The Night I Got Locked Out of My Own House

February 6, 2012
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No one should read self-pity or reproach
Into this statement of the majesty
Of God; who with such splendid irony,
Granted me books and blindness at one touch
Jorge Luis Borges

It’s been awhile since I’ve been sleeping. No physical reason. Door closed, window obstructed, lights off. I should be asleep at any moment now, but I’m not. I’ve been up and staring around the room for what seems like ten minutes, but turns out to be a few minutes more. It’s the morning before the sun right now, that period of time. Now I know there shouldn’t be a reason why I’m awake. Just am. Just will be. Have to focus. Have to go back to sleep. But that’s not enough to convince me of it. The back of my mind must know something the front doesn’t, and is doing a good job of hiding it from me. Go back to sleep. Get up. Do something.

I try to move my feet, it’s a no-go. Constricted by the feet and motionless, I’ll try to bring myself out of it, but the blankets want me in. I try to move my arms, also a no. The blanket is wrapped around my arms and shoulders. I’m completely tucked in. I don’t know how that happened. I sleep with one eye open and with my body flailed about to prevent exactly this sort of thing. No matter, there’s got to be a solution to this, there always is. If I adjust myself I’ll surely find an opening, I find it hard to believe that I’d manage to sleep so actively as to wrap myself up as tight as I am now while simultaneously sleeping so heavily I didn’t wake myself up in the struggle. I wiggle my whole body in individual motions just to see if there’s any portion of the blanket cocoon that will give way more than the rest. My feet seem to have largest area of movement, but they’re trapped in some sort of fabric atrium. Spherical and open while just as binding, it’s like a little ballroom for my feet to dance in while the rest of my body is locked outside, but it’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for an opportunity. I try and wiggle my shoulders, and then my hands. Shoulders have no movement, which is just as well, because I don’t know how someone could utilize their shoulders that effectively barring they just swing wildly back and forth and hope they stop existing long enough to squeeze out of a jam as particular as this one. Maybe my shoulders would turn to knives if I wished it hard enough? Then I could cut myself and cut myself out just as easily. But my smooth-surfaced shoulders sit sullenly, silly and safe. There’s no chance evolution will take me now unfortunately, despite the necessity of adaptation right now.

Move my fingers a bit, perhaps? There. I feel lit. Left side, ring and middle finger, an opening in the surface. A tiny crack in the layers of blanket that, now that I think about it, are kind of making it hard to breathe in here as well. My fingers spurn wildly in a moronic twist and dance. Their clawing and conspiring to remove these blankets, and they’ll get away with it if there’s no witnesses. They catch a fold (or maybe it’s an end?) of the blanket and grip heartily onto the trim of the blanket. Ridges dig into fingernails or maybe the other way around as they pull and push and manipulate the blanket to do their bidding. The blanket folds under pressure and I can feel the whole binding experience just giving out. There’s more to it than that, I suppose, but I’m recounting this all from memory and I don’t think what follows after really matters at all. My fingers are free, and then eventually my hands, then my wrists, eventually my forearms, and inevitably the rest of my body falls out of the wrapping in some manner, as I couldn’t continue to talk about simply lying in bed constricted forever. I fall out because I have no more to say about being trapped in there.
I stretch my arms and legs and torso out into the bedroom atmosphere. It’s not exactly refreshing, but I could be grateful that it’s no longer a blanket-cocoon-oven-metaphor anymore. I position myself on the edge of the bed now and stare at the door. Is it calling to me or am I just that tired? No, I definitely hear my name on the other side of that door. It’s slow but repetitious and it’s articulate. Every letter, vowel, syllable of my name is clearly defined by the ghost orator. Voice, voice, voice, I don’t recognize the voice. It’s early in the morning and I don’t know why anyone would be up right now. I’m certainly not up of my own accord, so why should that voice? I admit, I’m a bit jealous that the voice is so able to be certain of its purpose of its awakened state that it can begin to provoke the question and doubt in others, but I certainly don’t appreciate it. I don’t know what to do about it. My room is dark and cold and alone and I know every corner of it. Out there, past the door, is only what it wants to be. Sure, I know what the layout of my own house is, it is an attachment of room after all, but I don’t trust it to retain its shape when no one’s looking. If a tree falls in the woods, that sort of thing I guess. The voice is still speaking, and the words are getting completely monotonous.
