She was gone by the time he came back. She'd left the map on the countertop, creased and faded green and all in French, but it was the best he was going to get, and it was better than the ones he'd gotten in the past. The girl had spoken all in French, too, come to think of it – no wonder he hadn't understood a word. Le Trésor, she kept saying, pointing to an unmarked point on the map. Ici. Ici.
Where she had disappeared to, he hadn't a clue. This kept happening, people appearing, people disappearing. Giving him directions. Telling him things in foreign languages, handing him keys that disintegrated after a single use, sending him on and on. The last girl had led him through a parking lot and pointed, expressionlessly, to a little red car, which was now idling out in the driveway in front of the house.
He left the house, map in hand. He flattened it out on the passenger's seat, backed out of the driveway, started down the endless switchbacks. Finally they spit out onto a long, straight highway lined with cacti. According to the map, there were close to a hundred miles of it. Le Trésor, the girl had kept saying. It seemed like it should be so obvious. And yet.
It was almost dawn when he reached the end of the highway. It ended, just like that: there was highway, and then there was not. Where there should have been asphalt, there was a door. He killed the engine. Sucked in the hot, dry air of the desert. Walked to the door. He walked around it, too – but it was the same on both sides. At eye level there was a small gold placard engraved with the words Please knock and below that another one that read Dr. Woo, MD. He raised a fist to knock. For a moment – hardly even a full moment, more like half a moment – he wondered if he shouldn't. Then he let his fist fall on the echoing wood, knocking, knocking.
Fiction Friday is an outlet for experimentation while I slowly work on becoming a novelist. Read the rest of the stories here...