A man whose accrued bad luck follows him to an antiquarian hotel in the Nevada desert.
A passing thought that raced through the busy mind of Timothy Price as he looked around the savage desert wasteland. He found the bareness of it all very unsettling. Something about it didn't sit right with him. Getting lost out here - in the scorching hot desert - meant handfuls of sand before a drop of water would ever be found. It involved a tortuously slow death at the hands of dehydration.
He shielded his eyes to get a better look at the only architectural landmark around these parts of the Nevada desert - an abandoned looking Hotel.
This Hotel stood dominantly over a plateau of sand scattered for miles in every direction. The upside of this raw deal is that a hotel superimposed in the middle of nowhere provides a great deal of anonymity to travelers whose lives depend on it.
Timothy was such a traveler. He was young, indecisive and always fumbling for an answer. While he wasn't bright, he also wasn't disillusioned about how he ended up here. He owed much money to the wrong type of people. When such things happen; the unwise solution is always to skip town especially after reviewing the more sensible solution of actually paying back the money, but quickly recalling to mind that the loan was appropriated due to a lack of finances in the first place.
So here he was, standing in front of this godforsaken Hotel in the middle of this wretched desert. He felt hot, irritated and utterly defeated - painstakingly trying to rouse his unresponsive mind.
Timothy consulted his watch - noting it was just after 6 PM. He debated whether or not he should have a cigarette - his hands deciding for him as they plunged deep into the pockets of his dirty corduroys and fished out a pack of Camels.
He dropped his head forward over a pair of cupped hands, protecting a flame from a sparked match. His peripheral vision intercepted something moving with high velocity in the distance. Whatever it was, it was coming towards him and fast. His mind began to race.
Have they found me?
Sweat began to trickle down the back of his shirt, slowly and steadily, picking up speed as fear tightened its clutches around Timothy's throat. Having lost his ability to move, he merely stood frozen. His terrified eyes drawn to the embodiment of his worst nightmares.
If it was daytime, he could attribute it to be a fleeting mirage but since it was evening all he could do was convince himself it was a ghastly apparition. The product of a tired mind hallucinating in the merciless heat.
Even with his bloodshot eyes, irises obliterated by fear and with rapidly dilating pupils, he still couldn't look away - fixedly staring at the swiftly approaching object.
The darkness forbade him from seeing any details at first, but then it relented as if answering his pleas, allowing him to identify the emerging dark apparition as a classic '72 Corvette.
His quivering lips dislodged the cigarette firmly held in place just seconds ago. The situation had drastically changed. It needed a new appraisal from someone not as perplexed and bewildered as Timothy was at that exact moment. "It was just a car," he kept repeating to himself. It's appearance so deceptively casual. It wouldn't mean a thing to anyone but him... However, to him, it was the insignia of death.
He drew back, hyperventilating and trying to gulp the stale evening air. His heartbeat reached a sickening crescendo, climbing the stairs two at a time. His shaky hands fumbled for the rusted doorknob of his second story suite.
Once inside, he automatically pulled the tattered and faded curtain across the smudged window next to the door. He snapped the lock in place and removed the precautionary chain across - which given a chance wouldn't withstand even the slightest pressure.
Poised with his back leaning against the door and his shoulders slumped, he felt utterly helpless — an animal caged in a tiny room that lacked even the bare essentials like a peephole. All he could do was listen for anything that would break the ominous silence from the other side of the locked door.
However, the other side remained silent.
Timothy wasn't that easily dissuaded and kept on listening. Fear makes people stubborn - mainly when their life hangs in the balance. However, the absolute of silence remained. Finally, becoming decidedly impatient, he dropped to his knees and sprawled across the once clean carpet now stained and foul smelling. He peered along the gap created by the door and held back a scream when he observed a pair of feet standing right next to his door.
