The Gift. Short Story.

“Get the Gift! It will change your life!”
Brian stood at the bus stop, the advertisement blaring out behind him, he didn’t need to turn to picture the smiling face that no doubt filled the bus shelter. She was young, with short, red hair, a smattering of freckles across her nose and piercingly bright blue eyes. “I got the gift about three years ago now, I was one of the first through, I can say, without a doubt, that it has improved my life immeasurably. There’s been no downsides, nothing. I feel like a brand new person, before I got The Gift I felt like I was just floating through life, waiting for something to happen. Not anymore, now I run my own business and I know exactly what I want from life. I definitely didn’t have the confidence to try anything like that before hand but The Gift spurred me on, made me want to better myself. I think it even might have made me smarter!” the woman laughed, it was contagious and despite himself Brian smiled. Someone off screen was asking if she’d recommend the Gift to others. “Oh definitely. One hundred percent. It changed my life and it will change theirs too.”
The bus pulled up at the stop, Brian got on and found a seat. He had been mulling over the idea for a few weeks now, maybe he should go get the Gift. It wasn’t that expensive, a downright bargain really and there had been no negative side effects yet. The world was changing rapidly with the introduction of telekinesis and he didn’t want to be left behind did he? One of those stubborn people who refused to enter The Void and get The Gift just because. He stared out the window, watching the people on the sidewalk. He spotted a young girl giggling while a balloon floated around her, just out of reach. He wasn’t sure if she was controlling it or her father, who was standing nearby with a small smile on his face as he watched her play. He saw a woman stumble, her coffee cup fell from her hand but it froze midair, before it could hit the ground, it floated back into her hand, the woman barely broke her stride. Maybe it really would be for the best, and he’d probably be able to pick up a job easily enough, employers couldn’t get enough of those who had The Gift.

Brian shifted in his seat, sitting back and looking straight ahead, he could still remember the furore that surrounded The Void when it was first discovered, how scientists were baffled by it and of course the many cults that seemed to spring up around it. They had been in the middle of running another battery of tests when Jonathan Cross, a young assistant, had tripped over some unsecured wiring and fallen right through. He popped out the other side a few seconds later, pale and shaky with no memory of what had happened, one second he was on one side of The Void, the next he was on the other. He had felt faint and needed to sit down, without thinking he sat, the chair that was five feet away slid across the carpeted floor and was under him just in time. He was the first recorded human with telekinesis and since then the number had only grown. One company controlled access to the Void, and charged a thousand dollars for someone to walk through. A small price to pay for what you would be receiving. Really the record spoke for itself, no injuries, no fatalities, in fact they’d even caught cancer in more than a few pre-screenings.

Brian looked at his watch, his stop was coming up soon, but he did have time and the money was there in his account. He hesitated, just long enough for his stop to pass by and the decision was made for him.

Twenty minutes later he stood outside the non-descript building, it looked like any other high-rise surrounding it, except for the large banner above the doors, “Welcome to The Void!” The sign sent a shiver down his spine, whoever had decided on that slogan obviously wasn’t the brightest bulb, something about it made him uneasy. He almost turned around but then he spotted a small sign, “This way to receive the Gift.”, a black arrow pointed off to the left. With his heart thudding heavily in his chest he started walking.

The reception was as non-descript as the building itself, a thin grey carpet covered the floor, a few signs were dotted about and in the middle of it all was a large, long desk, behind which sat a row of receptionists. Brian followed the sign for the gift and found himself at a smaller reception desk off to the side.
“Hello and welcome to The Void, are you here to receive The Gift?”
“Hi, yes I am.”
“Ok great, do you have an appointment?”
“No, is that ok?”
“Yes, that’s perfectly fine, we have an open door policy but some people do like to book ahead in case we are particularly busy.” A clip board zipped out from underneath her desk and floated in front of him, “Please fill out all these forms and then we’ll have a doctor bring you through to examine you.”
“Thanks.”
“Thank you and please have a wonderful day.” The phone to her right started to ring, the woman didn’t look away from her computer screen as the phone gently lifted itself from the handset and floated to her ear. Brian turned from the desk and went to the small seating area across from it. The forms weren’t as complex as he expected them to be, it asked for his basic details, if he had any medical issues and of course, how exactly he would be paying. Once he had completed them he brought them back to the receptionist, she flicked through it quickly, “Ok, I see that you will be paying via card, if you would place it in the card reader please.”
Brian pulled out his wallet, fished out his card and put it into the machine, “Ok, the payment is a thousand dollars, if that is acceptable, please put your pin into the machine.” Brian typed his pin in and the woman passed him a slip of paper with a number on it, he took his card and the number, “a doctor will be with you shortly.” The receptionist gestured at the chairs and Brian went and sat down again. He looked at the number, it was 780, he looked at the small red numbers on the screen, they were at 779. He was next. Before he had time to start second guessing himself a man in a white coat came out of a door that seemed to blend into the wall and he called out “Number 780?” Brian stood and followed the man through the door.

