“You heard me!” the old man replied. “I invited you here today to tell you that you will be my next snow globe. This is not a reward or commendation, it’s a punishment. Go now, Mr. Gale.”
“You’ll never believe who Kevin was asked to write about.” blurted Larry between puffs on his stogie. “Who?” responded Mary, a cute red-headed journalist, also enjoying a cigar.
The other magazine employees had gone home for the day and the pair were relaxing in Larry’s office. This was their time to bitch about projects and people but mainly to brainstorm for the next issue of Real Magazine.
“Ever heard of the snow globe guy?” responded Larry, tipping his cigar in an ashtray between them. He loosened his tie and adjusted his three hundred pound frame, his bald head shined.
“The billionaire recluse turned artist? Never understood the hype myself.” said Mary.
“His name is Ian Wallace.” replied Larry. “Our golden boy has gotten an exclusive interview.” “Interesting.” responded Mary. “People have been trying to interview him for years. Nobody’s even gotten a picture. How in the world did Kevin get him to agree to an interview?”
“That’s the funny part.” said Larry in his detective drawl. “Kevin said Wallace contacted him, claims Wallace saw him on the street and was intrigued. Supposedly wants Kevin to be the person featured in this year’s snow globe.”
Mary let the story sink in. She knew Wallace’s snow globes were a hot item. They had been for years. The demand came from the fact that the snow globes could be made of anyone. Wallace chose his people carefully, they might be famous, they might not. All the people preserved in the snow globes felt the effect, those non-famous suddenly became celebrities and those already famous teetered on the edge of infamy. Mary was worried about losing the magazine’s star reporter and she quickly voiced this concern to her boss.
“Larry, are you absolutely sure this is an interview you want him to keep? Remember what happened to the last celebrity? The girl cut her own mother’s head off with a butcher’s knife!”
A frown appeared on Larry’s face, it was rare for anyone to disagree with him.
“She was a big star with seven blockbuster pictures and a nasty crack habit. Kevin’s a city celebrity, a writer for a magazine. Outside L.A. no one gives a fuck, he’ll be fine.”
Mary wasn’t so sure but she dared not push her boss further. “Of course Larry, how could I be so silly? Wallace’s snow globe curse won’t affect Kevin. So when is he supposed the meet the mystery man anyway?”
Larry took a final pull of his cigar, “They’re meeting tonight.”
Kevin Gale pulled out a fifty and gave it to the cabbie as he pulled up to the curb.
“Thanks buddy.” he said to the man displaying a set of shiny white teeth.
“Thank you, Mr. Gale!” said the cabbie drinking the celebrity in, relishing the moment. Kevin stepped onto the damp sidewalk. It had been raining steadily all week. He opened an umbrella and pulled out a piece of paper with an address on it, 621 Busby Drive.
“Right around the corner.” he mumbled to himself as he took the short walk. He always had himself dropped off a few blocks away from his destination, especially before an interview. He liked to clear his mind and try to get a feel for the individual. Most people wanted to be interviewed in a place they felt comfortable. People who want to meet in public are generally comfortable with who they are. The recluse are a different matter entirely. They could be paranoid, mentally unstable, addicted to drugs or simply tired of the limelight. Kevin often had trouble differentiating between these reasons. He put his hand into his pocket and touched his lucky knife. His father gave it to him when he joined the boy scouts. It’s all he kept from an abusive childhood. He stopped at the address and looked up at the building designed by Ian Wallace. Paranoid was a definite forerunner he thought. The building was state of the art but had a definite gothic feel to it. The structure was dark, emanating an energy that warned trespassers to stay away. Not a fan of the dark, Kevin reluctantly entered the building and was immediately accosted by two security guards. “Are you Kevin Gale?” the bigger of the two men asked. “Yes.” answered Kevin. He had many dealings with the rich and famous, security was always an issue. “Mr. Wallace has many enemies. Please don’t take this personally.” When the two men were finished inspecting Kevin’s personals they directed him towards a set of elevators. “Press the letter X when you get inside.” the man called back.
Kevin made his way to the back of the building. The cold marble foyer quickly changed to black shag carpet. It felt incredibly soft under his feet. He stepped inside the elevator and was surprised to find a large black chair sitting in the center. He looked at the controls and found they weren’t the traditional number system but letters. Kevin pressed the letter X and took a seat in the big black chair just as the door was closing. He was just starting to get comfortable when the inside of the elevator doors suddenly lit up, they were also television screens!
“Good evening, Mr. Gale.” said a face cast in shadows, the features were indecipherable. Kevin knew this must be the mysterious Ian Wallace. “Good evening.” replied Kevin. He had to admit to himself he was enjoying this. He liked a little mystery and so far this trip had been better than a funhouse. “What do you think of my home Mr. Gale?” Wallace asked.
Kevin started to pull out his tape recorder when Wallace said, “There will be no need for that.” Kevin was surprised the old man could see him. He got out of the chair and checked out the screen, cameras were mounted around the top.
“I will provide you a copy of your entire experience here before you leave tonight.” said Wallace. Kevin nodded. “I’ll see you shortly”. The screen went blank.