Next to the stranger's feet was the burning cigarette he had forgotten to extinguish in his haste to hide inside his suite. With sheer disbelief, he watched as the cigarette became suspended in mid-air, a levitating effect, before disappearing altogether from his restricted vantage point. All that was evil had manifested itself outside his door and was puffing on his cigarette which the stranger picked up from the ground with a hand encased in a black leather glove that blended with the darkness of the evening.
His eyelids grew heavy, eyes twitched and drooped shut. He felt twice his age, worn out and arrested by his sheer exhaustion. As he drifted to sleep his last thought for the night had been...
They have found me. Now it's just a matter of time.
Timothy awoke with his teeth clenched around the worn out carpet. Dissatisfied with his breakfast, he quickly spat it out. His back was stiff from sleeping on the floor. However, then again, it was always stiff. It's as if he carried a lifetime of tension in it.
He stood up with all the brisk promptness he could muster and clumsily made his way to the bathroom sink where he vigorously scrubbed his face and rinsed out his mouth.
Having regained his composure, he proceeded to recount the final harrowing minutes of last night with increasing uneasiness. Fear once again doused him like the most fragrant of colognes.
He began to pace up and down the length of the room with great deliberation. Obsessively darting his eyes between the front door and the cheap wall clock with its crashing ticking hands pronouncing nothing but despair with each passing minute.
His life depended on a letter. Its contents would tell him if She were safe and if he could still rendezvous with her at the agreed location. He had to have it. However, for him to grab hold of it he had to travel down to the manager's office on the first floor.
This, of course, meant leaving his room uninhabited with all its meager but valuable possessions.
Moreover, if he was situated next to an assassin sent to kill him, he certainly didn't want to walk into a trap upon his return to the room.
An ingenious idea suddenly came to him. He put on his jacket and tore a loose thread from one of the sleeves. He licked the palm of his hand as well as the thread and left it there glued to his palm obscured from the sight of any prying eyes.
He walked out and locked the door, not forgetting to press the palm of his hand underneath the handle of the door - placing the thread expertly with one end stuck to the door and the other to the frame.
Timothy descended the stairs, two at a time, clutching the rail for support and attentively listening for any noise. His heart beat increasingly fast with sweat rolling down his forehead.
However, the atmosphere remained calm.
The Manager's Office was the last door on the far left. He purposefully continued towards his goal, trying hard to ignore the distance, when something made him halt mid-step — the '72 Corvette. It was parked opposite the manager's office, blocked from the panoramic view of the second floor by the protruding awning.
His body tensed and his feet felt rooted to the floorboards while his mind remained restless with violent thoughts.
Was the stranger inside the Office now?
Uncertainty feeds paranoia and fear. He had to dispel it. It was now or never. He felt a surge of adrenaline, yanked the door open and darted inside the office.
The place was a mess. A sickening stench lingered in the air and slowly crept up his nostrils. He felt overwhelmed by the repugnant smell but quickly came to and focused his gaze upon the giant wall-sized-unit behind the concierge's desk with its numerous identical boxes.
There was no letter in 10-B. It was empty.
He told her ahead of time where he would be. He thought it would certainly reach here by now. That is unless something went wrong...
"Can I be of service, Monsieur?"
She startled him. He didn't place her among the chaotic mess of the room. However, there she was in her maid's uniform in the far corner making her way towards the concierge desk.
Taken by sheer surprise, Timothy's vocal cords felt unresponsive, and he began to resemble a mute. Noticing his lack of initiative she addressed him cordially in slightly accented French, "I hope you found your room to your liking. It's very fortunate that the gentleman who booked it in advance never checked in to claim it."
"You mean to tell me... the room was previously booked?"
"Yes, Monsieur. It was the last room to get booked. Every other room in this Hotel was occupied."
"But I haven't seen anyone else around..."
"The customer's like their privacy, Monsieur. The hotel has a reputation for being discreet."
But of course, the Hotel was known for its keen sense of secrecy. Tucking away murderers, gamblers and other vagrants. All cozily holed up together under one roof. Fate had a dark and twisted sense of humor. The only room that Timothy was able to book had the last minute cancellation. Cancellation by a much-wanted party by the personage situated right next door.
