As the elevator opens, yet another door stands before me as I enter what is foyer of the second floor, greeted not by a welcome mat, but the storm door with rust-colored tattoos. Turning the handle, it squeaking bitterly, I proceed with the only option of walking into the lamplight-beaten downtown garden. The deserted area is jostled to life by the cool breeze weaving through tree branches. The walkway narrows, leading toward some descent. Over the brick waist-high walls: abyss.
This is, however, only a pass. It’s easy to ignore the vertigo. Before me lies a staircase leading down to what appears to be a crypt. The sickening amoebic bubble tests elasticity in my stomach and my mind’s conscience develops schizophrenic wakening thoughts. I have to go down there as much as I don’t really want to; however, it is that way, or it is my hoping over the side wall of the brick walkway. The latter does not sound too promising. Sticking to my senses, I opt for the more logical route: trotting down the stairs and then entering into the building.
I open the door and enter my parents’ garage. A car occupies the spot to my left, the door to the house is closed behind it, and tools are strewn across the center and into to the right spot—remnants of an oil change. The right garage door is open, and I decide to leave, walking out as the garage door above begins to rumble. The ground is stationary; so, it’s not an earthquake. The door’s track becomes unhinged from the ceiling, and I dive out of the way before I turn into a human pancake. I stand amidst the breaking dawn.
The garage door cracks and bends into an L, and the front of the splintered door strikes the ground in front of my feet, mimicking a human arm punching the earth. I fall back into the driveway and the White Creature, fitting to say at this moment, stretches as far as it is able, and it smacks the ground again in the attempt to squash me like a fly. The front waves back-and-forth, taunting me, simply asking me to take those few steps closer.
After the garage door lifts—another act of taunting—I can see my father in the back of the garage, simply standing there and working away. I have to fucking save him. Creeping my way back to the garage, the door is on guard. At this point, I have every right to think the house is out to get me. When would a garage door purposely try to kill you otherwise? Each attempt to enter the garage is deferred by the white palm of the door’s swatting at me. I am but a fly edging toward nectar. As day approaches in the sky, the infiltrating light giving the illusion of hours flying by like minutes, I manage to slide into the garage and run to my father.
I ask my father as to what was going on; he did not know what my panicked, breathless person was talking about. The garage door is situated in its rightful position—up and open—as the nuance daylight pours into the garage. A black SUV is stationed at the right foot of the driveway; and I walk out, moving to the other side of the vehicle. The side door slides open like a minivan, and this little brown-haired girl wearing a big grin stares at me. I have no idea who she is, but there is a vague familiarity about her. I look over at my father as I point my finger this unknown child as if to ask: Who the hell is this? Her arms extend out toward me, and I pick her up, placing her upon my shoulders as we head back to the house.
My father comes out of the garage to greet us when a couple that lives up the road walks by with what appears to be a child in a bluish sweater, rocking in the husband’s arms. However, when they bring the bundle of joy up the driveway, they place it down, and the identity of a tomcat is revealed. With big eyes and a puffy face, he stares at me. My father reaches a hand down, swiping for the cat’s whiskers, but he’s not fast enough. By this moment, almost suddenly, the little girl upon my shoulders is now gone.
Moments later, Chuck drives up in order to drive me to the airport. The airport is huge, but desolately populated aside a few stewardesses. They walk me into the white building with metal walls; our footsteps and voices echo with words running into one another due to the delay and reverb. They bring me towards an escalator, heading down. I step on and at approximately the halfway point, I decide to turn around and run back up the steps. It took me a bit, but after eventually arriving to the top—out of breath—Chuck looks at me oddly. The fact that I am deciding to leave is brought up. He looks at me with an abnormal amount of uncertainty and an almost secondary fear. I shrug my shoulders and descend the stairs until we disappear from each other’s sight.
