Construction Zone, Part 2

Remember this flash fic I wrote? I finally decided to follow it up, although the story isn’t complete quiet just yet. Still, enjoy part 2.

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2

Steve opened the door to reveal pitch blackness. In the moments it took for his eyes to adjust to the dark, he considered the possibility that he was looking into a void. Maybe the outside world had been swallowed whole, leaving them in a weird area that existed but also didn’t, like they were loose change that had slipped between the sofa cushions of existence.

But no. He started to see shapes, small piles on the ground, abandoned tools. It was the building site. It had gone from just after noon to the dead of night in no time at all. “How is it night already?” Joni asked.

Steve shrugged, stepping out onto the site. Not only was it dark, but the humidity had jumped about eighty percent. He rubbed the back of his neck, and wondered if a storm had come in. “I don’t know. How is any of this happening? It makes no sense.”

He was several feet away from the door when he realized what was bothering him: noise. Or the lack of it. He could hear his footsteps and the steps of Russ and Joni behind him loud and clear, because there was no road noise, or any other sounds at all. When was it ever this quiet?

Steve stopped, and Russ almost collided with his back. “What?” Russ wondered.

“Something’s wrong,” he said, unable to believe he didn’t notice. No, he took that back – he could totally believe Russ didn’t get it.

“No shit,” Joni said. “The city sounds dead. When does that happen?”

Although it was obvious it didn’t, Steve was still about to say something when the ground trembled. There wasn’t a noise really, just this weird sort of shimmy that nearly made Steve lose his balance. He felt Russ grab on to him to keep on his feet.

“Since when has there been just one tower there?” Joni asked. She pointed off to the far right, and Steve followed her aim. Not only was it dark but it was weirdly foggy, meaning visibility was down to near zero. How could it both be foggy and hot? That seemed weird.

Finally he saw that lone tower, which was odd because all its windows were dark. Wait … did it even have windows? Who the hell built a building without windows?

This was wrong too. Steve stared at it, trying to make sense of it, and then the tower moved. And he understood what it was he was looking at. “Oh fuck, back in the building!” He shouted, pushing the still Russ back the way they came.

“Why?” Russ asked.

Joni must have seen what he saw, because she turned and ran back to the building so fast that it felt like he and Russ were standing still. Well, Russ was, until Steve shoved him into motion. Steve had to keep doing it, as Russ kept turning around, trying to look at it.

As soon as Steve shoved him inside and slammed the door, Russ said, “I don’t get it. What was it?”

Joni stared at him like he was the stupidest man on the planet. With Trump around, that wasn’t possible, but he was an easy number two. “It was a fucking leg! Something the size of the Chrysler Building was headed our way.”

Steve was half convinced it was a human thing, or something at least human-ish, even though it made no sense. But what about any of this made any fucking sense? He would have screamed and punched a wall if it would have helped, and if he was sure he wouldn’t break a finger. Right now, he had to assume his luck was so shitty it couldn’t be measured.

“Nothing gets that big,” Russ said.

He and Joni exchanged a look, a quiet glance that said ‘If we replaced his brain with a cabbage, he wouldn’t be any stupider’.

They were in the same inexplicable hallway as before, and since no big foot had come crashing through the ceiling like a real life Monty Python sketch, Steve assumed they were somehow safe. It made no more sense than anything else, but hey. He was just going to have to roll with it until he figured it out. If he ever figured it out.

He headed back to the room where the chipper woman had been, and got a bit of a shock when he saw the woman sitting behind the desk had been replaced by a young, dark skinned man with a dark blue bowtie, and those tiny round rimmed glasses that Steve thought of as hippie glasses, even though they looked a bit more scholarly. “Yes, may I help you? He asked.

“Uh,” Steve began, flummoxed. He wanted to ask where the woman had gone, but did it matter? Probably not. This was the same building though, right? “We need to find our way back to 34th street.”

He raised his eyebrows, but pointed down the way they had come. “It’s that way.”

“No it isn’t,” Joni said. “It’s some freaky place where a giant lives.”

The man gave her a scrutinizing glance, and Steve could imagine that she’d just gotten herself slotted into the “crazy” category. “Pardon me?”

Steve decided he wasn’t going about this correctly. There had to be some usable information he could glean from them. “Has this building ever been abandoned?”

The young man smiled tentatively, looking at them all like they were escapees from the nearest mental hospital. “No, of course not. Are you lost?”

“Yes,” Steve said, deciding to concede the point. “Can you show us the way out?”

He continued gazing at them all, probably sizing them up in case they turned out to be dangerous. But he stood up, and said, “Okay.”

He wore suspenders and a snazzy blazer. He was probably a hipster, or a guy really obsessed with fashion. Maybe both. Steve honestly didn’t know, as he lost track of whatever was trendy in his late teens, and never picked it back up. Did any of that shit matter anyway? It didn’t seem to in his life.

Although the man kept glancing back at them as if he wasn’t sure he should turn his back on the crazy people, he led them to the door they’d just come through. They stayed a few paces back, braced to run or fight or just cower, depending on what came through, as the man opened the door. “This here is 34th street,” he said. He’d opened it on a sunny afternoon, where the stream of traffic was pretty constant. The noise of cars and the occasional industrial thump of a jacked up stereo guaranteed there’d be no eerie silence anytime soon.

Steve stepped forward warily, expecting something to jump out at him, but no, this was simply where they’d begun. “Uh,” Steve said. No, it wasn’t eloquent, but he felt it was lucky he could make coherent noises at all.

He stepped out, expecting the ground to be spongy or something. But no, it was asphalt, and while it was warm, it wasn’t overly humid. He looked around, only to make sure there wasn’t someone waiting to jump on him, but it didn’t look like it. This was simply a standard issue parking lot.

Russ and Joni joined him, as the young man gave them an anemic smile, and said, “Hope you find your way,” and shut the door.

It was a perfectly nice, normal day, although it was completely wrong. It took him a second to figure it out, but it snapped into place with a clarity that made him feel like a complete idiot.

“Where are we?” Joni asked, looking around.

Back where they were supposed to be, the facade of the building had been stripped off. It had been a ruin, a graffitied, shit strewn mess waiting for the wrecking ball. This building was pristine, with no holes or dead birds or used needles visible, and where their wrecking equipment had been was a mostly full parking lot. The car designs looked familiar, but Steve belatedly realized he’d never heard of a car called a Hodai Storm.

“He said it was 34th,” Russ said.

Steve sighed deeply, rubbing his eyes. “We’re in another reality, Russ.” It sounded funny to his own ears, but did he have an alternate explanation?

“How is that possible?” he replied. Admittedly, a good question. But one none of them could answer.

“How is any of this possible?” Steve snapped. “I don’t know. I just know we’re living it.” And he had thought he was having a bad day before this happened.

Joni gave him a weary look. “We go again?”

He shrugged. “We have no choice, do we?”

Steve braced himself, and opened the door one more time.

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