Lise and I were looking at the auction pieces. Lise is my wife and she has been my lifetime companion; it has been 43 years since we got married.

    She loves to watch Antique Road show and she loves to buy things that we really don't need in our house or condo. She loves objects of art or nice little desks or
    pieces of furniture, pottery, all kind of stuff...

    If I would not be a restraining factor , I think that we would end up having no more space to move around in our house.

    Nevertheless she had convinced me to come over to a drug dealer auction at the Marriott Hotel in Palmetto Dunes, a plantation mid-way into Hilton Head Island,
    located at the southern tip of South Carolina. Last year she had come to another drug dealer auction and she regretted that I had not come since there were
    some great masters pieces we could have got at low price

    We have an art gallery there, in Shelter Cove Harbor. We have been here for almost 8 years now. So we could have sold some of those pieces for possibly ten
    or twenty times the price we would have paid for.

    But I was hesitant since who knows if they are originals, it is hard to tell with half an hour of viewing before the auction starts and with the brown paper covering
    the back of the paintings.

    I don't need to take a chance in making a potential good deal, we are doing well here with our little art gallery and I am very happy. I thank God everyday for my
    life,  the weather is  exquisite, it is almost always sunny here and I am a golfer and a member of the Palmetto Dunes Club. I play golf three times a week and I
    paint and manage the gallery the other days.

    My wife isn't as happy as I am, she has never been; perhaps it was due to the menopause depression that many women experience in the middle of their life.
    My son Garry and my daughter Nancy aren't the very happy types either and what was about to happen next was going to change their lives forever.

    There was a very strange contraption amongst the sculptures and I looked at it more closely. It had two kind of horns about six feet long, arching towards each
    other to form a perfect circle coming out of a short two feet by four feet pedestal.

    I could not identified the metal it was made from and the surface had an impossibly slippery  surface; it was like I was not really touching the surface. There were
    some kind of buttons on the side and I started to touch them. Once I touch four of them at the same time and I saw an electrified field taking shape inside the
    circle. I quickly touch the four buttons again and the field disappeared.

    I looked around to see if other people had seen what happened but nobody was looking.

    I have been a science-fiction reader and I have a bachelor degree in chemistry so for me, that contraption was worth buying.. Who knew, it could have been an
    artifact left over by aliens from  another world. That was crazy right?

    A couple started to look at the artifact and I hoped that they would not bid against me for at that moment I had decided to buy it if the bidding did not go to high.

    I told my wife about it and she said it was ugly and that kind of stuff had no appeal to her. Then she showed me some pottery , a few sculptures and paintings
    that caught her attention.

    Anyhow,  the auction started and I waited for that piece. They started the bid at $500.00 and I raised my hand; somebody else, the man that had look at it while I
    investigated the contraption bid $1000.00 and raised the bid to $1500 and the man finally outbid me and got the piece for $5000.00.

    Lise would have not talk to me for a week or two if I had bought it at a higher price so I let it go but felt that I had just lost something important.

    A few weeks had passed since the day of the auction and I was surprised to see that couple that had bought the contraption walk in my gallery.

    They walked around and finally asked me at what price they could get one of my largest sizes, a 60" X 48", a very modern fantasy landscape with a lot of red
    foliage on the shore of a pond.

    I told them the price was $12,000.00 and $1,000.00 for the frame.

    - My name is John Edwards, said the man, Pam and I have a house here in Palmetto Dunes; we want that painting but you will have to come over and install it
    on the wall. It was Friday  afternoon and my week-end was already booked.

    - No problem, I can take it over to your house next Monday morning.

    The man paid me in full and I thank them but before they went I asked them if they like the contraption they bought at the drug dealer auction.

    - Oh, I remember you now, said John, you were bidding on the same piece, right?

    - Right, did you notice that it is a very strange artifact, I asked; did you show it to anyone?

    -No, it is standing in our living room.

    -If you touch the first four buttons of the pedestal at the same time, the artifact produces a semi-transparent electrical field of some kind, I said. It is very strange
    and this is why I wanted to buy it. I wanted to investigate that thing that I believe has not been made by mankind.

    - I will take a look at it, said John, when we get back to the house and Monday when you come over with the painting we will talk about it.

    -Excellent, see you Monday 9:00AM then.

