Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-Three

and dips a finger in, holding it there until she feels the tickle of an ant climbing aboard. “I did wonder if you guys survived all that friction,” the girl says, watching the ant explore the edge of her nail. This time the ceiling is just within range. Her finger extends into the hole and she waits a moment before withdrawing it. “Nice to see the whole thing,” she says aloud, looking the finger over. Somebody might be listening; the place does seem to be paying attention to her presence. But if hers are the only ears picking up her

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-Two

She pushes one of the tables to the center of the room and climbs atop it. A stretched arm still doesn’t quite reach. So she unfolds one of the chairs and puts it on the table. Climbing onto the chair is a little precarious at this point, but no worse than standing on a wheeled stool, right? “And what did that get me? A leprechaun hair?” There it is. Why she thought it would be, she couldn’t say. A hole. Looks like the keyhole in the white box in each of those white rooms. The girl opens the glowing box

Monday, February 27, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-One

low. This does seem peculiar. A large room with a low ceiling? Was this not something she noticed before? The girl has the distinct feeling that even things she was quite clear on will alter themselves at their own convenience, thus what steps she takes cannot be based on advanced planning but must follow from what most lately seems a possibility. She goes up on tiptoe, stretching her extended fingers. No, the ceiling’s not that low, but, who knows, might be at any moment. She’s got a hunch and decides not to wonder from where such a hunch might come.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy

of the table and eats tortilla chips. They are a little stale. Two more of the same brand in the grocery bags. Then we have packages of napkins, another disposable table cloth still in plastic. Ah, a big jar of salsa. Mild, red, chunky. The girl pops the lid and shovels a dollop into her mouth with a tortilla chip. “Yuck,” she says. “There’s skipping lunch and there’s starvation. Station two not here, yet.” She screws the lid back on, who knows when it’ll be necessary. If only to brain somebody. She looks up at the ceiling. It’s flat and

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-Nine

conference center. “What life needs is better narration.” She sighs and rubs her forehead. “And a toilet.” She raps one of the tables with a fist. “A pillow would be good. A mattress. Yeah. Long as we’re wishing. A way the fuck out of here.” Yes, there is an economy bag of tortilla chips, first thing she sees in the first bag she looks into. It’s the thin kind where half’s crumbs at the bottom and the whole ones break in the guacamole. The girl tears open the bag, spilling several chips on the floor. She sits on the edge

Friday, February 24, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-Eight

at the table to check her progress. She’s already past it? Didn’t she? Wasn’t there? She marches over, grabs a chair, takes it back to where she left off, then takes a good look around. The passage closed. Silently, of course. Leaving no evidence it ever existed. So now she’s trapped in this big dusty meeting room. Somebody was going to have a party here. There are paper bags under one of the other tables. Maybe full of packages of chips, moldy dip, salsa past its freshness date? The party hosts dropped everything off then got lost in cheap hell

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-Seven

blundered past in the dark. Then back to the dorms. Then shed this uniform and get the civvies out of the box. Then call a cab. And shake the dust of this place off my sandals. Nudge, tug, lean against, tap. The wall is made of panels, any one of which could be a door, and she continues to test each, even as she becomes more certain the way out is the way she came. She feels much more confident with light in her hands. So she’s concentrating less on the door search, her testing cursory. She glances back at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-Six

tell, but she tests every hint of bump or suggestion of depression. A sliding door, a door that swivels on an axis, a door that rises. A door that requires an incantation? She blinks, catches herself nodding. She glances back over at the tables. If the one with the drinks is pointing to twelve o’clock, she’s checked through to four? Almost back to where she entered the room. Well, now that light is handy she can run back the way she came, if it comes to that. Carrying a bottle of soda, even. She will easily spot that exit she

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-Five

opens a bottle of generic cola. “Now is the time for all good women to let caffeine and high fructose corn syrup come to their aid.” This cupful also is quickly dispatched, the burp afterward a little more ladylike. She sneezes. “Ah. Thank you for answering my prayers, abandoned meeting room.” Feeling a new optimism the girl catches the vibrating keybox as it drops over the table’s edge, the box’s internal vibrations having driven it in slow meanders to a fall. She takes the light with her to the room’s curving wall. No hinges or handles so far she can

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-Four

just the sort of thing that could save a girl from dying of fucking dehydration.” With the light pouring into it, the hundreds of bubbles sparkle like jewels, and the fizz swarming the surface incandesces with the cool divinty of an angel’s halo. The girl is not so transfixed that she doesn’t tip the whole glorious business into her mouth, gulping, though it burns her throat. Burns in a nice way. Scrubbing bubbles. And when the cup is empty she puts it back on the table and, before pouring again, the girl releases an immensely satisfying and noisy belch. She

