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D. T. H A N N A H

© D. T. Hannah, 1993
The Door
D. T. Hannah

The room was small, a size a real estate agent would call `cozy` but anyone else
who used it on a day to day basis would call it small. It was crowded with shelves and
what the shelves contained, books stacked randomly about, school equipment spread
about as if there was no real owner caring for it all, old children's toys - the type that was
once a constant companion and could not be thrown away - wedged between boxes and
sometimes propping them up, and of coarse badly glued model space craft hanging from
the ceiling. Swaying slightly because they had been placed strategically next to an air
vent that fed the room with fresh air. All rooms in the city had air vents blowing
carefully scrubbed air since the government made it illegal not to, back at the start of the
century: 2600.
James Folier was scared. He paced the room. `What was I doing? What the hell
was I doing? Why did it happen? What am I going to do? oh man am I in trouble.` He
spoke aloud but to himself. He scratched his chin, rubbed his neck, raked his hair with his
fingers, kneaded his brow. He needed to to think. `Okay okay, what was happening.` he
tried to organize his thoughts but they kept swimming around in his head, spinning out of
James had decided to spend the Saturday morning walking around the nature
reserve so shouldering the heavy ventilator for the walk to there, he set off. The reserve
had the only outdoor life within five kilometers of the city centre, outdoor in a sense. It
was all contained under a giant bubble, the bubble was one of a kind and the city was
recognized by it as a result - when the smog was clear enough to see that far. Today was
one of those days, you could even see the top of some buildings if you squinted hard
By the time the bubble came into view James was in good spirits. Walking
through the reserve was one of the things he liked to do on his own, company was
welcome of course but not likely. When the reserve was first opened it was crowded,
people loved going to a nature reserve within walking distance of work or home but
since, the hype had died down and now the single ticket booth was almost deserted
compared to half an hour long lines on the five booths that had once been in service. This
James liked, one could not enjoy the natural feel of the place when there was someone in
view everywhere you turned.
There was already eight people in the park He noted when seeing the occupied
ventilator lockers, strange on a Saturday morning, most of the customers came at lunch,
sometimes up to twenty but James felt he would not run into anyone, the size of the park
kept chances of any meeting down. He placed his ventilator in his usual locker, one was
needless in the reserve which had its own air to keep its wildlife alive.
Naturally the weather was perfect, even if it was storming outside suspended
lights kept the inside bright and sunny. Near the entrance the gardens were fairly
manicured but one could always see the carefully constructed mini-mountains off to the
distance sporting large trees of all shapes, sizes and colours. Birds circled the highest part
of the bubble, animal shapes jumped about the trees and a kangaroo pawed its way over
to James looking for any signs of bread scraps. The senses were overwhelmed, going
from a city centre where cars had been phased out and only the staccato patter of dozens
of feet belonging to otherwise silent owners would be heard through the rubber of the
ventilator mask, to a completely natural world where whatever it wanted to made
whatever noise it felt like as loud as it deemed necessary to be heard over the other side
of the park, and as the saying went: anything that could - did. The primary noise makers
were the birds and their calls ranged in diversity more than all the human languages put
It was the sense of life that kept James coming back. This he mused as he set out
along his favorite trail,`the mountain walk`, he liked to find a secluded place, take off his
shoes, and just lay back. Taking in the surroundings.
On the way to the really huge trees where James liked best, the path wound along
the edge of a cliff. You could see way across the valley to the other side - no smog here -
the other side had a sparkling waterfall pounding down into a mini lake where its
spraying tendrils caressed ducks and swimming animals down to the rainbow-silver fish
below. The river left the lake and dashed wildly over smooth speckled rocks in a fury of
white foam, until lower down it suddenly widened. There the river half fell asleep,
negotiating the wide bends and curves as it meandered like an overfed snake. The fall
was artificial of course but that way was the most popular, the path ran right behind it for
a bit though James felt it was way too noisy to think properly, he had often photographed
it from all different angles- James checked to make sure his camera was still in his bag
and not lost somewhere over the last few kilometers of track. Thank goodness it was.
