I took a trip the other day to the warehouse of the lost. It is a big building out in the country. Most of it is underground. I went to find all the missing sockets from my socket sets, and boy did I find a lot of sockets – mountains of them – how could I tell which ones were mine? It is a big place, this warehouse of the lost – a cavernous place. You start down steps and reach the first level and find bins and bins of gloves – singular, unmatched gloves. On the next level there are barrels and barrels of kid’s shoes, each without a match. As you go deeper down you pass the lost earring floor, the lost sock floor (this was the biggest), and the lost lawn tool floor. After that things get a little weird.
I came to a locked door, and a fellow in a red doorman’s uniform. “Am I not to go deeper down?” I asked him. “Not without a guide,” he replied. “Is it too dangerous?” “No” he said, “too… disturbing – besides you might get lost yourself.”
He opened the door and preceded me in. These lower floors grew gradually darker, but he was carrying one of those big black flashlights, so I stayed close to him and kept my eyes fixed on its shaft of white light.
The first of these floors was grey, like misty twilight. Cloud-like apparitions floated everywhere, they were beautiful at first, but as you looked at them they withered into ugliness. One that looked like a rainbow of chrysanthemums withered right before my eyes into a brownish snake. “What is this place?” I whispered in astonishment. “This is the floor of lost dreams” he replied.
A narrow staircase led us down to the nest floor. It was much darker, like a moonless night. There wasn’t anything to see here – just sounds, noises – shrieks, cries, moans, sobs. Reading my mind he said quietly, “The floor of lost innocence.”
At the end of the crooked path that led us through the floor of lost innocence was a hole, down which a rope ladder was hung. I followed him down into pitch blackness. We came to a rocky ledge, where we got off the rope ladder which went further into the blackness. He told me to sit, so I gingerly lowered myself onto the cold stone. He handed me the flashlight and said “Look for yourself.”
I flipped the flashlight on and peered down into the abyss.
It was filled with people.
People going about their business – reading the paper, doing the laundry, talking texting, tweeting- all in pitch blackness.
“This is the bottom floor,” my guide said, “.…floor of lost souls.”
“But the rope ladder goes all the way down – these folks could leave at any time – Why do they stay here in the pitch blackness?”
“Some just don’t care….,” he began gravely, “and some just can’t bear the thought of going past the floors of lost innocence, and lost dreams…”
“….but most,” he said, pausing to get closer to my ear, “….most have just forgotten they’re lost.