The gray sea stretches out toward the horizon beneath a vast, gray sky. Hovering over white-capped wavelets is a blue telephone box (yes, excruciatingly similar to the Tardis). Hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, a dark-clad man steps from the box and walks away across the sea without dampening the soles of his shoes. The phone box’s door gapes, moving back and forth with the wind and groaning against its hinges. And we, gathered on the shore and disheartened by his apparent failure, watch silently as he leaves us behind. Then, the sea begins to boil…
Two objects rise from the tossing, gray waters — one resembles a cross-section of large, white pvc pipe; the other, a rat’s nest of steel wool. These should be inanimate, harmless, simple detritus thrown up onto the shore; but they are some how alive and very, very hostile. They give chase, and we flee, stumbling over the sand in our panic.
Beyond a wind-whipped dune I see a Gothic, brownstone mansion pressed against the dull and flattened sky. I press forward, push open the double coffin doors and find myself in a large entry chamber — dark, carved wooden staircase and paneled wainscoting; rich burgundy area rug and stair-runner; William Morris-style wallpaper. At the hall’s far end, a doorway blushes with light. Upon entering, I find a throng of people in an impatient, disorderly line. Standing on a makeshift dais, a man exhorts those on line to “choose well”. He continues, saying that those with a pure heart, who are gentle and kind and good, will pick the correct elixir; whereas those whose hearts and wicked and harbor ill intent and greed will choose wrongly. Apparently, either life or death will result. At the foot of the dais are two cherubic children, each holding a small, clear plastic cup. One child offers a red elixir, the other blue (this time, excruciatingly similar to “The Matrix”). Beyond them, is another room, and I step out of line to peek and find a heavily-curtained, semi-dark room. Candlelight flickers over small groups of people gathered together in plush armchairs and couches, talking quietly. Little empty cups lay scattered about low tables, across the floor. Nervously, they await the results of their choice.
Leaving this scene, I return to take my place at the back of the line. This room has altered radically and now resembles a pharmacy, all sterile white aisles, floors, walls, shelves. As the line slowly inches forward, I have a sudden insight — it doesn’t matter which cup one chooses, that the liquid’s color, red or blue, is insignificant. Rather, the liquid itself holds the life-or-death-granting qualities and is merely colored afterward. The good will survive the drink; the wicked will not. As an individual awaits their outcome, the results are mistakenly ascribed to the liquid’s color by those witnessing.
Regardless, I determine that when my time comes, I shall choose red.