A clearing opened out to where a picnic area was set up, a covered table and chair
set made out of rough looking wood painted green to look more `natural` featured a
power point for portable cookers and a tap from which James drank deeply. This was the
sort of place a family outing would end up and most afternoons not one in the entire park
would be free.
The uphill walk was a strenuous one and James never kidded himself about his
physique so he sat down on the seat - or more sat on the table with his feet on the seat he
took a well worked for breather admiring once again the wild life.
A sudden break in the bird noises made the waterfall sound nearer than it did and
James was thinking about this when he heard low voices off into the scrub. Burning with
curiosity he crept to where the clearing ended abruptly and parted the leaves looking for
the source of the noise, he could see nothing so continued into the bush with eyes and
ears peeled. Soon he could see spots of colour between the leaves ahead and stealthfully
parted those leaves to see who the pair really were.
They were two men sitting on a piece of granite that looked too naturally placed
to be natural, the first man looked about thirty with shifty eyes and a three day growth,
very suspicious looking. The other took James a little while to figure out why he looked
so familiar, Sergeant Knowby looked different in his civilian clothing. The most
respected man on the police force looked in control, giving orders to the other as if he
was a plainclothes working for him, James had a feeling that this was not police business.
The shifty looking character unshoaldered a large backpack and opened it up to
reveal the contents, a pile of carefully stacked clear bags all containing a white powder
and a black pump-like machine. Knowby snatched a bag and knifed it open casually, he
tested the contents carefully, rubbing between his fingers, smelling, tasting. He looked at
the drug dealer with a level gaze.
`Twenty.` He stated flatly.
`Thirty.` The pusher countered. If this was a bust, Knowby would not be the bait,
his face was splashed all over the News enough to be recognized as a well respected
agent of the law, not even the most out of touch pusher would be fooled. James began to
have doubts about the sergeant`s reputation and its accuracy, Quietly he drew out his
camera as the pair haggled over the price, this was important.
Knowby reached into his coat pocket and drew out a thick wad of notes which he
handed to the other. `Purifier OK?`
`Best of its kind.` The pusher replied confidently, all of his attention on the wad of
notes. `You could drink harbour water through that.`
As the money changed hands, James pressed the shutter button of his camera. At
the very moment he pressed it, he remembered the wind on feature and his heart jumped,
it was too late. The camera clicked and the motor whirred laboriously to the next frame,
unaware of its ability to communicate its noise to the two men it had captured on the last
Knowby`s head snapped around, his trained eyes scanned for a source of the out
of place sound until they fell on to a trace of white standing dead still, trusting to its
concealment. He looked away trying to make the original movement seem natural. He
pulled the dealer close and whispered: `Someone just took a shot of us, get your weapon
out. Its there.` He pointed to the specks of white between the green. As the pusher`s
concealed knife flashed out, he drew his own `Sampson 237` with its own silencer built
in, these guns standard commission in the police force. Standing up on top of the boulder
he leveled the gun at the spier.
James looked death in the face for a period of seconds as his fate was announced
with the pointing of a finger. When the Pusher dropped to the ground with a huge knife
and the other stood up with a long nosed gun pointed at him, he regained his senses and
dashed away in the direction he had come. On the verge of screaming.
Knowby tracked the shape expertly down the barrel of his gun, it circled around
the area with the dealer in pursuit As the target moved behind a tree, he adjusted his
footing, accidentally placing his foot into a dip in the rocks surface. That and the sudden
unbalancing effects of the heavy backpack he was wearing caused him to trip and fall off
the boulder with a sickening crunch sound from his knee. He tried to stand but a sudden
pain shooting up his leg forced him to return to his sitting position. From there he had no
chance of shooting whoever had taken the photo, he looked around for some sort of
support to walk with, he noticed a strange brown shape under a small shrub.