“If you don’t answer me I’m going to leave!” I yell out to the voice. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that, I don’t quite know what the voice is or if I’m even prepared to handle what it might throw back at me. A response is nothing I’ve anticipated and I start to feel how dangerously unprepared I am handle an ill-fated situation like this.
The voice gives no reason to suspect that it heard me at all, it just keeps repeating my voice in the swollen, monotone dribble on and on, like it’s no one’s business whose name it commands at the early hours in the morning. This would give me cause for concern, but by all accounts, the only thing odd about this particular moment is that the voice hasn’t tried to say anything else. Normally people try to communicate by using more than one vocal command, but hey! what do we all know?
“Hello? Do you actually want something?” I ask. I’m going for a more friendly approach this time, sort of hoping the voice will react to me like something normal would. But the more I think about it, the more I consider what might be in command of this voice, and the less I’m entirely sure I want to know what I don’t. But apparently all of my worries are for naught as the voice insists on ignoring me and instead just calling me to its attention. Normally I wouldn’t be particularly inclined to heed the calling of a stranger, but there has to be some reason why I’m up so goddamn late (or early now, I suppose), and I can’t ask for a sign and then pass on it when it doesn’t fit my criteria for caring. No, the voice will receive my support. It has to.
“Okay, I’m coming out now!” I tell to the voice. Quietly I suppose I’m hoping that if I approach it in enough ways, I’ll eventually fit into the puzzle of what it wants from me. Or I could just be a little bit crazy. I’m considering the possibility now that I’m hearing voices. I stand up and off of my bed and approach my door. On the other side lies a whole house full of shadows and secrets, and beyond that a yard full of hills and hollows, and beyond that a neighborhood stubbornly disinterested in what I have to think about it right now. Viciously disinterested, I guess you could say. Which is fine, it’s not like I’d have much to say back to the neighborhood if it suddenly took an interest to me. I know just as much about it as it does about me. Which is to say a lot, but only on a superficial level. Like the “How do you do?” or “Good evening!” sort of plane of conversation. As a collective whole it’s sort of lost its voice and impact on me. But that’s okay, it really all is. I’ve got the voice interested in me now, and it seems to want me out of my room. And I am so inclined at this moment in time.
Grabbing the door handle I throw myself out of the room abruptly and with all of the pizazz one heterosexual male can muster without the use of sequins or jazz hands. In full view of the hallway immediately occupying the space outside my door, I investigate as far as my eyes can see to locate the source of the voice. Unsurprisingly, I find nothing but the hallway I’m familiar with, except possibly darker than I usually remember it being. It’s like I wondered earlier, is it really the same house if you think of it differently? No. That’s the answer.
“Hello? You wanted to see me?” I ask to the Nothing of the hallway. Hardly any response, and nothing I was really counting on, but it does seem to me that the voice is, not louder, although I suppose it is...realer? Is that word? So awkward and dysfunctional as it falls from the roof of my mouth before bouncing off of my tongue and catapulting itself wildly out from between my teeth in a haphazard trajectory spiraling towards the ground. Realer. That’s definitely the nomenclature appropriate for the voice now. I can hear my name chanted as ever. Slow and repeated and necessary I suppose, but now it seems like it’s actually coming from somewhere now, a real direction, instead of just from behind an obstacle and around the next corner that I must now conveniently navigate and understand.
