The Bottom Floor
by skrath

Chapter 2 - The Second Piece to the Puzzle

     Now Mr. Harold Paxter is fairly different than Cedric. They’re not opposites or anything like that, just different. Harold was an advertising executive with some advertising company or other. You know that add where those two people with really annoying voices bicker at each other? No, he didn’t do that one, calm down.
     He mostly did basic, run-of-the-mill ads, mostly TV ones but also some radio. None of them were all that memorable. Actually, I can’t even remember any specific ones that he did. They weren’t bad or anything, just basic.
     Mr. Paxter was sitting in his office, supposedly working on some new ad or something. Actually though, he was dozing at his desk. He had been out a bit too late the previous night at a bar. A buzzing noise woke him from his sleep.
     “What? Yes! Hello!” Mr. Paxter looked down at the blinking red light on the little intercom box on his desk. He pushed the button on the box and spoke into the air, “Yes?”
     “Mr. Paxter, there is a Mr. Lewison to see you.”
     “Lewison. He says that it’s very important that he talks to you.”
     “Oh, all right, whatever. Send him in.”
     “Yes sir, Mr. Paxter”
     After a few moments a rather short, pudgy man came into Mr. Paxter’s office. He looked an awful lot like the short, pudgy man that Cedric Johnson had met in a bar. He might have even been the same person. But when it comes to quantum physics and theoretical dimensions, it’s awfully hard to be sure.
     “Er… Mr. Paxter?”
     Harold Paxter stood up behind his desk, “Yes, hello. How can I help you?”
     “I need to talk to you about Cedric Johnson.”
     “Who’s Cedric Johnson?”
     “You don’t know a man named Cedric Johnson, from New Jersey?”
     “No, I’ve never heard of him. Who is he?”
     “Oh dear… twice in a row… Um, I’m very sorry sir, I uh… I have to go, very sorry.”
     “What? Who is Cedric Johnson?”
     “I’m very sorry, but I really have to go now.” And with that, the short, rather pudgy man left Mr. Paxter’s office.
     Mr. Baxter sat back down at his desk and pressed the button on his little intercom box, “Cindy, what the hell was that?”
     “Excuse me sir?”
     “Oh, never mind.” Mr. Baxter swiveled around in his chair and looked out the window. He had quite a perplexed look on his face. He kept looking for about 20 minutes or so and then he went home and took a nap.
     Now, I bet you’re still pretty confused right now. Well, sorry, you’re just going to have to stay confused for a bit longer. I can do one thing for you though; I can do a little bit more of that character development stuff. I’ll give you a little history on this Harold Paxter.
     Harold did about the same in school as Cedric did, except he was a little more inclined towards the arts. Which explains why he became an advertising executive, and not a nuclear physicist or something. He wasn’t bad at the math and science; he just much preferred the artistic sides of things. This made some aspects of his education a bit difficult but paid off pretty well once he got out of college.
     Harold’s family was a bit better off than Cedric’s family, which is one of the reasons he went to such a nice college. I can’t remember what one he went to, but it was a nice one. And because he was a little better off, Harold never had to deal with any bastard kids in his neighborhood messing with his car. Never had to go to a mental institution either, but that’s not necessarily related.
     About 8 years before Harold ever met a rather short, pudgy man in his office he had an experience that greatly affected him. He had been engaged at the time. I don’t know much about her because I didn’t know Harold at the time, and he rarely talks about her. I have to assume that she had been a wonderful woman, but I’ll never know. Oh well.
     Harold and his fiancé had been walking home from a late evening at a dance club when it happened. They were talking and laughing, perhaps discussing their future lives together. More to the point, they were having a good time, and not really paying all that much attention to anything. Personally, I don’t think that there’s much they could have done even if they had been paying attention.
     For all intensive purposes, they were alone. Except for, of course, the guy that was following them. I don’t know much about this guy; Harold never really got a very good look at him. I imagine he was a big guy, but he very well could have been a little guy. Maybe looked a bit like that Steve Buscemi fellow, anything’s possible.
     He had stayed around 30 yards behind them for a while, checking them out. When they turned the next corner he sped up, not running, just walking a lot faster. He was rapidly closing the distance, and even if they had looked behind them they wouldn’t have seen anything.
     Harold says they were talking about a movie they had seen a few weeks earlier; I think it was some comedy. The man that had been following them rounded the corner and was only about 10 feet behind them. He was wearing very old boots and his footsteps hardly made any noise at all. He was also wearing one of those large trench coats you always associate with flashers. He took a lead pipe from an inside pocked and started moving towards Harold.
     He walked right up behind Harold and struck him in the head with the pipe without any sort of hesitation at all. Harold was knocked forward and kind of spun as he fell. He landed on his side sort of facing the attacker. He made a loud sucking sound and started loosing vision in one of his eyes.
     His fiancé let out a horrible scream. The kind of scream one only hears on TV or in the movies. The kind of scream that most people block out of their memory if they can. The man with the iron pipe grabbed her arm just above the elbow. She tried to wriggle her way free and she screamed some more.
     “God damn it woman! Shut the fuck up and give me your purse!” She had her arms crossed over her purse and didn’t seem very interested in relinquishing it. She kept screaming.
     “What is wrong with you? You stupid bitch! Give me your fucking purse!” She wasn’t really trying to be defiant she was just in shock. She kept screaming.
     “God damn it!!!” The man struck her in the side of the head with the pipe. The blow twisted her head around sharply and broke her neck. The doctors said she was dead before she hit the ground.
     She landed a few feet in front of Harold, with her back towards him. “Stupid fucking people! Son of a bitch!” The man took Harold’s wallet and the woman’s purse and ran off into the night.
     Harold couldn’t move, he couldn’t do much of anything. One of his eyes was basically blind and all he wanted to know was if his fiancé was OK or not. He tried to move closer but all he could do was wiggle some of his fingers. He couldn’t feel anything either, perhaps because of the blow to the head, and perhaps because of his fiancé. All he could actually feel was a sticky warmth oozing out of the back of his head.
     He still kept trying to move closer to her though. He was breathing heavy now, almost panting, but not getting anywhere at all. He could feel it coming now, that blackness of sleep, that peace he never wanted to see. He kept fighting it to the end, but finally, he lost consciousness and passed out on the street next to his dead fiancé.
     When the paramedics finally arrived sometime in the morning Harold’s shoes were gone. Someone had stolen them. She was pronounced dead on the scene. It was a miracle Harold survived at all. He had a decent amount of brain damage, and a severe loss of motor skills. It took him six years of physical therapy to get himself back to a competent level again. The mental scars however, are quite permanent.

> Read Chapter 3