The X floor was the penthouse level. Similar to the ground floor but with one striking exception, the ceiling was made of glass. Kevin looked up and watched the huge raindrops fall on the structure. It was mesmerizing. “Very soothing, isn’t it?” called out a voice from nowhere. His eyes again made note of a pair of closed circuit video cameras, he nodded at once. Gazing past the electric eyes and down the hallway he caught sight of a large set of doors that appeared to be made of gold. He heard a snapping sound and noticed one of those doors was now ajar. “Please come forward Mr. Gale.” said the voice Kevin assumed to be Ian Wallace.
“Are these doors made of gold?” Kevin asked, grabbing one of the handles as he passed.
“Yes. They are both solid gold, quite expensive.” the voice replied. “Please, come in.”
Kevin entered the room where he found Ian Wallace, a rotund man with long grey hair and features that remind him of Benjamin Franklin, relaxing in front of a roaring fireplace.
The man did not look up. “Rough weather tonight?” he mumbled. “Yes.” Kevin replied.
“I heard it’s supposed to snow later.” said Wallace. “Funny, I didn’t hear that.” said Kevin, walking even further into the room. “Take a seat.” Wallace ordered.
Kevin sat down, the man ignored him and continued to stare at the fire.
“Would you like something to drink? I have this special tea brought in from a foreign land.” “That would be fine.” Kevin responded. Wallace rang a little silver bell. A servant appeared and placed a cup and saucer in Kevin’s lap. He took a sip. “This is really good tea, what country did you say it was from?” he asked trying to engage Wallace in conversation but the man seemed not to hear. The silence went on for several moments. Ian Wallace just stared at the fire as Kevin Gale finished off his cup of tea. Wallace took it’s completion as a signal. “I understand you are a reporter.” he finally spoke. “I want you to know I hate all reporters, I find glorifying human suffering tasteless. I’ve read some of your work and your life’s perspective is disgusting!”
The insults took Kevin off guard. A simple “Pardon me?” was all he could muster.
“You heard me!” the old man replied. “I invited you here today to tell you that you will be my next snow globe. This is not a reward or commendation, it’s a punishment. Go now, Mr. Gale.” Shocked, Kevin remained on the couch and tried to make eye contact with the old man.
“Are you serious?” he finally asked, unable to make sense of the matter.
“Deadly.” replied the old man. “And if you don’t leave right now, I’ll have you escorted out!”
Kevin got up and headed towards the door. At the last moment, he whirled around and barred his teeth. “I’ve got a story for you Mr. Wallace! Crackpot artist insults reporter!”
“You’ll never write it, Mr. Gale! You’re in my world now. You just haven’t realized it yet!”
Kevin steamed towards the elevator, what the fuck just happened. This had been the chance of a lifetime, now it was a horror show. He stepped into the elevator and pressed ‘A’ for the ground floor. Kevin took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his sweaty brow. He’d been so fueled by adrenaline this was the first time he had noticed he didn’t feel well, the elevator was growing in size. Kevin felt smaller. By the time he reached the lobby, he felt better. His eyes adjusted to the new scope of things, the perspective had changed. Kevin rushed past the security guards who looked more like plastic figures now than men and raced outside. Steady snow was falling but the streets were deserted. Kevin was about to run into the street and look for a cab when he was stopped abruptly by an invisible wall. “What the hell is this?” Kevin looked up at the night sky as snow seemed to bounce off an invisible wall. Then a thought occurred to him, a horrible thought. He looked back at the building, it looked like a big piece of plastic. Kevin was in a snow globe, his snow globe. He grabbed some snow out of the air and turned it over in his hand. Not snowflakes, small bits of plastic. Kevin fell to his knees. He looked down at the ground, touched and smelled it. The ground wasn’t asphalt, it was hard rubber. He felt nauseous.
Hours later the full extent of his predicament became clear. Wallace has somehow shrunk him and put him into a snow globe! He remembered the drink he accepted from the man, obviously some kind of formula in disguise. How could he have been so blind? The actual transformation must have taken place while he was in the elevator. He remembered feeling funny. He must have walked right into his new home.
The actual snow globe was self-sustaining. It had miniature lights and a water source. He could only assume that they would feed him somehow. He was in a mini prison and if he walked to the end of the globe and pressed his face up against the clear glass he could see he was on a shelf in Ian Wallace’s study. Next to him where several similar style globes, inside all the famous and non-famous faces he had seen featured throughout the years. They were all here but if that was true how had they continued on?
As if on cue, Ian Wallace entered the study with a man who had the face of Kevin Gale!
Kevin watched in horror as his duplicate sat down in a nearby chair and promptly took its face off! It was a robot. Wallace moved over to the mechanical creature and did some tinkering, he replaced the mask and patted the robot on the shoulder. “Great interview! We’ll see you for servicing in two years, Mr. Gale.” The robot nodded and walked out of the room.
Ian Wallace poured himself a drink and turned around to face the shelf filled with globes.
