The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Friday, April 16, 2010


          As a recent graduate armed with a business degree I felt on top of the world when I was swooped into the corporate arms of a major international company.  Capitalizing on my research on efficiency and organization, the company immediately sent me to a low performing branch office in a location that I found to be quite desirable.  I was given free reign in changing the way things were run there and everybody at the location would have to answer to my directives.  Upward mobility within the corporate ranks was practically handed over to me on a silver platter.  Nothing could stop me now.

         It didn't take long for me to assess that space at this location was being poorly utilized.  In the first few days that I was there I studied the entire floor that our offices occupied.  In one hallway where there were a number of private offices and supply rooms, I saw a closed door. The door did not have any sign on it like the other doors.

          I asked the location manager, "What's in this room?"

         "Nothing," he shrugged.

          "Nothing?"  What he was saying made no sense. "What do you mean nothing?"

          With a blank expression he said, "There's nothing in there."

           Feeling somewhat annoyed, I put my hand to the doorknob and started to open it.

          "Don't go in there."

           I turned to him, feeling a rising sense of exasperation.  "Why?"

           "There's nothing in there."   Unwavering, he looked at me.

             I opened the door and gazed about a sizeable room that was totally empty.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  Thousands of dollars in unused real estate space.  There was no furniture.  There was nothing.  I stepped inside and immediately an icy chill swept over me. After a few steps into the room I began to feel nauseous.   A confusion combined with fear clouded my brain and a feeling welled inside of me like an undefinable sad longing. Feeling disoriented, I stumbled out into the hallway.  All energy was drained from me.  I felt sick, weak, and chilled.

            Without emotion the manager asked, "Are you okay?'

            As we made our way back to my desk I replied, "Yes, I'm fine.  It's nothing.  I just need to sit down for a moment."

           Sitting with my head bowed and eyes closed I heard the manager's voice, distant, expressionless, "Maybe you should take the rest of the day off."

             I did not understand what had come over me.  I decided that going home to rest might not be a bad idea.  It was shortly before three in the afternoon when I laid down on my bed and fell asleep.  I dreamed of darkness in an empty place.  When I awoke the clock read eleven but it was still light outside.  I realized that I had been sleeping for about twenty hours straight.  I felt weak and hungry.  I had nothing in my stomach. But nothing sounded good to me.
           Knowing that I had to eat something, I had a cup of chicken broth and saltine crackers and hot tea. Slowly I ate, gradually feeling a little better.  Nothing in particular seemed to be bothering me except a deep sense of ennui.   I wanted to do nothing.    Gradually regaining my strength I spent the afternoon with the television on watching nothing in particular.   That night I slept an empty dreamless sleep.

            I felt better when I awoke, a little weak perhaps, but ready to go back to work.  Nothing seemed to be wrong with me.  I needed to be at work.  Nothing was said to me by anyone as I entered the office.  I sat quietly at my desk throughout the day and was left alone.  Engrossed in a planning program on my computer, I eventually noticed that everyone else had gone home for the day. How had I not noticed that the other workers had left?   Had I fallen asleep?   A custodian entered the office and began vacuuming.

           Arising from my desk, I went to the hallway and stared at the door to the empty room.  I was drawn to the door.  It was as though a void was sucking me in.  My feet began moving me in the direction of the door and then I stood before it, reaching for the doorknob.

           Suddenly startled,  I saw the custodian standing next to me.  He quietly was watching me, saying nothing.

           "What's in there?"  I demanded.

            "Nothing.  Nothing's in there."

 I guess that's a bit of flash fiction.  I don't recall having written a story that short before.  I wouldn't say that this came to me in a dream, though it may have.  I woke up yesterday morning at 4:50 compelled to write this story for N day.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Any critiques are welcomed--adulattions always make me feel good, but solid constructive criticism helps me grow.

N also stands for Notable as in the following bloggers:

Carol's Corner -- Carol Fleisher has really been putting up a fine array of posts for the A to Z Challenge.

GaFlygirls's FLYJournal -- April C writes about many topics and has a real love of family. Author Carol Weishampel just joined us.  She has some important messages to deliver.

Morning by Morning -- Independent mom Stacey blogs about her everyday journey through life and lot's of helpful tips to make life easier.