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-Three

fingers. “Great,” she says pleasantly, pretending not to be about to fling the bottle across the room. The light from the keybox suffuses the water, and the girl feels like she’s trying to open a light bulb. She lays the keybox on the table. “There,” she says. “It will be so much easier to open this bottle when I am not holding another object.” This time, indeed, the cap crackles away from the security seal, and she is able to lay it aside and pour until the fizzing water splashes over the plastic cup’s brim. “How nice. It looks like

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-Two

room is smaller than she expected. Still big. But more like a barn than a cathedral. “I wouldn’t have minded stained glass,” she says, stepping around a folded chair that has tumbled off a stack of folding chairs. In the middle of the room three tables have been set up. Two are covered with paper table cloths. Dusty bottles of soft drinks and punch crowd the edge of one of the tables. The girl snatches a plastic cup from a tower of cups and slams it down next to a bottle of seltzer. The twist-off cap balks at her tired

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty-One

and bears down on it, really driving it back and forth and forth and back and back and forth and forth, really going at it, her arms burning, her shoulders aching, the keybox shining, blazing, vibrating. She cannot look at it at all now. It’s warm, not hot like you’d expect of something so bursting with light, warm. And the vibrating, the hum makes her palm itch as she rises, her knees pop. She holds the box up again, as high as she can with arms worn down by all that. And the light flows into a circular room. The

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixty

keybox against the floor, sliding it back and forth between her hands. At first it’s just something to do, something to do unmindfully, the girl’s weariness having overtaken any thought of pushing things a little farther. If the box brightens when rubbed some, will it get really bright if you rub it a lot? It is actually some minutes before the girl recognizes she is conducting this experiment and that it is paying off. When it gets through at last that the box is giving off more light and more light, the girl grits her teeth and squeezes her eyes

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-Nine

the atmosphere felt closer, warmer. A big hall doesn’t feel like that. At the very least sound carries farther so doesn’t seem all pressed together. The girl puts the keybox under her legs, her arm tired. If she looks at it, she can’t see anything else. She just sits there for a little, head sagging. Empty inside, not trying to crowd the emptiness with hopes, not picturing sanctuary around the corner, a smile from a janitor, a clean glass of water. A glass of water would be nice. She licks her lips with a gummy tongue. Idly, she rubs the

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-Eight

more squares of the institutional umber wink up from the dark. Wandering out there wouldn’t be much different from plunging into a fogged-in room, especially if the unexpected ally of a glowing keybox decides it’s done. The girl sighs. More tired than she knows what to do with, she leans against the wall. She can see it, she can feel it, and if it’s about to hurry off on some errand, it hasn’t yet. Her legs wobble. So she slides down the wall until she’s sitting. Don’t big rooms feel like big rooms? Just before she discovered the keybox light

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-Seven

meeting notes. Maybe there was something at the meeting about an impending change in the nature of reality? Might all the answers be in her cramped shorthand? It wouldn’t be the first time she wrote down what the teacher, the boss, or her mother said, without having really listened. The light continues to grow, and the girl can see the near wall curving gradually away before her and behind. Where she expects to see the far wall to appear, two or three arm’s lengths away, however, there is no wall, only more linoleum. She goes up on tiptoe. A few

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-Six

and sees her fingers silhouetted. Not imagining that, the girl says to herself. If only the darn thing were emitting enough light to be useful. She rubs the surface as though to encourage it and to her pleased surprise the box responds, its gold glow advancing to a glimmer. She rubs it some more. A gleam. A glisten. The rubbing has wakened the box somehow. It vibrates gently as the light increases. The girl raises the box above her head, where it won’t dazzle her dark-adapted eye. She blinks impatiently. Her left hand resolves first, clutching the creased and tattered

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-Five

judging the vibrations of the folded paper. If a wall popped up directly before her, her nose would not be the first to know. She only now wonders if the ceiling is coming down. If it does, she’ll just have to bonk her head on it. And if it is a ceiling bristling with spikes like some medieval torture chamber, well, what can you do? The girl is getting hungry. Thirsty, too. She reaches into a pocket and pulls out the gold box. Is it glowing? Yes, she can make out its shape. She brushes her hand over the lid

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-Four

been walking in the dark. Not yet an hour. More than fifteen minutes, easily. Long past time she should have come upon a door. Something clearly is different. She held her breath while listening but lets the air out now. She will breathe more evenly, more quietly. Who knows what she missed while huffing along. Certainly she’s been walking deliberately, placing each foot before adding the body’s weight. A stair step, a hole, could manifest at any moment. She’s been keeping her hands in front of her, the right held out and cupped slightly, the left sliding along the wall