This truly was the worst case of mistaken identity. It's not him that the man next door wanted. However, what could he do? He couldn't just knock on his door and explain all this to the would-be-murderer of the man who never showed up to claim his room.
It was imperative at this point to return to the room and think it all over.
Timothy exchanged a weak goodbye with the vastly indifferent maid standing in for the concierge (if there was even one) and hurried back to his room. The thoughts in his head were jumbled. He had a presentiment that something awful was going to happen before the day was up.
Once he reached his room, he almost opened it without checking for the piece of thread. All it took was a fraction of a second to notice that it was truly gone, confirming the terrible truth he had learned downstairs.
The timing was immaculate. He was clearly dealing with a professional. His face grew paler with mortification. The room began to spin in front of him — his mesmerized eyes traveling with the rotation until they finally settled on a picture of a yacht. It was the only picture in the room. Hung on the wall, he shared with...
Almost instinctually, he got up from the bed and approached it, scrutinizing every detail in the process. Not finding anything that distinguished it from any other cheap, enlarged and framed photographs he decided to lift it up and examine the back.
A listening device has been installed on the back of the photograph. He had no doubts about it having been activated and transmitting right at this moment.
Timothy felt the weight and the futility of the situation. This wasn't good. Not good at all. A doomsday pronouncement was clearly upon him. He felt nervous, skittish, stiflingly hot and incredibly nervous about what to do next.
His head felt heavy, over-brimming with the worst possible thoughts; the type of thoughts that tend to disfigure perception and cloud clear-headedness. He has gotten himself entangled in a situation that he had absolutely no control of. Slavishly imprisoned to his smallish room and unable to leave it without his captor knowing it.
Timothy had to do the unfathomable. He knew this, but he could not allow the idea to take its rightful place in his mind. He had to remove the listening device. If he removed it, he would stand a chance against this stranger next door. He was mortified at the prospect, almost being able to taste precisely how unpalatable it truly was.
That being said, he knew exactly what this entailed, crossing the room without suspicion arising from the neighbor next door bending his ear: freedom of movement, something we take for granted every day. Timothy imploringly cast a gaze about the room. There must be a way he thought. To cross the room without his footsteps being heard unless of course, he could remove the heavy leather shoes bounding his feet like cement blocks.
Immediately he cast a downward gaze at his feet. The shoes were utilitarian by all definitions, but hindering him in every sense right now. He was utterly immobile with them on. Slowly, very slowly he started to bend his body forward with that foreknowledge never leaving his mind. Desperation emboldens people. It makes them fight and scratch for their dear life. They do not want to let go. Not yet at least, and Timothy needed more time here, and so he went to his task at hand and laboriously began to untie the shoelaces.
Thankfully the shoes did not resist him too much. They untied rather easily. And he was able to remove them after unfastening the laces a bit to allow his feet to slip out. His rested his feet now free of their shackles on the floor while holding on to the shoes in his left hand. The pungent aroma from his formerly incubated sweltering feet struck his nostrils shortly after. The day's perspiration now able to be released and roam free in the small quarters.
This was not an insignificant event in any sense. A victory indeed no matter how small. He smiled for the first time since he got here. His smile was reflecting hope — a chance that this all won't end in disaster and innocent bloodshed won't have to be spilled.
Now that things have been set in motion he couldn't stop halfway to completion. There was no time to stand still and reflect on this one small step forward. He had to follow it with more such steps and time was surely running out.
He set the shoes down carefully and tiptoed his way to the bed. He fetched his bag resting on the one side and carefully undid the zipper. Inside the bag, he located a pair of gloves. He put these on to help with the slickness of his hands from perspiring so much this whole time. The material quickly began to absorb the liquid. He pressed his hands together to help the process along.
