The Zonehopper's Guide to the Perception Range

ENTRY D: Into the Range

Aha, there you are. You know, you really ought to have that looked at.

Huh? Oh...guess you're not perceiving it yet. You'll know what I mean.

Anywho, we were on the elevator, right? So there I was, waiting for the ground floor, or at least what I hoped would be the ground floor. Considering we weren't supposed to have an elevator in the first place, I didn't feel exactly confident that I'd really come back to where I came from.

All around me was the sound of chewing. Chewing, and little soft footsteps. The mice, or rats, or rodent-esque hobgoblin things, whatever, had apparently gotten the doors open again and poured down the elevator shaft after me. If they were smart enough, indifferent to damaging their own corporate property and just wanted me dead, they'd have probably already chewed through the cables and dropped me like a rock, but it sounded more like they were chewing at the roof, so at least one of those things wasn't the case. I quietly hoped it was either that they weren't smart or they didn't want me dead, but from what I'd seen so far, it was probably the one about them just being cheap. Damn it.

The thick, metal shell of the elevator seemed like it was holding up pretty well. Five, ten, fifteen floors and I still wasn't seeing a dent. I was starting to feel cocky by the thirtieth floor when the chewing gave way to a new sound.


They had drills.

What were they even doing? Disassembling something? Were they going to take the elevator apart piece by piece?

Five floors later, I had my answer as the first "drill" finally broke through the ceiling. An off-white, bony looking thing, like a unicorn's horn. When a dirty halo of whiskers came with it, I knew I was looking at whirling, corkscrew teeth.

Twenty floors down. Seventy to go. When a second and third drill-rat broke through the ceiling, it became obvious that they were working on a perforated line. I wasn't going to make it.

I began to hammer at the elevator's buttons, more agitated than afraid. I had, after all, just been fired. Six years of my life I gave to this dump. Worse, fired by cheese. You know something? I don't even like cheese. There, I said it. I can tolerate it as an element of other meals, but I've never craved it, and I've never understood the veritable lust the rest of the world has for funky, dried-up milk. It doesn't taste that great, people. It tastes exactly like what it is and frankly I don't think it has any business managing a corporation.

As the elevator continued down, unresponsive to my input, I let out a rare expletive on my part and kicked hard at the doors.

"You could try asking nicely, you know" came a new voice, hollow and metallic.

Sixty floors to go, and the rats had just about finished a semicircle of a couple dozen thumb-size holes.

"Great. Now what." I quipped, wondering if the elevator was going to start talking to me now, which is subsequently exactly what it did.

For the first time, I noticed the pair of glassy, bulging eyeballs to either side of the doors. How did I miss that on the way up?

"If you need off so badly, why didn't you just say so?" it replied, the metal seam of its doors rippling ever so slightly as it spoke.

I gave the thing my most incredulous stare, which in retrospect I should have given to the giant cheese creature, and it's a shame I wasted such a good one on something only half as absurd. "I, er, guess I thought it was obvious from my situation." I guessed there were about ten, fifteen floors to go before the rats finished drilling out a circle. "Actually...doesn't that hurt?"

"Oh no, of course not" spoke the elevator. "It's like a haircut. Where do you need off to in such a hurry, anyway?"

I was really running out of good stares to go through. "Somewhere I'm not about to get eaten by rats, if that's not too much trouble for anybody."

"Ah!" it responded. "Been there, done that I take it? Well, they're just angry that they fired you and you didn't shift out yet. I heard the quasigleaming is nice right now."

"I don't know what that is, elevator. Can you maybe just...stop? I can try the stairs, or something."

"Uuuuuugh." The eyeballs rolled in their metallic sockets. "You do NOT want the stairs. Don't even get me started on those pretentious twits. How about I drop you off in the nearest para-greyish? They're not likely to follow, it's not in their contract."

"FINE, please, whatever!" Panic was finally threatening to match my level of half-amused amazement as the rats drilled their final hole, completing a circle in the ceiling about two and a half feet across.

The elevator rolled its eyes again. "Hmph. Well. Since you asked so nicely."

With a slightly damper-sounding swish than I expected, the elevator slid open its doors into a bland, yellowed looking hallway.

"Thanks, really" I said about as sincerely as I could to a weird monster that, for all I knew, just dumped me out into certain doom, but with any luck, it might at least be something other than rodent-related doom.

I darted out into the hall just as a resounding BANG shook the entire elevator. A quick look back revealed the doors closing again as a huge, hairy fist retreated back through the freshly made hole.

All was silent. From this side, the elevator doors appeared worn, rusted and ancient, as though they hadn't budged in decades. All around me was dingy, cracked drywall, and beneath my feet was a layer of peeling linoleum.

I didn't know it yet, but I'd been shunted off to one of the peripheral grey layers, the very edges where the deadness of the grey began transitioning abruptly into the higher-concept existence range. It may happen to you, or it may not. It may happen to you and not happen to you, as these things often go. The important thing to remember is thet ffe2 iiwjd[[ ixx? idj29:'##@&K# :""{}

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