by Andrew Hall

Jeph pushed. Did he ever push. It was all he could think of.

Trapped in a room, surrounded by nothing but walls three feet away in every direction when centred. Concrete walls, floor, and ceiling. A room, a perfect cube. But he could breathe. He never thought much of it, but if he were to think of it he'd be thankful. But the fact that he was alive wasn't of top priority. The particular wall in front of him, it mattered. Because it wasn't like the other walls. It had a door; or at least, what had to have been a door. He couldn't conceive of any other means of entering his little concrete box.

The word "door" was most likely inaccurate in describing it. What Jeph saw was a frame; wheras the wall was six feet up and down and six feet left to right (and lord knows how many feet outwards), the frame, the square outline was only four feet both tall and wide. It was a gap in the wall, a few mere centimeters big. Jeph had already determined it wasn't just some lines somebody carved into the wall.

He could see dim light when he looked in, and he could feel cool air coming through. He should have been thankful for the air; he was instead thankful it didn't stink, and that it wasn't freezing cold.

No, it wasn't a door in a traditional, industrial sense; there were no visible hinges, no obvious handles. If there were elaborate mechanics to it, they were on the outside, out of Jeph's control.

Jeph's only control was over himself, and he knew he needed to maintain it.

He knew video games might save him here.

Classic video games, puzzle type games where you needed to make your digital little man push blocks around a maze to achieve goals. To block things. To uncover things.

To escape.

The room was six feet in all manners of length. When Jeph stood in the middle, there was roughly three feet in front of and behind him. Himself being six feet tall, Jeph was just the right height to stand straight, comfortably, without having to duck; he could stand straight, and he could lay down straight. But when he pointed his feet straight down and extended his arms, he was taller than the room; and Jeph had very long arms.

Several hours earlier, Jeph was lying down, thinking. He stretched his aching body like anyone tired would do, and found he could touch one wall with his hands, and the other with his feet, with a foot or so in length to spare.

To push.

Several hours later, right now, Jeph clued in to the world of modern physics. Standing, he braced his hands on the "door". Lifting a foot, he braced it on the wall behind him. Tight. Inhaling deeply, Jeph tensed himself. Feeling prepared... he pushed.

Nothing happened.

Dropping his foot, he breathed. Returning the foot to the wall behind, he steadied himself again. Deep breath. Pushing. Ten seconds later, no progress. He stopped.

He knew his chances were slim of making any headway, but he had to try. And to quote a great, eccentric Doctor of Journalism, "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing -right-".

Ten minutes of stretching every part of his body, Jeph proceeded to breathe deeply again. Eyes closed. Mind focusing on the task at hand. Seemingly the only worthwhile task left.

His eyes stayed closed as he placed his hands upon the door. Eyes closed, he breathed again. Eyes closed, he lifted a foot to the wall behind, bracing it. Eyes closed, he steadied himself, physically and mentally.

Eyes closed, he pushed.

Nearly a full minute passed. Frustrated, he ceased, sweat starting to form on his tensed brow. Hands and feet still braced, eyes still closed. Again, he pushed. Stronger this time. Much stronger.

Another pause. Eyes closed. Breathing deeply. Stay calm.

Braced. Tensed. Eyes closed. Pushing. Teeth clenching. Breathing heavy. Jeph was beginning to emit sounds of physical exertion and mental frustration. Moaning, strained growling. Pushing. Eyes closed.


Braced, tensed, pushing, clenching, breathing, straining, sweating, pushing.

Jeph's other foot left the ground.

Both feet on the wall behind him, Jeph was completely off the ground. The only connection he had to the ground was the sweat dripping from his face, and he wasn't even aware of it.

Jeph was never aware of his limitations in the past. Not even now. The word "limitation" never crossed his mind. Two words were all he could think : "Keep - pushing".

Both feet off the ground, his knees and elbows bent ever slightly, Jeph was pushing harder than he ever pushed. For five literal minutes he stayed this way, suspended in the air and pushing himself to push the square in front of him. The way his body was, it was more like it was above him.

