There it is, looming of the horizon. The setting sun illuminates the nauseating yellow brick build. I keep my gaze fixed on the small glass door that will lead to my inevitable doom. Well, not directly to my doom. It will lead first through a maze meant to beat down my very last will before plummeting me into the sealed chamber where I am meant to suffocate until I finally pass out. I can already see the blinding light at the end of the tunnel. The light is so bright that I move my hand to shield my eyes. I find that I am not really dead, not yet; I am just blinded by the light reflecting off the grimacing glass door. Even the black tar paper that covers the stair tunnel seems to be sucking life out of my being. It knows that all too soon I will be inside its evil clutches.
I check the time before opening the door. I am early and I contemplate waiting the ten extra minutes before I had to be inside. Reason grips me as I reach out and grip the door handle. I know I that I need to go now or I’ll never go. I pull the heavy glass door open. It feels like rolling back the stone to my own tomb. Others have done this same thing and never came back. What was the secret of their failure, I asked myself. What was it that they had done wrong? Unfortunately their secrets have died with them.
I climb the tall stairs, counting each step, trying to distract myself from what I was about to do. I pull open the inner door, to my dismay there is no one inside. I proceed through the open door. Panic strikes me as my hand races to my face. I rub it across my cheek and down to my chin, the smooth skin tingling under my touch. I sigh in relief. Long gone are the days when I could just pay money for the indulgence of not shaving in the morning. I almost wish those days were back but then again--
“I can help you here,” the young man behind the counter says. I proceed through the open door and hand him my traitorous card. We had once been friends, that was before it betrayed me to this, its true master. He smiles as he runs the traitor through his machine.
“Biol-,” my voice cracks. I clear my throat and try again. “Biology 100 please.” He smiles before returning the traitor to me. I jump back as he lunges across the counter, opening his mouth to reveal missing teeth and an infestation of gum disease.
“Make sure your backpack is COMPLETELY UNDER THE DESK,” he says before laughing psychotically. I hug the wall as I inch past his desk. The woman at the next desk doesn’t lunge at me but instead locks her black eyes on mine as she hands me my papers.
“Y-o-u can use n-o-t-h-i-n-g on this test,” she says. Her gaze striking horror into my soul.
“Can-can I use a pencil?” I manage to ask. She sternly points to the door and rolls her eyes. I’ll take that to mean ‘yes’. I proceed through two more doors before arriving in the testing room. I take a deep breath. An unpleasant mixture of stale air and sweat invades my lungs. The door clicks behind me. I run to an empty seat not wanting to know what came in after me. I open my test and start marking reading the first question, “You know you are a redneck if ____”. I flip the test closed and reread the cover sheet. It states Biology 100 in large black letters. I turn back to the first question and mark ‘C’ on my answer sheet. C is for “your dog and your wallet are both on chains.” I move to the next question.
BOOM! My desk vibrates as we both feel seismic waves rippling through us.
BOOOOM! The guard is approaching from behind. She purposely wore her biggest high heels so that she could send tremors of terror shooting through her victims.
BOOOOOOOM!! Her menacing black shadow is cast over my desk. I can barely read the words on my test but I try anyway hoping that if I look busy she will move on. She doesn’t. I can feel drop of sweat gathering on my brow before rolling slowly down past my cheeks to hang on my chin. Out of the corner of my eye I see her hand moving. I see a whirl of red as her hand contacts my answer sheet and test. Both are whisked away from me. I jerk my arms back in surprise. My hand lets go on my pencil sending it flying through the air for the CSI to find after I disappear. I look up at her as she shreds my test giving the evilest cackle I’ve ever heard. My heart stops beating. The air thickens so much I can’t breathe. I reach desperately for my test but her hands keep it just beyond my grasp.
I shake my head bringing the blurred question back into focus. I look around; the guard has passed me and continues her rounds. No one else seems to have heard her cackle, but then they would never admit it with her standing there. It’s safer that way. I go through the rest of the test as fast as I can while still hoping to get some of the questions right. C’s get degrees, I remind myself. “Done!” I almost shout as I pop up out of my seat. I force myself to calming walk to the exit. I turn to push the door closed. A sigh of relief escapes my lips as I walk away from the nauseating yellow building into the sunset
I know that I will have to return some day. Maybe the indulgences will be back by then.