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The Emerald Tinted Doors, Part II
And thus the loss of Susannah was avenged, bringing peace to the city of Salem.
Thomas Longsleeve closed the book and patted it warmly, glancing again at the intricate letters on the well-worn cover, The Emerald-Tinted Doors. He placed it back onto his bookshelf just as he heard the rattle of the mail being dropped into his ingenious contraption. After a few seconds, the mail slid out of a hole in the wall and onto his dark wooden desk. He flipped through it—an advertisement…more advertisements…bank account summary…royalties from the publishing company—until he came to a large manila envelope. Slightly puzzled, he opened it and pulled out a letter, written in elaborate cursive handwriting,
Dear Salem Resident,
We are very proud to announce our new survey! This survey will be used to reorganize our city in the most efficient ways in preparation for the 2076 Tricentennial Exhibition! Please complete one copy of the attached test for each adult in your family and mail to us as soon as possible!
Thank you very much,
The Salem Cultural Council
Thomas snorted, pulling out the test and slowly looking it over, “Since when does the Cultural Council care about our IQs? That’s really weird.” He was not a procrastinator, so he laid aside his worries and sat down with his favorite pen. However, he put the pen away in exchange for a slightly smaller, uglier one, muttering, “That pen’s too good for this type of thing!” He finally was able to focus on the task, and he completed the test and went to put it away when he noticed the last part: a place where he was to insert his picture. This annoyed him greatly, so he jogged up the stairs to his wife’s office. He entered and handed her the test, saying, “They’ve decided to find out our IQs for some ‘city reorganization’ and they want to know how we look. You have to fill this out.”
Susannah Longsleeve serenely responded, “I’ll see for myself. I wouldn’t be surprise if you’re making this up—you always did have a propensity for hyperbolism.” She took the test from him, looked at the first page for a second, and then flung it down, angrily exclaiming, “Is this some sort of joke?”
Thomas sighed, “Unfortunately not. Give me yours when you’re done.” and left the room as she grumbled under her breath, gently pulling the door shut behind him, returning to his study to work on a new contract.
Several months later, Thomas heard a bang at the door and rushed to open it. A burly man, a sack slung over his shoulder, frowned when he saw Thomas, and rather curtly said, “I’ve been instructed to give you this in person; please sign.” He shoved forward a clipboard, indicating a place for Thomas to sign. Thomas waited for the man to hand him a pen, but when none came, he retrieved one from his pocket and angrily signed it, forming a rather ugly, jagged signature instead of his normally relaxed, loopy autograph. The man, still staring at John as if he was some unpleasant creature, handed him a white letter from the Salem Cultural Association.
Thomas angrily said, “You couldn’t even give me a pen? Get lost!” and slammed the door, revolted by his foul treatment.
Susannah had already descended the stairs. Seeing her husband’s face as volatile as a lightning bolt, she gently asked, “What is it?” When he refused to answer, she took the letter from his hand and cut it open with her elaborately gilded mail opener. The two slowly proceeded to the living room and sat down at the sofa, reading as their horror slowly grew,
Dear Longsleeve Family,
Thank you for your participation in our test. As per the results,
Longsleeve, Thomas and Longsleeve, Susannah
Have above average intelligence, and due to the new plan, you will be relocated to Noimosune Ghetto…
Pretty much, the letter from the mayor outlined the new plan: all those with average intelligence and good looks would be allowed to stay where they currently lived. If one or more adults in a household had ‘below average’ looks, they would be located to the Aschemia Ghetto. However, if any family member had exceptional intelligence, no matter how they looked, they had to move to the Noimosune Ghetto and live there. This way, any visitors to the city would never have to endure encounters with any ‘unusual citizens.’ Lack of compliance with the harsh rules of the ghetto or the time schedule for moving into the ghetto would result in public electrocution periods, heavy fines, and jailing. All in all, the non-average citizens of Salem were in for a rough time.
However, the moving proved to be relatively simple. Town-hired movers came to the house and transported everything to another building. Although the house was nearly as good as the old one, Thomas was greatly distressed by the crowded conditions and the lack of nearby open fields, which had been plentiful in his previous house, which was farther away from the city center. The first few days in their new home were peaceful, but then the rest of the town picked up on the true reason behind the shift.