My Life With Photographs -- Blogging from Fairbanks, Alaska Lorena Sims is a lover of music and the arts.

Try to get by and visit these blogs, say hello, and become a follower if you haven't done so already.

Don't forget to join us on Monday May 3 as we each give our individual reflections on the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.   We want to hear want everyone has to say because everyone has their own story to tell. 


  1. Lee, this is the first story I have read on a blog that made me forget I was reading a story on a blog. LEE!!!! That was so real. I'd love to give you some constructive criticism, but I haven't got any.

    It did exactly what a story should do, make the reader forget that they are reading. Holy Moly! I AM IMPRESSED!

    So simple, yet so intriguing. So realistic, eerie, intense. Loved it.

    Seriously ... why are you not published? (or are you and I just don't know it?)

  2. Awesome fiction! The only problem is that now I want to know more about this Void Room and its history. I had a feeling of suspense and trepidation while reading it, well done :)

  3. That was crazy, I had no idea I was reading fiction! I like how it was left wide-open to interpretation! No resolution, just nagging questions (that sounded negative, but I truly appreciated the approach.) Perhaps a closer look at other employees may have colored the story a little.

  4. Ha! I love it! Nothing is so common a reply that you immediately KNOW that it is not nothing, but something. Yeah, I know not nothing is a double negative so that makes it something. Chuckle,chuckle! I realized about halfway through that it was a piece of fiction, very cleverly done.
    Best regards to you, friend!

  5. I thought it an excellent short story. I only wish you could add an ending! Love Di ♥

  6. You took me in, I thought this was true, I read it earlier this morning, went out to have a shot in a painful shoulder, came back and read it again, I thought it was true. Very convincing.
    Excellent post NOTHING more to say.


  7. Wow. I had no idea it was fiction either until the end. I'm with the others that now want to know more!

  8. Arlee, wonderfully written, I had no idea I was reading something ficticious...great job, when are you going to give us some more?

  9. AA -- gee gosh, stop it-- no don't you can't keep going. Thanks so much.

    Jamie -- I achieved the intended effect for you -- good.

    Matthew -- thank you for reading it.

    Will -- Thanks-- I thought about adding more, then on the other hand I started to make it shorter. I wanted to keep it under 1000 words.

    Grammy -- it's kind of like the "How are you?" question. If I ask my wife, "Is there anything wrong?" and she answers, "Nothing." I know there is something seriously wrong.

    Diana -- It was unresolved I guess, but that was the ending.

    Yvonne -- that was a funny answer that gave me a chuckle.

    Melody -- I started to put an intro explaining that it was just fiction, but then I decided to just jump into it. I suppose I could add more to the story, but what more can I say about nothing?

  10. Wow, you had me going there! Excellent story.

  11. Lee, you trixter! I thought it was real as well. Run with that one - I envision it blossoming into a longer story.

  12. I Liked this story...thought it was a real life tale at first. At your request, I have one small comment. This line: "Nothing was said to me by anyone as I entered the office," uses a passive voice and could be stronger. "The staff ignored me as I entered the office," or "No one uttered a sound as I made my way to my desk." I'm intrigued though and would love to read more.

  13. Shannon --Thank you. don't know about more fiction, but there'll be something here every day Lord willing.

    Alex -- Indeed a complement coming from you.

    Diane -- another well received encouragement. Not sure how much further I'd want to take the story.

    Liza -- Thank you for your suggestion. Of course, I may have been overdoing the gimmick, but I was trying to use the word "nothing" in as many ways as I could for the theme of the N nothing post. But yours is a point well-taken.

  14. Ha!
    rLEE-b ~
    I gotta say, that was most interesting! Like some others here have said, I didn't realize it was fiction until the end. Buddy, I think that's just the beginning of something that could be expanded and turned into an extremely memorable "full-length" short story.

    There's a creepy, nightmarish quality to it that cries out for "More!" That's definitely on my list of "rLEE-b's Best."

    MORE WRITING (even if it means less blogging)! That's just my 2.5 cents.

    Good Stuffs, Brotherman! Good Stuffs!

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

  15. Liked this, and at first thought it was real too. Love what can be done with flash fiction. I may share this with my teen flash fiction students if you don't mind.
    Have a good weekend.