Brian was brought to a small room with white walls and white tiles on the floor, there was a faint smell of bleach. Inside the room was a small bed, a desk and a few machines Brian couldn’t identify. The doctor sat behind the desk and gestured at the seat across from him. Brian sat down and after the doctor located his file, it began. The medical was over quickly, much faster than Brian expected. The doctor asked a few questions, tested his reflexes and gave him a scan. “Normally we are a bit more thorough, but I see you recently went for a physical at your own doctors, everything looks to be in order.”
“You can see that?”
“Oh yes, we requested your records, you signed a waiver on your forms. I actually prefer when people get their own tests done, speeds things up here. I find people can get surprisingly frustrated having to wait for the results.”
“Honestly I wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer.”
The doctor paused, “Are you sure you want to go through with it? It’s irreversible as far as we know. If you are uncomfortable or want to think it over you can come back another day, we can either refund your money now or hold it as a deposit for up to a year if you would like to come back another day.”
“No, thank you. I think if I left I wouldn’t come back.”
The doctor chuckled, “We get a lot of people feeling that way. Don’t worry though, it’s completely painless and it only takes about three seconds.”
“Did you do it?”
“Oh yes, I was among the first. It really has made my life so much easier, in a lot of unexpected ways too. I definitely don’t regret it and honestly, I’ve yet to hear of someone who has.”
Brian nodded distractedly, he felt like it was a practised sales pitch, one to keep him soothed but he didn’t care. They had already sold him on it, now he just wanted it to be over. The doctor nodded to himself, “Ok, I think that is everything, you’re good to go. One word of warning though, The Void itself is a bit…difficult. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. You might feel a bit of nausea, maybe some light headedness. Don’t worry, it has that effect on everyone.”
A young woman entered, “Ah Penny, would you please bring Mr. Smith up?”
The woman smiled at Brian, she looked vaguely familiar to him. She had long black hair and tanned skin, her eyes were a light shade of brown, she wore a white short sleeved top and a pair of white trousers. “Right this way Mr. Smith.”
Brian stood and together they left the room. Penny walked through the corridors with quick efficiency and even though she was a good head shorter than he Brian had to walk quickly to keep up. She led them to a bank of elevators, there she pressed a button and swiped a key card, the doors of the elevator slid open and they stepped inside. “Nervous?”
“A little.”
“I think everyone is. I was before I went through, I was terrified. I almost backed out at the last second. I’m glad I didn’t though.”
“How long has it been since you went through?”
“Not too long, about six months, just before I started working here actually.”
the elevator slowed and the doors opened, they were here.

The room was large and as he stepped out Brian realised that the room itself consisted of the entire floor. In the centre of the room was a large black doorway, around it were machines and wires. The door itself was about eight foot tall and four feet across. It was a solid, matt black. It felt wrong. Penny lead him to the doorway, there she stood to the side, “When you’re ready just step through.”
“That’s it?”
“That’s it.”
The doctor had been right, looking at it made Brian’s head hurt a little, it throbbed dully as he moved around the door. At the edge he stopped, he could still see it, but just barely, it was as though someone had drawn a thin, black line through the air. Penny coughed gently, Brian gave her a slightly guilty grin. He went to the side of the door and after taking a deep breath he stepped through. He was cold, so cold and falling, down, down, down forever, infinite darkness, never-ending, he would never- he blinked at the sudden return of light. He looked around feeling a bit confused, he was on the other side of the doorway, Penny was standing there, smiling. “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Brian shivered, then shook his head, “No, it wasn’t.”
“There’s a water bottle there, could you please lift it?”
Brian took a step forward, already reaching for it when he paused, and simply thought about lifting it. The bottle rose slowly and jerkily, but it still rose.
Penny smiled, “it’ll take a little practise to get used to it, but as you can see most people are able to get the hang of it easily enough. If you want we do offer classes in how to build and improve your telekinesis.”
“I think I’m ok for now, thank you.”
Together they walked over to the elevators, one was already standing open. Inside there was a rack filled with folders, Penny grabbed one and handed it to Brian, across the blue folder, in large white letters was “Telekinesis and You! A guide for the recently Gifted.” He put it into his bag without looking at it.
“You might feel a bit tired over the next day or two, it’s just your body adapting, don’t worry it passes. If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us, there’s also an emergency number inside that information packet if there is anything urgent, it is manned 24 hours a day.”
The elevator stopped and the doors opened, revealing the lobby.
“Thank you for choosing to receive the Gift, if you would like to take a moment we have a small café where you can have a coffee and something to eat. It’s over there, but if not I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.”
“Thanks, you too.”
Brian stepped out of the elevator, not noticing as the doors closed behind him. He felt a little disorientated, had he really done it? He thought about his phone and a second later it floated out of his pocket and into his hand. He shook his head and chuckled to himself. Already he didn’t know what he had been worried about, it was completely painless, he looked at the time, and it had only taken him twenty minutes in all. He stepped out of the building and, still feeling a little dazed, set off home.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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