The Other Side of Nowhere - The Beginning of a Novel
I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was as if the oxygen in the room had been vacuumed from the room. Everything around me was frozen in time and swayed to and fro. The painted rooms had turn to shades of greys. My eye began to blur and once again my world becomes black.
It had been like this for days – in and out. It was as if I was myself, but yet…I wasn’t. I could hear familiar voices every now and then – voices I couldn’t make out completely, but yet I knew they were there. I didn’t know who I was or where I was at one point, but then the next moment I did. My memories faded, but my heart beat did not.
I was completely alone – lost in a solace I called my mind.
Chapter One – The Burning Heart
Chapter One – The Burning Heart
The doorbell rang that familiar tone. Three dings meant I answer, two meant no. I wasn’t accustomed to the way people were so blunt in giving directions around here, I just did it because I did not know what else to do. People were cruel when you disobeyed the rules. You either got punished with scorning looks or rewarded with nothing. There was no in-between grounds. The bell rang twice so I simply ignored it. It rang again, but I did nothing. It had to be three consecutive rings – that is what Madam Dondre had told me. If I disobeyed here, I would for sure be finished.
I went back to my work. My simple, mundane task of moping the dining hall floor. It was no secret that we were operating a very illegal business. The Americans always tried to come in and stop us, but even though I was American – born and raised – I refused to be ruled by some tyrant bigot. Ever since we had lost the war – things had become different. We were now under rule by those people once called American’s enemies, but these radicals did not rule my heart. It turned out the president was one of them. He let all of the Middle Eastern rulers move their troops onto American soil and soon we fell. We now exist merely under the guidance of our president, but it is not he who runs the show. Things were different now. We were told where to go, when to go there, and who to go there with. We were given minimum wage and sometimes none at all. It was not long after our President infested our country with danger that those who were once our allies turned completely on us. America was no longer the land of the free, but rather a land of the trapped. We were all prisoners, trapped in our own land. Trapped in this town.
The doorbell rang again, this time three distinct times. I put my mop in the bucket and walked to the back door where the doorbell was rang from. I pulled the gray rotting doorknob and creaked it open. The door was almost the size of the walk-in freezer door, but it was a lot easier to open weight wise.
There was a man on the other side. He looked to be about my age and judging by his complexion he looked as though he had gone through just about as much loss and deterioration in this life as the rest of us. His eyes read sad, but his smile read hope. His dusty brown hair was poking out from underneath a brown newsboy hat. I smirked thinking how could he possibly think that was an attractive hat, but stopped myself reminding myself that he might not be able to afford anything else. He wore a black buttoned dirtied shirt and brown pants. He smiled at me and looked down at his clipboard.
“Twelve thirty?” His voice sounded crusty as though he needed to hydrate himself. I looked behind him and saw the truck filled with the delivery we had been expecting.
“How was the drive?” I questioned as usual.
“Fine, but the traffic is a killer on days like today when the sun is shining down looking for something else to burn,” He looked me in the eyes with his brown ones. There were rain clouds over head, edging on a thunderstorm.
“Bring it in,” I said signing the clipboard.
I went back to moping as I left the back door open. He brought the boxes in. Each box was labeled with the logo “Jeff’s Finest Sugar in the World,” and it was true that Jeff’s was the best sugar.
It took the man with the clipboard and two other people approximately an hour to unload everything. They brought it in and the man the clipboard poked his head around the corner to tell me everything was in.
“Is Madam Dondre in?”
“Yes,” I muttered. Putting my mop back in the bucket once again. I went over to the bar in the middle of the room and lifted up the counter, sliding behind the bar, “Would you like to go down and see her?”
He looked at me and told me to wait one moment. He left the room and went out the back. I heard the truck starting up and saw it pull out around the corner on the street in front of the diner. A second later the door in the back shut and the man with the clipboard came back around.
“Can I ask what you are doing? Who you are?” I asked him very directly, making sure he said exactly what needed to be said.
“I need to ask Madam Dondre how the sugar tastes with her cookies.”
He was here to help.
I let the man back behind the counter and after checking to make sure the front door was locked to the diner, I slid open the door behind the bar and we went into the office.
Madam Dondre’s lifestyle was very apparent on the walls of the office. She had pictures of every president of the United States in golden picture frames surrounding the walls. Behind the desk in the center was a picture of Madam Dondre, herself, pictured holding a pug puppy on her lap. It was a sketch done when she was only thirty years old. Now some ten years later, it seemed to be a bit dull to have a picture of yourself hanging in your office when you are much more aged than that. She had long brown curls that cascaded down her chin line, but it was up in a knot on the top of her head. It always amazed me how long her hair had been back then.
“What’s your name then?” the man with the clipboard asked me as we huddled in the back of the office.
“I don’t think you really need to know that,” I laughed as I pulled back the floor beneath the desk. We both gazed down into the darkness beneath the floor.
“Wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t tell me,” He said.
I looked up at him as he towered over me, the dim light from the kitchen casting shadows on his jawline, “What’s your name?”
“Ryker,” He leaned closer, “Ryker Jones.” The name sounded familiar, but I could not establish any emotional ties to it.
