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Refuge (standard:other, 2551 words)
Author: AnonymousAdded: Dec 17 2004Views/Reads: 1641/1128Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Ward Allen is a successful businessman with a troubled personal life. This story chronicles his search for refuge from his unhappiness and weariness with life.
 



Gargantuan buildings crowded the busy New York skyline on a dreary
November morning, completely blocking out the feeble rays of sunlight 
that struggled to find their way to the city below. It had rained 
heavily the night before, and gray puddles collected in every gutter, 
alley, and crevice in the cracked sidewalk. Dull, drab figures clothed 
in unoriginal hues of blue and navyhurried past each other on the way 
to work, emotionless faces blank and unseeing eyes trained on the 
ground. A ragged homeless man with a long, grizzled beard and a dirty 
tie-dyed shirt ambled slowly through the masses, mumbling incoherently 
to himself- a spark of originality among the conventional crowds. 
People instinctively avoided this strange individual and continues on 
their way, clutching their briefcases tighter and pressing their cell 
phones even closer to their ears. A brightly colored songbird 
cheerfully warbled a lovely tune from his perch on a nearby tree, but 
no one heard it. And when the sun finally gathered up the courage to 
shine for a brief second from behind the cement-colored clouds, no one 
even noticed or would have cared if they had. 

Ward Allen jostled his way through the dense mass of bodies, oblivious
to the people around him with whom he competed for space. He trudged 
wearily along the chipped cement, his steely gray eyes downcast as they 
followed the monotonous movement of his black patent leather shoes. HIs 
regimented footsteps brought him to the subway entrance as they did 
every morning, and he gave an involuntary shudder as his legs took him 
down the familiar steps. He had always despised traveling underground, 
and whenever he entered the cold, cemented chamber of the station, he 
felt as if he had descended into the first level of Dante's hell. He 
waited emotionlessly as the next precisely punctual subway car came to 
a smooth halt, and he climbed aboard the coldly impersonal machine. He 
glanced at his Rolex watch out of habit without noticing the time, and 
settled into his ritualistic stupor as he waited for the subway to 
reach its predestined location. 

*** 

Ward ascended the steep flight of granite stairs and methodically pulled
out his identification card from the pocket of his charcoal suit eith a 
robotic gesture. Swiping the card through the security device, he 
paused for a second to hear the recognizable click before swinging the 
wide glass doors open. His footsteps echoed hollowly on the marble 
floor as he strode through the richly furnished lobby and entered the 
elevator, completely ignoring the insincere greeting of the security 
guard at the front desk. Without hesitation, Ward mechanically punched 
in the number 14 and the polished bronze doors glided shut in front of 
him as the elevator ascended slowly to the designated office floor. 
Ward gazed into the reflection of his own eyes on the elevator door, 
which eventually refocused to encompass his entire figure. 

In spite of the fact that he was approaching forty, Ward still thought
of himself as an attractive man. His salt and pepper hair was kept 
neatly trimmed, and his jawline, which he always kept cleanly shaven, 
was angular but not too severe. He had thin lips which revealed a nice 
set of straight teeth on the rare occasions when he smiled. His body 
was tall and muscular, and his slightly protruding belly was the he was 
a man past the prime days of his collegiate athletic glory. He showed 
his age most of all in the deep lines which gouged his broad forehead, 
and the creases at the corners of his eyes which extended nearly to his 
temples were further accentuated by a pair of high, angular eyebrows. 
What Ward enjoyed most about his appearance, however, was his 
steel-gray eyes, Many people were intimidated by his intense, piercing 
stare, and his icy gaze contributed to his reputation for coldness. 

Ward snapped out of his self-reflective reverie when his mirrored image
was split in half with the opening of the elevator doors.  Running his 
hands through his silver hair, he briskly strode to his office and 
unlocked the heavy oak door, pausing to read with satisfaction the 
newly installed engraving proclaiming his name in gilded letters.  Ward 
glanced around his office and immediately noted the steaming cup of 
coffee placed puntually at his desk by a particularly ambitious young 
intern  Striding over to the table, he placed his briefcase on the desk 
and sank into the high-backed leater chair with a deep sigh.  He 
stirred his coffee slowly and looked meditatively around the room, his 
eyes finally coming to rest on the far wood-paneled wall.  Gilded 
frames with autographed portraits of former company presidents hung in 
perfectly symmetrical order.  Ward gazed at the familiar faces with 


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