You’ve Got Mail

The room was dark. What little light that seeped through the thickly draped windows cast a couple of lines on the ground. There was a chain link fence in the room, dividing it into 2 partitions, one of which contained the drapes covering the windows, and the other one containing Paul. Paul was searching frantically for the light switch. It had to be here somewhere. Or at least a door. Either or. He needed to find a way out. He wanted to find a way out. But the seconds ticked on by. He could hear a clock in the room — the only other sign of any progress of time, along with the change in the ray of light from the lone window. The darkness refused to concede anything meaningful to Paul.

Paul was considered a promising young man by many. To his peers, he seemed to have the answers to everything. He was among the first to find meaningful employment straight out of college, and (based on the accounts they got from his various social media channels) was always going to exotic, photogenic places. He lived the life that was the envy of many, and his peers naturally thought rather highly of him as a result.

Sir Alex Ferguson is quoted as having said Twitter is a “waste of time”. Most go on to apply this quote to social media in general. Perhaps this claim is more fitting than it may first seam. Paul is a prime example of this. Or, rather, those who fell into the logical fallacy that what they see on Paul’s social media feed is representative of his life as a whole. Paul’s life was always one at the brink of collapse. He was living life on the ragged edge, as they say in colloquial English. The employment he found out of college, for example, was as an unpaid intern, with no path to full time employment. He left the post soon after, taking up a new position over in an unexplored part of the world (for Paul, at least), in search of something that would last. Unfortunately for Paul, his search never did find a satisfying conclusion. At least, not yet.

But this frequency of movement, this “travel”, gave off the impression that Paul was living the dream — that he had managed to achieve what others could only dream of. But, like I said, nothing could be further from the truth.

Paul could hear footsteps coming from somewhere beyond the walls. He followed his ear, making sure to be careful of any obstacles that hid in the darkness. His ears hit a particular place on the wall, right beside what felt like furniture. He could hear the footsteps getting louder, and louder, and louder.

He began slamming his fists against the surface from where the sound resonated. He yelled at the top of his lungs. It seemed like he would finally be saved. The footsteps began approaching quicker, and quicker. The surface began to recede away from him. Paul had, indeed, found the door. He rose to his feet. They were shaking, nay, trembling. Part of it was fear. Part of it was from dehydration. Had he been trapped in the room for that long? He could see the light flood in from the hallway.

the door opened fully. No one. All that was waiting for him was an empty hallway. He looked to find the end of the hallway, but to no avail. There were no doors along its walls, either. It just seemed to go on for miles upon miles, without end. He began to walk through the hall. This had to be better than staying put in the room. Thankfully the hall was well lit, unlike the room.

Paul didn’t remember how he ended up in this situation. He couldn’t recall anything strange. He was just living life, one day at a time, like he always had. He had recently quit his job, and was in search of a new one, preferably one that would bring him round full circle. Strangely, that was the last scene in his memory. After that, the film went dark, and the soundtrack cut. At least, until he realized he was in the room.

He walked for what seemed like hours. He looked back to check his progress. Paul fell to the ground, as if someone had taken him down in a game of American football. The room was behind him, as if he had been walking on a treadmill. He looked back in the opposite direction. The parallel lines still met at a single point. He got back up. He turned towards the single point at the end of the hall, and began making a run for it. Without thinking, without hesitating, he ran as fast as he can, for as long as he can. But still, the room stayed right behind him. Then, suddenly, the ground gave from right under his feet. He was in free fall. This lasted a couple of seconds until it was interrupted by a large splash at the bottom. He lost consciousness upon impact.

Paul opened his eyes to the chirping of birds on his windowsill. The sunlight was shining bright. He took a quick glimpse of the clock that hung on his wall. It was already well past noon. He looked over at his desk. His computer was on and running. He walked on over. He saw what was on the screen. There was an email waiting for him.

Request for an interview: Paul Phillips


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