Home > NaNoWriMo 2011 > Day One Hundred and Eighty-two: Self-Guided Tour

Day One Hundred and Eighty-two: Self-Guided Tour

Ezra Reznick stood against the wrought-iron fence, between a couple from Japan who were having their picture taken, and a family of five from somewhere in the Midwest who couldn’t get their littlest to stop screaming for more than half a minute. There were tourists everywhere on Pennsylvania Avenue, along with police, Secret Service agents, and people who actually had jobs to go to, and Ezra wondered again if what he was about to do was a good idea.

The teachers had taken his class off to walk through the Mall, with plans to stop at every major monument that they ran across. From the last time his family had visited, he knew the Washington Death March very well, and had no interest in wearing out the soles of his shoes to go see stuff he could perfectly well see on a postcard. So he hung back and counted on the natural chaos that comes with trying to shepherd a hundred high school students through the city to hide his escape at least for a little while. Even if they did find him, there was nothing they could do that would be worse that what the Secret Service could dish out.

And they would. Of that he was certain. Only if they could catch him, though, and that was the key bit.

He took a breath, held it, and let it out. The black fence was solid and hard, as iron usually is. He rapped his knuckles against it and there was just a dull thud. He flexed his fingers and held them up to the bar again and pushed. This time, his hand went through as though the bar wasn’t even there.

Which, if you wanted to be really pedantic about it, it wasn’t.

Ezra had no idea how he did what he did. The first time he’d managed it was when he was eleven and his drunk stepfather thought it would be a good idea to lock him in a closet for spilling a beer. Ezra had yelled and screamed and pounded on the door until he he just fell right through it. Like a ghost.

It happened again about a week later as he slipped from the crushing arms of Otto Dunnigan, the resident bully at Ravensbrook Elementary, and a third time when that selfsame bully tried to shove him into a locker and he fell through into the classroom on the other side. Clearly, something strange was going on. And for a boy who grew up stealing comic books from the local drugstore, he was pretty sure he knew what it was.

He experimented, trying to make his new talent work without being furious or in mortal danger. And he couldn’t.

Several bloody noses and a few visits to his school counselor later, he was beginning to wonder if he had imagined everything. If maybe he was going to end up being the crazy kid in the school, the one who walked into walls and muttered about how it worked before, dammit.

In the end, it was his science teacher who convinced him. Mr. Tebow, teaching them about atoms and electrons and other things that none of the kids would ever need to know about when they grew up, said something that caught Ezra’s ear.

“Matter,” he’d said, rapping his knuckles on the desk, “is mostly empty space. It seems solid enough, but in reality, there’s more nothing in this desk than there is something.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a golf ball. “If the nucleus of an atom were the size of this ball, the nearest electron would be almost a mile away. And in between here and there?” He bounced the ball on the floor once and caught it. “Nothing at all.”

Nothing. That word hung in Ezra’s head. Nothing. Lots of nothing.

He looked down at his desk and tried to imagine all the nothing that was in there. In between the atoms, between the electrons and the nuclei – nothing. He raised his hand, and Mr. Tebow looked a little startled before he called on him. “If there’s mostly nothing, how come we can touch things?”

His science teacher grinned broadly and said, “An excellent question, Ezra!” He then started drawing pictures of atoms on the board, explaining about electrical charges and how they came in positives and negatives. He went to the supply closet and brought out a stick on a base, put it on his desk and started floating magnets on it, north-to-north and south-to-south. It was the happiest Ezra had seen his science teacher in a long time, and he tried to pay attention.

About a minute before the bell rang, Mr. Tebow said, “And that’s why we can touch things, Ezra.” He picked up the golf ball and tossed it to Ezra, who caught it. “Your electrons won’t go past the electrons in that golf ball. If they could, then, well, – you wouldn’t be able to catch it.” The bell rang and everyone filed out. Ezra sat at his desk while the other kids ran to lunch, just pressing his finger on the desktop.

Mr. Tebow walked over, books and papers in his arms. “Thank you, Ezra,” he said. “Your question was really very good. Keep it up.” He smiled and left, and Ezra felt a little grin of his own crawl across his face. Empty space, he thought. He stared at the desk and his finger. And he had pushed.

Now, in front of the White House, he was ready. He pulled his baseball cap down low and put on a large pair of dark sunglasses. He took a few more deep breaths, closed his eyes, and took a step forward.

There was shouting from the street almost before he’d taken three steps. He opened his eyes and looked behind him – the fence was still there, along with a group of gawping tourists. He grinned and shoved his hands in his pockets. He whistled as he walked casually across the North Lawn towards the White House.

Moments later, there were three men in black uniforms barreling towards him. They looked like football players and were shouting at him to stop and get on the ground. Ezra felt his mouth dry up, and for a moment felt his feet settle on the close-cropped grass. He focused – this would be a very bad time to lose control – and kept walking. Whistling was a bit of a challenge, though.

