Derrick White opened his eyes slowly. When he saw where he was, or, more specifically, that he wasn’t in the locker room anymore, he shut them again. Maybe if kept his eyes closed, whatever hallucination he had just experienced would dissipate and he could open them again to find himself back with his jubilant teammates, celebrating their win over the Nuggets.
However, when he opened his eyes after a minutes’ wait, he was still in the same place: a long hall with marble floors that extended, seemingly forever, in both directions. The stone walls, periodically set with ornately-arched windows, rose up towards the sky until they disappeared into a thick white layer of clouds. To Derrick, it seemed heaven-like, or, at least, similar to what his personal conception of heaven was. But he was pretty sure that he hadn’t died, so why would he be in this place which seemed an awful lot like the afterlife?
Giving up hope that he would magically be transported back to where he expected to be, Derrick got to his feet. As he did so, he realized that he was naked. The smooth marble felt cool on the bottoms of his feet, in contrast to the gentle warmth that he was receiving from the glowing, hazy sunlight that permeated the hall.
Where the others here? Derrick picked a direction at random and started to walk while thinking about this question. If he was by himself, he thought that would be alright. The sunny hall was perfectly pleasant without others to disturb the tranquility. His previous distressed feelings were quickly giving way to feelings of peace. He still didn’t know where he was, but as far as unknown places went, it was rather nice.
As he continued walking, Derrick thought he could see a figure in the distance. It was definitely more humanlike than the trickling fountains which occasionally made an appearance in the middle of the marble floor. As he approached the figure, it turned and waved at him.
“Welcome, newcomer,” the man said when Derrick approached.
“Uh, hi,” Derrick replied. His own voice sounded too loud amongst the quiet. “Are you God?”
The man, who had a vaguely latin complexion, laughed. “No, not even close. My name is Carlos Delfino, and I am the appointed guardian of the Hall of the Thirty Point Scorers.”
Derrick suppressed his immediate desire to ask for clarification of Carlos’ words. If he had heard correctly, the place he was in was the Hall of the Thirty Point Scorers. So it was like an alternate dimension that only NBA players who had scored thirty points in a game could access? If so, where were the rest of them? Derrick wasn’t a big stat geek, but he was sure that there were at least a hundred players in the league with him who had scored thirty points in at least one game. Probably a lot more than a hundred.
Carlos wordlessly handed Derrick a white robe which could be tied shut with a length of golden braided rope. It seemed identical to the robe that Carlos himself wore. “Is there a Hall for the guys who score forty?” Derrick asked as he put the garment on. He remembered how, back in his previous life, he had been vaguely disappointed that he had been taken out of the game before having the chance to score forty.
Carlos nodded. “I hear them talking about it sometimes. I never get to go, of course.” Derrick wanted to ask who ‘them’ was referring to, but didn’t. “It’s not really a ‘Hall’, from what I gather. More of a countryside villa with infinite rooms.”
“I should be going now,” Carlos said, checking the wristwatch on his arm. Derrick noted with confusion that the watch’s face had no numbers or hands to signify what time it actually was. “The Hall was not designed to accommodate conversations. It is a realm of personal contemplation first and foremost.”
Derrick tended to agree, so he didn’t try to stop Carlos as he started walking the opposite direction that Derrick had been walking before they had met. Not all his questions had been answered, not even close, but he found that the answers weren’t especially important to him. The pervasive tranquility had the effect of dulling his thoughts into a generalized contentedness. Now the thought of returning to his teammates, who were lovable but occasionally raucous, seemed less appealing than just staying in the Hall.
There were benches he could sit on, but Derrick chose to sit on the edge of one of the fountains instead. He lazily dragged his fingertips through the burbling water and closed his eyes. Yes. He could stay here forever.