Now he had to climb the unassailable mountain — a figure of speech that never rang more truer to Timothy than at this decisive moment. He stood up from his semi-crouched position and began to approach the picture on the wall. His gaze was transfixed. He has never been this focused in his life. Dedicated to one, and only one task at hand.
When he reached the picture, he knew this was the moment of absolute truth. The moment when it would be revealed to him whether he could genuinely face his demonic and thirsting fears and stand up to them because to go back, there wasn't anywhere to go back to. To go back meant cellular death, a crypt, a mausoleum, a freshly dug up grave reserved just for him; the expiration of the flesh and joining the long list of dearly departed and soon forgotten individuals who once inhabited this earth.
He lifted the frame thinking about his placement in the world of the living things. He thanked named and unnamed gods for the fact the picture frame had a string instead of a chain which would have scrapped against the nail on which it was hung. Now, no noise would be transmitted through that vile covert listening device.
With the picture firmly in his gloved hands, he began to carry it over to the bed. This meant excruciatingly slow steps the whole time over the uneven terrain of the worn out carpet – with areas exposing the squeaky rotting wood underneath - fearing a misstep or a plummet. He feared the fall most of all due to its sheer loudness but even so continued to traverse across this once plush wasteland.
He placed the picture face down with the device as well as the back of the picture facing upwards towards him. He tried not to waste any precious time. With his right hand, he reached out towards the device. He felt the massiveness of the moment — everything coursed inside of him. Onrushing, surging, heightened. He tugged at it. The device did not budge. He froze where he stood. Dead still in his tracks. A death mask on his face, bloodcurdling fear seizing a hold of him. Sweat droplets were falling from his forehead down on to the semi-carpeted floor. The room was not very well ventilated, and he was bathed in sweat.
He tried his best to eradicate all negative turbulent thoughts that have entered his mind at this point and reached for the device once more. This time he was able to grasp it. Once he had detached it from the picture, he took a moment to hold it between his fingers reverently — an aesthete admiring his priceless acquisition.
He hasn't thought so far ahead as to plan exactly what he would do the minute he would have it in his hands. Perhaps because he doubted himself so much. But like an amateur performance piece at this point, he would just have to wing it.
Through a quick process of disqualification, he settled on the coverlet which happened to be already laid out. He placed the device in the middle of it and carefully smothered it with layers of the bedspread. The only thing it would transmit now would be utter silence.
Now with the device entombed in layers of cotton and polyester, Timothy returned the picture to its rightful place on the wall. This is the exact moment that propels most degenerate gamblers to continue to gamble. The moment when a lousy streak briefly turns the tables around on the croupier and a glimmer of hope shines through. Brief as it may be.
This was also the moment that Timothy suddenly felt lightheaded and collapsed on the bed, dehydrated, exhausted and starving. The room began to swim before him. He felt as if he were in a oneiric state where everything he knew as being solid suddenly became a caricature of its former self. There were no solid foundations he once could depend on, just lopsided, uneven structures.
How intrusive reality can be. Especially after an episode of deliberate forgetfulness. Such as can be caused by keeling over due to a fainting spell. A total eclipse. A blackout. And then the sudden stirrings; the eye-lid twitching’s and then the imminent return to the present. Ah, the infuriating agonies of the present.
This is how Timothy awoke. His body contorted on the floor splayed out awkwardly and aching badly. A splitting headache besieged the cupola on top of his shoulders and neck. His mouth was parched, tongue listlessly moving around in search of morsels of water. The combination of the excruciating pain and the insatiable thirst were horrific. He shook his head, back and forth trying to blot it all out. These black thoughts; these serpentine thoughts worming their way inside. Where was God now? This external on-looker. The ultimate voyeur, hardly ever the participant himself since the time of creation. The original source of all our earthly agonies. Pure nihilism. That’s what these little black thoughts were — defeatist thinking.
Timothy suffered another setback. But everything has an end. That would be his consolation prize no matter how it all turned out. This is about the time that indistinct sounds reached Timothy and dual headlights swimmingly skimmed across the room. Someone else has arrived to the party.
