Hallway

        There was a long hallway connecting the two old buildings that he never quite had the courage to go through. Even during the day the hall appeared ominous, as if lurking in the very walls that created it were the malevolent spirits of the dying city. He would always look down the hall, somewhat longingly in fact, and feel the shiver run up and down his back. He would repeatedly reassure himself that the hall would one day reveal its secrets.
        Although he was one of many he seemed to be the only one to take note of that hallway, being a lonely warrior working his way through each day with the monotonous gait only achievable in the modern age. Despite all of his ambitions, his hopes and his dreams it all ultimately came to a simple concept of getting from point A to point B. No matter how he looked at his life it always came back to that, a perpetual and predictable plan of action with a disillusioning end. He tried several vain attempts at making his daily routine seem less mundane. He would hold his head high and observe his surroundings intently, trying to pick it apart into its singular components, studying each and looking for meaning. On occasion he would change his route and explore the relatively new crannies of his city. How was it that, in such a chaotic city, he was unable to truly find a sense of living? Through the blaring of sirens and horns and the drone of voices such a sensation was oddly absent. It was all more a great cacophony
        It was early March when he finally summoned up the courage to venture down its long, lonely corridor. Embalmed in the soft warmth of early spring he had walked slowly and deliberately, examining every crack and discoloration on the walls. The bricks were heavily weathered with trails of water crisscrossing its surface, moss beginning to show along their paths. The moist smell that emanated from the walls reminded him of his childhood camping trips with his parents. It reminded him of the dank corners of the woods he inevitably would seek out, peering through the darkness at moss-covered rocks and poking in moist, moist earth. He had always kept his eyes open with the hopes of finding a salamander or frog desperately searching for another hiding place as he upturned their world. He was young and adventurous, completely removed from the realities of the world that he now was a part of.
        But among the brick and iron of the city there were not many secrets to capture, at least not of the slippery kind. Everything was cold and hard with a manufactured sense of life that failed to inspire him. It dulled his senses, weighing down on his mind like a specter; untouchable, unseeable, but present. He would try to imagine himself separated from all of that which surrounded him to see if there was something more full of hope and joy, but nothing ever seemed enough. There was just that quiet hallway.
        He stopped momentarily and leaned against the wall. It was cool, its brick sucking the warmth out of his body. He wondered where that warmth went once the brick grabbed it. He imagined it as his life force being reintegrated into the world, another instance of it’s life-sucking ambitions. But he let it go calmly this time. There was something right about this particular transfer as if the wall was a wise entity to be respected. For once he relished the feeling.
        Past the walls he could hear the city going about its day as usual. Cars occasionally honked their horns, engines revving and their people squawking. A few birds could be heard calling fretfully to each other, speaking a language foreign yet integrated with the surroundings.
        So went his days, returning to the hallway whenever the opportunity arose, choosing to spend as much time there as possible. He became obsessed with watching the slow movements of the world within the hallway. He listened to the walls moan and creak under the weight of time. As the rain fell over the course of months he could see their paths etched further into the face of the walls, the water happily making its way ever downward. In the days following the rain the moss would once again spring to life, following the water’s trails and crisscrossing every which way. Occasionally a wind would come blowing over the tops of the walls from the city outside and tear about the small space. It would laugh loudly as leaves and dust would lift wildly and swirl around in circles, everything screaming in manic joy. It was a brief moment of the hurried insanity of the city seeping into the secluded world of the hallway. In such moments he would yell and curse loudly, waving his arms at the invisible offender and calling the earth a whore for celebrating with such scandalous force.
        That hallway became his domain, a sanctuary amidst the world, a world that presented itself not as a place of peace but as land of happenstance and confusion. Despite his lack of control over the slow movements between those dark walls he felt a great sense of power, of being an omnipotent being directing a great spectacle solely through his capacity of observation. In that world only minute nuances reigned supreme, not the overtly obvious occurrences. He reveled in this newfound power, challenged only by the occasional howling of the invading wind.
        Outside, beyond the walls, the times were changing. The buildings that were connected by the hallway had been decaying steadily and the city had finally condemned it as an unsanitary relic, unused even by the local homeless. The decision to destroy them came about without much fanfare. Those who passed the buildings on their daily commutes barely glanced at it, wondering at how those buildings of such old age were still standing. When the signs announcing their removal finally appeared most simply shrugged and went about their day.