    That Monday, I bubble wrapped and card boarded the large size painting and my wife helped me to fix it on the roof of my mini-van. John's house was right on
    the beach, the land alone must be worth $5 million and the house was huge and very beautiful. I figured that its value was probably around 8 or 9 million dollars.

    Before I took the painting from the top of my minivan, I went up the stairs and rang. Nobody came. I checked the door and it was unlocked. I opened it and
    walked inside.

    - John, Pam are you there?  I shouted. No answer!

    - You can't walk inside Richard, you might be arrested, said Lise.

    -You are right, let's have a walk for twenty minutes and if they are not there when we come back, I will call them this afternoon to get another appointment.

    We went for a walk and came back half an hour later. I went to the door, rang, waited one minute. I went to the backyard to see if they were there and not hearing the
    bell but they were not there. I came back to the front door then and finally  I boldly walked inside and into the living room. .I visited the whole house to see if
    something happened. I thought they might have been killed and lying on the floor somewhere because John was just not the type of man to give an appointment
    and then miss it without calling.

    I went back to the living room while Lise was waiting outside and hoped she wasn't too impatient for I had spotted the artifact and noticed that it was on, I mean
    the electrical field was on, a perfect circle of transparent soft light  and I could not see the back of the living room through that circle.

    I saw something though, I saw a semi-transparent grass lawn though the circle of semi-transparent light.

    I went back to the kitchen and picked up a wood spoon and a fork plus an oven glove and walked back to the artifact. I touched the field with the wood spoon
    and it went right through and I could touch the semi-transparent grass with it. I pulled the spoon out and it was unaffected.

    I then use the oven glove and tried to do the same thing with the long fork and again there was no sparkle, it just went through easily and I could touch the grass
    with it. I rolled it to pick up some of the grass and pulled some through the circle of light.

    I was now convinced that it was a door to another world and it worked both ways. So I did the next step and went through the circle of light with my index, I
    touched it first and there was no reaction to my skin and then I pushed my index finger through and still no reaction and it was intact when I pulled it back.

    Then I went through with my whole hand and part of my arm and I could touch the grass; I grabbed a handful of it and pulled it through and into the living room.

    My hand and arm as well as the grass had not suffer from that experience. So I decided to wait a few days and see if I had any adverse effect following that
    experience before I would boldly walk through the circle of light created by the artifact.

    I walked outside and told my wife about the experience ; I told her everything. She was very upset and worried.

    - You could have been electrocuted or even lost your arm and die there bleeding to death. She said.

    - I have that sixth sense of impending danger, sweetheart. How many time did I survive very dangerous situations relying on it? I replied. And it always served
    me well. I didn't sense any danger   and in fact I expected it to be a door to another world right from the start. That's why I wanted to buy it at the auction.

    I also think the John and his wife went to that other world and they might come back. I will come over to see if they are back everyday of the coming 2 weeks and
    then I might go to that world and try to find them..

    - You are out of your mind, she said, worried sick about it for she knew that when I have taken a decision I always do it.

    In the next few days I got a permit to buy a handgun and bought a Smith and Wesson, a solid knife and everything I thought I needed to survive in an hostile land.

    I went back to John's house everyday of the following week and spent some time in front of the artifact trying to sense any danger from it, but nothing, there was
    no foreboding.

    Seven days later, I was standing in front of the artifact, Lise was with me; I had written a note for the police explaining what I was going to do in case I would not
    come back. I had made a new will, leaving her everything I had; just to confirm my previous will of 43 years ago. It was time to do it, I had a bottle of spray paint
    to mark the emplacement of the door on the other side. I threw my backpack, my gun and the spray paint can through the circle of light and then I kissed my wife
    and hugged her.

    - I will be back Lise, don't worry. In fact I will walk back right now to show you that I can.

    I walked through and I stepped on a lawn, looked around me and saw a the circle of light from where I had walked. I sprayed the paint  to mark its emplacement
    and then walked right back into the living room.

    - You see Lise, I walked back through it and that was my main worry. So I am going there and I will try to find John and his wife. Don't speak with the police if I am
    not back within one day; give me three days. I will do everything I can to be back before that.

    I hugged her again and kissed her and walked back through the circle of light.

    The air smelled really good, there were a lot of birds, singing birds and the temperature was just perfect, around 75. The sun was just like our sun giving life to a
    luxurious vegetation. The clearing ended up in a dirt path that went through a forest of oak, maple, birch and fruit bearing trees.  I went to it and walked down the
    trail. There were raspberry  and blueberry bushes all bearing fruits. I picked up a few and they were delicious. There were no mosquitoes, no flies, but busy
    working bees that never bothered me.

