Sunday, December 12, 2010

Door 12

Jack stood in front of his house. Only it wasn't his house. It would be another ten years before it would become Jack's house.

It was Jebidiah Guthrie's house. It said so on the mailbox, so it must be true.

Jack rang the doorbell and a older man with white hair and a bushy white mustache answered Jack's front door.

If everything he had heard in the last few days was true, Jack figured there was no need to beat around the bush.

"Hi, I"m Jack. We need to talk about the advent calendar."

Jebidiah smiled at him, showing teeth so blindingly white they could only have been brand new dentures. "The Doorway? Come on in."


Jeb was kind enough to offer Jack a Pepsi instead of coffee. They sat across from each other at the kitchen table, much like Jack had with Jeb's sister the day before.

"So you live here?" Jeb asked.

"Yeah," Jack said. "I've lived here for almost a year. Since my Mom and Dad got a divorce."

"You like it here?"

Jack nudged the candy with his tongue and decided to get to the point. "You're using the Doorway as a spice rack?"

Jeb glanced at the wall behind him. The Doorway was nailed to the wall above the stove. Every one of the 25 compartments had the door open and was filled with countless bottles and cans of spices. It looked like it had been there for a while.

"Yeah," Jeb said. "It's pretty useful."


"What would you like me to do with it?"

"Well," Jack said. "How about, I don't know, go back in time and do something good? Do something that would change history for the better. Like, kill Hitler or something."

"Yes, it does inspire those kinds of thoughts, doesn't it?" Jeb said. "I'm not sure it would be that easy; guards, police, just finding him could prove difficult, but I imagine it could be done. What if I go back and kill Hitler and the guy that takes over for him is even worse? Or just smarter? Maybe the next guy would win the war instead of losing it."

"Those are just excuses," Jack said.

"You're right, they are. You know the real reason I've never done anything like that?"

Jack shrugged.

"Because it's so easy to see where to start - Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot - but where do you stop? Should I look for Bonnie and Clyde? Should I try to cure polio before it maims thousands of people? What about the guy down the street that beats his wife? Want me to kill him? How about that drunk driver last week? Should I blow up his car before he can get in it?"

Jack didn't say anything. He didn't know what to say.

"It's a full time job, isn't it? If you want to be a super hero, you've got to be ready for the responsibility," Jeb said. "I'm not ready."

"Your sister, Mary, said that you killed your brother with the Doorway."

Jeb closed his eyes for a moment. "She's right. And two of our best friends from high school died too. We were young. And stupid. None of us were ready for the responsibility."

"I'm sorry," Jack said. Then he replayed Jeb's last statement in his head. "High school? How were you guys using the Doorway in high school? I thought it didn't work after you hit puberty."

"Who told you that?"

"It's confusing," Jack said. "I sort of told myself. From the future. To the past."

Jeb smiled, showing off the white teeth again. "Yeah, it gets like that, doesn't it? But you're wrong, there's no age limit on the Doorway. It works just fine for kids and adults alike. Trust me."

"Crap. My candy is almost gone," Jack said. "I'm going to disappear in a second. I still need to ask you some things."

"Candy? What are you talking about?"

"You know, the candy from the Doorway. Open the door and eat the candy, then move through time."

"I'm starting to wonder if you know how this thing works at all," Jeb said. "Why don't you come back and see me again tomorrow? We'll have dinner. And discuss the Doorway in a little more detail."

Jack was speechless. He nodded.

And flipped back home. From home. Only later. Or earlier.

It was all getting a little confusing.

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