TIME-SPACE MINI-STORAGE

We inched forward, little by little. Traffic was moving, but very slowly. I could see ahead that some of the other cars were going onto the shoulder. And eventually we did as well. As we passed the cause of the disturbance we looked out the window. I was expecting to see a car accident or perhaps a stalled car with an overheated engine. Instead what we saw was completely surreal. There was a man. He was standing in the road. He had gotten out of his car and was standing in front of it. There was an object, an obstacle in the road that wouldn’t let him pass; the cause of the traffic jam. It was a dresser. An armoire, just sitting there, in the middle of the FDR drive. And the strangest part, as we slowly drove around the car and the man and the dresser is that he was not looking at it. He was just standing there, looking up at the sky. As if that’s where it had come from.

We turned off the road at the Grand street exit and proceeded to Chinatown. The banquet, which was being held by the Illustrator’s Society was at “Capitale”, an event space on the Bowery. Capitale was actually a bank, well it used to be anyway. About a hundred years ago they made grand banks like this one; huge, cavernous, majestic. It had massive columns outside and was the height of a six story building, but it only had one floor, hence you can imagine the ceiling seemed like it was miles above you, like it was the very sky. I once asked a friend why anyone would make such a structure, so space-inefficient. He said it was probably to give people a sense that their money was well guarded by powerful people who could afford to build such things. That era ended long ago. Banks just got smaller and smaller until finally everyone just did their banking from home, from their computers. The days of banks being temples of money worship were far behind us. No one would dream to waste space like that anymore, until recently that is. Until Fractal. Now we had all of the space in the world.

We were a block away from Capitale when we were greeted by police lights and humming sirens. “What’s going on?” asked Evelyn, leaning towards the partition that separated us from the car’s controls.
“There seems to be police activity in this area, Madam,” said our vehicle, “The street has been closed. I’m afraid I will not be able to get you closer to your destination.”

“That’s okay,”‘ I interjected, “we can walk from here. It’s just there.”
Evelyn and I got out of the car and proceeded up the sidewalk towards Capitale. There was a commotion on the sidewalk just ahead. The police had put up a barrier to cordon off a piece of sidewalk and a crowd of people had gathered, forming a semi-circle around it. Two police vehicles hovered overhead shining a light into the center of interest. And as we passed, we saw it. From between the heads of curious onlookers there was, sticking out of the brick facade of a building, what could only be described as a “thing”.

Even now as I look back I can’t exactly recall what it was. It was sort of like a big rectangular box, maybe made of a purplish metal. But it also had what seemed like organic parts to it. There was maybe some wire mesh or chunks of metal bars sticking out of it, some round bits, some jagged protrusions. The best way I can describe it would be as If a million years from now, everything we shoved in a landfill had, through great pressure, fused together, like certain rocks you see, jagged and multi-colored and made from bits of many different disparate things. And it was just jutting out of the stone-face of the building, as if stuck between two worlds.
Evelyn and I looked at each other wide-eyed but said nothing. Neither of us had anything to say. At least nothing that would have seemed reasonable. A policeman prodded us to keep moving. “Move along,” he said, “move along. We must clear this area. A police investigation is taking place in this area. Please, move along.” And we did.

Moments later we were walking up the grand steps of Capitale. White-gloved valets in ornate red jackets welcomed us in. They pushed open the huge front doors revealing the cavernous opulence of the place. A huge chandelier hung from the ceiling. Couples in their finest dress stood about sipping cocktails. Marni Gross, the chairperson of the Illustrator’s Society came rushing to greet us.
“Thank you for coming,” she sighed, somewhat exasperated, “God, it’s been such a crazy day. Nothing is working right. It’s just been absolutely mad.” She took a breath. “Well, you two look fantastic! Please, do come in. We’re having trouble with the hors d’oeuvres but the bar is up and running so please help yourselves to a drink. I’ll be right back.” And off she went with the focussed mania of someone with an impossible task to tackle.

Evelyn and I approached the bar. An older couple was ahead of us patiently waiting while the bartender shook their martinis. I turned to her. “Is it me or is this day shaping up to be weird as hell? What was that thing out there?”
“I don’t know, maybe some kind of portal malfunction?” she hypothesized. Just then, a commotion grabbed our attention. We both turned to see a porter fussing with a mini-storage portal. He had turned on the generator, he had waved his hand and opened the portal. However, the conveyer, the part that moves the items in and out of the portal, was jammed. This shiny metal box, which seemed to be holding fine china and silver for the party was coming out of the portal, stopping half way and jerking back in. I’d never seen one do anything like that. The porter seemed somewhat embarrassed. He looked about nervously and tried again and again to get his hands on the product conveyer but the shiny metal box repeatedly slipped out of his white-gloved hands. And then finally, it disappeared into the portal. There was that strangely musical sucking noise and the portal closed. He stood there for a moment, perplexed, not knowing what to do. Marni Gross went running over to the rescue. Evelyn and I looked on, entranced. Neither of us had ever seen a portal malfunction. We’d never even heard of one. And then it happened.

There was that telltale tinging sound and suddenly the portal opened on its own. The product conveyer, a shiny metal box about three feet cubed shot out of the portal like a missile from a canon knocking Marni through the air and impaling the porter against the far wall of the bank. Everyone froze. The porter’s last breath was a grotesque exhalation of blood. A woman screamed. Then, finally coming to their senses, a couple of doormen rushed in to help. A strange, monstrous belching noise filled the room. All eyes turned to the portal and then with bestial force another large item shot out of the portal and then another. It all happened too fast to even see what they were. The doormen were instantly crushed to death. And then more debris was rocketed out of the hole until it was a constant, never ending stream of projectile detritus, a horizontal volcanic eruption of junk. Panic ensued. Couples in tuxedos and gowns started to run towards the front door. Some were overtaken by the waves of matter flowing through the room like a tsunami of twisted wreckage. I grabbed Evelyn’s hand as tightly as I could and leapt behind the bar. Pressed against the back wall we quickly worked our way to the front of the room and ran out the front door.

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