    I walked for 2 hrs and spotted a number of graceful deers, a herd of wild horses that looked at me interestingly. There were some kind of otters that came
    walking beside me in a playful way, touching my legs intentionally. There was now a golf course on my left and an ocean on my right and right in front a beautifully
    designed Swiss village.   I saw some people and made a sign, they saw me and signed me back in a come over way.

    I walked to them.

    - Welcome to paradise, said one of the men in English, my name is Henry.

    - Thank you Henry, my name is Richard.

    Henry was solidly built, he had a gentleman way of speaking, he seems to be very sure of himself and looked like a 55 to 60 years old. I thought he was a
    businessman of some kind.

    We shook hands and Henry introduced me to the three other men and the two ladies of the group.

    I come from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and I am looking for John and his wife. They left their house two weeks ago and I thought they came here.

    - Yes we met them, said Henry; they are probably at the marina or sailing on one of the sailboats. They will be back for dinner.

    - So what is that place? And where are you from?

    At that moment I spotted some kind of robot, levitating a few feet from the ground. The robot was picking up some damaged fruits that had fallen from a tree and
    then he carried a handful of them to a receptacle that was probably serving as a garbage container. I realized that the place was clean and everyone was
    dressed in some immaculate clothes; the men were shaved and looked friendly and neat just like the women.

    - This place is amazing, replied Henry; it was built for us by very sophisticated aliens. They have reached a very high technology: levitating robots that take care
    of everything, food synthesizers, teleportation doors from Earth to here and so many more wonders.

    They control the weather; it only rains in the midst of the night. There are no mosquitoes, no snakes, no spiders, scorpions or anything that we wouldn’t like; there
    are no predators and nobody, no animals grow old and die here.  I got here just after World War 2 and I was in my sixties then.

    -So you must be well over a hundred years old and you look like a fifty years old man. Wow!

    - Let me show you the place, said Henry.
    - Can we go back to fetch my wife first? She is waiting worriedly in John’s living room.

    - Sure, that is considerate of you, we will use one of the golf carts, I will be right back.

    Henry walked behind the plaza where many golf carts were parked in neat rows and came back to pick me up.

    We went back to the doorway to Earth and I walked right through to find my wife sitting on a sofa reading a book. I took off my guns, knife and camping gears
    and went to her.

    - Lise, Henry is waiting on the other side, it is safe there;  it is some kind of Eden. I found John and the villagers will show us their village; please come back with
    me.

    - I don’t know if I should, she replied. I knew she was afraid; she never wanted anything strange and weird in her life.

    -Come Lise; there is nothing to worry about, I said reassuringly.

    I took her hand and we walked through the circle of semi-transparent electrical field.

    - Henry, this is my wife Lise.

    - I am happy to meet you, said Henry. Please sit down in the cart and I will show you our little part of Eden..

    We went back to the village and followed him to his house. It was just a living room, a family room a bathroom and two bedrooms. There were no kitchen, no TV,
    no computers.

    - The toilet is disintegrating the content as we close the cover. The shower water is purified and redirected in the tank.

    We have no kitchen and that is a very good thing for we all eat together in the cafeteria and the food is delicious. Let me show you.

    We went to an open building with a ceramic like floor and a roof, a few walls and openings. There was a huge food dispenser with photos of meals and a
    selection of beverages.

    -Are you hungry? Asked Henry; with the smile of someone about to surprise another one.

    -Yes, let’s see how this alien gadget works.

    -I recommend this meat plate if you have a good appetite and the spicy wine here…

    I pushed the buttons and one minute later, a fuming plate set on a tray with a tall glass of red wine came out of an opening.

    Lise chose a fish plate with the same spicy red wine, she took her tray and we sat at one of the tables.

    The food was delicious and I felt exhilarated once I drank half of the wine. I was bubbling with joy and ready to laugh at nothing.

    -The wine will have no more effect from now on, commented Henry, we get high but we never get drunk. There must be a chemical that stop the effect.

    I just felt wonderful and very energetic.

    -Can we do something Henry? I spotted a golf course on the other side of the village and we have plenty of time before John comes back for dinner. Would
    someone give me company or play with me?

    - Sure, said Henry and James at the same time. Let’s take a cart.