One of the men dove at him, his arms stretched out to catch him at the waist, and wend right through. Ezra didn’t look back, but kept going through the fountain at a casual, almost touristy pace. The other two reached for his shoulders and grabbed handfuls of nothing at all. Ezra did his best not to laugh as they yelled into their radios for backup.

He had looked at floor plans online, and knew where he wanted to go. After all, if he was going to just walk into the White House, there was really only one room you had to see. He kept the West Wing in his sights and made a straight line for it.

A group of men in suits ran out to block his way and stood with guns drawn. An older man held up his hands. “Stop right there, son,” he said. “I’m -”

Ezra didn’t know who he was and didn’t really care. He walked right through him and kept on his way.

The first wall that he walked through led to a small office with a very surprised young woman on the phone. She yelled out to someone in the hall, who tried to block the door and failed. Ezra turned left down the corridor and headed towards the small suite of offices that surrounded the one he wanted to see.

The White House was in a panic. There were Secret Service agents filling the corridor, and none of them were able to touch him. They were barking orders in strong, authoritative voices that he just pretended were his father’s and ignored. He kept walking. An older woman stood in the doorway of the President’s secretary’s office, her arms crossed. “Young man,” she said. “Just what do you think you’re doing?”

Ezra stopped and looked up at her. She was really trying hard, even he could see that. “I’m visiting the President,” he said. And stepped forward.

She screamed when he walked through her, but he didn’t look back. He was a little startled when a stapler flew through his head and bounced off the wall, but he kept his focus on the simple white door in front of him. Nothing fancy or elaborate about it. Just a door. And on the other side of that door was the most powerful man in the world. A man who was supposed to represent the hopes and dreams of millions around the world. For the first time, Ezra wondered what he’d say when he saw him. He grimaced. The rest of the plan had been meticulously planned out, but somehow he’d avoided thinking about that.

He shrugged. He was a bright kid, he knew that. He’d think of something.

Ezra stepped through the door and entered the Oval Office.

It was just like he’d seen on TV. Paintings on the walls and elegant, uncomfortable-looking furniture. He stepped onto the carpet, pale gray and blue, with the giant eagle in the center. There were bookcases with carefully displayed books and gifts from other nations, and a bust of some guy with a huge mustache and tiny glasses on an antique desk. In front of the tall windows at one end, in between a pair of flags, was the biggest desk he’d ever seen, made from wood so dark it seemed almost black.

There was no one else in the room but him.

“The hell?” he said. He looked around, but he was alone in the Oval Office. “Aww, man,” he said, his shoulders slumping. “This sucks.”

“He’s in Indonesia.” The woman he’d walked through before was standing in the doorway, looking like she was trying very hard not to be angry. “And even if he weren’t, do you really think the Secret Service would have let him stay here?” She took a few steps in and closed the door. “You didn’t really think this through, did you?”

She was right. If this had been a movie, the Secret Service probably would have picked up the President like a football and carried him off to some bunker or other where no one – ghost-kid or otherwise – would be able to find him until he was meant to be found. All the panic that Ezra had caused would be nothing compared to what it would have been like if the President were actually in the house.

“No,” he finally said. “I guess I didn’t.”

She seemed a little more at ease, and took another step towards him. “And you probably don’t have a plan for getting out of here either, do you?” She smiled, and right there he decided he wasn’t going to like her. The woman was pretty enough, but there was a gleam in her eyes. She looked like one of those kids in school who knew they had you where they wanted you. Those jocks who made you buy lunch for them, or the girls who pretended to be friends just long enough for you to embarrass yourself. The fact that she was right again didn’t make any difference. This woman would bully him if she could.

“No,” he said again. “I didn’t.” He looked about the office again and did his best to look completely bored by it. “I guess it all wasn’t worth it, really.”

She nodded. “Now, why don’t you tell me your name and we can get this unpleasantness sorted out.” She reached out a hand to him.

Ezra stared at it for a moment. “No,” he said. “I don’t think I will.” He wasn’t sure if what he was about to try would actually work, but he sure couldn’t make things worse. He waved at her, said “Buh-bye, lady,” and dropped through the floor.

He found himself in a cafeteria, surrounded by more very large men who looked very surprised at his appearance. As they started reaching for their guns, he dropped through the floor again. This time he found himself in a service tunnel, empty and dark, lit every few feet by dim lights. For the first time, he let his feet settle to the floor, and he leaned against the cold concrete wall. His heart was racing, and he was just noticing it now. “Holy shit,” he whispered. “Ho. Ly. Shit.”

He started laughing. He knew that he still had to get out, and he still wasn’t sure how he was going to manage that, but that wasn’t important. He had done it. He had walked into the White Frikkin’ House, and hadn’t gotten caught. Anything else ought to be a cakewalk.

He let his laughter die down, took off his sunglasses and wiped his eyes. There was a whole new world open to him now, and he was going to have as much fun in it as he could.

As he walked down the tunnel, he started making new plans.

Maybe the Pentagon.

*****

Ezra Resnick’s page at 30characters.com

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  1. November 24, 2011 at 10:23 PM
  2. December 8, 2011 at 10:02 PM

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