He sat up and fixed his eyes on the sphere of light as it began revolving at tremendous speed, flinging hundreds of bright, colourful sparks around the room. As each spark landed, it melted then popped, giving off a short, smooth, high-pitched sound, so that the air was soon filled with what resembled a dozen flutes playing in harmony. The ball of light spun faster; sparks rained down like confetti; flutes whistled in racing arpeggios. Suddenly the sparks stopped, the room plunged into silence and the light shrank to the size of a pin head. It blinked off and on and off again, then burst outward in dazzling brightness. Victor felt an odd weightlessness, as though he had just launched from the world’s largest trampoline. A thousand butterflies fluttered before him, while at his feet sprang up a multitude of sunflowers that smelled of cinnamon. A fighter jet screamed past overhead, and though it flew so high, Victor was able to see the pilot giving him the thumbs up. He heard a laughing baby, a string quartet, the crack of a home run and the voice of Ed Sullivan, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen… Gary Grimes,” followed by the screams of a thousand adoring fans.
Once again, this all happened in an instant, after which Victor found himself alone in a quiet, dusty room. The room he found himself in this time was a storage closet containing brooms, a mop and bucket and other cleaning equipment; all old fashioned but sturdy. A red birthday candle sitting on a shelf provided just enough light for Victor to look around. He picked up a green lollipop from the floor and put it in his shirt pocket as he left.
“If the rest of the rooms are as easy at that one,” he said, “this might not be so bad.”
He walked back through the dining room toward the kitchen, dragging his feet on the comforting softness of the carpet. At the kitchen door he paused and looked at his watch.
“Twenty minutes,” he said. “All right, plenty of time. Just get in, grab some food and get back before midnight. Should be fine.”
He exhaled a long, steady breath and then opened the door.
Halting in the doorway, Victor scanned the kitchen. It was spacious and neat, though of a different decor to the rest of the mansion. Sleek linoleum covered the floor; a jagged, brown and white design covered the linoleum. The hand-carved wooden cabinets, whose natural dignity a simple coat of varnish would have highlighted, were here abased under a copious layer of canary yellow paint. The wide bench tops endured an indignity of their own, bearing a laminate whose pale shade of green simultaneously attracted and offended the eyes. Victor, however, had no regarded for the room’s deficiency in elegance: it had a refrigerator, and that was all that mattered.
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