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-Three

of silence. The girl stops. It’s true, isn’t it. Every sound comes directly from her. Her breathing. The creaking of her shoes. The scratching along the wall of the meeting notes; she’d fished them from her pocket to save wear on her fingers. Now. Standing, waiting. She’s not seeing lights. She’s not hearing the hiss of spume being blown from the billows. It’s just a dark hall in an office building. Not even dank like a dungeon. Stuffy, maybe. Is it getting warmer? Usually the girl has a pretty good sense of time. She tries to guess how long she’s

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-Two

into the ring. I slide one arm in, I slide the other arm in. Like I’m putting on an evening gown. And then, slowly, slowly, the water falling away from my body in a rush, in streamers, in drips drips, I am reeled in. The girl does not need to close her eyes for this picture, the black sea heaving as lances of light cut across it, for everything is black and heaves. Only the light she sees must be imaginary for it illuminates nothing. It is only itself, harsh, commanding, striking out from a din of. Of. A din

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty-One

the ship sank when really it wasn’t so bad, or there were lifeboats and emergency rations and flare guns and a radio somebody is calling for rescue on right now. Maybe the helicopters that swoop in, light up the howls of delight in the bobbing boats, maybe they’ll move on from those lucky duckies and sweep vigilant eyes across the jetsam and pick out my sad little brave little determined flail toward saving myself and down will drop a float ring right in my way, a twirling yellow rope tying it to the life above. Gratefully, almost indolently, I slide

Monday, February 06, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifty

beginning.” She gropes on. Any moment she will feel the door frame, she will bruise her hip on the doorknob. “Every time, every time, every time,” she sings, forgetting the words. This goes on a long time. The girl thinks about turning around and going back but more as a story to tell herself, like the shipwrecked sailor clinging to the spar, kicking toward the island last seen from the burning deck but which might even now be falling away to the south and the swimmer’s tired legs pushing toward open sea. Suppose I could turn back, suppose I imagined

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty-Eight

farther down the hall? All right. Fine. What can happen? I get eaten by a leprechaun? One of those complaining zombies grabs me and drags me past my boredom threshold? Putting her hands against the wall the girl shuffles forward into the darkness. She begins to hum to herself. Then to sing. “Every time I see you falling, out of the sky, I get down on my knees and pray, I close my eyes, let the choir sing, sing the words that I can’t say, I feel fine and I feel good, it’s like a dream, no end and no

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty-Seven

going to have to count all the way to ten, am I? After door number six a shadow looms. The light’s gone out? The girl slows, impatient but cautious. She drifts over to the left, craning her neck to see into the gloom. Hugging the left wall should give the best view around the curve. The door she wants is here on the left, too. Or will be. Soon. There, in the deepening darkness, stands door number seven. If a light were on within wouldn’t the door crack be a gleaming outline? And why is it she’s not seeing light

Friday, February 03, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty-Six

it listening for something? Seems to have its head cocked. “Um.” The girl actually considers diving into the fog room. Instead, she spins on her heel and begins a brisk walk the way she came. One, two, and here comes three. The doors pass on her right. Such relief when she hears a muttering from behind one of them. Things haven’t changed in that room. Not yet. Somebody’s going on and on about how horrible everything is. And they’re not wrong, either, the girl reminds herself. Not completely. It’s that they’ve lost all perspective. Five, here comes six. I’m not

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty-Five

and dilated and the final darkness crept into that hole.” “You’re a leprechaun? Aren’t leprechauns green or something?” “I am what I am.” “Yeah. Look. I don’t mean to be a pest, but, uh, I think you’re the people the overseer warned me about.” “And where is she now, this overseer? What four leaf clover is she overlooking?” The girl remembers she’s cold, she even shivers. “It’s been great chatting and all.” She tries to remember how far away a door out of this place will be. “But. I don’t know.” The leprechaun isn’t looking at her, she thinks. Is

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty-Four

I would believe a thing you say? What are you, anyway?” “I am the Leper Messiah. I am the King. I am the Only One Left Alive.” “The only what left alive? The only leper?” “The only leprechaun,” says the thing, making a soft moan of it. “I am the only one left. All the others are extinct. They have killed themselves with bad habits. They led themselves down ill paths, sinful roads paved with good expense accounts. They indulged in self-abuse and refused to see the light, even when it was winking in their faces. Their eyes were fixed