  16. Didn't know it was a story until you said it was a story - thought the whole thing happened to you!

  17. I was riveted to this! I seriously thought it was true, like this had happened to you. Great job!!

  18. Stephen -- The first hint that it was fiction was me working at some international corporation--hah! Thank you so much! Coming from you is indeed relevant and that 2.5 cents worth of advice is probably worth a whole lot more and something to which I should take heed.

    Karen -- thanks! Feel free to share and give them the link to my site so they can become followers and readers (there I am thinking Blog Math again).

    Linda -- It happened in my mind yesterday morning! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Elena --Thanks for stopping by from your always busy commenting schedule to leave me a word of encouragement.

  19. That was truly wonderful! LOVED it!

  20. As I was reading this I couldn't figure out whether it was real or not. Very erie.

  21. Beth -- Thank you so much

    Emilee -- I was hoping you would read this.

  22. Nice, you sucked me in there. I was totally with you on your piece of flash fiction.

    I am actually not really familiar with the flash fiction genre thing but this was a nice introduction... now I'm intrigued and want to try it myself!

  23. Wow at first I thought you were writing something that had really happened to you. Great job of leading me down that road. Some great writing there.

  24. Nice job, Arlee - had me entranced!

  25. great job. I was hooked. Thanks for mentioning me in post. Have a great weekend.

  26. Great story; I want more. It reminds me of the room 1408, except we know it is haunted. Nice lead in...

  27. Yes constructive criticism makes you grow, but seriously, I thought you were writing about a real experience you had. I was sucked in and got chills, so I have nothing to note. Great post, really!!!!

  28. Ooops I was just working on my blog a little bit when I had the time! Please go and read it, I hope you find it interesting at the least!

  29. Loved it! This story creeped me out a little. So Good.

  30. Kind of reminds me of The Neverending Story and the Nothing. Creepy :)

  31. Hey, that was really good! It took me a minute or two, but I only thought it might be a work of fiction because of the structure. Nicely done!

  32. Ginny -- You should try it post it.

    Dragons muse -- you are too kind and I'm glad you are.

    Marvin -- Thank you for checking it out.

    Carol -- glad to give you some deserved attention.

    Ellie - I thought about 1408 too, but it is definitely a different kind of room.

    Cal lass -- I was trying for the chills-- glad to hear I succeeded.

    Marjorie -- glad it creeped you out--the concept did me too and that's why I wrote it.

    Cheri -- I'm glad you thought it was creepy as well.

    Elizabeth -- thank you for reading the story.

    Lisa -- your compliment is appreciated.

  33. I am anxious to go back and read everyone else's thoughts on your piece of flash fiction here, but had to write my own down too, as to not be unduly influenced! I thought this was a brilliant piece and you have left me wanting more! The underlying concept of 'nothing' is prevalent throughout the entire piece, which is fascinating. Could this man be going crazy? Could there be some unknown force inside that door that affects everyone who enters? So many possibilities! I hope this isn't the end of this story, because I definitely want to see where it goes!

    Keep it up, I love your writing!

  34. Awesome! The 'nothing' room drew me in...

  35. Nicely done, good sir. Not at all bad, I say! Now, I liked this quite well, but methinks this is the germ of an intriguing short story, instead of simple flash fiction. Nifty use of the "nothing" prompt, and I like the repetition you used for emphasis. Notable, too, is the fact that I wanted to keep reading at the end, to find out what this room was all about. :)

    Note that all my sentences here begin with N. Nice. :)

    (It was quite good, Lee. Like I said, though, I think you've the germ of an intriguing short story. As flash, it leaves me feeling incomplete, wanting more. This is a good thing for a story's opening, for sure!)

  36. Simon -- Thank you for reading and giving your opinion. I guess I need to rethink this one. You and everyone else telling me to flesh it out into a bigger story, Hmmm. I guess that much of a consensous has to count for something. Maybe I'll have to revisit this in May.

    May 3rd A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post

  37. That was really good. I want to know what else happens! It reminded me of the Twilight Zone but better.

  38. Thank you Ada-- seems like everyone else wants to know what else happens too, so I guess I'll have to come up with something.

  39. That was SOMETHING! I want to hear more!

  40. I really enjoyed it arlee!! Midway through reading it, a person from the Census called and started droning away with questions that I already answered by mail. I was getting irritated and was attempting to rush her along because I wanted to get back to the story! :-D


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