First, Timothy heard the declarative gesture of the car door being slammed shut by the newcomer's forceful hand. Then, the stranger's pair of razor-sharp, quick footsteps leading up to the hotel. A door opened and closed somewhere on the first floor. It had to be the manager's office thought Timothy. His heart began to pound inside his chest — an erratic quickening beat which felt more like death throes than the usual rhythmic contractions by the hollow muscular organ keeping him alive. His hopes of escape were wilting and withering with the presence of this unannounced participant in this deadly cat and mouse game on the outskirts of Las Vegas which already had plenty of other unannounced multitudinous dangers lurking in the arid terrain.
The downstairs door slammed again, and the jingle of multiple keys on a key ring could be heard. More footsteps, intensifying as the proximity lessened between this newcomer and Timothy. He should run, he should do it now, but something held him down. He felt a sense of unyieldingness.
The feeling most get before their personal space is invaded, their boundaries are crossed, and they are subjected to non-consensual human experimentation. The moment of hesitation as Timothy liked to refer to it. The moment of complete powerlessness. Meanwhile, the footsteps on the stairs quickened. Timothy tried to swallow the lump in his throat, but there wasn't enough saliva for even that. An acidifying taste permeated throughout his mouth due to a lack of solid food and a toothbrush.
There wasn't much left to do now. He helplessly looked around the room until his eyes returned to the front door. A whole other world awaited him beyond that locked door if he could only open it. But he knew he wouldn't, all he could do was stand there and await his fait accompli. Stand there and reverently listen to every sound that reached him, to the distant footfalls and all the other echoings in the night.
And then it happened, the footsteps came to a halt. There was a change. An alteration. A complete silence that has befallen all the sudden. Even the other night noises faded to the background and became inaudible. There was no apocalyptic knock at the door. No confrontation. Just the aforementioned silence.
This angelic silence did not last long, and Timothy was wholly to blame for this. In his not knowing state he resulted to flattening himself out on the floor and peering through the aperture provided by the gap between the door frame and the floor. His animalism for answers drove him there, and while he was in the process of crouching down, he completely missed the other footsteps. His grounded perspective would have never allowed him to see the brandished weapon or provide him with a chance to witness a gloved finger pulling back the trigger. What it did allow him to see could only be described as the golden splendor resulting from the propellant accelerated bullet leaving the discharged weapon, and to hear the muffled scream when the bullet pierced the soft tissue of the human flesh.
Timothy deduced what happened all the same. He did not have all the answers, and the webbing was too hard to disentangle, but the end result was clear-cut enough for his immediate understanding. The matter of the murder itself is not very complicated. It has been committed, and now there's a body which is currently being dragged away by his next-door neighbor leaving only streaks of blood across the floor as a reminder.
The weapon has given his next door neighbor the omnipotence that was god-like. But even without the weapon, Timothy felt he was no match for the man. He only had one course of action now, which was to run. Run as fast and as far as he could. The murder and the disposal of the body had allotted time for him to make this final move. Timothy pivoted on his feet and directed his inquisitorial gaze towards the bathroom window. He was transfixed, unable to avert his eyes. Beyond the low-grade wooden frame still holding the smeared dirty glass in place was freedom. Timothy could almost feel how tangible it truly was. To roam unrestrained once more, unimpeded. Beyond that smudged window was a sand swept terrain, a hidden Biblical desert with blinding sands which dissolve all expectations.
This was the way. The only definitive way to escaping this predicament. The front door was not even up for consideration. His mind raced forth, a tireless abacist calculating probabilities. Would he fit? How high was the window? It didn't look too advisable, especially for someone who feared heights.
