One moment Deron was opening the closet door in his bedroom in Columbus, Ohio, and the next, he was standing in the middle of a Klu Klux Klan gathering in Savannah, Georgia, circa 1875.
He instantly knew he was in danger. Being an African-American in this group was like being a lamb in a lion’s den. He quickly looked around for a door. A farm-house stood nearby.
Gritting his teeth he burst through the crowd of surprised Kluxers, and dashed to the door. As he stepped through it he heard the sound of gunfire.
Another trip via his closet door. This was his second attempt in two days. Deron and his parents, and two sisters, had just moved into the ranch style home.
His parents loved the place. It sat on a full acre of land. The girls got a room, he got a room, and his parents got the master bedroom.
The first night, as he unpacked his clothing, he discovered that the closet door was not like other closet doors.
He stepped in with a handful of shirts on hangers and the next moment he was standing in a hobo camp near Hoboken, New Jersey, circa 1934. Men in shabby suits and hats were dipping bowls into a big open pot that stood above a makeshift fire.
At first no one noticed him. He stood there, holding the shirts, and staring at the scene unfolding in front of him. Then someone saw him, and his strange clothing. Something in his head told Deron to look for a door.
He ran across some railroad tracks and up to a shabby-looking train station. Without wondering why, he opened the door. Back in his bedroom again, Deron still clutching the shirts, gasped with a combination of fear and excitement.
Day three. Deron’s parents took his sisters to a soccer game. He didn’t have to go. He thought about the closet door as they filed out the front door. Then he was alone. Back in his room and considered his two experiences.
One, had almost gotten him killed. He wasn’t sure what would have happened if he stayed longer at the hobo camp. They were all white.
He was six weeks away from graduating high school, and had no idea what he was going to do with his life. His parents wanted him to go to college. His dad was a dentist, and his mother was a doctor.
He looked at the closet door. This time, when he stepped inside he couldn’t tell where he was. It was dark outside. No moon. As his eyes adjusted he realized he was standing on a well-trimmed lawn.
Then he made out a house. His house. Was he in the past, or perhaps the future? He slowly approached when he saw a flicker of light in one of the windows. Flames! What was going on?
He ran around to the front of the house – yes it was his house – and tried to open the front door. It was locked and he didn’t have his key. Looking through the front picture window Deron saw flames crawling along the walls.
The kitchen was engulfed. Deron threw his body against the front door. Once. Twice. He heard screams. He stepped back and lunged at the door once more. This time it gave way and he lunged into the smoky interior.
His father came out of the girl’s room desperatly clinching onto their limp bodies and shouting his name. His pajames were on fire and pieces of flaming debre filled the hallway. Deron screamed his name.
Forced outside by the intensity of the heat and smoke, Deron stumbled out to the family car. He opened the door, got inside, and watched the roof collapse. In the distance he could hear sirens.
He glanced at the passenger’s seat and saw a stack of newspapers and dental journals. The date on the top newspaper was April 1, 2017. When he walked through the door it was March 31st, 2017!
There was hope. He got out of the car as the first fire engine pulled up. As the firefighters did their job he jumped into the passnger side of the truck and closed the door. It had to work!
When the family returned from the girl’s soccer practice they found a sober Deron who seemed awful glad to see them. Deron didn’t go to bed that night. Instead, when he was sure everyone else was sleeping he snuck out into the livingroom and sat on the wicker rocking chair.
Then he snacked on gummi bears as he patiently waited for the fire to start.
As it Stands, this story is a nod towards H.G.Wells’ masterpiece, The Time Machine.