Alternate Timelines

The Red Door [Chapter 3]

        Prologue     l      Chapter 1     l      Chapter 2

Distractions

“You’re listening to 82.3 FM!” Chris’ boisterous voice echoes off the soundproof chamber’s wall. “The voice for music that defies conventions!” He removes his headphones, and rests them on his shoulders. They begin slinking away into his hoodie as he talks. “Andy, that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, how are we defying anything? We’re just playing music you like.”

“You’re thinking too much.” Sitting beside him, Andy leans back in his chair until it clicks, almost toppling him over. He’s got a good two decades on Chris. His hair is halfway to white, with a goatee to match. “It just needs to be a catchy slogan. Aren’t you young cats supposed to be all about shortening the shit out of stuff? Play around with it.”

Chris takes a deep breath before going all in, his vocal level rising with each take. “82.3 FM! Because what would you rather be listening to? 82.3 FM! Our music is better than yours. What’s that? You don’t make music? Well, I take it back then. I thought you actually had a plan for your future!” Chris stops midway, and rolls his chair back, tossing the headphones to the ground as if they were possessed.

“What’s the matter with you, kid?” Andy quickly grabs a hold of the laptop the headphones were plugged into from falling off the table.

“What am I doing here, Andy? I’m pretty sure I just had an existential crisis.”

“Well, try not to. You’ve only been at this job six months.” Andy powers down the equipment. “Did you fix the issues with the site?”

“Yeah, it’s back up and running.” Chris gathers his belongings, and stuffs them into his backpack.

“You sure you’re all right?”

“I’ll figure it out. Have a good night Andy.”

“Take it easy, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Chris steps outside, puts on his headphones, and plugs them into his phone. Light snow flurries land on his screen. He zippers up his hoodie and continues walking to the beat of his voicemail.

First new message: Hey, it’s Alice. Just landed. I’m in town for a few days. Are you going to that Red Door thing Jack’s having? You should, so I guess I’ll just see you there.”

He reaches a bus stop, sets his bag down by the bench, and leans against a movie poster depicting Doctor Strange. The sky at this hour always seemed to get this weird mixture of black, blue, and gray, as if Jim Lee himself had created it. It was ominous, yet simultaneously serene. Chris watches a group of university students attempt to catch the bus directly across the street from him. One of them struggles to carry all of his books, while another can’t stop reading what appears to be Machiavelli’s The Prince, even as she’s boarding.

Next message: Hey babe, I’m running a little late at the gallery, so when you finish up at the station, just head straight home. See you soon. Love you. Bye.”

Chris smiles to himself before switching over to Keane’s Is It Any Wonder? He begins texting someone back, as his own bus arrives.

[Chapter 4]

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