLE: Suicide at Hawthorn Towers
By Maxx .
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Bob had walked past that office every day for twenty-four years. It had always been locked; the contents sealed away from him like so many other things. He knew something was behind that door. Something that made the floors tremble and the walls shake late at night when he was there alone.
He was an accounts representative in the Hawthorn Towers. Not a senior accounts representative or an executive. Those positions were given to younger people with ivy league diplomas. Kids who laughed at the old man that sat at the desk between the fax machine and the copier.
Only Cynthia seemed to care, and she had gone away.
But it didn’t matter anymore, because on that night the doorknob turned. It turned in Bob’s hand, not for some pubescent college graduate or unrealized romance.
There were times when the building shook so powerfully around him that he had to hold onto his desk to keep from falling out of his chair. In those moments he would hear noises echoing through his mind. Sounds, like voices from another dimension calling to him, pleading for him to join them. Join them where, he did not know. They were an other-worldly, alien, chorus.
He pushed against the door and it swung open. He stepped inside.
The room was empty, the carpet new. The walls seemed recently painted in ecru and gold. The smell of formaldehyde and mineral oil burned his nose.
Then he saw it. The window. It shimmered and pulsed. The moonlight twisted through it, glinting a bluish hue. It was ethereal.
It was open.
His mind struggled with the sight. It seemed familiar. He’d read of similar things in his science fiction magazines on those nights when he’d already seen everything on TV. He swallowed. An interstellar portal.
No wonder they kept the door locked.
But it wasn’t locked on that night. The knob had turned in his hand. They planned on him finding the portal. The voices wanted him.
It was as if they’d sent a message. To him. Bob. Twenty-four years as an accounts representative. The voices were calling him.
All he had to do was answer.
What would the ivy leaguers have to say about that?
Would Cynthia mourn him after he’d left on a journey to another world?
He stepped to the portal, a radiant light coated his skin. He waited. He always waited. He’d waited for most of his life and what had it ever gotten him?
“He who hesitates…” Was that his voice speaking? “He who hesitates loses.”
He’d lost Cynthia.
Hers had been the desk in the corner, covered with frames and flowers. “We should try to get together sometime,” she’d said.
He knew that getting together was like a date and that dating led to marriage. But he’d waited. Then one day her desk was empty. That had been 15 years prior.
He wasn’t going to wait anymore.
He reached his hand through the extraterrestrial threshold. It felt cool on the other side. Not like the office building that closed in about him for twenty-four years.
He removed a picture of Cynthia from his wallet. It was crinkled and matted. He had taken it from her desk long ago. She was smiling in the arms of another man. They both seemed so happy.
Bob held it close to his cheek, his breath caught short. If he could be any man, he’d want to be the man smiling with Cynthia, captured forever in a photograph. He wanted the voices waiting for him on the other side to know that.
He took one last look about him, the empty office, the door that had always been locked, and the life that he was leaving behind. He’d miss none of it. Fulfillment could only be found beyond. Were it any different he was sure that Cynthia, or someone, would have told him.
Finding the portal had given him hope, the only hope he‘d ever known.
The walls about him began to vibrate, his heart leapt. The floors beneath his feet trembled, excitement built in his breast. He clutched the photo in his hand. It was his ticket to salvation, his passport to a new world.
He heard the voices calling to him from the recesses of his mind. “There’s nothing for you there. Join us. Join us.”
He ran toward the portal and leapt through.
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