It took Jimmy several seconds to fully process the words. And when he had, he was convinced one of his friends must have slipped him something into his drink. He was about ready to pull his phone out and call an uber when Couch Guy appeared.
"Red door of perception man," the breezy voice entered the air.
Jimmy turned and watched as Couch Guy stumbled his way over to slump on the wall beside him.
"Is this your house?" Jimmy asked, the buzz spiraling off, and adrenaline kicking in.
Jimmy looked him up and down, only to realize he wasn't a young man at all, he only appeared to be or at least Jimmy assumed someone with his general habits and aura should be. But once the hazy of the smoke was illuminated by the glare from the red door, Jimmy realized couch man was much older than him.
"Do you see this door?" Jimmy says, grabbing the man's shoulders to stop his swaying.
"For sure man, the red door of perception, everyone here knows it."
"What the fuck does that mean?!" Jimmy slammed the man's body against the wall, the force of which made the sign sway in the air. "Is this some kind of joke?" Jimmy yelled.
As Jimmy's tight fists held the wayward man, the realization crossed his mind: the door must be real if he sees it too. Before an answer was received, Jimmy heard a familiar sound. Dropping his grip on the man, he walked closer to the door, listening. Although indiscriminate, he could hear the voices of Christian and Ben.
"You read it?" The man said, his finger poking at the levitating sign as it rippled back and forth with movement.
Jimmy watched as the words save your friends or let them die swayed in and out of sight. He thought of Ben, Crazy Ben, who was always disappointing his mom, whom Jimmy himself had grown closer to than his own mother. He thought of Christian, and all his charisma, who never knew when to begin or when to quit. Christian and Ben were Jimmy's biggest weaknesses and only constant. And yet, life had been refreshingly clean and smooth since leaving them behind for college, that was until he was sucked back into their gravity. So there Jimmy stood, sucked into the gravity of Christian's and Ben's choices, with a choice of his own to make.
"They are riding the storm man," that incessant voice interrupted Jimmy's thoughts yet again.
The sign settled back to its original place, hovering ominously in the air, causing Jimmy's eyes to land back on the ending phrase: You might not come back alive.
Fuck this, Jimmy thought to himself as the hairs on his arm raised. "Open the door!" Jimmy demanded, fear now pulsating through him.
"Can't do that, it ain't my storm man."
"I said open the fucking door!" Jimmy yelled, grabbing the man. "Go in there and tell Christian it's time to leave."
"Only they can decide when it's time to leave!" Couch Man's words became rapid but he made no attempt to free himself from Jimmy's tight grip.
"Which Jim are you man?" he said, his words suddenly fading to a whisper.
Jimmy took the man's hand and used it to open the door, immediately releasing a dense, dark fog that billowed out from all edges.
"Christian! Ben! Let's bounce!" Jimmy yelled into the dark room, hearing nothing but whispers in response.
Couch Man, unexpectedly filled with life, wriggling himself free of Jimmy's grasp to jolt towards the open door but stopped with one foot still visible outside the frame.
"Clear your perceptions man. Then you'll know." And with those elusive words, Couch Man disappeared into the darkness.
YOU ARE READING
Riders #NAContestShort Story
Save your friends or let them die? A simple statement. A seemingly simple choice. But sometimes things aren't always what they seem. Can Jimmy ride through the fog of perception to make the right decision? This is a short story (2,000 words) for th...