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An outreached hand can pull you up or it can pull you down.

By Jordan FlynnPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 11 min read
Top Story - June 2024
Photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash

She was there. Like she always had been, as if she were created immediately following the big bang. Waiting for him. Her long brown hair twisted and danced wildly in the lack of gravity. She was hauntingly beautiful, but her face was a look of terror and desperation. She mouthed wordless shouts, Ron only could assume she was yelling by the way the veins bulged in her neck.

She was reaching for him, this mysterious woman. Then the dream ended the way it always did, with Ron's thick hand mere inches away from hers.

Instead of finding her slender fingers, Ron's hand connected with his alarm clock that he had since college. The one that everyone's had at one point in their lives; with the most annoyingly loud alarm known to mankind.

By Bruno Guerrero on Unsplash

Ron sighed as he rolled off his twin bed and rubbed his fists into his eyes. He checked his phone for any updates, and like usual there was nothing. All but an update from the local Fox news about a drowning victim.

Otherwise, his morning went as they typically went, in a blur. He was suddenly brushing his teeth staring at himself in the mirror. His hair was a wild mess of sandy brown hair and gray. He watched his belly jiggle ever so slightly as he brushed.

Before he knew it he was among'st the endless walls of cubicles taking a customer service call. He didn't even remember what he had for breakfast. Lately his days were like that, one indiscernible day melted into another; with one indiscernible phone call melting into the next.

By kate.sade on Unsplash

In the midst of this monotony he felt a presence behind him. He turned just in time to see a clutch of balloons floating past. His eyes followed the string from the balloons down to the hand that held them.

Ron perked up in his chair and stood nearly pulling the headset off his head. The man had a broad back and wore a polka dot shirt. It was a clown, there was a clown in the office. “What the heck?” He looked around the mostly empty office. Seemingly it was just him and the clown on the floor.

The man wore green pants with giant shoes that completed the ensemble and was walking towards the elevator.

It wasn't until the clown turned around in the elevator that Ron got a good look at him. His white makeup was faded in some spots, and Ron could see a 5 o'clock shadow surrounding red lips.

The clown looked at Ron with a grin. His eyes sparkled but within them there was something that unsettled Ron and it wasn't just the fact he hated clowns since his 9th birthday. After an eternity the elevator doors finally shut, sending it downstairs.

“Huh…” Must be someone's birthday.

Ron did not have long to get comfortable. Not long after the clown incident Ron heard a dreaded voice call out above the cubicles. “Ronnie.” He straightened himself in his chair. He swallowed spit, an action that was both annoying to him and involuntary.

“Ronnie, ya on a call?”

Ron lifted himself from the chair to see his boss standing in the walkway with his hands on his hips. Ron stared at Bill Stevens, for apparently one second too long. Bill waved for him to come down towards his office.

Bill, or William as was his full name, had been Ron’s boss for the past however many years. Ron assumed he went by Bill because it was more approachable. He wasn't the worst boss Ron had ever had, though he may have been one of the fakest. He sort of looked like a rejected Ken doll design of some kind. From his fake tan, his feathered hair, and how he dressed like a Wall Street trader from the 90's, that was it, Wall Street Ken. Ron chuckled to himself.

Ron got along with mostly everyone, mostly because he knew he wasn't important, but for some reason Bill rubbed him the wrong way. It wasn't just because he was two faced; or because he was younger than Ron. It wasn't due to the fact he was the kind of guy who enjoyed his own voice far too much. It might have been due to how he called Ron:

“Ronnie. Come right in, pop a squat.”

Ron sat down, the chair creaked beneath him.

Bill sat down as well with a grin on his face. “Alright, how ya doin' today?”

“Pretty good boss, another day, another dollar.”

“Ha that's right, which means dollars for me.”

Ron forced a light laugh out and waited for the real reason he was called in.

Bill adjusted his red tie before continuing. “We need to talk about your wrap up time Ronnie. It's getting out of control. Ya can't make me money, let alone yourself money going at that snail's pace.”

Ron thought he was decent in between calls, and notated them effectively. Though how it usually went at places like this was the better you did, the more responsibilities you gained instead of pay increases. So Ron was usually working on numerous things while taking calls.

Ron thought to say all of this to Bill and that he had a large workload that was drowning him. Or offer that some things could be divided up between other employees who sluff off. Instead of this Ron nodded his head. “Okay boss, I hear you. I will work on it.”

“You hear me? You sure Ron? 'Cus you and me have had this discussion a few times now man.” Bill held up his hands, “I don't know how long I can keep MY boss off my back about it you know what I mean?”

Ron sat quietly nodding.

