MacArthur Chambers

You stand before the blast doors.

“It took a while getting here,” Lissa says. ”But I needed you to feel like you had a job. It was the only way I could get you to stay.”

You turn towards her, and she is frowning. She’d seemed in an odd mood since you passed the Wintergarden, but now she is completely grim.

Something tears within you, a rupturing knot of sadness: a sudden realization, a memory.

You’re not sure what it is, but it is looming. The blast doors shimmer. Are they about to open? A silver light runs around the relief work in the heavy doors, the statues above seem to dip down towards you. You stumble backwards, almost bang your legs on the bench before the door, except you don’t. Your legs pass through the bench. The sounds of the traffic waiting at the lights grow distant.

“I shouldn’t be here,” you say.

“I’m sorry,” Lissa says. “This whole job training story was the only way that we could catch you.”

“What?” You look at her, and then down at your hands and they are glowing blue.

“I’ve been hunting you for days. You were looking for work when you died, you felt you couldn’t leave until you found employment, and you refused to let us take you. You have been one of the hardest jobs in my life. I’m not cruel, I didn’t want to just snatch you and hurl you to the underworld. Like I said, the Dead grow more dangerous the longer they stay in our world, I was running out of choices. You had an accident, near here, do you remember it?” Death says. “Memory is the first thing to go when you die. Which is why I made you look at the symbol on George St. To keep you focused, to get your memory working.”

And, suddenly, it comes to you. The screech of brakes. The car bearing down on you. How could you forget that?

She can see the memory dawning in your face. “Sometimes the trauma makes you forget. Now, it’s time you went home.”

“It’s all right,” Lissa says, “It doesn’t hurt. But, I want you to know, that, if you had survived the job would have been yours.”

You can’t help but smile. You would have gotten the job. The last few months had been so horrible, so many shutting doors, so many nos, you’d felt so useless. And now, Death has made you feel like you weren’t a failure after all.

She gestures at the blast doors and they swing open, and a bright red light spills forth. You walk towards it. And, for the first time in a long time, you feel content. All around you the blue and gold dancers are descending. A shape comes out of the door, an old friend, someone you never thought you would see again.

“Welcome, welcome,” they say.

You look back at Queen St mall, at the living world, but Lissa is already gone.

You were never really chasing a job, you were the job, some days that’s the best you can hope for.

You walk into the light, a warm hand closing around yours, leading you home.