    There were a dozen golf carts parked neatly just beyond the dinning plaza.

    - The carts engines never need to be recharged or fueled; commented Henry.

    We went to the clubhouse where we picked up a golf bag and I played a good game. The golf course could not be nicer; there were hills and deep valleys, all
    kind of beautiful trees, a lot of wild life and none of the animals and birds bothered us during the swings but they came to us when we were just walking around.

    - Every one of these birds and little furry friends are at least 50 years old. They like to be caressed and come in contact with us but they know when to do it and
    they keep quiet and keep a respectful distance when we concentrate on a shot, said James. They probably became more intelligent over the years, he went on.

    - Very interesting, I commented, but do you have people here that aren’t respectful? Bullies,drug dealers, assassins?

    - No we don’t have any of those, replied Henry; perhaps the teleportation doors don’t allow them to come here. The next village once had a violent man that beat
    up a couple of people and one day he wasn’t there anymore.

    - I guess the robots are keeping us safe and will not allow any predator to live here, including human predators. I replied. But how many villages are there on this
    world?

    - I took one of the golf carts once and drove a few hundred miles north and then made a left turn and came back and I found 18 villages; many were empty of
    people and none had more than 50% of the houses occupied. There are always empty houses to sleep in when you visit this world. So if you decide to stay
    here, you just move into one of the unoccupied houses.

    - We will think about that, I said politely.

    - If you spend one night here, you will miss this world when you go back and if you spend a week here, you will not want to live anywhere else. We are all very
    happy here and that is forever, since we do not grow old here and we are all in excellent health. It must be the food, something in it, prevents us to get sick and
    there are no virus or bacteria that can affect us.

    I look at my wife, I didn’t have to say anything but she understood that I was considering that possibility.

    I would have to give up my career, my paintings, my financial security, everything I had…

    We went to the stable after the game and Henry showed me the different bells.

    - Each of the bells have a different chime and the horse knows which one we are calling, said James as he ranged one of the bells. A beautiful and joyful stallion
    came galloping from the prairie.

    James took a handful of horse treats from a dispenser and gave it to the horse.

    - This is Richard, said James to the horse. I walked to it and caressed his head.

    We went back to the dinning plaza and John was there with his wife waiting for me.

    - Hello Richard, said John happily, you must have delivered the painting we bought from you and found that we were gone…

    - Yes John, I went to your living room and saw that the artifact was on; I deducted that you had walked through a door to another world and decided to come to
    your rescue.

    - That was very nice, thank you, said John, will you spend the night with us?

    -  Why not? I replied; looking hopefully at my charming wife.

    We had dinner with the whole village and then we played some games and walked the beach.

    - Why don’t you put a swimming suit and refresh yourself? Asked James; the bathing suits are in these little beach cabins; he went on.

    We changed and swam with hundreds of colorful fishes over multicolored corals and then we watched the sunset. Then the tree frogs started to sing their hearts
    out; the sky was full of stars and there was a moon with seas and continents and a beautiful atmosphere.

    We were captivated by the millions of tree frogs sound and the beauty of the night; we just felt wonderful. I took Lise in my arms and shared that unforgettable
    moment.

    Later on we walked to one of the empty houses and spent the night on a most comfortable bed.

    We talked with John again at breakfast.

    - You can have my 12 million dollars house and all the money I have in bank if you wish to live on Earth again, said John, you just have to get my check book from
    the top drawer in my bedroom and bring it here along with a legal paper that will transfer you the right to the house and the right to manage my assets and you
    bring them here. I will sign the document and a large number of blank checks and you can return with it. But I want to warn you, the door to this world might stop
    working at anytime and this why we will not return. The longer you delay your decision to come and live with us, the greater are the chances that you will not be
    able to.

    - Thank you John, I appreciate it, I will take a golf cart and get those documents and I will be back with an attorney and the documents.

    I could not refuse such a gift. A 12 million dollars house and many more millions in his bank account; wow! My life was changed forever or so I thought at this
    moment.

    We left the plaza and went back to John’s house and from there I called his attorney Tom Swift and told him that I needed him to prepare the legal documents
    and come over to John’s house. It was urgent I said.

    The document will be ready tomorrow and I will be there at 10:00AM.

    We spent the night in the big house that was about to become ours. Next morning Tom came on time and I opened the door and brought him to the living room.

