Texy by christopher.ham
The sun sat out like a blurry orange stove burner. People held out inside except for a handful of stubborn busybodies and some punk ass kids. The kids looked like they were on the verge of drowning, but seemed convinced of their coolness regardless of the weather. Humidity sagged over Beacon Hill, and the innumerable buildings huddled together for fear that one of the outliers might spontaneously combust.
Waves of heat sweated from the pavement, distorting the currents of air into hazy coils that licked the backs of passing cars. One of the cars stood out; an old red Toyota that meandered down the street, perusing the buildings one by one. The paint and plastic were peppered with rust and scratches, and it hugged the pavement in perpetual exhaustion.
Suddenly it stopped in what could generously be seen as double parking. A wire of a man exited the car, sucking in on a cigarette like it was his source of oxygen until the moment he discarded it. He wore blue jeans and a pitted white t-shirt, and he coughed into his arm as he approached the building.
The apartment building in front of him was an old brick Victorian that looked exactly like those on either side of it. The windows were highlighted by thick, colorful curtains, and were outlined by curved brickwork. All of its five stories looked rather affluent.
The man hovered over the door handle. If anyone had bothered to look, they would have seen a skinny twentysomething picking the front door. But everyone was either inside, preoccupied with the heat, or heaven forbid outside, preoccupied with the heat. The door quickly submitted.
He jumped in shock at what lay before him; the entire floor of the building was covered in a deep layer of snow. He cautiously ran his fingers through the biting cold of the granular flakes, as a trickle of water fell onto his feet. Frost covered the stair rails, and the chandelier above had grown icicles. From the outside, none of this could have been fathomed. Confused, but overwhelmingly more curious, he entered the building.
He left the door cracked open, wedging a nearby chair next to it to prevent it from closing. He felt childish in his fear, yet fear still held him relentlessly.
His feet crunched with every step, and they quickly became damp in his cheap sneakers. The shock on his body from going between such extremes left him shivering. Still, he pressed on. He was in something of a meeting room, with lounge chairs and tables and a chalkboard. The chalkboard had seen a lot of use and not a lot of cleaning; it was nearly white from all the erased chalk. Or maybe it was just the cold.
He entered a long hallway, with rows of imposing doors on either side of it. The snow was getting deeper. There was an open door at the end that seemed to be made out of metal. He considered stopping, going back, flat-out running away. This was foreboding, unnatural. This was something either unspeakably terrible or amazing here, maybe both. He wasn’t supposed to be here. Hell, he had come here to burglarize the place. It took everything in him to press on.
He approached the metal door with caution. Every inch of him told him to go back; his hands shook not from the cold, but from primal, undiluted fear. It dawned on him as he came within arm’s reach that it wasn’t a regular door. It was the door to a walk-in freezer.
He slowly peered inside.
The room was small and incredibly dim. His jittery shadow spilled onto the white floor in front of him. Ice coated the walls and ceiling. There were things stacked up all around, but it was hard to discern what anything was. Except for…something was moving, if only a little. Something was breathing, a figure, a silhouette.
The brick, five story Victorian looked the same as those on either side of it. Kids shouted incomprehensible slurs at passing cars. A cacophonic siren blared from somewhere, blocks away. Someone was watching Gilligan’s Island with the volume cranked up in an adjacent building. When the front door inexplicably slammed shut and the colorful, thick curtains all shook in furious rhythm, the kids still shouted, the siren still blared, and the old theme song persisted. No one even turned their head, and soon the curtains were still. Busybodies still stubbornly walked by, lost in their own worlds.