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by Eric Suhem

Where are my keys? Burt was in his office, looking for his keys, having trouble finding them. He thought they were in his pants pockets or his briefcase, but no, they weren’t! He looked in every drawer of his desk, under the rug, up in the ceiling light fixtures. He started pulling pictures of mallards and ducks off the walls, but the keys weren’t behind them. He overturned his desk, and tore up the plaid cushions of the office couch. Soon the entire office was in a shambles. “Hmm…where could they be?” he said to himself, a weird glint in his eye. He took out an axe and started hacking holes in the walls, searching through the building structure for his keys.

Where are my keys? Burt could not find his keys in the office, so he walked down the hall to the elevator, maybe his keys were in the car. There was an elevator operator he had never seen before. “Hello Burt, I am Mr. Pelican,” he said. “Join me in the elevator, which will take us to the stars. I had the nape of my neck shot off in the war, but I still lead a productive existence as ‘Your Host on the Elevator’. You quiver, you shake, but don’t worry, Burt, all will be copasetic.” Burt looked at the elevator operator suspiciously, just wanting to get to the ground floor and look for his keys in the car. The elevator door closed and the suspended cage descended from the 40th floor to the 9th floor, its door opening to reveal a corridor. “All the doors in the corridor are closed, but behind each one is a key to the evolution of your soul. You will now have the opportunity to choose a door, Burt,” said the elevator operator. “One of the doors will yield immeasurable enlightenment to you, and spread joy throughout the world. Another door will strip you of all purpose, and cast you off into space as a lumpy, starchy vegetable, incapable of reason or emotion throughout eternity. Which door do you choose?” asked the elevator operator, blinking oddly. “Just take me to the lobby, I want to get to my car,” said Burt.

Where are my keys? Burt arrived at the ground floor and was relieved to find his ring of keys, though they were in the car, unlocked. His life would go on stably and uneventfully, though he would occasionally have dreams of walking through an entryway in a dark corridor, and opening a door. Burt would often stroll through the park and stare at the ducks and mallards. One day he saw a pelican in the pond, clutching a key in its beak.