    I showed him the artifact and turned it on and asked him to promise me to keep secret what he was about to learn. He promised. Then I moved in and out of the
    door to Eden a couple of time to reassure him that there was no danger at all and told him we were going to Eden where John was awaiting us.

    Tom was quite courageous and he followed us since Lise had decided to come along; she would not let me go without her.

    We took him to the village where John signed the document and a pile of blank checks and we returned to the house, my house now.

    - Are you sure you want to return? Asked John, the house and those millions in bank did not bring us happiness but here in Eden we are very happy and you
    would be as well.

    - Well John, I replied, I have an artist’s career and with the fortune you are giving me, we have decided to go back for a short time and then we will decide what
    to do. I am quite sure we will move here forever in a short while.

    We went back to John’s house and moved in the following day. I paid Trident Villa Rental for the balance of our condo rent and called Nova.

    - Nova, there is a big change in my life, I said, would you like to work full time in the art gallery? I mean 5 days a week.

    -Oh yes, absolutely. When will I start?

    Nova was our new manager. She was just wonderful and she liked managing the gallery when we were away in Montreal. She loved meeting a lot of people and
    she loved my work and felt rewarded every time she sold one and I mean personal satisfaction not only the 5% commission she was getting in addition to her
    salary.

    She was a wonderful lady and my wife and I loved her very much.

    - If you don’t mind you let’s meet at the gallery at 10:00AM; I have something to tell you.

    We spent the rest of the day walking inside and outside our new 12 million dollars house and reflected on our luck and how great it was to be living in such a
    beautiful house. We went to the Fresh Market on the 278 and bought 2 large size lobsters and a few pastries.

    That night, we opened a bottle of Champagne and feasted on our freshly boiled lobsters.

    I met Nova the day after and told her that something happened and we were not filthy rich. I gave her a salary raise. She was happy, we were all very happy.

    Lise and I spent two weeks away from the art gallery, visiting Daufusky Island, Beaufort, Charleston and Savannah and I got bored.

    -You know what Lise, I said, I don’t think that a great house and all those millions in bank are making me happy. In fact I had more fun bicycling from our condo to
    the beach and have a walk once we got there than bicycling from our very wealthy area to our old condo.

    Let me explain with a comparison here: Going to Central Park in New York from an apartment in the Bronx is more fun than going to a poor sector of the Bronx
    from Central Park…

    -Yes very funny but true, replied Lise,

    - Also, we get used pretty quickly to luxury and now that we have been living in this multi-million dollars house for two weeks, it does not excite me anymore. In
    fact, I went on, the happiest day of my last twenty years is the day and night we spent in Eden. I felt so energetic there and the serenity of the place and the
    relationship we had with the people there…

    - So what do you really want to tell me?

    -  Well I propose that we spend one week in Eden and at the end of that week, we decide what it will be: living forever happily in Eden or living a few more years
    in our 12 million dollars house, then get sick and die in a crowded hospital.

    - You have such way of hammering your idea, said Lise; I would look foolish to object to it. Are you ready to quit on your artist career and everything we have
    been working on for so many years, our financial security, our friends, our children, our relatives?

    - They have their own lives to live and beside if they want to join us in Eden, they have our new address and I will leave a note how to use the artifact. We will
    have a lot of friends there, the whole village.

    So we did it, we spent a wonderful week there and Lise stayed there. We decided to live in Eden forever.

    I  came back to do a video, my last video and emailed it to everyone I knew . I told in the video that I was leaving my new 12 million dollars house that nobody
    had seen except my wife and I and told about the pile of signed blank checks that John gave me. I am giving it to the first one that finds it but I am not giving you
    any clue about its emplacement.  I will not tell you the exact address, you would have to find it. It will belong to whoever find the house.

    When I emailed the video, I knew that no one would believe me. None would try to find it. With my reputation as a storyteller they would not make any effort to find
    it.

    So I decided to add that story to my website and pay the website for the next 100 years. Here is a clue:  the house is located in Palmetto Dunes right on the
    beach and there is a private gate to get to the house. The code is 7707. If you can open the gate of a 12 million dollars house sitting on the beach with that
    code, the house is yours. If you decide to come over to Eden and live there forever with us than leave everything like I did for the next lucky ones.

    Now I am returning to Eden, I got only one step to do, I wish you all a very good life, farewell.

    Your friend,

    Richard
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RIVERIN SHORT STORY  "One step to eden"