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Short Story 54

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Have you ever felt cheated by a story. You’ve begun it, you dedicated time to reading it, and then it ends flat or not at all. It’s like a ball being thrown in the air and never coming down. You could stand there for an eternity and never have the pleasure of catching it. There are other things that are like that. Poorly made movies, a half-cleaned bed, unfinished lunches... Or falling down the stairs.

That was the strange thing that happened when Mr. Wigginton fell down the stairs, he didn’t keep falling. He was placed for a moment in a section of time where things just stop. Never heard of it? Well, it is that place where things go that you can’t find. The reason you can’t find them isn’t because they don’t exist anymore, but because they are stuck in a section of time. A bit of time that doesn’t move. Similar to the gap between a wall and a bookshelf. It is very disappointing to have things fall into this gap. You never can tell when or if they will ever come out of it again.

This is the gap that Mr. Wigginton found himself in one morning while working his shift in the mail room of Roads and Price a very large and expensive law firm that only took the most important clients. Mr. Wigginton or Rudolf was a twenty-three-year-old brunette, with dark gray eyes, high cheekbones, and generally a very nice bone structure. He was single and lived in a small apartment an unbearable commute away. What his life couldn’t offer in convenience it replaced with affordability. He would not admit it to anyone but there were several times when he wept at night wishing he had stayed closer to his parents and not dreamed that a big city was the way of meeting and fulfilling his life goals. Outside of his frailties he loved corn beef hash, cream soda, and sleeping late. On the other hand, he hated sports, hiking, and plain lukewarm water. One of his near goals was getting a girlfriend, and of course, being able to afford a dog and an apartment that would allow him to own one.

As Rudolf, as we will now refer to him, was returning to the mail room of the prestigious building that also hosted many other very important businesses other than Roads and Price, he found to his great horror that the elevators were to be out of commission until after lunch. For those who were not aware of the current time, that was quite a bit from where he was. Lucky for him this particular delivery had been an urgent document that he had been forced to bring up on its own. Fortunately, he did not have to worry about the inconvenience of how to get the mail cart back downstairs.

Knowing that punctuality was especially prized by this particular business and all those that worked within it he diverted the inoperative elevator and headed to the stairs. The door at once allowed him through and several flights, both going up and down, presented themselves to him. He directed himself toward those going down as indeed his destination was just beneath the lobby. That is to say that the mailroom was basement level one, or B1 on the elevator directory panel. He began the long journey downward knowing that there would be an extensive path ahead of him, Roads and Price being on floor twenty of fifty. This meant he had to take a full twenty flights of stairs down. At thirteen steps a flight that made two hundred and sixty steps to the bottom.

This was when Rudolf began to try and play happy by imagining that this would count as his workout for the day. That he would burn so many calories that he didn’t have to worry about his knees hurting later or the terrible fact that they might make him climb up and down them again. He focused on the fact that he was young and able bodied. Nothing could stand in his way, excluding of course the crack, which has already been explained to you.

It was on the eleventh set of stairs where something very ordinary happened. He tripped. It wasn’t a very special trip. His foot just didn’t connect right with the fourth step in the series of thirteen. He was falling.

It was here we should say that he began to realize that he might die. Stairs are very spiteful things. They do not enjoy people toppling their bodies down them, then accusing them of maiming or murdering them as if that was their intention all along. There was traction, yes. Huge useless circles all over the step tops to prevent such a thing from happening. It was demeaning to be blamed for such things. And so, the steps always made themselves harder out of shear spite. This was a process that took concerted effort on the part of the stairs and should be much appreciated as not just any inanimate object can do such a thing. The stairs indeed began to harden themselves, already feeling the amount of emotional baggage they would receive after this careless man fell down them. But this was not a problem Rudolf had to worry about for all at once he stopped.

Like an object of a three-dimensional variety falling through a slender crack his body got stuck. Yes, perfectly stuck in a crack in time. He was lodged so tightly his face smooshed, and his tummy pressed against the wall making his legs dangle out beneath him. To put it simply, he was uncomfortable. Being stuck in such a state, I am sure you would understand, is very unappealing and frustrating.

Rudolf feeling himself squished tried very hard to release himself with his limited ability. He kicked his legs and pushed his hands hard against whatever surface kept him so strictly bound. But no matter how he pushed or wiggled nothing seemed to help him. The stairs were beneath him, hard and awaiting his fall, but the air would not let him go.

Now you may wonder, did many things happen while Rudolf was stuck like this? Well, the elevator repair was finished. Lunch was eaten. Roads and Price had agreed to take on a very expensive divorce case. The lobby had directed several food orders to their respective floors. And a taxi man was yelled at by a lady with oversized hair that he had taken her to the wrong place.

All this Rudolf did not notice or see for in this small fissure of time none of that existed. He was in fact stuck in the exact moment, at the very point he entered. He kicked, and kicked, and kicked. He squirmed, and squirmed, and squirmed. He kicked and squirmed until he got sick of doing both. Eventually, he gave up and allowed his body to go limp and hang, imbodying the beautiful image of absolute futility.

It was here that he began to reflect. He wondered why he had not made different decisions in his life. He had all the reflections of the missing earring that had been in this very spot the Tuesday previous.

He had to admit he wanted far more from his life then to break himself falling down very upset stairs or living forever in some sort of torturous frozen netherworld where all he had was his regrets and missteps to look at for seemingly an insurmountable amount of time. That is, of course, if the crack also prevented acts of nature while it held you. If not… well the idea of dying there was not appealing either.

But you see that was the lovely thing about these pockets, these strange cracks into this unknown place. They gradually dissipate of their own accord. And just as the fissure had dissolved when the earring had fallen into it, so to it did now. Rudolf fell toward the stairs and less ceremoniously than the earring, prevented himself from falling down the surly stairs by gripping the railing on the wall for dear life. This spared his spine and organs from being beaten to within an inch of their life, but it didn’t help his shoulders, arms, wrists, and elbows that were strained and sprained terribly from the excursion.

Released from the time crack he made his way down the stairs to the lobby and found at once that he had been locked in. It was past hours. He took a seat on one of the benches near the elevators. Time hadn’t passed for him, but it had for the world he had left.

You must understand he is not aware of things as we are, so it will take a few moments for him to come to terms with what he has lost.

The proceeding day spelled the full force of his freedom. In all good spirits and with the mind of someone who had just spent close to twelve hours in a literal no man’s land Rudolf quit his job. Though his problems did not cease for doing so he was spared the thought that he would again, one fine morning, while the elevator was under maintenance find himself stuck in a fissure in time for an unnumbered period. And at least that was of some help to him.


Thank you so much for reading everyone!!

Prompt: What Goes Up Must Come Down

Word Count: 1563

©DecemberKnight 2023

Special thanks to Henry Perks from Unsplash for the use of the image!

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