With twenty-two dollars and the change in my cup holder, I decided to leave it all behind. I didn’t overthink it. Just got into my car and let the road take me wherever it led.
Well, that isn’t entirely true. Without realizing it, I’d traveled west following the sunset until the sun disappeared over the horizon.
I traveled in silence letting the hum of the engine lull me into a trance-like state where I was merely running on autopilot and allowing my thoughts to consume me.
When I came out of it, I was in the middle of nowhere. There were no trees, no guardrails, or other cars on the road. The sun was gone, and there were no stars in the sky. Surrounded by all-consuming darkness, even my headlights seemed to be muted against the void.
Something was wrong.
I’d been driving for hours on a quarter tank of gas, and the gauge hadn’t moved. Flipping through the radio stations, none were broadcasting. There was only static. My cell phone couldn’t find a signal.
Yet I continued onward. I figured I’d eventually find a turnoff or some semblance of civilization again, but I didn’t. Hours passed, and nothing changed until I saw a light appear in the distance. It looked like a gas station sign.
I accelerated toward it until I found myself idling in front of an open elevator box with no cable connection. Next to the box, there was a podium, and a man stood behind it as if he’d been waiting for me.
“Hey traveler,” the man said. “You seem to be lost.”
“Yeah, I am. Can you please tell me where I am?”
“How about this? If you want to get to where you came from, head in that direction,” the man replied and pointed behind me. “But if you want something new and interesting, I suggest taking the elevator.”
Humbling the strange man, I asked: “And where does it lead?”
“No idea, son. I’ve only ever seen it go up and down,” he answered with a shrug.
Considering my options, I contemplated getting back into my car and heading back home. But to what? Crippling student loan debt? A low wage, dead-end serving job? There wasn’t even the love of a good woman waiting for me. Having absolutely nothing made the decision an easy one.
I killed the engine and removed the keys from the ignition.
“Don’t worry, son. I’ll take care of it,” the man said taking the keys. He hung the key on a peg with what looked like dozens of others.
With a nod of his head and a smile, the man behind the podium bid me farewell.
I stepped inside the elevator box and pushed the only button. The doors slowly came shut in front of me. It was silent for but a moment before the elevator began to move.