Chapter Four

 

The next day brought no answers to their dilemma.  With apparently nothing but time on their hands, the two began to investigate Sage in greater detail, looking through every room of every building in town.  There was only one door that refused to open.  After all other doors were checked, the man went back to the truck for a tire iron.

“What are you going to do with that?” the woman asked.

“Bust that door down. I want to know what’s behind door number 3.”

The woman slumped against the truck.  “Why bother?” she called after him.  He kept walking, and she raised her voice.  “We’ve been in every other room in this town.  They’re all the same.  Nothing but cobwebs, dust, and rotting wood.”  He began to enter the building that housed the unyielding door.  “Go ahead then!” she shouted.  “Knock yourself out!  I’ll be waiting at the truck.”

The man approached the uncooperative door.  He swung the iron, hard.  It rebounded off the door, making the man drop it in pain.  He tried again, getting the same result.  “What the?”  He went to another door on the other side of the room, closed it, then swung the iron.  It passed through the rotted wood with ease.

The man returned to the first door and took another swing.  Once again, he had to drop the iron, and he grabbed his wrist with his other hand.

When the pain died down, he picked up the tire iron and began to use it as a crowbar, prying at the edges of the door until the frame splintered and gave way with a sharp “Crack!”  The man pried further, until the door’s latch was freed.  He pulled the door open, and stood staring from a room of the past into a room of a future.

He could not move.  A brilliant white light poured from the room before him.  Slowly, as his eyes became accustomed to the intense light, he could see into the room.

Instead of rotting walls, every surface was smooth and blended into the next with no joint or seam to break the flow.  The entire room was white.  Electronic consoles lined the walls; millions of small lights glowed and blinked behind glass panels.  Filling the center of the room was a large object which resembled a hot tub, about ten feet in diameter.  This, also, blended into the floor of the room, and was topped by a crystal-clear dome.

The man cautiously entered the sterile room.  He became aware of a soft hum of electricity; a sound more felt than heard.  He noticed that the door by which he had entered provided the only access to the room.  He watched the random patterns created by the flashing lights, but could not determine their purpose or meaning.

Finally, he approached the dome, which rested on a circular wall about three feet tall.  He glanced toward the doorway to make sure it was still open.  When he reached the dome and looked inside, he froze in shock.  He was standing looking down on a three-dimensional miniaturization of the town of Sage and its surroundings!  There was his truck, in the lot next to the gas station, and – there was Lisa, leaning on the front fender!  He could even see tumbleweeds blowing down the street.

“This is impossible!” he gasped.  A strong feeling of vertigo suddenly swept over him as he realized that the view did not end at the wall on which he was leaning. Somehow, it continued to stretch beyond – far beyond – to disappear over a horizon.  It was as if he was looking down through a ten-foot diameter window in the bottom of a high-flying aircraft.

The man stumbled to the door and ran through the building and out into the street.  Under the dome, a small figure exited a building in the center of the town, and ran drunkenly to the truck.
 

Chapter Five