The Door At The End Of The Hallway
Author's note: I really wanted to write this after I thought of the title. That's how it usually starts with me... Show full author's note »
Boiling PointI had to think about her last comment for a few moments, for it was so odd, so out of place. But, I pushed the thought aside, writing it off as something odd old people say.
With her arrival and departure being the height of my day, I settled into a general laziness that enveloped my life over the next week. I managed to get a job at a small time newspaper, writing an article here and there, nothing too big. The money was ok too. It paid the bills, and even left me with enough to get the occasional
Yet as all this was going on, something was still off with my new suite. And when I say something, I mean The Door. Every day I would approach it, and inspect the intricate carvings along the edge. I’m not even sure how to classify them besides “odd”. I would try the handle every day, to no avail. Then, I would turn away, defeated. Yet every time I did, just as I was to the living room, I swore I could hear something. