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Across The Threshold by Jack Bode
Chapter 1


It was Saturday afternoon. I looked at the clock hanging on the wall above a picture of a mountain scene. Almost ten to three. There were a few things I needed from the Miracle Mart across the road. Might as well go over right now and stock up on cereal, bread and milk, I thought. I grabbed my wallet and the keys lying on the counter.

Looking through the kitchen window I peered at the wind driven sleet. It looked like the middle of January, not one bit as if spring was well under way. I could dimly make out five moving vans waiting their turn to unload their contents. They’ll probably have two of the three elevators tied up, I thought.

It was the end of April, and like every month end, people were moving in and out of the building. Having two out of the three elevators on service was the only unpleasant aspect of living in an apartment building on the fifteenth floor. Well, you can’t have everything, I told myself.

I slipped into my parka and put on my beret. On impulse I grabbed the umbrella hanging by the door. Then I stepped into the corridor, carefully locking the door behind me.

At precisely 2:50 I pushed button for the elevator in the hallway and prepared myself for a lengthy wait. I was greatly surprised when the elevator door opened before I had taken two steps towards the window from where on a clear day one could see busy Warden Avenue and the traffic light at the corner. I found it even more astonishing that the elevator was empty.

Naturally I expected it to stop at every floor, quickly filling up and then, despite having reached its capacity, still stopping at floor after floor until it arrived at the street level. To my utter surprise it did not halt once. It took precisely thirty seconds to descend the fifteen floors. At street level a number of people were waiting and pressed forward.

I pushed through the crowd and crossed the lobby. My apartment building had a vestibule like many modern apartment buildings have. It was quite large and had a couple of benches along one wall. Usually one could find several people lounging around there, studying the large alphabetical listing of tenants or waiting to meet somebody. On this particular afternoon the vestibule was deserted.

Through the glass of the front door I could barely see the flower beds and the two mountain ashes, only twenty meters away. The wind drove the sleet directly towards the entrance. It was a veritable blizzard. And now, being at ground level, I could see the accumulation of fresh snow on the pavement. The moving vans were parked along the bend in the driveway and were not visible from here.

I pulled my parka tightly around me, making sure that all the buttons were closed. For an instant I was debating with myself whether I should go back upstairs and forget about going to the store. But having come this far I decided against it. I was thankful for having the beret on my head. It seemed to be too stormy outside for the umbrella. Putting on my gloves and turning up the collar of my parka I reached for the door. In the distance I could see a shadowy figure approaching through the swirling snow.

As I stretched out my arm to open the door to the outside I happened to glance at my watch. 2:50:59. I shall never forget the digital display. At precisely the instant when the time changed to 2:51:00 I stepped across the threshold of the door to the outside and ...


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