I follow the chanting to the front door, and look out onto the street to see if there’s anything I can find out about the voice just by casually glancing outside the window and absorbing the most immediate information available to me. Deadened, quiet trees and muted grass span out in the yards in front of me. I see nothing. The chanting subsides and I feel alone. Somewhere out in the distance of the township area I hear a train whine. In the world around me, I don’t believe there’s a need for anything but my own fears and will. Pressing my ear up against the glass of the door I strain to hear if I can still hear that voice chanting out to me, or beckoning, whatever it was that it was doing. Nothing. A great audio abyss awaits me, and I find myself alone at the senselessness of what it means to be without company at a point when I have no business being awake, except maybe to hear my own paranoid ramblings. I need to go back to bed, but I have no interest in walking through my house in the dark all over again. Instead, I just slide to the ground, back against the door and head against the wall. I doze off noiselessly for a few minutes before summoning the energy to put myself back to bed.
And then the deadbolt slides open above me and then door unlocks.
In a flash of terror I manage to throw myself up off the ground and onto my feet and throw my hands out panicky in front of my body to deflect or ward off anything that might come barraging through the vulnerable door portal any second now. But nothing comes. Instead, looking out through the glass window inset, I see nothing. Only the same painfully un-poetic landscape I mundanely described seconds ago. There was nothing like that. Instead of a horrible monster plummeting through the distorted vestibule of my house, I instead found that entire door remained unlocked and motionless; if the door had never unlocked at all, it wouldn’t have been a more normal situation. Relaxing and expecting, I approached the door but felt hesitant to make any sort of legitimate contact with it. After a few moments deliberation however, instead of reproach, the overwhelming sincerity overcame my more cautious sensibilities, and I found myself wanting to slip out harmoniously through the door and experience the forces behind its inciting apparitions.
“Go on, open it.” Says the most unassuming voice in the world. Well the door’s unlocked, isn’t it? What’s stopping me? With solemn grace and a head full of empty reckonings I grip that golden turn-handle and slowly pull back the barrier to the barrens of lonely nights. As I pull the door open the angle of the door obscures my vision of the outside momentarily, and when it reveals itself again it’s gone. The grass and the trees and the ground are replaced only by a void; there is black stretching in equal directions of infinity everywhere. Oh my Lord, what is that? That’s not what I recognize as the other side of that door. Peeking my head out, I look around cautiously, examining to see what there might to the rest of nothing.
“Hello?” I ask the black. Of course there’s no response, but strangely enough, there’s no echo either. The sound just sort of goes out and dissipates, or whatever it is that sound does to just sort of die out. Poking my foot out, I try and feel around past the doorstep to see if there just might be an invisible ground of sorts sitting there to see if maybe there’s any possibility at all I can just walk out into this. A few quick jabs downward and quick loss of balance confirms that there is indeed nothing out in front of me. Well, that’s interesting I suppose. I sit and think about what to do. On one hand, there’s never been a more opportune time to go and explore something I’m completely unfamiliar with. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure there was nothing and I would most certainly plummet downwards at a considerable speed if I just slid off the edge right now. I hadn’t thought about it in all the previous eccentricity and interesting developments that had happened since I had woken up, but now that I hadn’t a moment dictated to myself, I realized just how tired I really did feel. I felt like I was watching some endless movie, with the screen forcing my eyes shut as my brain struggled to keep them open and just finish the next thirty-four minutes and see it through. Exhausting is what I felt. Leaning against the door post I sort of slumped over and tried to give myself just a few minutes rest –the infinite scientific anomaly in front of me would have my full attention in the morning—and then I heard it.
The voice. I had sort of forgotten about it. It didn’t have any bearing on the situation, and until just now I’d completely failed to even consider the void and the voice might even somehow be connected.
“What?” I ask back in reply.
“Jump.” Crooning and low, it was sort of unsettling to hear it talk to me, to be completely honest.
“What if I don’t want to? What if I don’t trust you?” I asked it. Not to be hostile or anything, but I think I’m going to need a little more reason that just because to jump into something as large and expansive as a big black nothing. Reassurance is a powerful thing, even somehow at the hands of a disembodied voice.