He moved towards the said window with the dexterity of a much younger man. After thoroughly examining the window he ascertained that he would be able to fit his body through it, mainly owing to the older style of construction where windows were windows and not the small variants which wouldn't allow anything past the length of his arm to pass through. He tried to open the window which relented quite easily enough and stared down from the highest point of the hotel excluding that of the rooftop. A harrowing fall awaited anyone unlucky enough to slip and fall below. The worst case scenario being a slow agonizing death or partial paralysis if he did happen to survive. A quick death would be preferred if things went awry. Right to the point, a life ended that undoubtedly left much to be desired in most peoples eyes. Some would even call this self-inflicted redemption, a mercy killing, a way to set things right.
Timothy knew he would try regardless of how truly he felt or how the odds were stacked against him since he has come here. All people find it worthwhile to try to salvage their worthless lives. Up to a certain point at least before some throw in the towel and check out while others resign to their unchangeable faith and circumstances and live out the rest of their lives unnoticeably and unobstructedly as far as society is concerned. Forgotten and not remembered.
A deterministic glimmer shone in his eyes. He would have to take the colossal plunge and scale down the side of the hotel. This would all have to be done with exactitude and precision. A length of rope wasn't obtainable at this exact moment so he would have to settle for his bedsheets twisted all the way around until they resembled a cable of cotton strong enough to hold up his weight. Once he was firmly planted on the ground he would have to make his way to his car completely unobserved. A brazen escape to say the least.
The time has come. The Reckoning Hour. His self-indulgence for survival has literally landed him on the ledge of his hotel window. He had half-grudgingly held on this long, never willing to let go. Now his hands held the bedsheets twisted up to resemble a rope. A makeshift apparatus with questionable durability. He looked down. The height was the barrier. One would call this an individual’s protestation in face of calamitous set of circumstances surely to result in death. Although he might live to tell the tale.
Then his mind went blank. A sudden shifting surge of motionless numbness. Timothy’s mind, yes the very same one that seemed to have been tinkered with immensely since his arrival, was at a standstill. No ravenously unrestrainable thoughts layered like pyramidal steps mounting unceasingly, no profundity of new ideas, alas he was assuaged by complete nothingness, not the flimsiest impression of a thought. How could this be. Yes, an unforeseen event has taken place, one of several, but this wasn’t anything new, this was life. A life to be led. To be lived and enjoyed as much as possible. Life is hope. Perhaps, not the religious type, faith instead as hopefulness, a source of expectation of newness and betterment.
It should have been an innocuous stay. It didn’t work out according to plan. Nothing ever does anyways.
He took a step. Then he took another. Except this one didn’t connect with a solid surface. And so, he plunged forward. His freefall lasting only seconds before he was propelled back towards the side of the building, colliding violently with the edifice. His left shoulder bore the impact which stiffened his entire body.
He dared not to let go. He knew this would create too much disturbance. He spurred on even in the throes this incredible pain. With his hands clutching desperately to the makeshift rope he descended towards solid ground.
Timothy blacks out. He awakens in a grave. The hitman is standing over him with a shovel.
“I must admit. You have been quite resilient. I expected to find you in your room. Instead, you have given me a chance of pursuit. Unexpected, to say the least.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Because you simply left me with no options, Timothy Price.”
“How did I do that?”
“You decided to run. You’ve been so engrossed in your self-survival that you forgot to ask yourself the necessary questions. You weren’t thinking clearly, Timothy.”
“About the fact that I was never here for you. What could I possibly want from you? There it is. That glimmer of recognition in your eye. Now you understand. Now you are getting it. Sadly, its all a bit too late.”
“Why is it too late? You don’t have to do this.”
“I am a contract killer with very few morals. Negotiating with innocent bystanders who happened to witness me fulfilling a contractual obligation and eliminating a target doesn’t sit well with me”
“I never saw your face. I swear. I never seen you before until…”
“Now. Even if you haven’t before, you have now. And that’s your second piece of bad luck.”
“You can’t do this.”
“You’ve seen me do worse.”
“I’ve seen you shoot someone through the middle of their forehead. What you are doing here is trying to bury me alive!”