Arriving in England, the passengers—myself included, of course—make it to the hotel, a tall building with white trim with the essence of the Jefferson Clinton in Syracuse, but more elegant. I have nothing against the JCH, but this place was immaculately designed. In the lobby, members from the band Oasis are handing out the room keys after check-in. I’ve been in this area before, this returning sense of déjà vu, with family for a murder mystery event. I remember my grandmother giving me looks of disgust when everyone around us was actually dying. It was a bit of a shit show. My attempts in trying to convince everyone that I wasn’t the culprit had been very frustrating, so I left. If I wasn’t around and people were dropping like flies, I couldn’t be the one to blame. It’s best to leave now while the dying is seemingly increasing.
The bellhop guides a few of us up the stairs, and we pass through an exclusive party with men wearing their suits and the women are in their finest dresses. We pass through with no disturbance. An unknown person and I sneak off after with pass through the event’s exit. Instead of following everyone through the hallway to the rooms, we make a break for the stairs, running up all the way to the roof.
As we stand upon the top, a minor feeling of vertigo kicks in. Déjà vu. I am dared to try and jump. Déjà vu. I contest and explain that we are much too high to land safely. We had to be at least 17 floors up. The other person tells me to not worry about it, and they assure me that I would be fine. The idea of me landing on both feet would ensure my safety relaxes me. As I procrastinate in making my decision, the roof begins to crumble and fall apart. I panic and jump.
I land safely upon the ground with both feet planted. Looking up, the unknown person with me asks me if the jump was really that terrible. The jump, my sizing the difference from the roof to where my feet were currently positioned, is only a few feet. It was only an optical illusion.
The whirling helicopter blades overhead are loud and distracting. My point of view changes from my person to whoever was piloting the helicopter. Luckily, this is my friend, Zach. I see through his eyes, flying at an uncomfortable speed, but he has a grasp on the flying, loops, and sweeps. After he lands, my point of view retracts to my person. We meet and greet upon a platform inside of the building with the helicopter pad, not the hotel. Zach removes his coat, and water pours out of the sleeves. He removes his boots and dumps water out those, as well. We shake hands and do a one-armed hug.
The man with us is our teaching assistant. We have to finish up the certification course. I remember, vaguely, the first part of the course which seems to have been completed months ago. We are joined by the other familiar people, including the brunette who I have claimed—on a few occasions—as the girl of my dreams. Her hair has grown out from jaw-length out to a bit past her shoulders. Her eyes are still large and kind, and her smile is as elegant and welcoming as ever. Of course, I’m going to have to win her over again.
We pass through other classrooms, looking for that certain certification. One of the groups we pass is a group which I had attended before, led by some quirky female instructor. Pairs of eyes follow me, wondering why I switched to another instructor and assuming why I am—I am in some way—better than them. Yet, I have to move on, and I tell the group of my leave, assuring the fact I won’t forget about them. A topless girl now walks by at the moment, and everyone stares at her passing.
We follow our current instructor, who hands us a ticket stub or receipt with a price tag of 5,000-some-odd dollars and change. The first number, I assume for the first session, is $0. The second number, which is above the grand total, is within the $3,000 range. Where the hell did the other $2,000 go?
We are brought into a room where our mission was to take place. The topless girl, who is now wearing a button-up sweater, is shivering. Our group stands around a large bucket. Inside the bucket are objects looking like plastic salad tongs, the kind which snaps back open after you squeeze and release. We are each required to take one out. For some reason these tongs are hard to reach, and I have to balance my body on the rim of the bucket as I stretch my arm down to take one out. Retrieving it and extending the utensil’s arms, it takes the shape of a skeletal arm, bending open at the elbow. I disregard it and walk away.
Our overenthusiastic teacher begins shouting that the test has to be completed and we have little time left to complete whatever we are supposed to accomplish. A radio alarm blares and the instructor tells me, amid his running over to the object, that it has to be properly turned off. Doing so is a lot more difficult than I had originally thought. Every knob or button does something to obscure the alarm being from turned off. I hold one button down, and I flip a lever down. The alarm shuts off. The instructor congratulates me.
It’s time to get out of here.