“And I like you Ronnie I do, you're one of the best on the phones, I hardly hear ya make a peep, or get frustrated. I just need more from ya is all.”

There's the olive branch. Ron thought to himself. “Okay, okay I got it. One hundred percent.”Bill nodded, apparently accepting this offer from Ron, and his ridiculous smile returned. “Okay so now I gotta ask you a favor Ron. If you could do me a solid.”

Golly here it comes now…

“I can give some OT if you are willing to stay late the rest of the week to train the nooby we got coming in tomorrow.”

Ron already felt like he was working through OT or at least walking a line that sometimes he crossed without the benefit of getting OT pay. His lips tightened together.

“Sure boss, I don't have anything of importance going on.”

Ron wasn't sure what was worse. The fact he rolled over again, or the fact that it was true…

The next day came before Ron even noticed. He was walking towards the nondescript soulless building that was his job and passed through the revolving doors. He was shocked to find that when he approached the security desk, he was forced to wade through ankle deep water. He noticed others walking through the water without paying any mind. Am I the only one not crazy?

Ron shook out his shoes in vain and approached the security desk. The security guard sat in wait with a wide closed mouth smile. Ron thought he looked like a cartoon. “Morning. Something wrong with the pipes?”

The security guard broke his smile only when speaking. “Nothings wrong with the pipes, I'm not sure what you’re implying.” His voice was accusatory but his smile lingered.

Ron winced in confusion, “I mean don't you see the flooded floors?” He asked gesturing with his briefcase towards nowhere and everywhere.

The security guard nodded. “Yes, it's exactly how the boss likes it down here. Which…” He checked a notepad. “You are late. You best get up there now.”

“L-late?” Ron stammered out. Ron picked up his sopping feet and power walked to the elevator. What could I be late for? He pressed the elevator button, which gave a bing of approval. His shoes squished as he tapped impatiently. What was it? What's today? It was then he remembered, “Oh gosh!”

They had the business clients coming in with the executives this morning. He could hear Bill's voice in his head now, and could almost see him talking with a firm look. “We need you to be there sharp Ron, you are the one quarterbacking this thing now.” Ron patted his hair, “What in the blazes is taking the elevator so long?”

By Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash

Not a moment later there was a loud ding as the elevator arrived. When the elevator doors opened, a wave of water erupted throwing Ron off his feet. He found himself tumbling head over heels in the wake of the water. He fought to where he thought the top of the water was, when he reached it he gasped for air. He realized he was still gripping his briefcase.

Ron let it go finally, he felt a stab of panic as he saw that the water was rising quickly. He figured the only chance was out the way he came. He took a deep breath and dove into the deepening chilly waters. He swam best he could towards the entrance. He passed by the security desk and much to his surprise the security guard was still sitting at the desk as if nothing had happened. Ron thought to pull him out with him , but also realized he hadn't swam in years.

Ron reached the doors, which pushed easily open. He went outside to find the water continued seemingly forever. It was eerie, the entire city block was now submerged in the murky waters. The ominous shadows of buildings, and vague outlines of cars were still visible. Ron felt his lungs burning. Only way to go is up.

He swam upwards for what seemed like hours. He swam away from the growing darkness beneath him, he knew he didn't have long, he knew he had to get to the light, and away from the dark.

Then she was there. Like she always had been. Her long brown hair twisted and danced wildly in the lack of gravity. She was hauntingly beautiful, but her face was a look of terror and desperation. She mouthed wordless shouts. Ron could tell she was shouting from the bulging veins from her neck. Ron realized he was in his dream he kept having. Or was it a nightmare? Ron felt like it was the latter.

Somewhere inside himself , he just knew that this was the furthest he had made it before. He swam towards her. Bubbles rolled out of her mouth as she shouted. Ron thought that if he just could get a little bit closer he might hear her. He might be able to grab her hands, but she was floating away from him. Towards the light.

Ron took one brief moment of respite and then thrust all of his energy into the motion, groaning under the water as he reached for her hand.

By I.am_nah on Unsplash

He grabbed it, clinching his left, then his right hand around hers. He felt himself rising with her now. To his relief he didn't have to work so hard. The water rushed past him as they ascended.

She pulled him close to her face, she gave a mournful smile. She leaned in, Ron felt the urge to kiss his savior, his angel, but her lips went to his ear.

Instead of shouting she whispered, “You need to wake up Ron. You need to come back to me.”

Ron felt an eruption of agony, and a flash of blinding light that he would soon forget.

