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  • Writer's picturePete O'Brien

In the Warehouse

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

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In the Warehouse

by Pete O'Brien

The space alien had come without warning in the middle of the night, with a telescope for Isaac. What could be more kindly?

Wait a minute. Cut. Cut.

The pen slipped from my fingers.

"Yes," I said, finally waking up out of my snooze.

I spoke, because I had awoken to the astonishment of seeing a man in a top hat standing before me. The pen I had dropped was only dreamt of.

The man was speaking. He said, "There's no way you're going to do this. I mean Ray Bradbury apparently did, but you? Write a story a day?"

"Well," I said, closing my eyes, "writing just half a story every two weeks was not going to impress anyone. I had no choice. I had to be inspired right away."

"Leopold?"

"Hmm."

"That is your name, is it?"

I opened my eyes and narrowed them. "Hold on," I said. "I know who I am. And I'm here to create story magic, and yet every episode of story, as it were, has me somehow challenged from the start to do that which I must surely be able to do, as I am a writer. A writer is inspired every day. And what is your name, besides? I don't recognize you from the other day."

The small man with a green mustachio and a top hat, wearing also a heavy coat, long pants, and white canvas high top shoes looked nervously about the warehouse. The fog swept in then, and directly he was all I could see, as the interior walls of the building I had fled to were rendered invisible by the whiteness. And to think I had been thinking, "Surely, no one will find me here. And no one would ever follow me here. People don't follow people, that's only in fiction!"

The storm had come and was pelting the road, turning the dust on it to mud, and it seemed I was making some headway. I needed two pages, but something Large seemed to be moving about, slowing down the pace of my words, causing everything to fall and remain still. A heaviness had come.

The man's pants were wavy and charcoal colored. His mustachio was rapidly growing. He grimaced. He seemed wrapped up in thoughts of his own. I wondered if he had come round to the point of thinking that he himself needed to be in this warehouse in order to think through a thing or two. He chuckled and looked straight at me. His yellow eyes glimmered and glistened with the light of the wetness and the fog. He said, "I wonder why I bother telling you, you are going to write something. I mean I wonder why I say you've probably made it to page two against the odds. I can't read your mind, but now that I observe you for the first time, I can see the wheels spinning in your head? No. Never mind. Why did you come here really? And where is the sea creature? What drives the nepenthe? And who is the space alien of once upon a time who brought a telescope for somebody?"

So I had talked in my sleep again!

I closed my eyes. I imagined myself sitting on top of a tall building surrounded by a deep green forest. I imagined myself falling off the building, and flying away. I had huge wings attached to my arms. I was hang gliding. The foil of the hang glider wings gave the thing the look of a humongous house fly.

Fog hung about the far side of the forest. I was soaring in the rain, I was thinking of a white pine. The white pine had framed itself in my head.

The other day I had witnessed a male cardinal feeding his young of gray and brown, in stark contrast to his red. He would land on the low branch on which the baby was perched, and offer him the food he had just fetched. It went on this way twenty minutes, the young bird barely moving, then moving a bit more to receive the food, the cardinal leaving, then coming back again. It was after 6 p.m. on August 1. Too dark to make out the young bird, not enough light for binoculars. It was an ornamental tree of many branches, not a native tree, a species from Japan. Finally, after accepting swallow after swallow of sustenance, the little bird tried to fly. It took a downward course, just trying to stay in the air.

In a little while, a space alien that resembled a cube with a bonnet affixed to the front side of her, near her eyes and nose slits, arrived and positioned herself before the man in the top hat.

"Say something!" I said.

"Good evening," murmured the space alien.

The man in the top hat chuckled. "What a day!" he said. "I had come here for a reason. I meant to take something from you, Leopold, but now there's a space alien and I only wish to sit here a while, and consider what there is to contemplate."

I looked down at my shoes. I considered my workout pants and long sleeved t-shirt. The fog turned even whiter. The dampness filled my head. The space alien and the man in the top hat sat quite still. I edged away, my feet silent on the floor. I kept going through the fog that had permeated the warehouse. I could see nothing but white. I heard nothing, I felt no icy hand on my shoulder. Finally my outstretched hand touched something ahead of me. The half-broken wall. I pushed. And stepped outside.


"In the Warehouse" © August 2, 2023 by Pete O'Brien. All Rights Reserved. "In the Warehouse" is a work of fiction. Any seeming appearance of real life people or events in the story is unintended and a coincidence.

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