“Well Ryker,” I put both hands on the edge of the floor and swung my legs into the hole, my white dress and gray apron flying down next to me, “Don’t fall going down.” And I let go of the edge.
I don’t know what you call it, but the fall down is almost like a dark abyss. All of the air is sucked out of you, but you gain it back within seconds of hitting the pit below. We had made this pile of foam at the bottom as to avoid having to climb down the ladder, but to get back up you had no other choice but to climb. I hit the ground and looked back up, barely getting out of the way to hear Ryker hit the ground next to me.
“It’s not that bad,” I snuffed as he climbed out groaning a little.
“Who said anything about it being bad? I rather enjoy falling from heights such as this.”
We walked to the right of the pit as I felt my way along the wall for the door handle. I twisted it to the side and pulled it open, revealing a long hallway etched in white lighting. The ground was white, the walls were white, the ceiling were white and all were illuminated by dimmer white lights on the edge of the floor.
“Don’t get lost,” I joked.
We walked down until we reached the end of the hallway where another door stood. Two men dressed in complete black and leather awaited our arrival.
“This man is here to see Madam Dondre.” I stated to the one on the right, “Please see that he is taken care of.” They chuckled as the other one grabbed Ryker’s arms, pinning his elbows together. The one I addressed at first searched him, patting down every aspect he could possibly find of Ryker’s body. I looked away awkwardly as they almost strip searched him.
“Is this really necessary?” Ryker sounded more awkward than annoyed.
“Everything is necessary when it comes to what we are doing down here.” The first guard said evenly.
“Did he bring the shipment?” The second asked.
“Yes, it is upstairs in the side room. I would suggest getting someone up there to bring it down soon. I locked the front door, but you never know.” Suddenly I remember that I did not check the back door and had simply left my intuition to it after hearing it shut behind Ryker.
“Wait,” I told the guards, “I didn’t check the back door.” I looked at Ryker who looked really confused, “GO! Get someone up there now!” I watched as they both looked annoyed – or was it pissed – at one another and went behind the door.
“Nobody comes in until we give the clear!” They spoke and the door locked behind them. I knew there was more than one way back up, but I only knew of the one ladder.
I slouched into the wall, coming to the floor. Ryker sat opposite of me, readjusting his clothing.
“What? Do you think I bombed the place or something?”
“You said it not me,” I smirked.
“Oh come on,” He half-laughed, but also sounded disappointed, “Me? Ryker Jones? Bomb an establishment? Do you know how bad that would look?”
“Wouldn’t look too bad would it? If you were working for them,” I laughed rolling my eyes.
He didn’t speak. We sat in silence for what seemed like ages.
“You know,” He was the first to say anything, “I was sent here to volunteer. To be a part of whatever this is.” He gestured to the room around him. “It’s not every day that you get requested to join whatever little rebellion might still exist.”
I did not quite understand what he was saying. Rebellion? What kind of place did he think this was? I had never been quite informed of what I was supposed to do here or what really went on past this hallway. I usually brought the visitor this far, and no further. Whatever “rebellion” this guy was talking about, I had no idea it existed.
He saw my confused face and continued, “You don’t know?”
“A job’s a job in these days,” I said, “I don’t question who I work for. If I were to step out of line for even a second, they’d have my head.”
“Wait, so you’re just the servant girl who works here?” He asked, “You just bring people down here and that’s that? No action? No boyfriend? No home?”
“I have a family that depends on me,” I spoked harshly now, not really understanding the boyfriend comment “I don’t need to question my motives, I just do what I have to do to survive.”
He didn’t speak. We sat in silence again, this time a little bit longer, “Do you even know what’s in those boxes?”
I suddenly felt fueled with anger, “No, I don’t. Is that what you want to hear? I don’t know why I have to wait three rings to answer the door, I don’t know what people bring in the boxes, I don’t know what is beyond this door, I don’t know why I do what I do day in and day out. I just do it!”
He didn’t say anything back. We sat again, for longer than before.
My mind suddenly became filled with questions I had not known existed before, “What type of rebellion do you think this is?”
He could tell I was confused as I continued to stare at the ground, “One that is going to take back this country and bring it back to the way it was before. Land of the free.”
He didn’t speak nor did I.
Suddenly, to the left and down the hallway past the other door came a couple of figures. They were too far away at this point for me to make out who they were, but they were coming and they were coming fast. I stood up, my eyes flying to their sides. They were holding guns, the guns that I figured were probably in the boxes now that I thought about it. Ryker put himself in front of me as I desperately tried to jiggle the lock open to the door behind us.
It budged and I pulled Ryker in behind me, slamming the door and locking it. There was not glass on the door to as see how close the men with the guns were, but I figured they had every intention to end out lives. Ryker pulled me down the hallway, my feet begging to stop to collapse and curl up in a ball on the floor. There were a series of doors on the right and there were candles that lit of the left side of the wall that seemed more like a cave wall if anything. We tried every door, but they all seemed locked, until the last one.
We opened the door and slid into the room. The room we were in now was exactly like the one above the diner, but behind the desk sat a woman, the woman I knew as my boss: Madam Dondre.