He quickly noticed Kevin pressed up against his globe watching him. Wallace downed his drink and walked over to him. “So, how do you like your new home Mr. Gale?” The words roared like thunder in Kevin’s new world. “I bet you are wondering why I shrunk you down, kidnapped you, and replaced you with a robot.” Kevin nodded, Wallace watched him closely.
“Do you remember a story you wrote back in 1994 about an outbreak in Honduras?” Kevin nodded. He remembered the story, a medic technician single-handedly developed an antidote/cure for a deadly virus outbreak. He alone saved the city from a month long quarantine and quite possibly destruction as the government was certain to destroy the city if a safe resolution couldn’t be reached. The kid was a hero in Honduras but he was a wanted man in America for statutory rape. (At age 21 he had apparently been caught having sex with a seventeen year old daughter of a former Congressman) He died shortly after realizing the cure, apparently contracted the virus while working with it, a non-curable stage. Kevin had fought Larry tooth and nail about mentioning the man as wanted in America for rape. He felt it tainted both the actions and name of an otherwise great man. Larry refused and the article was published.
“The technician was my son!” screamed Wallace. “You made him look like a monster! He saved all those lives but all anybody remembers are those rape charges, you wrote the story Mr. Gale and now you will pay for it.” It boggled the mind that a man had waited nearly 10 years to exact revenge for a lousy magazine article that nobody remembered anymore but here was Kevin with no opportunity to escape. “It wasn’t my fault, it was my editor.” he cried but his voice was too small to be heard. “It’s time for the rules Mr. Gale. I have already stood before you as judge and jury, don’t make me your executioner as well. You may live in this plastic hell I have created for you as long as you are able to and as long as you do not try to escape. If that happens I will kill you. I’ll fill the bottom of your new home with water.” Wallace picked up Kevin and showed him the unfortunate ones who tried to escape now trapped in see-through graves.
“They’re all here Mr. Gale, the movie stars that turned their noses up at me, the butcher whom I saw spit on my pork cutlet, the mailman that stole my Christmas issue of Playboy. They are all paying and they will continue to pay until they die.” Wallace laughed in Kevin’s face. The sound was deafening.
He sat in his tiny cell for hours thinking. How did this happen? What could he do? Would anyone suspect he had been replaced by a robot? Eventually, he got up off the rubber floor and paced around in his globe. He put his face up to the clear plastic and looked for someone, anyone who could help him. Wallace had kept his word. The majority were dead, sealed for eternity in a watery grave. Kevin recognized one captive, Fallon, a famous actor who died in a car wreck two years ago. Must have been his robot replacement, Kevin thought. The real Fallon was now a lunatic. There was no help from the others. If his situation was going to change, he would have to do it himself.
Eventually Kevin remembered he still had his lucky knife. It was too fragile to cut through the clear plastic but it did do damage to a rubber cork he found on the floor of the globe. The cork was wide in diameter, large enough for a man his size to fit through. He worked on the cork until daybreak. When he was only a few hours away from reaching the bottom he decided to stop. He didn’t want to risk his own life by allowing Wallace to find out. He figured the old man would want to check up on his latest conquest and he was right. Wallace entered his study bright and early and the first thing he did was check up on Kevin. “How did you sleep Mr. Gale? You look rather tired. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
Kevin bided his time. He waited until Wallace retired for the evening before he went back to removing the cork. In no time he had dug through to the bottom and dove through the hole.
Kevin understood his small stature would make escape improbable, he was likely a dead man but that didn’t mean he couldn’t take Wallace with him. His plan was simple. He would create a diversion and use it to infiltrate Wallace himself. As he raced across the shelf, the others entrapped cheered him on. He managed to turn on a desk lamp he had stuffed with bits of paper.
He moved into position as smoke began to slowly fill the room.
The fire alarm went off at four in the morning. A groggy Wallace burst into the room. He spotted the lamp and yanked it out of the socket, cursing it as defective. He didn’t notice Kevin drop down onto his back. He rode the rotund man like an elephant and waited until the billionaire was sleeping soundly before his made his move.
Wallace awoke the next morning in a pool of blood and a stabbing pain in his neck. He couldn’t move and could barely speak. “Ahh! You’re awake.” said a familiar voice inside his head. “Have you ever seen Star Trek The Wrath Of Kahn? Or in this case I guess it would be the wrath Gale, do you remember those bugs they put in that guy’s ear?”
“Gale? How did you?” asked Wallace in faint whisper.
“I’m not a bug so I just used my pocket knife, entered through your ear canal. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to penetrate your skull but I did manage to sever your spinal cord.”
“No!” Wallace screeched.
“Yes! And I’ll bet I can fuck you up a bunch more before your assistant comes looking for you, I’m almost at your vocal cords as we speak…”
“Please…” Wallace begged.
Kevin could feel the man breathing heavily, he knew this was it.
“I don’t think so, Mr. Wallace. You fucked up my Christmas, lots of other people’s too.”
“I’m begging you, show mercy.” Wallace gasped.
“Merry Christmas, Ian.” said Kevin as he cut the man’s vocal cords.