Let’s Not Go Outside – by RUSS BICKERSTAFF

 

Let’s Not Go Outside

By Russ Bickerstaff

Let’s say that there IS a world out there.

Let’s say it’s actually resting out there beyond that door with everything we would expect out of a big, wide world outside. Let’s say that there’s a sun that sets and a moon that rises. Let’s say that there is an ocean, a beach and some tides and things. Let’s say that it’s pounding and breathing with life of every single kind imaginable. Let’s say that it’s all full of the restless everything we would expect in a world beyond the front doors.

What are we going to do about it?

Are we going to open the doors, look up at the sun and simply walk out into the world like we belong there or something?

Are we going to walk out there like we own the place simply because we have finally decided to walk out the front doors?

See–I don’t think that’s a good idea because the world out there isn’t going to move like it does in here. We understand that things are a certain way and we’re okay with it, but once we walk out those front doors, it all changes, doesn’t it?

I’m not saying that we’re not going to leave at some point, but let’s leave when we have a reason to do so. Make no mistake about it, the moment we leave here, the world outside is going to recognize us as refugees from somewhere else. We’ll be outsiders with no definite place out there. They’re going to take one look at us and know this before we even open our mouths to speak. We’re not from around there. We’re not from anywhere near there and it’s not a good idea to try to pretend like we are.

Naturally, the best among them will simply avoid us.

Those who don’t might condescendingly say hello.

If they do, they’re probably not going to be thinking in terms of actually trying to help us out. It’s the ones that will be trying to help us out that are likely to be the worst. They’ll be looking for some kind of angle to work to try to take advantage of us in some way. It may not become apparent at first.

Those who welcome us the most are most likely to be the ones that will be looking to cause us the greatest amount of harm because they will probably be the least concerned about us. They’ll be looking to use us to satisfy their own twisted desires. We are, after all, capable of great things. They will have decided that we could be of some sinister use to them and we’ll be enslaved.

Just like that.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking that if we really ARE better than them we’ll be able to avoid any kind of enslavement; but believe me when I say that enslavement isn’t always so obvious. There are sneaky ways of ensnaring someone through casual requests or worse–friendship. They’ll find some way to get us to bend to their will without us even realizing that we are working for them, but believe me–we will be. There’s no doubting that. It would be the most totally awful thing imaginable.

I know what I’m talking about because I’ve stood at the door. I have guarded that huge gate and watched day turn into night.

Yes, it IS beautiful but they chose me to guard because they knew that I wouldn’t lose my head over how beautiful it was out there. They knew that I wasn’t going to get all weird about it just because it was a million more times beautiful out there than it is in here. I know it’s dangerous out there. I know that without the gleaming, black battle armor that is sealed with its own oxygen source and without the huge semiautomatic rifle and a total respect for the danger out there the world outside will destroy us all without a second glance.

It’s not worth trying to persuade me otherwise.

I’ve already caved-in once this week and I won’t do it again. Actually I guess that was twice . . . see . . . one of those on the outside walked up to me (quite nicely I thought) and asked me for a cup of sugar. Strangest thing I could imagine asking a total stranger with a semiautomatic rifle  pointed at you and everything, but he asked me anyway.

I couldn’t see what harm it would do, so I went ahead and gave him a cup of sugar. There wasn’t any issue there. I had no problem with it or anything like that. I handed over the cup of sugar. A couple of days passed and there wasn’t anything that came of it. It was perfectly normal and everything. Then out of nowhere he came back and really casually asked me if I could open the door for him. This kind of took me off my guard. I mean . . . it really didn’t make any sense them wanting to come in.

I didn’t see any harm in letting the outside in, but see: that’s my whole point. Those on the outside want to come in. It can’t be that great a place out there if they’re trying to come in, can it? Why bother opening those doors again to go out? They clearly don’t even like being out there all that much otherwise, why come in here in the first place?

Where are they? They could be anywhere. They’re crawling around inside here somewhere. No…no…I’m afraid I can’t believe that you’re one of the ones we let in. No I don’t want half a cup of sugar. I’m sorry, I can’t let you out.

***

Bickerstaff headshot

 

Russ Bickerstaff is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. His short fictions have appeared in over 30 different publications including Hypertext Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Beyond Imagination. His Internarrational Where Port can be found at: http://ru3935.wix.com/russ-bickerstaff.

*Photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito.*

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