He finished writing out the check. It contained many zeros. He handed it to the young man behind the counter, who smiled and filed it away before taking a key from the rack on the wall behind him.

“Right this way, sir,” said the boy, and led him down a long hallway of plain, numbered doors. He came to the last and unlocked it. “You’ll hear the buzzer ring when your time is up,” he said, and then went away. He watched the boy go, then entered the room and shut the door. There was no way to lock it from the inside.

He surveyed the room. It was spacious, though it lacked windows and carpet. The walls, like the cement floor, were a freshly painted white. Along three walls ran long shelves at various heights, each painted the same white. The fourth wall was bare.

The room contained two types of objects: those which could be broken, and those which could do the breaking. A wooden box, white, held instruments of destruction: crow bars, golf clubs, various lengths of wood, any strong object which might inflict a good deal of damage. The shelves sported a variety of fragile, beautiful works of art: porcelain vases, delicate hand mirrors, glasses and sculptures of crystal and glass, fine china in a rainbow of colors and patterns. Against the walls were leaned all sizes and shapes of wall mirrors and plates of glass, stained and otherwise. The white room glittered and glistened with its expensive collection. From a thousand different surfaces he was reflected, in a thousand different angles and a hundred different hues.

He smiled. This would be well worth the money.

He started out slow. He took a weightless Japanese porcelain sculpture off a shelf, hefted it in his hand experimentally, then turned to the empty wall and sent it hurling. It hit the wall and exploded in a shower of powder and shards. Just lovely. He licked his lips, then grabbed a crystal vase and did the same. The sound it made upon breaking was beautiful to his ears. He was enjoying this, even more than he thought he might. It made him feel like a child set loose in an antique store. He launched a set of finely glazed plates through the air and had their matching goblets smashing into the floor as they hit. A hand mirror followed those, then twin statues; martini glasses and pitchers; plates and bowls and a hideous crystal duck. The white room rang with the shattering of a dozen valuable substances.

Suddenly he was no longer smiling. His movements were no longer controlled. The rage bubbled up in his throat, pounded in his ears and chest and blood. He groped blindly in the box and pulled out a heavy crow bar. He paced the room like an animal caged, then jumped at the row of standing mirrors, attacking with a trembling ferocity. He smashed them to pieces one at a time, his feet crunching over the debris strewn floor. He began to beat at the shelves, then, sending their contents crashing to the floor, splitting and cracking the wood. He swung wildly, connecting with shelf and wall and rare and expensive. Demolishing a huge pane of frosted glass, he heard a howling above the racket and realized it to be his own voice. He did not stop, only began to beat at the unyielding walls and floor in his fury. He tore down the remaining shelves. He destroyed the last of the antique objects. He left nothing untouched, nothing unmarred. He moved like a man possessed.

And when the final hand crafted sculpture had been crushed to powder beneath his feet, and the last piece of glass broken to tiny slivers, and the hatred and the hurt and the madness had reached their peak and spilled over, only then did he pause. Only then did he let the deadly weapon fall from his clenched hands as he stood panting, catching his breath, gathering back his sanity. It came in bits and pieces as if it too had been blasted apart in the onslaught.

From somewhere overhead, a buzzer rang. He brushed the dust from his clothes. He ran fingers through his hair, straightened his tie, rubbed the scuffs from his shoes. Then he turned away from the white room, from the carnage and the tiny porcelain bodies of his victims, and opened the door.

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