I jolt awake in my bed when the phone on the nightstand trills abruptly. Confusion and disorientation blankets my senses and nothing makes sense. It takes me a moment to locate the source of the sounds, the clock radio reads 4:44am and it takes a few seconds before even that means anything to me.
I answer the phone and cough my throat clear as I lift the the receiver from the cradle.
"Hello?" There is a moment of silence on the other end.
"Congratulations sir!" A woman's voice comes cheerily through. "You have just been awarded the chance to win the prize of a life time, all you have to do..."
I start to hang up on the obviously recorded message.
"Do not hang up this phone!" A grating male voice shouts through the phone, reaching my ears clearly from halfway back to the cradle. I return the phone to my ear.
"Ahem," The male voice continues. "This is a chance you do not want to miss. So, as I was saying." He clears his throat and the woman's voice comes back on.
"All you have to do is come down to 7734 Stygian street and claim your prize! This is a limited time offer, please claim your prize before your clock alarm goes off at 6:30am!"
There is a click and the line goes dead. I sit for a moment in the dark after I've hung up the phone before walking out to the kitchen and pouring a glass of milk from the fridge. It is there, standing in the stark white light of the open refrigerator that I make my decision. I head back to the bedroom with milk in hand and dress quickly in jeans and white tee-shirt. I grab my keys and wallet and head to the bathroom, brushing my teeth quickly, I leave the half finished glass of milk on the bathroom counter and head out the front door of my apartment.
As I lock the door behind me there is movement out of the corner of my eye, down the hall. I head the other way and know that there is someone following me but when I look back as I reach stairs, the hallway is empty. Not really suprised, I let the cliche pass with only a smirk.
Down at the street I get in my car and pull out, heading across town to the dock area and Stygian street. I pass only one car on the way and I stare at it over my shoulder as it passes. I could have sworn the occupants of the vehicle were pressed up against the glass grinning at me.
7734 Stygian street is one of many huge warehouses that line the dark street. I park my car across the way from the building and approach the chain link fence on foot. The gate is locked but as I walk down the length of the fence I find a place where a three foot hole has been torn or burned into the fence. Fighting against my better judgement I climb through the hole and head for a door on the side of the building that is standing ajar, yellow light pooling through the doorway.
I enter the warehouse and move passed racks of boxes and broken equipment. Finally stepping out from behind a large fork lift I see where the concrete floor has been cleared away and my prize awaits, such that it is. Several spot lights have been setup on stands in a ring and a man in a circus getup complete with star studded top hat and cane stands next to three doors set in a hastily constructed wooden frame draped with blue and yellow cloth. The doors are labeled One, Two, and Three.
"Welcome!" The man greets me with a flourish, bowing low and removing his hat. It is the man's voice from the phone. His face is pale and gaunt, like that of a corpse but his eyes glint with life and mischief. "Your particular prize awaits you behind these doors and as you might imagine, it is up to you to choose." He steps aside with a wave of one arm, spinning his cane in the other gloved hand.
I had never been given a break in my life. Never won a contest, and considering I believed that I was still in bed and dreaming, I smiled and stepped forward. It seemed I had a choice to make.
But which door do I open?