James ran. Past the picnic area and down the path, he looked back and saw the
pusher emerge from the trees in a dead run, the knife glinting wickedly in the sun. From
there he never looked back, he ran all the way back to the entrance building, losing his
footing twice and crashing into tough bushes and rocks, always feeling the man's hot
breath on the back of his neck. From there he ran home, fearing to look back in case he
saw one of the pair emerge around a corner in hot pursuit. When he got home the house
was empty and his wallet was missing.
For an hour he sat in the empty house fearing a knock on the door or peering eyes
through the window, if they found his wallet they would come. Gradually his fear had
subsided with the speed of a receding tide, finally he plucked up the courage to walk to
the store his mum and dad owned but Sarah, their employee was the only one there,
saying they had gone out to lunch somewhere.
James couldn`t stand the thought of the possibility of running into Sgt Knowby or
the pusher by accident on the street so returned home without any waste of time. The lost
wallet and the possibility of it being in one or both of their hands chilled James to the
bone, and as a result letting himself into the house was as nervous as walking down the
street had become. But James needed his head clear and he ran through all sorts of
calming exercises, he was pretty calm too, - until he saw the perfect circle of nothing
where a portion of his window should have been, as if by magic a white hot sphere had
blown through leaving only its shape or more likely a silent hand groping for the latch.
Then James saw the film of the camera lying in piles of black ribbons around a smashed
picture of himself. They had been in his room.
James had originally panicked, supposing they were still in the house, but they
weren`t. They had broken in, destroyed the film and got out before any other problems
cropped up. With that James had relaxed, but he was still a viable witness, Knowby must
have some sort of backup to protect himself, maybe a forged mind scan proving James an
unstable witness or maybe planted evidence to frame James as a drug user himself.
Whatever it was, it was something that prevented James from standing up in court and
saying that it was Knowby and to be believed one hundred percent.
But what? If James could find out what this was maybe he could do something
about it, even turn it to his own advantage. If it was a forged mind scan, a very difficult
thing to get hold of there was no way James could stop that in time but some planted
drugs to frame him, ( the most likely coarse of action,) could be just found and
incinerated with a plasma torch. Now where would the drugs be hidden? James sat on his
bed to think....
The carefully concealed bomb under the bed, triggered by the weight exploded in
a brilliant flash of white light, heat and noise. Suddenly the wall was coming up to meet
him, it seemed to be on the same plane as the floor. He hit it with a nerve shattering
crunch all up and down his back then started to descend to the ground onto the back of
his neck with a pain that stunned him with its ferocity.
It took a few moments to realize where he was, He was on the floor with his legs
and lower back leaning against the wall across from his bed. One leg he could see was
twisted in a way that announced his knee had been bent the wrong way about ninety
degrees, he couldn`t even feel nor see his other leg, either it was twisted right out of his
view or it had been blown off completely. James` shredded, blackened shirt showed huge
craters in his chest which bore rivers of warm sticky moisture, this he found with a hand
barely under control for the shaking, his other hand was under him, twisted out of use as
were his legs.
One side of James face was raw in a way that a stickiness that clung to his fingers
and took skin off the face when the fingers were pulled away for the pain. The eye on that
side was not seeing, whether sealed shut or collapsed he could not tell for he feared to do
more damage probing with his shaking fingers.
Using his one good arm he braced himself and pushed his lower body off the wall
and onto the floor, the collision sent rivulets of pain coursing through his body and he
cried out, the first noise he had made since the bomb exploded. Now from this new
position he could see his other leg, it had been blown off completely and severed veins
and arteries made deep red pools of blood on the carpet.
It seemed like hours since the explosion but it must have been only seconds as a
few pieces of super light man made down, the type that filled his bed were sifting down,
it made the whole situation seem detached, it looked like it was snowing. James had
never been in the snow, mum and dad had always promised to go skiing soon: `Oh we`ll
go next year` they said every year but always made an excuse not to go. James knew they
couldn`t, it was just the way they made a promise they couldn`t keep and knew it. James
sometimes hated them for that.