Silence and more, there’s no response. If there was a moment where the voice was going to reassure me, it surely has passed. All I can hear is the non-echo in front of me, and I’m not sure it’s enough. It doesn’t help that I’m steadily becoming more and more sure that this is just my mind’s way of conspiring against me, and that I’m secretly still in my bed examining my room through cracks in my blanket-shell. But a dream doesn’t explain the real hesitation that I feel from jumping out into the black. If there really is no reality attached to what I do, why do I still feel so much hesitation and reservation? Dream or not, I think I’ve had enough. With only tiny regrets, I carefully pull myself completely back into the doorway and resituate myself completely inside my own house. A little pang of ‘don’t do this!’ pops into my head as I close the door, but it’s not enough to make me want to open up to all of that all over again. As I go to lock the door, my fingers fumble and turn completely to a pudding. Clumsily they throw themselves over the deadbolt trying to force that bar into that hole in the frame and seal away the outside for good for the remainder of the night, but it really is no use. They’re just not co-operating the way I’d like them to. Moving my fingers slightly downward I try to close up the door and twist the regular lock into place, even for just the tiniest bit of reassurance that whatever it is really out there stays out there for the rest of the night. But it’s not use. Fingers fumble and fingers fall and apparently I’m not getting this door locked up tonight at all. Fine, whatever. I’m just going to go to bed. As I turn to walk back through the house and my bedroom to put this fantasy to sleep I notice a door. But not just the door I spent a clumsy thirty seconds at failing to operate, but a new door, a door that’s not supposed to be there. Not a metaphorical door, nothing symbolic about it, just a door in the archway of the kitchen. No handle, but an opening where one should go. It’s blocking the entire doorway and there’s no other way around that door to the rest of my house. It’s either through that would-be empty archway or it’s the kitchen for a bedroom tonight.
Well…I suppose this is all very interesting, but I really am tired. I just want to go to bed but apparently now I can’t because apparently normalcy means nothing to universe when you need it to. A quick inspection of the door confirms for me that it is indeed there, and it is indeed stationary. There’s also no handle. There’s nothing indicating I’m supposed to go through here, but what else is there then? Goddammit I just want to go to bed now. I want to sleep and to be surrounded by those blankets that for some reason constricted and pulled me down and squished the exhaustion right out of me and kept me from running off all the anxiety that they pulled right out from me and—
What’s that?
Is that knocking I hear?
Listening closely, I can hear it more closely. It is knocking. Slowly but loud. A giant wooden explosion of vibrations and noise, and it’s distant. Jesus, it sounds like miles back in my house. What’s making that? It’s louder and louder but still distant with agonizing seconds between each burst of noise. What is that? Removing my head from the door I listen again, I can hear it just fine without smashing my face up against that door like an idiot and I’m not sure I want my head so close to something that could come crashing and splintering at any moment. The knocking is getting louder and it seems like it’s getting closer. The knocks that sounded like knuckles hitting the wall a few seconds ago now feel and sound like someone’s trying to kick down the perimeter of my house. A few seconds more and it and then it’s definitely closer, like it’s right behind the door on the other side and it should go without saying that I’m suddenly grateful there’s an impenetrable barrier between whatever this door is doing here and whatever it is that’s in my house and so very loud. I’m sweating the skin off my bones I’m so nervous. Loud crashes against the walls and I hear the whole shake and groan like whatever it is that’s making that noise is actually trying to dismantle the walls and ceilings that are keeping me from it. The seconds between knocks are now just little instants only long enough to let the sound lose its intensity only so it can throw it all back against the walls in another moment; moments of explosions followed by instances of silence. I clung nervously to the counter next to me in the kitchen and focused on the door, the only thing I could. The knocking had me trembling and concerned and I leaned terrified something would come barreling itself through the door at any moment. I don’t know what was out there but I didn’t want to have to find out. I just wanted my sleep and to be rid of it. The knocks and crashes and poundings built up to a climax and there was no longer any silence in between the sounds, they built up and clustered together to form one continuous drone that would just so happen to scare the s*** out of me. All that noise built up and then as I thought for certain that something horrible would come out of it and through that door it stopped. Just for a second. The knocking stopped and I looked around nervously to make sure something hadn’t managed to creep up on me when I couldn’t hear and was too distracted to look. But no, there was nothing. I could still see from where I stood that the door was unlocked and I tried to remember what it could have been that had made it so incredibly difficult to lock in the first place. Upon reflection none of it made any sense, but I guess that’s not what I needed to be looking for in the moment. There was still a door in my way and there was most certainly something wrong with my house and there was still an incredible amount of danger in leaving my door so widely available to anyone that wanted to go right through it, especially considering the circumstances. I just needed a moment to rethink what it was I needed to do. Being this flustered lends itself to making mistakes and panicking. I didn’t want to panic now. Sitting up off the counter I made my way back to the door that closed me in to the kitchen. I reached out quietly, trying to slip my fingers in the hole where the doorknob should have been to see if I could somehow twist any mechanisms that might be keeping it closed.
