10 minute drabble: Slurred lines

” Dan is a window washer for the Emperium Hotel.

If you did not know, the Emperium Hotel is the one famous for being really really tall. Last year, the Emperium added its very last floor. They tacked in the final lightbulb amidst a fabulous celebration complete with grand cocktails in glass that reached the ceiling. Everything had the number ‘10,000’ on it. Some were printed, others were stapled, and a surprising amount was tattooed on. The reason for all the ruckus over a silly number was that the very last floor of the Emperium added made the hotel exactly 10,000 floors tall. It was nothing the world had ever seen before.

This makes being a window washer for such a hotel a very respected job. And it was only out of a million and two applicants that Dan was chosen from. So, Dan loved his job and he was compensated very well for his life which he had signed away the day they called him back on his ratty cell.

Today, however, Dan wasn’t feeing so good. To be more clear, he was feeling downright in the dumps. To be absolutely transparent, Dan was drunk. To make matters worse, he was stuck around floor 973 and had no way of getting down.

Being drunk made the usually fearless Dan incredibly afraid. This meant that his childhood fear of heights which he had successfully cured back in 1986 through therapy and a decent number of jumps off the Niagara falls has miraculously returned. And because drunk people often make sense of the senseless, Dan knew one thing and one thing only could save him: one cannot go back down a ladder, one must climb up.

The people on the ground started noticing the man in the sky. They called the police who came as quickly as possible, took one look at the man (now on the 1,921st floor) and decided to call the fire department. The fire department then came bringing their ladder with them but no matter how much they stretch, the ladder only reached as far as the 4th floor. Failing that, the fire department called the hospital who sent one doctor of the body and another of the mind to talk the man down. A call to Dan (now on floor 1,567) ended abruptly when the inconsolable and very frightened Dan threatened to throw away his cell if the doctor tried to tell him to climb down on more time. Then the hotel tried to cut open the windows to reach Dan, but it was too strong and safe just as marketed. No one had expected anyone needing to get inside the building from the outside on the (now 1,500th floor). Disheartened, people began putting away the ladders and the cell phones and the flashing sirens. They began to lay down on the pavement. There was only one thing left to do. They watched.

Dan climbed for 3 days. When the alcohol failed to make him afraid any longer, hunger and delirium soon took its place. After every hundredth floor, Dan would call his wife on the ground whose phone is linked up to about a dozen police, hospital, and fire lines. Eventually those lines would extend to the local news which produced a compelling hour-by hour feature on Dan the Skyboy and the campers on the ground watching him fly.

It was nearly day 4 when Dan reached the 9,999th floor. Wracked by hunger, thirst and exhaustion, he struggled to flip open the cellphone to call his wife for the very last time.

I love you he said. And good bye.

Upwards with all his strength, Dan propelled himself on to the edge of the 10,000th floor and collapsed.

Down on the ground mayhem erupted. He’s gone! He made it! He’s dead? He’s dead! Dan the Skyboy is dead! We loved him! He inspired us!

‘But look! there he is! On the ladder! He’s still climbing!’

And indeed, framed by the edge of the 10,00th floor was a small Dan shaped dot inching its way up the ladder. Upwards it went steadily and surely until (at approximately the 10,023rd floor) it disappeared behind a curtain of clouds.

When they were able to gather the ladder again, Dan was gone. They checked the hotel and then throughout the town, but he was not to be found.

Years passed, and people soon forgot who Dan was, and after many decades the Emperium crumbled floor by floor to the ground. But if you are lucky enough, and the clouds are just far enough up in the sky (at exactly 10,023 floors high), you can see a patch of cloud being wiped away and sunlight streaming through. That would be Dan, meticulous and fearless, doing his job until the very end.”

February 23, 2017

(10 minute practice for today: the theme is Slur)

Currently reading: Midnight Children by Salman Rushdie  and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Notes: The Modern mythological tale -> to explain why you shouldn’t drink on the job.


6 thoughts on “10 minute drabble: Slurred lines

  1. I just finished reading a spate of Junji Ito comics and there was something strikingly similar in feel to your story. It could have gotten darker. I don’t know…it might have been good to go darker. Hahah. Just the right amount of feel though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Just wanted to put this out there but I love Junji Ito (that man can scare). I did want to go darker, I always do of course, but halfway through the piece I had the strange notion that I was going to tell my kids this story one day as a bedtime story. Came out of nowhere really! So, naturally I tweaked the ending a bit to justify the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When it’s slow at the office I work my way through his collection. I just finished Tomie and now I kinda want to find the adaptations they did of it. And I’m sorry, when was it decided that kids couldn’t get super scary stories before bedtime? Hahah. I think you could totally have both. If you haven’t yet, check out this great story of a bedtime story a father tells his son.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That plot twist! Then I read Pete the Moonshiner by the same guy (some messed up stuff there)
          I’m just insane enough to want to tell scary stories to my future kids before bedtime, but if they have any indication of an imagination like me when I was younger, I think I’d rather take my chances not scarring them for life. haha.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh man, that was a great one. Can I use the word ‘great’ for something like that? I mean…it was well done.
            I’m the first-born in my family, so my parents didn’t really know to shield me from things. And I grew up in the time of like, X-Files and Are You Afraid of the Dark and legitimately scary things for reckless children. What I’m getting at is, this could be part of the recipe to ensure we continue to have creative minds. So I don’t say ‘scar’, I say ‘creatively provide’. Hahah.

            Liked by 1 person

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