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 Stairway to Heaven?

Science FictionBlue1Moon
AlienLove Editor

The building had always been there at the end of the street, my grandmother knew it, though in all the years she had lived in this small city neighborhood, she had never entered it...

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She said someone strange had owned it before it was abandoned, the owner never to be seen again. I was a curious kid, the old store was the ‘haunted house’ of the neighborhood. My brother, Todd, constantly teased me about being too scared to go in. He had caught me once, when I had approached it and wiped off some the dust from the window. It was dark inside, but the place seemed to be full of stuff, but when Todd saw me, he ran up and threatened to push me inside.

I was so very sick of Todd, and I mean it was just an abandoned building, right? A bunch of old stuff nobody cared about, in a location that no one was willing to invest in anymore. Of course there were the rumors - you know, the ones about little Joey down the street, who was seen near the house the day he disappeared. Even my grandmother had stories of her youth, that blamed every weirdness in the neighborhood on that building. She said the only person known to have entered the building and returned afterward, was crazy James. He had been missing for months, and come out ranting about all kinds of impossible stuff. He kept insisting his family move in there with him or something, and that it was a magic place, until they finally had him locked up – that was before I was born, at least as Grandma remembers it.

It was a cold, dark, dreary winter day - February vacation, in fact. I was bored and Todd was being his usual miserable self. I stormed out of the house disgusted, without realizing quite how damp and chill it was outside. I wasn’t ready to go back and deal with my torturer yet, and decided that it was a good time to check out the building. Todd would be off to his job bagging groceries in an hour or so, just long enough for a quick look – then back for a Todd-free turn at the computer.

The door had been locked once, I suppose, but the mechanism had long ago failed – whether by natural erosion or having been pried open in years past by the curious, I will never know. The few windows let in little of the day’s dim light, not having been cleaned in several decades. There were a few old machines and pieces of furniture haphazardly strewn throughout the first floor, though only near the windows, almost like they had been put there as props. Towards the back of the building, I noticed that there seemed to be more light than there should have been. I was sure that there couldn’t have been electricity in this place for years. As I made my way through what seemed like the dust of ages, I could barely make out old footprints, which had since been covered with dust themselves. The prints went in only one direction, I thought that odd, but continued on anyway, increasingly curious. The light continued to increase as I got closer to the rear of the building, but the amount of dust seemed to be decreasing.

I entered a small passageway that looked almost new, at least compared to the rest of the building, it ended at an oddly out-of-place shiny, new escalator. I felt bright sunlight on my face and a warm breeze as I glanced up at the escalator’s destination. A strange opening in the wall at the elevator’s top led to bright sun and green leaves that seemed to draw me. I was stunned for a moment, and wondered if I was dreaming. As I breathed in the sweet scent that blew through the opening, I found my feet slowly climbing the stairs. I am not sure what the smell was, but it seemed to give strength to my legs, and invite me into this strange world.

I reached the top and stepped out into a large, lush tropical island, like none I had ever heard of. The trees were heavy with fruits and nuts of kinds I had never seen. The day was warm and took away all memories of the February chill I had so recently left, in fact it seemed to take away any desire to return at all. I began walking down the path that began at the top of that escalator, I think I might have wandered for days, but I can’t be sure. The weather was lovely and the sun never quite seemed to set, though I do remember that it got low in the sky several times for a period. I had gotten hungry and eaten a piece of fruit from a tree I had passed and it was probably the most delicious thing I had ever tasted, at least until I tried the fruit from one of those purple bushes. The path seemed to go on forever, but somehow I didn’t mind. Occasionally another path joined it, I passed ponds and lakes, saw mountains in the distance, walked along a beach of white sand. At every turn there seemed to be a new wonder to delight the eyes. The animals seemed tame, and though their forms were quite unusual, they were completely non-threatening.

Eventually, I spied a little cottage not far ahead, and moseyed on over. An old man sat in a rocking chair on the small porch, he was smoking a pipe of something sweet-smelling. Was that the smell that initially drew me into this place, I am no longer sure. He asked me to join him and handed me a pipe of my own.

He asked how I liked it here, which I did just fine. When I mentioned returning home someday, he shook his head and told me, “You can never go back, ya know, it’s just not the same. Besides, the way back is harder to find than you could imagine.” I looked at him questioningly, and he continued, “Well I guess James did it, years ago, searched a long time to find that portal again.” Taking a puff off his pipe, the old man continued, “Think he wanted to go back to bring someone else here…can’t remember if it was his sister, girlfriend, or maybe a brother…but from what I heard ‘didn’t work out too well for him.” We sat quietly for a while, I ended up staying with him a spell. I wonder if old Todd misses me, I sure don’t miss him and he can keep the computer.

Note: Photos inside

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