As my quest continues, the doors seem to be everywhere I turn. But so far almost none of them have opened to my key. I have not given up hope of returning one day, but even I will admit the prospect seem grim.
Then I punched the button for the elevator. The door opened and I stepped inside.
That’s when I realized that I had never seen an elevator on this level before. The door closed behind me, and the elevator car went totally dark.
A light came on in the distance, and I knew that I had to prove myself by running to it before it disappeared. I would have made it too if I had seen the chasm. As I was falling seemingly endlessly, I replayed the whole journey looking for a better way forward.
I landed well, and realized that the chasm was actually a cliff, and I was closer to my goal.
I also realized that I was no longer sure why I was so set on catching the light. Glancing over my shoulder revealed that the light was a projector, and my image was projected on to the cliff face. With commentary. And suggestions.
The only way out of that trap was to change my goals and never look back. I decided then and there that first chance I got I would step onto stage dressed as Prince and perform.
That was nearly absurd enough to break me free. It did allow the light of the projector to show me a door hidden in the rocks at the base of the cliff. Surprisingly, my key fit the lock and the door opened.
Charming learned that day that some laws are not obeyed by inanimate objects. That’s not what he actually thought: that would be more along the lines of “if everyone stares, you must be doing something right”.
Soon a crowd formed to watch him as he raged at the back doors of the elevator car. They refused to open on command, even for a Prince.
The portrait hung at a place of pride in the main hall, depicting triumph over the long odds of his survival. He survived, he flourished, and there were few indications that this would change for years to come.
He had seen what everyone had seen, and had been unafraid of acting on what most knew.
Most everyone before him had assumed that there was no chance of success, and avoided even trying.
He defied those naysayers and struck out to establish himself in society regardless.
His place and esteem rose rapidly. His bat sanctuary became a fashionable charity, with nearly everyone claiming to contribute at least a little. He had the wisdom to keep his true nature a secret all the while, and the outside experts hired by the charity realized swiftly that talking about the ways these bats differed from the norm was not a good career move.
The commoners seemed to be oblivious to the occasional disappearances and unexplained murders. Seeking explanations could only lead to discovering answers, and everyone had seen what happened to people who learned too much.
The bodies were a little inconvenient when they turned up, drained completely of all blood, but the message was clear.