The life he knew

August 6, 2008
By Calvin Chiu, Monmouth Junction, NJ

Dawn was still some time away, and as a cool misty breeze drifted through an open window, Kenny lay in bed with his eyes open, shuddering in the cold. After feeling the breeze, he got up with much effort, trudged over to the window, and slammed it shut. Kenny took a moment to observe the view the dark silhouette of huge oaks, countless apartments, the blur of car lights speeding by, and the beautiful sight of Buckingham palace. He admired the view for a second, and then remembered that he would have to get up again to go to work around 6am; that was more than two hours away.

5:20am, Kenny’s alarm blared in his ears, and as he rose, he kept his eyes shut. “Arghh, please be anywhere else but London, anywhere else. “He opened his eyes; their deep blue color was clearly visible in his reflection, which was present on the window. Unfortunately, he was in London, which meant another day working as a security guard in the Buckingham Jewelry vault. Kenny, after coming back to reality, lumbered over to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and began to improve his hygiene. He shaved his red, day-old stubbles, combed his dark, oily hair, and brushed his teeth.

After Kenny had finished all this, he dressed up in his dark security uniform, went downstairs, and packed his breakfast. “Screw bagels and cream-cheese, today I’m making an omelet with scallions, ham, and cheese, all on a croissant. Hey, maybe I should put turkey breast on that. Yeah, wonderful, how innovative Kenny, how innovative.” All this was spoken…to nobody. The apartment was empty and silent, except for the sound of running water as Kenny washed the frying pan and spatula.

Nothing more was said, and after preparing breakfast, he promptly put on a new pair of shoes, and rushed out the door. Once in his smart car, Kenny placed down his breakfast, fastened his seat-belt, and sped off to work.

He was late; Kenny had never been late before.

“Hey Stopper”, asked Benny, “what brings you here 13 minutes late?”

‘Oh sorry about that, I got uhh, held up.” A few silent moments passed, and Kenny felt that the heat was off. He proceeded towards the courtyard, where he could sit down and eat his breakfast. While consuming his croissant, Stopper noticed a blue-jay perched on a tree in front of him; its’ dark beady eyes perusing the scene, as if it was on the look-out for something. Suddenly, an orange blur swooped down and snatched a chunk of Kenny’s omelet from the croissant. At this, the blue-jay leapt from the branch and pursued the orange bird. After a matter of seconds, both birds perched on a different tree and nestled together, sharing the omelet. How strange, thought Kenny, how strange.

“Kenny Stopper, get your bloody ass over here. Make sure your crew is ready to run a check-up on the vault in 5 minutes, and then submit the report in 10,” said Gerard, the head of the Buckingham jewelry vault. Gerard was a short stout man of 40. He had a short blond hair cut, striking blue eyes, and a slightly muscular build.

“Roger that sit.” Kenny replied with a hint of arrogance. He knew the drill, check-up at 6:15 am, and report in at 6:20 am, nothing could have been simpler. Captain Kenny, as he was called, positioned his team around the vault, setting up a perimeter. He had a bomb squad ready, and computer technicians stationed in the control room, just in-case something went wrong while disabling the alarm system. Kenny was in the control room as he waited for the “all clear” signal to confirm that the jewels were safe… it didn’t come. But he wasn’t afraid, Kenny had been doing this for the past ten years, and there has never been a single mishap. “Oh they probably just lost connection inside of the vault”, said Kenny with a forced smile. Another minute passed, but still no signal, Mr. Stopper began to fear the worst. He could feel hot beads of perspiration trickle down his cold neck. His eyes darted back and forth in fear. Finally, static, and a very incomprehensible message “…O…de…ed”. “What!?” screamed Captain Stopper into his headset, “You want to go to bed!?”… Only static can be heard.

Suddenly, a bomb technician burst through the control room door, grabbed the microphone, and yelled, “Code Red, I repeat, we have a Code Red! The vault has been emptied!”

Kenny was stunned, and for a moment, did nothing. He could not believe his ears, so Captain Stopper plowed through the door towards the vault, seeking conformation from his eyes. It was true, every single jewel was missing. However, the bomb technician had been wrong. Perched atop the glass shield was an orange bird, a folded origami bird. Kenny walked over and reached for the bird, when every member of the bomb squad yelled, “Stop, it could be a bomb!”

Kenny replied, “Does it matter anymore?” with much indifference. It was all over now, every single bit of effort spent towards achieving his goals, down the drain.

When Kenny was just 25 years of age, and had just been promoted to a rookie security guard, he had plans to: meet a beautiful woman, get married, settle down, and most importantly, keep the jewels safe. But now, it seemed as if he had failed to accomplish any of these.

Surprisingly, everybody was very calm about the situation at hand. How, thought Kenny. How can everybody just stand there as if nothing had ever happened? Shouldn’t they know that it’s over for everyone here? The royal family will surely sue the Buckingham Jewelry vault, then this place will shut down, and all of the employees fired.

