The brass gears creaked and screeched as the metallic teeth chewed the air, closing the door.
Their golden colour was getting more pronounced as the years passed. Inside the room, the windows had been covered with thick black fabric, leaving nothing but darkness.
Jacob sat in the middle of the room with his legs crossed and his eyes wide open, but even in the black he could see colours swirling and dancing in front of him.
Hearing scurrying across the floor, the colours mutated into thousands of rats and crawled around his mind.
Then silence, the colours ceased to transform and reverted to a playful dance of swirls.
After an eternity of tranquillity yells from above broke the fragile balance, rage grew and the colours started to darken.
They twisted forming shapes with raised fists and melding bodies, his mind about to step over, when there was a thud.
As the new era developed he was able to control the colours and form shapes, moving them at will. The kaleidoscope world was almost complete when out of the still, an ear splitting siren broke through, causing his world to come crashing down around him.
He grasped at the fading colours as the wisps slipped between his fingers and ebbed away.
He sat not wanting to move, then the knock at the door, remaining still motionless through another knock he hoped they would just leave.
It was the third and most determined that brought him up from the sitting position and walking towards the door, pulling the fabric from the window on his way.
Playing through the conversation in his head, the different paths quickly ending in different results, decision made – feigning sleep; plausible deniability with each question being met with baffled confusion and confundity.
In the hall he heard footsteps fading away, but he wanted to get the conversation over with, they’d be back another time if he let them walk away, a conversation now was control.
The last thing he wanted was for the police to be part of his chaos. He rubbed his eyes to redden them, half closed them, then turned the wheel to open the door.
The immediacy of sun cream swamped him, the police dousing themselves, slathering themselves in the sickly sweet cream, an HR program of health and safety, a step too far.
As it flooded him he touched the side of his face, feeling the heat from the Sun and the pain of an afternoon falling asleep on a warehouse roof.
Half his face burnt by the universe, retribution for the thoughts, the plans that would interfere with the natural order, but the other half pristine, an omen that he was still part of that natural order in an infinite, multiverse way.
The final outcome dictated by time, a hindrance; the only perfection that would ever be offered to a mortal mind.
The police turned to see Jacob wide eyed and holding his face, his eyes red and far away.
‘Good morning, we were hoping that you may be able to help us with a line of enquiries’
A practiced line, polite, official, insistent.
Jacob regained his composure, ‘Of course officer, how can I help?’
The pre-empted paraphrased conversation in his head matched almost exactly the meandering questioning of the police officer.
He wondered how many times this officer had undergone a similar ordeal of trying to coax information from a reluctant witness.
Whether he knew the lie or not, he doubted in this instance the officer really cared that his witness wouldn’t be, despite his officious attempt.
The historic visitors to the floor above varied from suited to tracksuit, the common denominator was always their urgent walk towards the building, countered by their tranquil stroll away.
As a calculated risk their presence pleased him, they were good and quiet neighbours, successful ones always are.
Looking at the card in his hand it was clear the conversation had ended and the officer was already knocking on Sunera’s door by the time he looked up.
She came to the door in a silk blue paisley robe, her dark hair falling just below her shoulder. She smiled at him and then looked up at the officer, deliberately wide eyed and full of practiced manipulation of the law.
Jacob closed the door, but stayed looking through the keyhole. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but every so often Sunera looked directly at him and smiled.
She knew that he needed to know, needed to see her talking, needed to see her.
Eventually they stopped and as the officer turned away towards the stairs.
‘Oh officer’ she said quickly ‘Have you got a card? Just in case I remember anything’
‘Of course’ he took out a card and a pen. He turned the card over and wrote down a number in a practiced reflex of aberrant behaviour. ‘Here’s my personal number too, just in case’
She took the card and smiled at him, as he turned for the second time, she looked back down at the keyhole, blew a kiss and shut the door.
Jacob heard the officer walk down the stairs each step away was a step back to focus. The mumbling voices started to echo in the halls below, so he opened the door and was welcomed by Sunera framed within her own doorway, her robe at her feet.
He crossed the hallway, ‘We are one?’ he asked looking for clarity in her eyes, ‘We are’ she replied, taking him by the hand and leading him inside.