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It all began with a door. It wasn’t a very interesting door, despite my pretence to be fascinated with it. It was double glass, nice wood frames and “The Waiting Room” in white, fine script across it. Though, personally, I found it odd to label waiting rooms, but then, what about this was normal? Either way, I was standing in front of it, my hands were shaking, my breath was unsteady. I wasn’t ready for this. I never had been. But no one is ready for their life to change so drastically. Especially when it’s partly of their own accord. Noting that I had been standing there in front of the door for ten minutes, I reached my hand out for the door handle, but hesitated at the last minute. This was it. This was more than just walking in a room. More than just walking through a door. This was my life changing. I couldn’t go back after this.
Don’t be ridiculous, I told myself, your life changed a year ago. But still, I stayed outside the door, afraid, looking at the room in front of me, through the glass. Beyond the lobby, across from me was another door. I had no idea what might be beyond that door, so I let my eyes wander across the lobby. Laid on the floor of this particular waiting room was a sleek, dark born wood. The only decorations on the wall were black and white abstract art, and depressing photos that seemed to all be in sepia. There was exactly three on each wall, each with a black, ebony frame. On the ground was laid a black and white, rectangular carpet of thin wool, with four large stripes laid vertically on it. The four equally measured walls were painted a light grey so that it resembled the colour of the sea on a rainy day. Across from each other were two black leather couches that reflected so strongly they hurt my eyes. I looked over at the small table beside them and a pot of white orchids and black designed pillows, and then finally to a desk tucked away in the corner to my right. It was black, with a white potted plant set on top of it and jars of black and white pens and a neat pile of notebooks and folders. On either side were old fashioned telephones, on white, the other black. It seemed the recurring theme of black and white was obvious. At long last, when I had taken in about every detail in the room, there was nothing left to do but enter.
“Well…” I muttered, lifting my eyes briefly towards the ceiling, “here goes…”
As I walked in, I took in everything once again by the soft light coming in from the window to my right and turned towards the desk. I started in surprise to see a woman behind the desk. I hadn’t noticed her before from my rather lengthy observation from outside of the room, which was a surprise because I had seen the desk quite clearly. I cleared my throat, preparing to speak- for our voices often fail us at the worst times. Unfortunately, thought, the seemed to startle the receptionist. Before I could even say a feeble “excuse me…?” she leapt right out of her seat and stared at me with wild eyes from behind her glasses. The woman wore a bright, wine-red dress that was just above her knees and a lime green, woollen sweater with dark brown buttons. Her shoes, which barely poked out from underneath the desk, where sneakers the colour of mud, and the soles, as I noticed, were completely wearing away. She wore two necklaces, one of brown feathers all tied to a piece of twine, decorated with beads, and the other a round, silver pendant. All her wild strawberry blonde hair was falling down to her waist. Her glasses were every colour imaginable mixed together, with wide, wide lens that made her eyes look ten times bigger than they were. Her eyes were a lovely greyish purple, which might’ve been nice, had her get-up not been so extraordinary. I could not help uttering a small cry of “Oh!” as the receptionist knocked over both the white jar with the black pens and the black jar with the white pens at the same time and knocked her elbow into the telephone.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, trying to get over my surprise, “did I startle you?’
“No, no,” the woman said, in a *****, high-pitched, airy voice, whilst shaking her head, and rubbing her elbow, looking down at it as if she was surprised that it was there. “Well… yes, well, I’m startled by everyone, but… I don’t know. What do you think?”
The question was uttered with a ***** and sudden fierceness, I was taken aback.
“Uh…” I started, not knowing what to say. But the receptionist went on speaking as if she had not just asked me a question.
“No matter, no matter,” she said, shaking her head and talking in a voice as if I had just broken one of her valuables and she was pretending not to care. Then she added in a rather lofty and offended voice, “I suppose you were secretly laughing at me from behind the door, weren’t you? I saw you standing there. You didn’t come in.” She sniffed, rubbing her elbow even more violently.
“Oh, no, I wasn’t laughing at you at all,” I hastily insisted, “I didn’t even see you there. I was only…observing the room. I saw the desk in plain sight, why couldn’t I see you?”
“I was hiding,” said the receptionist, her eyes wide and fearful, like a small child telling a secret. And instantly, she slunk in her chair, and backed up in the corner of the wall, and there she sat, hiding her head. I think she thought I couldn’t see her, though in actuality she stood out like a sore thumb. But there was no way I could have seen her from outside the door.
“I see,” I nodded politely
“Yes. I hide when new people come in,” the receptionist said, coming out of the corner.
“Don’t new people come in quite often?” I asked curiously
“No,” said the receptionist, “no, they don’t.”
She looked at me with such an intense glare, that I felt obliged to look away and gaze at the overturned jar of pens.
“Well, I’m here,” I announced, looking at her and trying to break the uncomfortable silence. “And I’m new. And I’m here for the meeting. The 3 ‘o clock?”
The receptionist gazed at me doubtfully, her eyes narrowed.
“You don’t seem the type,” she said in a sulky voice
“Well, I am,” I said, trying to sound confident
The receptionist only shrugged her shoulders and brought out a pen and paper
“Name?” she asked, slouching her shoulders, so that her wild hair looked even longer.
“Vienna. Vienna Johnson,” I said
The receptionist looked up at me as if she didn’t believe me.
“Well, that’s my name,” I said, getting a bit irritated
“Right…” said the receptionist sceptically and she jotted something down in her notebook.
“Is that all?” I asked
“No,” said the receptionist.
I waited patiently for her to say something else, but she just started to stare into space. She looked very interested in the wall behind me. I turned around.
“What are you looking at?” I asked
“That picture,” the receptionist answered and pointed a long, thin, white hand at the middle picture on the wall.
It was a black and white picture of a car driving on a cliff. I saw nothing interesting. In fact, I wasn’t even sure why anyone would take a picture of that.
“Oh… it’s a car,” I said blankly
“No,” the receptionist looked at me as if I was the one who was crazy, “It’s the director.”
When I still couldn’t help but look completely puzzled, the receptionist lowered her voice and said,
“The director of the… you know, of this,” she looked around her, “Jack Damien,”
“Oh,” I said, still trying to wrap my head around this. Then, unable to keep from sarcasm, I added, “So the director is a car?”
The receptionist gave me such an unbelieving glare I moved a little away.
“No,” she said, almost violently “he’s in the car.”
This made no more sense to me than the car being the person itself, but I decided to say no more about it.
“Okay, so what else do I have to do?”
“Ah, yes,” the receptionist said, “you have to do the Run.”
She stood up, brushing off her ridiculous turban.
“The… what?” I stammered in confusion,
“The Run,” the receptionist repeated
“What is that?” I asked
The receptionist walked over to the large white door and put her hand on the door handle.
“Are you ready?” she asked
“No,” I said, frantically shaking my head, “uh-no, for what?”
“Good,” the receptionist said.
Then she opened the door and pushed me inside.
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