Defeating this obstacle was, in his mind, NOT above him.

He pushed.

He screamed.

He fell.

For twenty minutes Jeph stayed on the floor, panting and aching from head to toe. Whatever his limitations were, either he had met them, or had pushed them beyond whatever they may have previously been set at.

Raising his head, eyes closed, Jeph wanted to get up. Feeling like nothing had been accomplished, he couldn't. He lay there muscles screaming at him for torturing them without reward. A tear rolled from his eye. Like a lubricant, he was suddenly able to open his eyes. His head on its side on the ground, he stared at the wall to his right. The room seemed brighter, what with the stars dancing in his head. This was the only entertainment he had, the starry static and snow swimming over his eyes in the darkness. Had he owned any energy, he would've laughed.

Closing his eyes, he let the stars play. This didn't require imagination; the chemical static did what it wanted. Jeph was at its mercy, and it was indeed sweet and merciful. Something else to do, to occupy his mind.

The static soon calmed down, dimming from high speed and white to slow and multicolored, yet dark. Boring. Jeph opened his eyes.

For a minute, he was happy to see the bright snow of his eyes again dancing at a fever pitch. But he had to realize that it wasn't snow making the room bright this time, or indeed earlier when he first opened his eyes.

The room itself was literally brighter.

You have to understand, Jeph had been in that room for a long time. It felt like eternity to him, but the truth was it had been twelve hours since he had woken up. How long he -really- was in there beforehand was known only to whatever put him there--and because Jeph was in there for so long, in a concrete box 99% dark save the crack of dim light, Jeph was clearly at this point able to discern the fact that the room was now only 95% darkness.

The light coming through the cracks of the "door" wasn't brighter; there was just more of it somehow.

Jeph scrambled to his hands and knees. Feeling the crack, his fingers slipped from the concrete edge of the wall, a full inch and a half forward. Beyond. He felt steel.

The light was brighter because it was able to shine off the steel Jeph was touching. The door, whatever it was, had moved forward an inch and a half. Jeph had pushed it forward an inch an a half. The corridor he had revealed wasn't concrete; it was steel. Smooth, shiny, on all sides.

Upon realizing this, Jeph did not close his wide, teary eyes for several minutes. Only when they dried out from the slight airy breeze coming in did he close them, his tears remoisturizing them.

He had done this. He had to have. The only other possibility, by complete coincidence, was that the powers-that-be, whatever was keeping him there, had at that exact moment moved the "door" that inch and a half. That sweet, precious, steel-corridor inch and a half.

Jeph's body felt an inch and a half shorter, maybe more, but he didn't care.

He knew he had to keep pushing.

He knew he had to stop, rejuvenate himself as best he could. He had long suspected that time was most likely not on his side in this scenario. As far as he knew, this was a prison. A death sentence. A tomb. He knew he had to take a chance on never being -let- out. He knew he had to at least try.

He also knew he had no resources. Hell, the poor guy was actually -naked-. No clothes, no food, no water. He had to try his hardest, but he also had to pace himself.

He let enough time pass so that his body might relax; his mind as well. And then he tried again.

Hands to the door, feet to the wall behind, mind on the task at hand. The only worthwhile task. The only option. Eyes closed.

He could feel the height difference, too. That precious inch and a half difference actually made the task harder. Jeph knew that he could only push as far as he was tall, from tippy-toe to outstretched fingers. Jeph had to ignore this, because he had one incredible fear in mind, one that he had to shut out until he had considered and weighed out and engaged all options.

Eyes closed. Pushing.

Braced, tensed, pushing, straining, groaning, sweating, screaming... falling.

Definitely more diffucult. The inch and a half had definitely made it more diffucult. Pausing to regain his composure and strength, he didn't fall into the hypnosis of his starried eyes this time. He got up, and checked the "doorframe", the steel corridor.

Another inch exposed, the door pushed that much further.