Why weren`t there people helping him? getting him to hospital? covering his
wounds? saving his life? There was no-one at home, it would take hours for the
neighbours to investigate the noise, James realized that he would have to do something or
die in a pool of his own blood. He lifted his head to peer around but a surge of dizziness
forced him back down. After a second or so he looked up again, straight ahead was his
bedroom door, it was open just a crack with a bar of light falling across the carpet.
Through the door, in the hall was a phone sitting on the small table, if he was to pull on
the power cord and drag it off the table he could call for some help, the fall may damage
the visual screen but that shouldn't damage the ability to call for help....
James realized he had blacked out for a moment, maybe longer, his mouth was
dry and having no complete shirt made him feel cold. He had to reach the phone, but first
he had to get through the door. His self development class at school had always said to
pick a goal and go for it. The Phone. He had to break it into smaller goals along the way,
The Door. James had to get to the door, otherwise he would die.
Using his one good hand he dug his fingers into the bloodied carpet and wrenched
his broken body along an inch. `Arrrgh!` he cried out involuntarily as a mind splitting
pain roared through his entire body, he had to relax to get some breath back, he noticed
that breathing was difficult and painful, accompanied by a gurgling noise from deep
down at the base of his lungs. He prepared himself this time, taking swift breaths and
looking, concentrating on the door and the bar of light it bore. He braced himself as he
reached as far as possible for the least painful position and pulled along. The pain
wracked up and down again leaving in a slowly dying throb, though he was sure he had
made at least three centimeters that time. The door, though closer this time, still seemed
miles away.
Again and again he pulled himself along, ignoring the intense pain partly from it
all merging together into a jumble of dizzying overmassed signals, but mostly from a
weird numbness that had settled over him since he started this journey. Maybe it was
from all the blood he had lost, someone wouldn't last if they lost too much blood could
they? no it must be shock, yeah shock is sending his body away from the pain, but shock
sometimes kills too doesn't it? The room was cold. Colder than outside this morning, a
morning that seems so far away now. Colder than last winter when he let Sam, a girl from
school, borrow his jacket. She was a real con artist, turning peoples kindness to her own
advantage. James always felt a fool when he realized it was all an act, sometimes he
knew it was during the moment but let himself get sucked in anyway.
James steeled himself once again and kept going, he was halfway by now he knew
it. He had to be.
But it was OK, being sucked in and all that. He knew he could never resist a
`skirt` as Daniel, his friend, once said. But Sam he would help out anyway whether it was
to lend a coat or just asking the time, to him it meant something, that he was someone she
would talk to, someone who she would con out of a jacket first. James would have smiled
but his torn face didn't respond. He treasured this feeling although he knew that she
probably didn't hold this in the same light at all, she probably didn't even know that he
existed. James had to admit that that was possibly the most probable explanation and the
realization was like a knife through his heart, as painful as his wounds now only hurting
in a different way.
James let the shame and anger as small as it was grow, he fed it with past
injustices and injuries and used it to power himself along, it was something to take his
mind off the ongoing pain. But whenever he thought of Sam it all disappeared, even
when she was away she commanded his forgiveness and then robbed him of something
he needed so desperately, the will to go on. James tried another tact, he thought of her
face, gritted his teeth and heaved himself along.
What would she say if she saw he couldn't make it a few feet?
`I thought you were OK but you're just a lazy slob.`
`You're not worth looking at.`
`Who would want to go out with you?`
James collapsed exhausted letting his head fall onto the floor. Something was
dreadfully wrong, he was exerting himself but instead of being hot he was freezing cold.
Instead of sweating he was dry as a bone and thirsty too, he wanted to cry out for a drink
but no one would hear.
He was almost there, not long now. He concentrated on the door, it stood for the
rest of his life, He focused on the bar of light, it represented hope. Every time he pulled
himself along he reached up and tried to touch the door, gauging the distance each time.
Sixteen centimeters, he needed just to touch it. Ten centimeters, this was his final hope.
Five centimeters, something screamed inside if him that he would never touch it. One
centimeter, he stretched out his arm as far as it went, his arm, his fingers, he could feel
the door within millimeters..
...but he never touched...

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