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The Quantum Door
by Robyn Cogert
The Quantum Door
That was the last thing Fatima said before walking out of sight from the rest of the cleaning crew. A group of 4 men that worked together for years now. They could have easily formed their own cleaning company if any of them had the business sense, but life was just too hectic for all of them.
Fatima, as big as a football player with an equally big heart. He would be the first to show his emotions. If anyone was going to laugh or cry first of the group, it would be him.
Martin, was called ‘boss’. Only because he was the coordinator. He drove the van that picked them up, he held the client keys, and he was the one who would make sure they were ready to go.
Gary was the youngest. Tall, thin and clumsy. It was Gary’s habit to wring his hands while talking, maybe out of nervousness, but no one knew why for sure.
Hiro, originally from Japan, was the comedian of the group. He was light-hearted and loved to laugh.
Their goal: to conquer the siege of trash and dust that typically greeted them at deserted offices. Fatima and Hiro rolled in the big green barrels and started emptying the small plastic bins under each cube, resetting them with new liners. Martin and Gary waved their dusting rags gently across the computer desks like rhythmic gymnasts flying ribbons.
This facility was very large. And if they were going to finish by midnight, the dusters, Martin and Gary, were going to need to move ahead of the rest.
Martin reached deep into his uniform’s pants pocket and pulled out a bag of security passes marked ‘Quantum Labs’. All he knew about the company is that it had something to do with science. Martin found the right card to access the next office with Gary, leaving behind Fatima and Hiro.
Gary walked in waving his rags before even turning on all the lights. Maybe that is how it happened, a complete accident, or maybe clumsiness, but somehow, one of them triggered a switch that opened another room, an inner room. Gary asked, ‘hey boss, we doing this too’?
Gary boldly entered the inner room. All he saw was a spot-light on a single door, upright in the middle of the room. He stopped, confused by the set up. Both sides of the door looked the same, painted white, one side with a door knob, the other side with none.
What is this about, Gary said out loud to himself and reached for the door knob. Just as he was about to turn the knob, Martin popped his head into the inner room and yelled, “Gary!”
Gary jumped a mile, startled as his focus was broken.
“We ain’t doin’ this room man, let’s go.” Martin turned and stepped back into the office.
Gary put his hand over his mouth, still staring at the door. He wondered out loud, “hmmm”.
That is when Fatima and Hiro caught up and got entry from Martin.
Fatima immediately started looking for trash bins under the long tables of what appeared to be some type of control room, wall-to-wall computers. He peeked in the inner room before walking in and noticed the door spot-lighted by itself in the center of the room.
Fatima turned back to Martin and asked, “Where’s Gary?”, as he walked into the inner room.
Martin confused, “What do you mean ‘Where’s Gary’, he’s in there”.
Martin stepped into the inner room, Hiro following behind him.
Now the three men, stood in the inner room, confused by both the isolated door and the fact that Gary had disappeared. Martin again repeated, now with anger, whipping his rag against his leg, “He is in here!!” The 3 of them turned around themselves trying to understand where Gary had gone.
Hiro started laughing. “This is great. It’s a disappearing act”. He started knocking on the walls, looking up at the ceiling. Trying to inspect just how Gary did it.
Then, there was a knock.
Martin asked Hiro, “was that you”?
That knock? Did you hear that?
All three of the men turned to face the door in the center of the room. Then again, another knock, knock.
Fatima, as big as the door itself, slowly lifted his arm and pointed at the door. They all turned white with fear. How could something be knocking on the door when nothing was visible behind it.
Martin leaned forward reaching for the doorknob. Not sure if he should touch it, he wrapped his rag around his hand with a quick swirling flick. He looked at both men confirming their agreement. Fatima still pointing at the door, too scared to move. They all held their breath.
Martin turned the knob.
“Hey Guys – what’s up”? Gary blurted from behind the men. As if catapulted into the air, all three men jumped up and turned around grabbing at their chests. In unison, they yelled out, “Gary”!!!
“What the hell happened to you”? asked Martin.
Gary replied, “Boss what do you mean. I’m right here”.
“But yyy-you were right here a minute ago”. Fatima stuttered, pointing to the space in front of him.
Gary replied calmly, “Oh yeah, I went through that door”. Wringing his hands, “It’s a short-cut to this outer room”.
“But how?”, returned Fatima.
Hiro attempting to lighten the mood with humor, “I guess that is the secret science, like secret sauce”.
Martin spoke nervously but with authority, “Let’s get out of here”.
The four men quickly grabbed their supplies and left with the stealth of accomplished burglars.
No one was going to try the door again. No one was going to speak of it again. And they would never again try to access that room.
But Martin always wondered and thought of that moment. Maybe scientists could build a short-cut through space. But more importantly, who was it that knocked on the door?
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