When Emma awoke from the dream she shook off a shiver as if she were still in the chilled water of the endless sea. And she woke up the same way as she always did, with a sea of tears in her eyes. She wiped them and looked at her watch. She knew that in any minute that Dr. Douchebag would come in to remind her that visiting hours were over.

Emma pulled her wild mass of brown hair from her face and quickly pulled it into a ponytail.

When her tear ladened hair was pulled from her eyes, Ron came into view. A sight that she still wasn't used to, even after 8 months. Sprawling tubes of life support wrapped him in a snake-like embrace.

He was as lifeless as he had been since that fateful day they brought him. Emma remembered how cold his body was even hours after the accident. The puddles of water they managed to pump from his lungs.

Emma knew though despite all the signs, or lack of them, he was somewhere in there. She questioned her sanity numerous times, but the dreams she had, they were too real. Even if they weren’t, they were the closest thing she had to being with her husband.

Emma sighed as she heard the footsteps coming from down the hall. Dr. Stevens entered the room with a light rattle on the door of gloved knuckles.

“Knock, knock. It's that time.”

Emma grimaced. “Yeah I know, I know.” She stood up and piled all her things into her purse. Dr.Stevens cleared his throat. “Are you ready for that monthly discussion Emma?”

“Nope. I am not Bill.”

He sighed, and pulled the gloves from his hands. “Emma I understand this is difficult, terrible, something no one should have to consider. But at some point you have to think about yourself.”

She walked around him to Ron’s bed.

He continued, “There hasn't been brain activity in months.”

She rolled her eyes back into her skull, and turned to face Bill. “Of course I know that, I know all these instruments say that, but I know he’s there!”

Another one of the RN’s peaked in the doorway and exchanged a look with Bill, certainly speaking a language that only hospital staff know.

Emma leaned down to Ron's face that was now much skinnier. “You need to wake up Ron. You need to come back to me.” Her voice cracked, and she left with the RN behind her.

Emerging from the sea of darkness, Ron jolted awake into a room full of blinding lights, and most of all pain. He heard the hastening beep of life support.

A familiar voice spoke over the madness, “Well, I’ll be damned Ronnie. Holy shit your back. Oh my god. Nurse!”

Ron felt a plethora of hands on his body.

Finally his vision adjusted to the light, that being painfully. As life coursed through him, parts of his body hurt that he didn't know could. Much to Ron’s disappointment and confusion the voice he recognized was attached to Bill Stevens.

“You wont believe it Ron, Emma your wife just left. We are going to call her right back!” He said with a perfect smile.

Ron tried to speak. Emma? But all that came out was a gasp that turned into a grunt. His vocal cords cried in agony, he gagged on the mouthful of tubes.. Emma? The name should mean something to him. It should. It was then he saw her floating in the water reaching toward him.

Tears filled his eyes as a lifetime of memories flooded his brain.

Bill nodded, “Emma, yep, I'm going to go let her in right now. Hang tight Ronnie.”

Bill jogged from the room down the hallway, Ron heard his keds squeak in the distance.

For a moment Ron just sat, slowing his breathing. When he heard footsteps walking down the hallway. They sounded different from Bills.

The imposing figure that filled the doorway was most certainly not Emma. They paused long enough to glance in at Ron.

Ron felt sick to his stomach, as if he had died again, as if he were plummeting down into the flooded city of his dream. The smeared white face paint did not hide the smile of the clown. He gave a curt nod and continued down the hallway with his string of balloons trailing him along the way.


About the Creator

Jordan Flynn

Out of Grand Rapids MI. I write because I have to. (I am a noob however.)

Follow me @ Jayyeffe on instagram

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Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (7)

  • Dr. Jason Benskin26 days ago

    Congratulations on having your story featured as a top story on Vocal! This is a remarkable achievement, and it's clear why your work has received such recognition. Your storytelling is truly exceptional. The narrative was not only compelling but also beautifully crafted, holding my attention from start to finish. The way you developed the characters and plot was masterful, making the story both engaging and thought-provoking. Your unique voice and perspective shine through, setting your work apart. It’s evident that you poured a lot of passion and effort into this piece, and it has certainly paid off. I look forward to reading more of your incredible stories in the future. Keep up the fantastic work! Best regards, Dr. Jay

  • You definitely have a excellent grasp of characterization and emotional depth here!

  • Tabby Londonabout a month ago

    Excellent read

  • Jarrett Smithabout a month ago

    I feel like I got caught in that elevator flood scene with this. Great work

  • Cyrusabout a month ago

    Great job!!

  • S.J. Frederickabout a month ago

    Great job! Nice writing.

  • shanmuga priyaabout a month ago

    Congratulations 🎉

Jordan FlynnWritten by Jordan Flynn

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