When I first published this here, I think I had 8 followers. Now that I have a few more I figured at least half of ya’ll have never read this one. 🙂 So, have at it, and let me know what you think.
The Two Doors
Alisann rifled absentmindedly through the mail on her kitchen table, tossing two of the envelopes into the trash before she came to the one with the sun symbol on the label. She almost tossed that one too but something about it made her pause. For one thing it said: Invitation for Alisann Connors only, Confidential, and appeared to be handwritten.
“What’s this, lil’ Boss?” she said to her cat who had wandered over to greet her by winding his body through her legs. She gave him a scratch on his big gray head, then tore open the envelope.
Inside was a postcard, shiny, with the raised print one normally found on wedding invitations. Four lines were typed on it in stylized print.
Bring a bag for the money.
Tell no one.
She raised an eyebrow. Come on, were they serious? Money? She flipped it over and then laughed out loud. One line on the back of the page read:
This is a serious offer, not to be repeated.
“Now, I know it’s a joke,” she said to Boss. Still… “Well, there’s not even an address, anyways.” She shoved it back into the envelope, then flipped it over. The sun symbol was raised like the printed text on the card and she ran her thumb across it.
It smeared under her thumb, revealing an address.
“Will you take a look at this, Boss!” she said. Now we’re cooking.
She yanked the card out of the envelope and read it again, this time with more excitement.
Okay, you’ve got my attention now.
She decided to google the address.
Google maps showed an address downtown, next to the Bannon building. She switched to street view and saw a plain concrete building narrowly wedged in between two others. Street numbers were displayed prominently next to the door. The sun symbol was missing, in fact there was no signage at all to identify the building, and the windows were dark.
Curiouser and curiouser, she thought. “Well, Boss,” she said to the sleeping cat on her desktop, “I think I’ll go check it out.”
Boss meowed plaintively, his mouth opening in a wide yawn. He jumped down and walked to his bowl, looking at her pointedly. Alisann’s mind was already elsewhere, she tapped her fingertips on her desk and made a decision.
Can’t turn down free money. She grabbed her bag and her keys and exited her apartment into the dark of the evening.
Hours past the regular workday, the streets were empty of people and parking was plentiful. She deposited her money into the meter, then swept to the trunk of her car and dumped out the contents of her purse inside. More room for the good stuff. She pocketed her keys and then strode to the building’s door, swinging it open and entering.
The lobby was crypt quiet, and cold. The air was as still as a winter’s night and no street lights penetrated through the front windows, leaving impossibly deep shadows. The room was bare, no reception desk, chairs, decorations or plants occupied the space. Muted light came from somewhere up near the ceiling, indistinct. From behind her the door clicked shut audibly. Unease prickled her flesh and she edged backward, caught between being unable to speak or catch her breath. She turned on her heel to leave, pushed against the door and was surprised to find it locked. She shoved it again and again then forced herself to take a deep breath. “You’re being ridiculous,” she whispered and took another deep breath. “Just do what you came to do. Quit freaking yourself out.”
She moved into the room, crossing the concrete like her feet were impossibly heavy. Across the concrete floor and just barely visible were two doors set into the far wall. Maybe she could get out that way.
Alisann pulled out the card and reread it, willing her hand to be steady.
Bring a bag for the money.
Money. A thrill went through her already jangling nerves.
Tell no one.
Hopefully, that wouldn’t turn out to have been a stupid decision on her part.
She glanced back up at the two doors. This must be the choice that the postcard alluded to.
Both doors were identical, heavy-looking but otherwise nondescript. Ordinary door handles. No numbers or names or labels marred the smooth metal surface. She leaned forward squinting in the dark. No locks on either door either. Alisann glanced around the room. What was she supposed to do? Just pick one? Eenie meenie minie mo-style? Was it that easy? Why make it a choice if it didn’t really matter?
Out of the corner of her eye she saw a wisp of white and turned around. She looked up in wonder as first one and then another and then dozens of little white wisps floated from the ceiling and landed around her. She leaned over, picked one up and read it:
Choose orange and fall’s delight.
She picked up another:
Choose green and blossom.
She scooped up a handful and read them one after another.
Choose orange and enjoy the sunset.
Choose green and the rebirth.
“Colors? Really? It had to be a color choice?”
Protanopia, that is what the doctors called it. Of all the colors to be faced with, it had to be orange and green. Colorblindness is what the rest of the world called it. Alisann was never so frustrated in her life. Each paper offering one of two options, green or orange. Clue after clue pointed her towards green but what did they mean? Green what? Green money?
She stepped up to the two doors and examined them closer, scraping her finger along one edge. Sure enough there was a line. The doors were painted. She sighed deeply.
She breathed on her finger tips, warming them then tucked them back into her armpits. The room had gotten colder, impossibly cold. She shivered violently watching her breath billowing in front of her. If she didn’t get out of there soon…
The shadows of the room grew, stretching towards her, snaking around her like smoke. She closed her eyes, careful not to see it.
And still, she just couldn’t choose.
What did it matter, she chided herself? Just pick one. Who cares? It’s not a life decision.
But somehow she knew that it was more serious than that. Somehow she knew that the wrong decision would be the end of everything she ever knew. It would obliterate her, maybe everything. But that was silly. Wasn’t it?
Why had she come? What had possessed her?
Too late to ask questions. It was time to choose. Her phone gave a subtle vibration. “Not now… That’s it!” she snatched her phone from her pocket. It had seemed like such a silly and useless thing when she had downloaded it. She thumbed through her apps and there it was. ‘Color Snoop’ an app specifically designed for color blindness. She keyed the app and minimized the ads.
“Here!” she whispered and pointed the camera toward the closest door. Her phone flashed and then….Green. The door was green.
She shoved against it, leaned back, grabbed the handle, turned it and shoved again, feeling relief, feeling peace, feeling…nothing.
She was spinning in the air, slowly, her body limp but her mind terrified. She was weightless, her limbs dumb to her commands, but at least she was no longer freezing cold. In fact, she was warming so quickly she felt it like the heat of a bonfire, all over her body. It was pleasant in a way, like Boss must feel when he slept warm next to the heater. She thought of Boss, waiting for her, his belly grumbling and empty; all her fault.
She had to get out of there. Now.
She strained to see, but it was dark and the dark was lulling her, and the heat, and her eyes closed.
It saw her.
It felt her mind cease to struggle, to give in, and it growled in its throat.
“Greed is green,” it whispered in her ear, and swallowed her whole.