George wasn't exactly sure how long he'd been standing there, staring at the place where his exit used to be, but it certainly felt like a long time. In this featureless white place, he could almost imagine time as being meaningless. Sure, he could look at his watch, but that would only tell him how much time had passed out there, in the place where he was supposed to be and probably would never be again.
Stop it, he told himself. Leave that kind of thinking to the Rodney McKays of the world. Don't give up before you've even tried to figure things out.
With that self-admonition, he took a breath and looked around. Then he began to chuckle. Looking around was futile. There was nothing to see. Every direction he looked gave him the same view: White nothingness.
He frowned. There was something niggling at the back of his consciousness. Something that wasn't quite right about this whole scenario. Something just a bit off...
Then it hit him. If he was completely surrounded by white ethereal nothingness, then what the hell was he standing on?
He crouched and put his hand down beside his foot.
Solid. A floor.
It was white, it was featureless, and it felt neither warm nor cool, but it was a solid floor.
So there must be walls.
He stood again and began to move cautiously forward. He had no idea if he was still facing the place where the door used to be, but at this point he didn't care. He was going to walk until he found the wall.
Five minutes later (he checked his watch this time) he was still walking. It made no sense that he should still be walking, but he was.
He considered the possibilities. He'd heard about people walking in circles in a snowstorm. This could be a similar situation. He had no bearings, no reference points, no way to measure distance or direction. He was utterly lost. He had no idea if he was walking a straight line or a figure-eight.
A second possibility was that the room was much, much bigger than he'd imagined. Bigger than he could have imagined. Impossibly big, considering how little space seemed available in the midst of all the adjoining rooms.
Which meant he was in some kind of spatial anomaly.
Great. Star Trek talk, now. Calling Captain Janeway. Hell, why not run the full spectrum and call it a TARDIS?
Enough! Pop culture was not going to help him. If anything, it would only get in his way, by reminding him of things he'd seen on television and in movies and thereby limiting his perspective. He had to focus on the here and now and figure out what he was going to do next.
He decided to sit for a few minutes, to conserve his energy. He had no idea how long he was going to be here, and it didn't look like the vast ethereal whiteness was edible, so he figured he'd better rest while he had the chance. So he plunked down cross-legged on the featureless floor and put his hands on his knees.
This immediately made him think of meditation. He chuckled, as meditation was not something he was in the habit of practicing. However, the endless whiteness around him made it seem somehow appropriate that he should assume such a posture.
Maybe if he got in touch with his inner eye, he could conjure shapes and forms from the nothingness around him. Maybe even something to eat. Neat trick that would be.
His writer's mind kicked into high gear now. Maybe this place was a mini-universe, and he was the Creator. If he focussed hard enough on what he wanted, it would just come to him. Yeah, that was it. The Law of Attraction. The Secret. If he thought really hard, maybe Rhonda Byrne herself would appear out of the aether and share with him the secrets of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
God, what a cynic he was.
And he was back to the pop culture again. It had to stop.
But he was a writer, dammit. And writers were always drawing on other sources to inform their own work. He couldn't help it. It was just the way his mind--
He stopped mid-thought. Something had just clicked inside him. He was onto something here. It was entirely possible that he was in a situation perfectly suited to his particular skill set.
He stood and looked around again. Looking around was still futile, but it made him feel better.
He cleared his throat.
"And so, our hero," he said aloud, in as narrator-ly a voice as he could muster, "armed with sudden and certain knowledge, reached out his hand, only to discover that the wall he had been seeking stood only inches away."
He reached out his hand. There was, indeed, a wall.
"Now you're getting it."
The voice was not George's.
Reflexively, he looked around. This time, his eyes actually came to rest on something. Or someone, to be precise.
A few feet away from him, in some direction or other, a man stood looking at him. He was an old man, or at least he appeared to be. His face was wrinkled, and his hair was long and gray. He sported a long gray beard as well, which went quite nicely with his long gray robes. He held a wooden staff and wore black boots.
George ran his disbelieving eyes up and down the gray form. "Gandalf," he said finally. "You've come at last."
The man frowned. "Don't be a wise-ass."
The incongruity of phrase and figure nearly made George laugh.
The man shook his head. "You were always such a wise-ass."
It was George's turn to frown. "You know me?" he asked, squinting at the man.
"Of course I know you."
George crossed his arms. "How?"
"Well," the man said, "that's a good story if you want to hear it."
George glanced at the whiteness around them. "I don't have a lot else on the go right now, so I'm all ears."
"Good," the man replied. "Have a seat."
George resumed his cross-legged sitting position and regarded his sudden companion.
This should be good.