TIME-SPACE MINI-STORAGE

Outside, we were met by an ominous sight. People were running down the middle of Bowery screaming. Lights were coming on in all of the windows like dominos, one by one until every building was lit. People were falling off of their balconies followed by streams of rubbish. I held Evelyn’s hand tighter. My instinct was to run, but to where? Everywhere I looked there was mayhem and death and grievous injury. And then there was no longer time to think. A loud terrible sound of twisting metal crushing both bone and flesh grew louder behind us. The tsunami of wreckage had filled that six story bank and was pushing it’s way out the front door. We ran down the stairs and bolted southbound down Bowery, but we didn’t get far.

At the corner of Bowery and Grand we froze. There above us, in the sky, strange bluish clouds were forming and moving in a circular pattern. A portal was opening just between the buildings on Grand street like a big, ghoulish clock face. The vertical hole turned and turned, opening wider and wider until it was a huge portal in the air about seven stories above the street. Everyone seem to stop for a moment, frozen, mesmerized by this eerie, unearthly sight. In the calm before the storm there was a sound, like a distant roar of water only more metallic. It was faint and everyone seemed to halt, to lean in, to hear it. It grew louder and louder. And then the ghastly hole unleashed a massive river of debris onto the street below. Like a waterfall of metal and glass and plastic and concrete it came down with a crushing force and instantly overtook and tore apart everyone in its path. People scattered like rats.
Evelyn and I ran and ran for our lives. She was crying now, a desperate childlike cry. I could hear her over the sounds of my heavy breathing, though I dared not look at her for fear of losing what little nerve I had left. We ran south on Bowery towards the high ground of the Manhattan bridge. People ran by us on all sides. I saw a man stop to catch his breath. He pressed his back against the wall of a Chinese jewelry store. He bent over, placed his hands on his knees and took a couple of deep breaths. As he straightened up, a portal opened up in the wall directly behind him. He jerked violently in a horrifying death rattle. His face jolting into a fiendish look of hysteria. Wide-eyed and mouth agape, bent and contorted he froze in an inhuman rigor mortised pose. A safe had emerged and had materialized around his ribcage. His heart and veins and countless blood cells were instantly encased in sold metal. I choked down a moan of primal fear and turned it instead into a yell, “Come on!” I screamed. And we ran towards the bridge.

We never made it. At Bowery and Canal an ear piercing screech brought us both to a stand still. It was like no other sound I have ever heard. Loud and shrill and rumbling in my guts it was like the very sound of our universe being ripped apart. I looked up and just below Canal I saw a plane, a big one, a jumbo jet and it was falling out of the sky. If I told you it was crashing, I’d be lying. It was just falling. Just falling, as if it had just materialized there in midair and was simply dropping to the ground. Time stood still. I looked at Evelyn. Her eyes conveyed a fear I’d never seen in her. She let go of my hand and ran. I cried out for her. She ran across the street and took refuge under the awning of the Chinatown Theater. It all happened so fast. The plane hit the tops of the buildings. It’s massive weight reduced the buildings to sand. There was a huge explosion that shot dust and shattered concrete in all directions. My eyes filled with dirt. I cowered to the ground, with my eyes covered. “Evelyn”, I thought. I looked up. Through the burning rocks in my eyes I saw her there, standing against the wall of the theater. The plane continued it’s descent, smashing through floor after floor of the nearby buildings like a weight dropped on a sandcastle and captured in slow motion. I looked up, a cloud of dust had obscured my view of Evelyn, of anyone, of everything. And then the plane hit the ground. And there was a blast. I felt punched in the face by the wind. It threw me back several feet. I cried out for Evelyn. And then I remember the heat, intense heat and something that felt like a giant, burning hand picking me up and throwing me. The last thing I remember was tumbling down Bowery, maybe for blocks.
And that was the last time I saw my dearest Evelyn.

It’s been a year since that dreadful day. It’s a sunday. I have the TV on. I watch the news a lot now. It keeps me company while I straighten up the apartment. All of the news channels, hell, all of the channels for that matter, are rehashing the events, covering the memorials, investigating the facts, commemorating the dead. The acting President has just given a speech expressing his regrets for everyone’s loss. Financial analysts and prosecutors are duking it out for who gets the first swing at Fractal. They went out of business of course, but I’m sure that’s the least of their worries. Everyone lost everything. All of their customers, that is. There was no time to analyze the events of that day and formulate a well thought-out plan. All life on Earth was being crushed by, well, all of the things Fractal had helped us stored in that “other” dimension. Maybe there was something on the other side that didn’t want us there. Maybe we were playing with laws of physics that we didn’t understand. We never did find out what it was that had happened exactly or why it happened. The government had pretty much no choice but to shut down the main portal generators and seal those rifts for good. I lost everything I had stored, well, everyone did, of course. I think back to those old trophies, my grandfather’s lamp and that dusty old computer. Are they still in some other dimension somewhere, I wonder, or did they get spit out of a portal somewhere. I don’t know. I don’t much care. I wonder why it was so important for me to keep them around at all. They all seem so trivial to me now.
The couch is covered in last night’s clothes. I pick them up and throw them in the closet. The real closet. The table is covered in coins and receipts and other trinkets. I pick up anything that I don’t immediately need and throw it into a ceramic jug for later sorting though I know I’ll never sort it. I pick up a letter and underneath is a photocard from Evelyn’s memorial. I had wanted people to remember what she looked like so I made these cards to give to our family and friends. God, it took so long to find a photo of her. All of our best ones were in other-dimensional storage. She looks so peaceful in this picture. We took it on our first vacation together. I miss her so desperately.

I place it in the box of Evelyn things; a pressed flower, a hymnal, a xerox printout of her favorite quotes. All of the things I have to remember her by are things from her funeral. I walk them to the closet and can’t help but to peer into the bedroom as if she might still be there. I look at that spot in the room, by the north wall, where our time-space mini-storage portal used to be and I wonder if she is maybe still alive, stuck in some alternate dimension. I see her face in my mind, a flash of the last time I saw her, pressed against a wall of the Chinatown Theater. She looked so scared, so distraught. And I think of the horrifying events of that night, all of the garbage, all of the junk, all of the debris that killed so many. I look down at the box in my hands and for a moment I think I should throw it all in the garbage. And I feel the muscles in my arm start to twitch and think I almost might. And then I collect myself. I know better.
How could I ever throw these things away?

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