All of a sudden, all Hades seemed to break loose as ‘normal’ people nurtured the seed of racism and it blossomed, growing exponentially until everyone hated people from the other castes. Thomas experienced a change: he could only come into town on buses that left every fifteen minutes from the ghetto gates and were intentionally run-down. Whenever he went, he received glances that ranged from hatred to revulsion to utter pity. Often, people would shove him out of their way when passing or spit at his feet. Soon, his world became one of constant misery, and the only comfort was the monthly delivery of his royalties, although they had greatly dropped after readers had discovered that he was a second-class citizen.
One day, Thomas was visiting the Museum of the History of Salem. He entered the 2050s Hall absentmindedly and wandered to a far corner, where the famous emerald-tinted doors that ended the modern witch trials were mounted on the wall, with a description: “These doors, enchanted by the evil Jacob Whyleheart, brought peace and justice to the hallowed city of Salem.” Thomas suddenly felt his hands moving forward to match the handprints on the doors, and suddenly, he was not himself, but someone else, and he began to see strange visions…
He was dragged from the courtroom by several extremely strong policemen and roughly hurled into a cell, alone, miserable, and hungry…
His wife and son visited, but each time they came, it was harder and harder for him to recognize them…
He began to forget his family, his home, even his name, and he raved and pounded at his cell door, not caring, no longer sane…
Until one day, he was dragged out of the cell and he heard a cracking sound before everything went dark…
Thomas jolted back to consciousness as a museum guard yelled at him, “WHOAH! DON’T…TOUCH…THE EXHIBITS!” Thomas hurried out of the museum, thinking, our society has become the emerald-tinted doors. When he returned home, he came up with a mastermind plan. Within a day, the mayor’s secretary simultaneously became ‘mysteriously’ ill and was fired from work. Thomas instantly applied for the job and was accepted about five minutes after he first called.
The first few weeks at his new job were normal. Thomas became somewhat of an in-betweener in that he was still considered inferior but treated like an almost normal person. However, after a month had passed, Thomas finally made his move. One day, the mayor was walking down the hallway in which the secretary’s office was located. Thomas snapped his fingers quietly and the mayor gasped. For out of thin air, a bag of feathers appeared at his feet. Thomas snapped again, and suddenly the bag exploded with a loud BANG, sending feathers flying all over the place. The mayor screamed in terror and ran down the hallway, nearly hearing a third snap, which caused the feathers to disappear.
The mayor soon returned with an entourage of security officials. He banged on Thomas’s door and yanked it open. Red-faced, he panted, “Have you seen anything, Tank? Feathers all over the place, perhaps? Did you hear a bang?”
Thomas frowned and said, “No, sir. I only heard screams coming from farther down the hallway, but when I came out, I saw no one or nothing. And my name is Thomas, not Tank, sir.”
The mayor groaned, “I think I’m going mad, Tarm. Well, if you see anything, report it right away. Now have a good day,” and left the room in a hurry, slamming the door behind him. Thomas suppressed a smile in his hands, but was not able to suppress a tiny laugh.
Over the next few months, Thomas performed the trick again and again. However, in December, the mayor began to change rapidly. One session had produced subtle changes, but the repeated apparitions had caused him to forget peoples’ names, various tasks, and to no longer be able to function normally at social events. But one day, he finally descended into lunacy. Thomas performed the trick as usual on Christmas Eve, but the mayor suddenly bellowed at the top of his lungs, “AAAHHH!” and suddenly ran into a nearby room. Thomas heard crashes, screaming, cracks, and thuds. There was a grim silence for a few seconds, but then he heard loud footsteps and his door banged open.
The mayor burst in, his clothes all mangled and shredded. He grabbed a pile of papers from Thomas’s desk and ripped them apart. Then he knocked over the chairs, hurled the typewriter into the wall, somehow managed to rip the door over, and caused damage. Finally, he ripped the lamp from the electrical outlet and hurled it at Thomas’s head just as the latter called the police. Thomas felt a sharp pain on the side of his head before he blacked out.
“I solemnly swear on the Bible to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the office of Mayor of Salem so help me God.” Thomas concluded the inauguration ceremony in his booming bass and sat down as the Salem Orchestra began to play and began to think about what had happened over the course of the past two months. Once he had regained consciousness, he had discovered that the mayor had been dragged off to jail. Thomas was instantly regaled as a hero for having survived the rabid attack. For some reason, the people had begun to realize that the ‘reorganization’ of society was wrong. When Thomas had run for mayor publicly supporting a return to normalcy, he had been unanimously elected, the first such case since the birth of the city. And thus, the saga of the doors ended, bringing peace to the city of Salem.