“I rest my case Mr. Price. You did see me. And this is why you are here. Rotten luck. The scant details I know about you are from your wallet. You strike me as a degenerate gambler trying out his luck when he clearly has none. You’ve been evading creditors, loan sharks, you were already a man on the run. It seems like you have been running your whole life. Like you got your start early and never stopped. I must ask a man like yourself one question, what did you erect in your time here, Mr. Price? What will the world remember you by? Perhaps your death can corroborate your existence. Serve as a testament.”
“They will never find me once you fill in this hole.”
“I was never going to bury you alive.”
He throws him a gun.
“There is a single bullet in that gun. I have another one trained on you in my left hand. I am equally dexterous with both Mr. Price. I am giving you a way out. All you have to do is pull he trigger.”
There is a single bullet in that gun. I am assigning you with two choices, Mr. Price. Even in this accursed state you have possibilities. The first option is the much sought after one. Shoot me and reclaim your freedom. There are two factors to consider here. How good of a shot are you and your conscience. Are you a religious man, Mr. Price? Have you ever held a gun in your hands? If you miss me, I want you to be aware of the immediate consequences. I have another gun trained on you in my left hand. I am equally dexterous with both. On some occasions I do admit, I miss slightly as I am not using my dominant hand. And instead of finishing you off with another round I would leave you to bleed out in this open grave. A single bullet for a single bullet rule. The second option would be the most absolute. It guarantees results. It’s really your only way out. All you have to do it pick up the gun and aim it at your temple. What will it be? Luck and a bloodied belly crawl to freedom you would be prophesying in your mind as your life force slowly abandons you? Or, certitude from taking matters in to your own hands with unrivalled results?”
“I think this was meant to happen.”
“The famous last words of a man finally resigned to his fait.”
“What if instead of an infinitude of possibilities they all converged to this same ending?”
“So, you pilgrimaged out here just to be a sacrificial lamb? Atrophied thinking at its finest. What was the point?”
“I am not sure there ever was a specific point. We all had prefigured paths and roles to play. You were the killer; the other man was the intended target and I was the innocent bystander.”
“You believe this?”
“With outmost certitude.”
“It doesn’t add up. Its erroneous. Its an erasure of everything that has led up to this moment.”
“You disbelief me?”
“I do. It’s not natural. Lacks cohesiveness. Mismatched completely to your essence. It just doesn’t fit. An immersion in to a different kind of reality.”
“You are right I do sense something is amiss. I am not even sure if I made it down my makeshift rope made from twisted bedsheets in the first place. Perhaps I got tangled up in them and suffocated, lifelessly hanging there; the hotel window serving as a kind of gallows for my nighttime public execution witnessed by you and the hotel maid.”
“I never saw a maid.”
“Or I simply let go and fell to my death which is very probable with my weak upper body strength.”
“It not the same as pulling down the handles on slot machines or rolling the dice.”
“No, its not.”
“Have you entertained the possibility that I shot you down once you made it to the ground?”
“If you did, it would have saved you all this trouble of digging this hole and from making your elaborate speech with sets of options which ironically all lead to the same basic conclusion.”
“What do you propose that we do now Mr. Price. We seem to be getting nowhere.”
“Yet another path which may or may not lead to the same conclusion. Perhaps my role was to simply try to save a man who was always bound to perish by your hand. The simple act of intervention.”
“And did you intervene?”
“You felt my presence. You knew I was watching.”
“But it didn’t stop me.”
“It did not.”
“The pre-figured destinies.”
“I want you to set me free.”
“But you will never be entirely free.”
“None of us are.”
“So, what will you do?”
“I want to wander this desert in search of oasis.”
“It seems truly meaningless.”
“Of course, it does. Isn’t that what life really is? I die in every scenario. A repeater of the same end-results. But at least I get to enjoy the scenery. Even at night.”
“I thought you hated the desert.”
“When did I say that?”
“At the beginning of this story…”