        But he was incensed. The thought of losing his new home threw him into such fits that his apartment had quickly become a mess of broken furniture. He increasingly spent more time in the hallway, sitting and mumbling to himself, full of anger and sadness. This was his place of being, the only spot in that vast city where he felt at peace with himself and with the world. If he lost the hallway and its solitude he would surely lose himself.
        It was during the preparatory phase of the demolition that he decided to resist the city’s plan. He came to view not only the hallway as his own, but also the two buildings that it connected. They were his alone and he would decide their ultimate fate and purpose whether the city and its people agreed with him or not. But in his irrational state he chose a more violent method of resistance, stockpiling handguns and rifles and arraying them strategically throughout the two buildings. If worst came to worst he would retreat to the connecting hallway and make his final stand. But whatever the outcome those structures would be his.
        As dawn of the first day of work came about he found himself resting lazily in front of a third story window, a high-powered rifle in hand. He watched intently as men in yellow hard hats wandered around the grounds, pointing and talking amongst themselves. They moved casually, unaware of his presence in the building, going about their duties with the simple diligence of workingmen. But to the shooter in the window their presence bore nothing but death. They were demons to him, subhuman creatures stomping about his sacred land. Grinding his teeth, he fidgeted with the scope on his rifle, loosening and tightening the windage knob without any real knowledge to its purpose. He glared at them with such violent hatred that it aught to have betrayed his presence.
        There were two men directing the other workers who grabbed his attention. Their gesticulations disgusted him, looking more like grotesque pantomiming of a sword removing a human’s head. He decided to start with those two men and lifted his scope hurriedly, laying the crosshair of the scope on the one to the right. Through the scope he could make out their details better, their buttoned white shirts, colorful ties, and their neatly pressed pants. They were not of the same breed as the workingmen around them and seemed full of arrogant pride and excess. It only served to increase his hatred towards them and the entire affair.
        As he watched them turn their heads every which way, exchanging unheard words and chuckling to each other, he did his best to steady the crosshair on the head of the man to the right. His heart began to thump wildly and his hands began to shake making the scope tremble heavily. He cursed to himself and tried to steady the rifle but was only able to decrease the scope’s movement slightly. Finally resigning himself to his state of excitement he took a deep breath and pulled the trigger. With a loud clap he sent his first round tearing down towards the clueless man and watched as a thick film of dust flew up in a sudden explosion, to the right and behind the man. The shooter shouted in shock and quickly brought his scope to bear again and saw the two men looking about themselves, slightly bewildered. They apparently had not registered the fact that they were being shot at, perhaps because of the nature of their workplace. But as the second shot blew forth and another geyser of dust flew up they immediately took off running.
        The man in the window was sweating profusely now and screamed wildly as he watched his second round go wide. He raised the rifle and threw it violently against the wall, then sprinted to a room where he had placed another gun, positioning himself in the window and scanning his killing field. By this time everyone had caught on to what was transpiring and had disappeared into whatever hiding place they could find. He was alone again with only the occasional hint of life out beyond his window. Collapsing on the floor, tears began to well out of his eyes, although quietly. He stared at the floor and watched the grain of the wood slowly snake along, abruptly ending where a new panel commenced. He sought out a pattern across the panels but it was all disjointed, a hodgepodge of muted colors and lines that suddenly became emblematic of his world. It was a world of disjointed and singular parts that somehow expressed unity through shared forms, fitting together neatly to create a whole. And as the adrenaline began to release it’s hold on him he found himself dozing off where he sat, tired and full of emotion.
        Just as he was about to slip into sleep the bright, alternating blue and red lights of law enforcement personnel filled his empty room. This was the end of the road for him, being too tired to put up any more resistance. The idea of harming someone now seemed utterly reprehensible to him and he felt slightly sick. He wanted to go home now but that was no longer an option. His fate had been sealed, and so he wearily picked himself up and walked through the building as the sirens from outside echoed around him.
        Almost without thought he made his way down to the hallway, arriving there with the ragged aura of a pilgrim at the end of his journey. He stood quietly and observed the hallway. It seemed mundane now, utterly devoid of any interest, a drab composition of weathered bricks and mortar. Despite his efforts to reignite that wondrous passion he had felt before it remained as such. So he collapsed, and awaited the police.

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