Don’t Worry About It
By Nojh Livic
“Wait so you haven’t liked… called the police or anything?” Stan asked, his eyes flickering between Barbra, still relaxing from a long day in the recliner, and the new door that had mysteriously appeared in living room wall earlier that morning. Barbra gave a shrug and lifted herself in the recliner enough to peer over her should at the door. It was wooden and white, had a single brass doorknob, and looked far too clean to be in the apartment.
“Well what was I supposed to say?” She held her hand up to her ear and mimed a phone. “‘Yes Officer, I’d like to report a home invasion. Someone snuck in to my apartment in the middle of the night and installed a new door. No, nothing was stolen. No, we slept right through the entire thing. Hell my roommate walked right past it on his way to work this morning without even noticing! Now he’s forcing me to call you to report it. I know, right?! What a douche!’ Besides I figured you had ordered it or something…”
Stan’s expression grew darker and darker until he was scowling at his roommate. “Mom said living with a woman would be trouble…” he muttered, stalking towards the kitchen.
“She would know.” Barbra shot back, rolling her eyes and plopping back into the recliner to try to catch the rest of her television show. Not that there was anything good on. All the channels seemed to be show casing vacation infomercials for some reason, and badly. Despite the entire complex being wired for cable, the image on the screen was full of lines and static and the sound slightly garbled. She muttered and flicked through the channels a few times, finding the same problem on every channel, both analog and digital. She leaned forward to push herself out of her chair intent on checking the cables behind the entertainment center when three very loud knocks echoed through the apartment.
“Was that you or is there someone at the door?” Stan called from the kitchen, yelling over running the sink faucet.
“That wasn’t the front door.” Barbra called back, standing up slowly and wearily glancing over her shoulder.
“What?!” Stan yelled back.
Barbra raised her voice. “I said that wasn’t-” Stan turned off the faucet and entered the living room. “-the front door.” Barbra finished lamely. Stan, still obviously annoyed, was drying his hands with a towel. He opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by the same three loud knocks. Instead he leapt back a foot from the newly installed doorway. Barbra remained standing behind the recliner but snatched up the TV remote as a possible improvised throwing weapon.
“You answer it!” she hissed at him.
“What? Why me?” Stan hissed back, sliding towards Barbra while still facing the door.
“Because you ordered it!” she whispered.
“No I didn’t!” Stan said, trying to put her between himself and the door. She stepped to the side.
“Damnit. Coward,” she muttered before slowly toeing her way towards the door, television remote at the ready. She froze when there was another pair of knocks. This time the knocks were followed up by a testing of the doorknob, which jiggled slightly, and then slowly began turning.
“Shit. Shit! It’s going to open!” Stan cried, diving behind the recliner. Barbra stood frozen like a deer caught in headlights, television remote pointed towards the door as it slowly creaked open.
An ear-piercing screech filled the room as the door opened and both renters were forced to cover their ears with their hands. Stan began praying. Barbra dropped the remote and cursed loudly in pain. However the screeching stopped almost immediately.
“-Whoops! Sorry there. Calibrated it for the wrong atmosphere! Don’t worry about it. So, wow haven’t seen this much oxygen in a while huh?” said a new voice from the doorway. Slowly both occupants lifted their eyes up to see a short man in blue overalls and a red baseball cap standing just past the threshold of their new doorway. He had what looked like a toolbox in his left hand, and the television remote Barbra had dropped in his right. “Looks like you dropped your controller there, miss.” The man said from behind a rather bushy mustache. He lifted the plastic device to his face and squinted at it, slowly looking up and down its entire length.
“Actually looks like they gave you a defective model. This one seems to be emitting some mid-range radiation,” he explained after finishing his inspection. Neither renter had managed to fully recover yet, but that didn’t stop the intruder from walking right in and around them to the television. “Ahh I see your receiver is also mis-calibrated. Sloppy install. I apologize for that. We contract out installations. I keep telling them those workers from Columbajust don’t have the work ethic for this kind of business. I mean just last week they installed another of this model on the completely wrong planet! Do you believe that?”
Stan awoke first, shaking his head as the distinct smell of sulfur filled his nostrils as the man walked past. He slowly climbed to his knees, whipping his head between the short man now behind the television set and Barbra, who had managed to turn around but had yet to master her agape mouth.
Call the cops! Stan mouthed to Barbra. Barbra blinked her eyes a few times and then shook her head. She looked at Stan, still crouched on the floor.
What? Barbra mouthed back at him.
Call. The. Cops! He mouthed again, miming a phone with his hand.
Odd sounds were now emitting from behind the tall entertainment center. Something like a drill, followed by a sizzling sound, and some beeps. Both renters quickly looked towards the television, which had gone completely to static.
“Don’t worry about that. We’ll get it right in a jiffy!” The man called from behind the entertainment center. “Won’t take but a Fornax day to fix. Since they did such a sloppy install, this is all on me. Don’t worry about it!” Stan looked back towards Barbra again but her attention was now focused on the door rather than on him. He scowled and began digging in his jeans for his cell-phone.
Barbra carefully stepped up to the door, which was open just a crack. From that crack she could see small twinkles of light but mostly darkness. Slowly she leaned forward, closing one eye and leaning to try to see through the crack in the door. The tiny pricks of light reminded her of stars.
There was a crackle and Stan yelped in pain. Barbra jumped and whirled around to see Stan sticking his fingers in his mouth. His phone, which was smoking, lay on the floor. At the same time, the man behind the entertainment center declared chipperly, “Done!”
Barbra froze again as he reappeared. The man smiled, or so he seemed to as it was hard to see his mouth over his mustache, at Stan. He tucked the television remote under an arm and put his fingers his mouth as well, miming the man, then bobbed his head, before walking over to Barbra. He pulled his fingers out of his mouth and instead handed the remote to Barbra. He gave the woman a wink. “Got some nice manners on that one, miss. I’d say he’s a keeper. No thanks necessary though! If you’d just hit the support button there?” the man asked in the same chipper tone.
The remote was clammy in Barbra’s hand but she just stared at the strange man as he walked around her to the door. She blinked a few times uncomprehendingly, then looked down at remote. Slowly she pressed the button labeled support on the remote. The door make a sudden banging sound.
“If you ever need help or repair, you can just hit that button and one of us will come running. Any day, any time, any solar flare. Don’t worry about it. And thank you again for purchasing from Intergalactic Travel Solutions Incorporated!” And before either renter could protest, not that they wanted to, he opened the door, exited, and closed it shut.
“Did he just say Intergalactic…?” Stan asked slowly, still staring at the door. Barbra squinted one eye in thought, turned around and pointed the remote at the television. It flickered to life, showing a beautiful beach with pure white sand, blue water, and a purple sky. She grinned.
“You heard the man. Don’t worry about it.”
I like this one. It wrote itself really well and quickly, and I think it came together nicely. I did some miner editing to fit the title in better as well as the hints for what the door actually was. I don’t think I was too subtle about what was going on this time but I think my character’s personalities shown through rather well. I imagine how Stan and Barbra ended up becoming roommates is a really interesting story as well.