Adrenaline. Excitement. Confidence.

Eyes open.

Eyes closed.

Jeph stood still, breathing deeply with purpose, eyes closed. He was soon ready again.

Brace the hands, brace the feet. Brace the mind.

Don't stop.



There was no drawn-out process this time. Within a matter of twenty seconds he was pushing to the limit. Pushing -the- limit. Beyond.

Screaming all the while. All the while, eyes closed.

Fifteen straight minutes of pushing.

He never stopped. He would have kept going to whatever breaking point he may have had, but he didn't have to.

He fell, and it wasn't due to personal limitations.

There wasn't anything more to push.

He fell; his face, his forehead striking the edge of the steel corridor.

Ten minutes later, his mind swimming through what was no doubt at least a concussion, Jeph's eyes fluttered. He didn't see stars and snow and static. His vision was blurry and incohesive. Slowly, his psychological composure was regained, albeit not completely. He slowly lifted his head from the edge, blood coming from his wound, eyes still fluttering. Whatever pain his body was going through was a substandard, an unimportant matter compared to the pain in his head. Looking into the corridor, the light was indeed brighter. And all Jeph could think about was his greatest fear in this matter. The fear he had to shut out as best he could.

The "door" was still there.

That wasn't his fear. It simply amplified his fear, making it seem much more likely to be true. The "door" was nearly a full foot inwards.

Jeph's biggest fear in this regard, the only thing racing through his mind, was that the "door" wasn't actually a door, in any traditional sense. He feared it was instead not unlike a video game.

He feared, due to the common symmetry of the room, the fact that everything, the walls and the room capacity, was six by six, and the door frame was four by four, Jeph feared that "door" was also symmetrical. Four feet in any given direction. A solid cube of concrete.

But that's not really what scared Jeph, what made him weep. The only thing Jeph could think of was the fact that, even though he was physically capable of pushing the "door", he couldn't anymore. He needed to brace himself. He needed that wall behind him, something to push in the other direction. Physics. The only other option would be to try bracing himself on the steel corridor. The smooth corridor, slippery before and slippery more yet now with his blood on it. Physics. There were no more physics to his advantage.

And so eyes closed, he wept, and bled, and breathed...

...And sat up with a start.

The "door" was moving, on its own.

What Jeph had never really noticed, what he had never fully acknowledged, was that the doorframe was perfectly symmetrical in its own way. Jeph saw the gap. He saw the tiny space between the "door" and its frame, the precious few centimeters letting in air and dim light. Letting in hope. But he never thought to look down, to the bottom side. The lower frame.

You see, it had a gap too. The same gap, the same space of a few centimetres. The door was hovering, suspended in the air.

Whatever the location Jeph was at, it wasn't obeying the conventional rules of physics found on Jeph's earth. Had the physics been the same, there would be no bottom gap. No symmetry. And Jeph would never have been able to move the "door".

But there it was, moving on its own now, slowly but surely.

Eyes open.

No longer weeping, just bleeding, Jeph stared.

Once the "door" was beyond its four-feet-long corridor of steel, it moved upwards. Four feet upwards, stopping in mid air. White light shone in, not too bright, still reflected by the steel corridor. Jeph stared in disbelief.

The creatures stared back.

Jeph couldn't properly ascertain and identify the specifics of their appearance and physiology. The light silhouetted them, and his vision and mental coherence was still a mess from the fall, but he knew they weren't human.

One minute passed. No words were spoken. Neither party moved. Jeph couldn't even if he tried; he was worn out physically, and in too much a state of disbelief psychologically.

Eyes open.

And then the "door" came back down. Exactly foor feet. It entered the corridor, the steel, bloodied corridor, moving back in... exactly four feet.

Jeph still did not move. Only when the "door" lightly hit him in the head, his head still a few inches into the doorframe the whole time, did he move.

Eyes open.

Weeping. Bleeding. Breathing.

It wasn't until after several hours sleep that Jeph would push again.

(the end?)

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