“Why!? Oh may the Lord have mercy!” Kenny was on the verge of tears, and as he collapsed to his knees wailing his arms like a baby, the sight of an orange origami bird brought him back to reality. Kenny composed himself, and slowly rose to his feet; his legs wobbled beneath him. The captain held the origami bird out in front of him and attempted to unfold it with trembling hands. Finally, after 30 seconds of fumbling with it, the origami bird was opened, and in it was a message: “ Pease don’t be bbie and cower in fear. Do what is right, make sure you’re here. At 5:30 pm sharp, meet at west gate. You will see me, and a large gray steel crate.”

“What the bloody hell? Captain, this message is missing some bloody letters. Either it’s trying to tell us something, or the culprit has the education of a bloody third grader.” spoke someone next to Kenny.

… The captain sighed… “Las Vegas, I have to go to Las Vegas”

“Why, how’d you know?” asked the same man.

“There are three letters missing from the message, L, A, and S. L.A.S. is the abbreviation for Las Vegas.”… Silence in the room. Kenny couldn’t handle his mixed emotion, so he left the vault. In fact, he left the building, and began to walk home.

Once at home, Kenny Stopper packed some belongings in his suitcase, further emptying his nearly desolate house. It seemed to him as if everything was finally coming to an end. He would fly to Las Vegas, find no one, fly back, and get fired, and most likely find a low salary job.

“Get a hold of yourself Kenny, stop thinking these terrible thoughts.” Once he finished packing, Kenny went down to the rental office, terminated his apartment rental, and left for the British Airways terminal. He would have to book a flight around 10:30 pm to 11 pm if he wanted to make it on time.

Kenny hailed a taxi cab and was about to step inside when he felt a drop of rain on his forehead. As he looked up, he could see a threatening rain cloud hovering above him, yet the sun shone brightly in the midst of the cloud. ‘

“Hey buddy, ya want a ride or not? I got more customer wait’n if you ain’t one of em.” asked the driver.

“Oh no I’m coming.” Kenny put his luggage in the trunk and then got into the cab. The musty smell of old used seats rose in to his nose as he sat down. “Please take me to the London City airport, British airways terminal thank you very much.”

Not much was spoken during the ride; the driver drove, and Kenny watched as his bill racked up… finally, the silence was broken. “You guys charge an awful lot these days don’t you?”

“Oh yeah”, replied the driver, “It’s all because of those blasted Americans. That bloody George Bush and his war on Terror. Oil prices are through the roof! Here we pay two dollars per liter, so eight dollars per gallon, whereas they only have to pay four bloody dollars per gallon!” Nothing more was said except for a “thank you sir”, and a, “Have a nice day”, as they neared the terminal.

Kenny stepped out into the pouring rain, retrieved his luggage, and rushed under the overhang of the British Airways terminal. Once he entered, Kenny immediately looked for a service (wo) man who would be able to book a seat for him on the next flight. It was only 1pm, so he could be moping around for the next nine hours.

After many complications, much arguing, and a heavy fine, Mr. Stopper Managed to obtain a seat on the 9pm flight from the London city airport to Las Vegas. It was only until after Kenny had purchased his ticket, did he open his eyes and view his surroundings. The structure of the building was composed of gigantic, arched, steel beams. Window panes three times taller than Yao Ming filled in the gaps between overlapping steel beams. The floor was tiled with two by two squares, brown in color. The airport was so long that he could not see the end of it, even from his elevated point of view.

For the rest of the afternoon, Kenny lumbered around the airport, buying various items, and trying different foods. Finally, at 8pm, Mr. Stopper made his way towards the boarding gate. Waiting in line proved difficult for Kenny, he was so used to flashing his security badge and whisking his way through the crowd. He also had o deal with cramped room, especially when he was on the plane.

The flight took ten hours and 16 minutes, and it also took a bit out of Kenny’s sanity. This was his first flight ever, so every moment was nerve wrecking.

It was 3:42 pm in Las Vegas after Kenny disembarked the plane and retrieved his luggage. It would be another hour and a half before he should make his way to the west gate. For this hour and a half, Kenny simply walked around and examined Las Vegas from the point of view of an airport. The first thing he noticed was the heat waves which seemed to rise from the ground. The towering buildings of MGM Grand, and a huge pyramid shaped building dominated his line of sight.

When the clock struck 5pm, Kenny got up and trudged over to the west gate terminal, and sat there waiting. At 5:27pm, he saw a woman cloaked in dark, slowly traversing the floor; she was pushing a large object covered with a clock. Kenny rose swiftly and nearly sprinted to the woman. It wasn’t until after he tore off her shroud did he realize that she could not have been the culprit. She was an old woman or 70 perhaps, old and very shriveled. The clock then struck once to signal the 30 minute mark. Kenny turned his head, and saw at one of the terminals, a gorgeous blonde haired woman, smiling at him. As the clock finished striking for 5:30pm, the woman walked into the bridge, and the door was shut; she was gone.

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece as an assignment for a summer school course, and it turned out that I actually liked composing this piece. I know that it's not the best, but I think that's it's pretty good, considering the fact that this is my 2nd ever short story. Please provide suggestions, I will attempt to imporove my work. I also was unable to write the ending I had preferred, it would have taken too long and there was a time constraint on the assignment. Thanks to all

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