Nothing. I couldn’t feel anything. By all accounts, the hole in door was just a cut out rectangle in the wood; it didn’t feel like there was anything that should be keeping that door in place besides a tight fit in the door frame. Giving it a shove I tried to see if it would loosen itself, even if only a little bit, just to see if maybe there was a chance that it could come loose. The possibility would be enough for me right now.
A shove.
No movement.
Another shove.
No movement.
Again with a shove.
No movement.
Trying to shove it open again.
No movement.
A final shove with no movement. I only managed to crush my arm slightly between my body and the door, enough at least to make it go numb and make myself feel incredibly stupid for flailing my body so uselessly against what might as well have been a wall. Lowering my shoulders and sinking my head I prepared to go sit myself down, I walked away. A few steps back and I hear the tiniest sound, like a tiny something-or-other falling from unspecified shelf onto the ground. I looked back at the door and went to go see if I could hear anything els-
And the floor tipped. The whole ground beneath me shook and groaned and gave out. The whole floor tipped and slanted itself and threw me to the ground. On the ground I could feel the whole house lifting like it were suddenly balancing on some precariously placed ledge. Grabbing onto the fridge and hoping the handle wouldn’t crack off or the door wouldn’t swing right off its bolts was all I could do. The angle of the floor became more and more extreme, to the point where the law of gravity became more and more of a suggestion as down no longer existed where it should have. The house was making so much noise I couldn’t hear anything besides long screeches of wood and concrete support finally giving up their hold. The windows to the side of me bent and twisted as the cheap plastic glass they were made of cracked in great, big strides and gave up on itself. In seconds the windows were opened to the void outside and the air inside the house became some sort of swirling blender of atmosphere as the void’s emptiness sought to balance itself with the exposed and isolated kitchen. Helplessly dangling, I didn’t know what to do. I looked around in a panic hoping there would be any way of indicating when this would end and I’d be able to let go. I tried to focus on the unlocked door to the outside, which remained closed for now. I didn’t want to risk letting go and being at the mercy of a door that couldn’t even have the decency to shut just a few minutes ago. For a moment everything seemed to enter a sort of monotony that made it just a bit easier to accept, even despite the actual circumstances surrounding the situation. The groaning of the house became drawn out in its own self-indulgence, the wind blowing in from the outside didn’t even seem to have any effect on me anymore—the cold of it sort of numbed my skin to any further sensations, and the tilting of the house seemed to turn more into a totter as it sought to rebalance itself on whatever peak it had stopped on. All the horrible forces of physics seemed to enter a treaty called equilibrium; even it was an unstable agreement. Almost as if it were on a cue, the peace was disturbed.
“Let go.” said the voice, forever mocking me without a single stressed syllable or rise in tone.
“No!” I yelled back, hoping somehow it could hear me against all the noise that worked together to drown me out. I wanted all the voice had to say to keep to itself, and never remind me of what it was that had drawn me out of my room in the first place. Only now did it occur to me that this was most likely the intended outcome all along, and that somehow my own house had conspired against me.
