Mr. Reciprocity is tired.
He’s tired when the Room calls them, and he’s even more tired when he steps into the tunnel that connects the two timelines. Just like the doggie door in the Room, there’s something ominous about the tunnel. Beneath them stretches out a floor made from cobbled, scrapped pieces. Around them, the blackness undulates. It comes in close enough that it brushes against the tips of their ears and then pulls away, so far that it seems to be endless distance between them.
Mr. Protection says, “we’re going to an old place.”
“Yep,” says Mr. Reciprocity. They can tell, because the tunnel is very long. The longer the tunnel, the older the timeline. “Not a good sign.”
“None’a this has been a good sign,” says Mr. Protection. The two opossums waddle down the tunnel for a very, very long time. When they do get to the door at the other end, it’s just as strange as the first. The wood trim is old, weathered, and cracked. The green light ringing it is very dull. Right at the center of the door, there’s a large black spot.
“Never seen nothing like that before,” says Mr. Reciprocity.
Mr. Protection says, “me neither.”
“Guess this is gonna be a long one.”
“Haven’t had a long one in a while.”
Mr. Reciprocity asks, “think the Room knows what it’s doing?”
“Does it matter?” Mr. Protection gives a full body sigh. “We’ve got to do what the Room wants. She won’t let us be otherwise.”
That’s true, of course. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that these two opossums are both very old, and very tired.
Mr. Reciprocity sighs, too. “Might as well go on and get it over with, I s’ppose.”
“Might as well,” echoes Mr. Protection. With another sigh, the two opossum brothers step through the doggie door and into – nothing.
For a split, terrifying second, there is nothing.
No floor. No lights. No presence or sense of time.
It’s just sheer, utter black.
Mr. Protection curses. “Brother – “
There’s a shrill chime, like an alarm going off. A bright light, and suddenly Mr. Protection and Mr. Reciprocity are standing in the hallway for one of the many, many White House’s that litter the timelines.
Except that there is something very, very wrong about it. Just like the tunnel that the opossum brothers just came out of, the White House appears to be held together by seams and strength alone. It’s a patch work creation. Bits and bobs from various timelines have been plastered over top of each other, until the building is both deeply rooted in the past and clearly from the present. The lights give off a sepia tone, washing the entire world in varying shades of brown, tan, and a color that’s not quite right.
“Well,” says Mr. Protection. “Maybe we should’ve told the pup what was happening.”
“Never share secrets,” says Mr. Reciprocity. And then, because it seems worthy of stating, “I don’t think this is going to be an easy job, brother.”
Mr. Protection laughs. “No, brother. I don’t suppose it will be.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author