Where am I, I wonder, looking around tensely, and why am I shaking?

I’m in some kind of box; small, silver walls, a door, some kind of panel. No help, I can’t remember, my thoughts swallowed in mental quicksand. I’m lost…lost in a box. Quivering, pain and panic escalating, I size up the box, and question again…

…Where the hell am I?

I try to calm, rationalize, breathe. I stare at myself in the mirrored walls. Gaunt and gray, the face that shines back is ugly, unfamiliar, deranged. I tremble, my blood runs cold. NO! I scream in my mind as I realize…

...I don’t know who I am.

The seismic seizures continue; I can see tremors rippling in my legs. The vision adds to my swelling anxiety. I feel it in my mind, my body, my bones, the question—who am I—tearing at the fault-line of my life. Don’t surrender, I wince, stay strong!

I exhale hard, try to relax and take measure of the box. It’s upright, polished clean, too big to be a coffin. Oddly, the revelation brings no comfort. And rising from somewhere deeper within this husk that is apparently me, another odd thought…

…I almost wish it was.

Heartbeat racing, I begin to sweat. The box seems to be getting hotter, confusion and angst churning to boil, exothermic emotions that cause my head to throb. Must stay focused; give hyperventilation an inroad, no fucking way.

The buttons, they must mean something? The numbers—do I push them? If so, which one? I don’t know. Terror enfolds me, tendrils tightening. I feel like I’m about to pass out.
I don’t know what to do!
I don’t know what to do!

…I just want to go home!

Two, yes, two. The second button—didn’t I press it already? I can’t remember. I don’t know. I’m lost. But I must do something, and I must do it quickly. Because it seems like the walls are closing in. I feel like I’m suffocating. I must get out of this box!

I take a chance, risking it all. With a trembling finger, I press. The button lights up and the box starts to move. Disoriented as I am, I think it’s going up. I don’t know where up is but it somehow seems better than down.

After an eternal seven seconds the box lurches to a stop. My vision is now starting to fade. Oh no, don’t pass out now, it feels like something’s about to happen. My instincts are correct; the door slides open with a hiss. I feel an immediate rush of fresh air. My lungs heave, sucking like a shop-vac.

My head begins to clear. My name, I remember now. There’s a green carpet beyond the sliding doors—I remember now. There’s an ice machine across the hall—I remember now. I feel my anxiety ease with each returning memory. Now there’s just one thing left to do.

I step through the door and out of the elevator.


1 Comment

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One Response to THE BOX

  1. Lela Gahwiler

    What a gripping short story! Tom’s use of descriptive words is amazing. Emotions boil over and grab the reader.

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