“Let go.” The unlocked door beneath me swung open. Violently, like it had been pulled open like it had been channeling the inertia of the house. It swung right open until it hit the outside brick of my house, and then in order to preserve all the possibilities of its energy it ripped itself off the hinges and sent itself sailing into the great void beyond. I tried to listen to time how long it took before it crashed into anything that might hint at the possibility of ground outside of my house, but the wind was too ever-present in my ear to listen closely.
“I’m not going to let go. I’m going to hang on and I’m going to close my eyes and I’m going to think about what it is that I don’t want to be happening right now. I’m going to choose carefully, and when I open them up, I’m going to demand that I have it.” Defiance rose from my voice in the same way a turtle peaks out of its shell for the first time in the morning.
I thought of the house falling back on itself, having gravity pull down in the direction it knew it should go, like angry father that knows he’s gone too far in his punishment.
I thought of the wind stopping and letting the warmth of my house lurch back into my skin, reminding me of the comfort your own house should be able to provide: the protection from the outside elements.
I thought of the windows resealing and the door reattaching itself from whatever great beyond it had sailed off stupidly into, so that maybe I could sleep peacefully inside of my house and not have to worry about what might come sulking through cracks in my impromptu fortress.
I hoped that everything that I could ever want would be restored to the way I had always known it, and that when I opened my eyes I could just forget any and all of it that might have happene-
And then I heard the knocking on the door above me, the inoperable door that had sealed me in here. I heard violent rapping, the pounding, and then violent thrusts against the frame of it, all in the same way I had heard it not even four minutes ago. Still with my eyes closed, I screamed all that I could out of my throat, hoping whatever it was that wanted to go through that frame would be intimidated by my desperate pleas for survival or at the very least decide something so beneath it wouldn’t be worth its time. I kept my eyes shut though, whatever it was; it was revealing itself to me on my own time.
As the pounding continued I could feel the handle of the fridge straining itself, cracking under the combined weight of my body and pinching of the oven and cupboards that surrounded the sides of it. It wanted to redistribute the pressure I was inflicting on it, only that it couldn’t. Instead of safely reorganizing the forces that pulled on it, it cracked. The handle swung down as the top of it came loose and left the job all up to one half of the handle. As it broke it threw me against the kitchen floor and for a moment I lost myself and thought I had let go completely. Another second of agony confirmed that I was still holding onto the handle, albeit now completely uncomfortable and hurting. And all the while I could still hear the pounding on the door above me.
The wind whipping into my face began to sting again, and the upsetting of my own equilibrium at the hands of a faulty handle reasserted my body that it was in much pain. My hands felt frozen and stinging like I had dipped them in snow and tried to melt them at the same time. There was so much reason to let go, and I knew that it was going to happen any second now, but I couldn’t help but want to hold on for whatever time I still had left on my own. Above me I could hear the pounding turn to vicious thudding against the door, and with every burst of energy against its frame I could hear more of it splintering and cracking and I knew that ready or not it was going to show me just what it was that had been separated from me for the while. Although I had no intentions of admitting it, I felt relieved that somehow it would all be over soon, whether I fell from this handle into the great oblivion below or if I was taken up through the other door by whatever monstrosity wanted a go at me. As the pounding and breaking above me start to reach its climax, I braced myself for whatever this ended up being. I knew it was my own fault, for daring to leave the confines of my blankets, my fabric-y fortress against the weirdness of the night. As I heard the door break above me and some horrible thing lurch its body through and scream some horrible growl I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want to know what it was, at the very least I could deny it that pleasure of looking me in the eyes and knowing what I was thinking. I heard it lowering itself carefully, attaching itself to the walls and holding itself up against gravity and the wind that was surely going faster than any wind I’d ever previously known. And I kept my eyes closed. Next to me I could hear the fridge groaning in self-awareness, it was going to fail me any second now, and my dangling, pitiful legs would be able to go sailing off into the big, black nothing below me. As I clenched my lids together, I heard that ambiguous voice one last time, telling me some final beacon of advice or betraying some hint of fate, I don’t know. I barely even heard it over the growls and the hisses that punctured my ears. From what I could make out though, I swore I heard
And then I let go.

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