Author : Regina Clarke

“Look. Here’s the deal. It’s a no-brainer. I do all the hard work. All you have to do is wait for my signal and then press this button to start the accelerator.”

The old man listening had a worried expression on his face. “What if nothing happens?”

“How long have we known each other?”

“I don’t know. A couple of years, I guess.”

“Have I ever led you wrong before?

The old man twisted his hands together. “I guess not. But we haven’t really done anything together before, not that I can recall.”

“Only because you hesitated, didn’t want to take a chance. You were just afraid all the time, right? Like you are now?”

“I’m cautious, that’s what I am. My wife always said so. It’s a good way to be. Law-abiding and I mind my own business. Only now, with her gone…” The old man ran his hand over his thinning hair and stared for a while at the brown spots that covered the skin on his hands.

“You don’t have to say it. I know,” came the soothing voice of the man next to him, whose pallor held the look of the dead.

“What do you get out of this?” the old man asked.

“Satisfaction. Oh, not just because I see you in a happier place. After all, I’m a businessman, not a charity, right? But it doesn’t end there, no pun intended.”

“What’s that mean? You want me to pay you more, is that what you mean?” Agitation filled the old man’s eyes. “I don’t have any. You’ve got all the money I had left.”

“No! You’re fine. All paid up. What I was just trying to say was about that satisfaction thing. It’s not just about the money. I feel—what’s the word—fulfilled. Know what I mean?”

“I guess.”

“So, ready to start?”

The old man took a deep breath and gave a quick smile to his companion. “Yes, I am. It’s what I want. I’ll wait for your signal. Thank you. For caring about me.”

“It’s what I do, and what…like I said…fulfills me. I’m leaving now. You stay here. Soon as you see the flash we talked about, press the button.”

“It’ll start right away? I’ll see my Mary again?”

“You got it. On the instant.”

“How will it feel?”

“Just what I told you. You won’t feel a thing. Then you’ll see what I promised. Everything will change, believe me.”

The old man stood straighter and smiled again. “I’m ready.”

His companion left the warehouse, closing the heavy metal doors behind him. Moments later a massive flash filled the space. The old man was startled but managed to press the button on the wall in front of him.

Nothing happened. He pressed the button a few more times and then walked over to the large set of doors and with some effort pulled them open. Everything was the same, parking lot, blue sky, cars on the highway. Where was Mary?

“You know, they all ask that—different names but the same idea. I’m sorry. We’re set up for ages forty to fifty. You’re seventy-five. We’re a bit cheaper than the seventy to eighty group. I’m afraid he’s sent you to the wrong place. He always does that. Your Mary is in a different dimension.”

The old man spun around. A young woman with curly auburn hair spoke in a soft voice.

“He took my money! I paid him the full price! He promised me!”

“Yes, he always does that.”


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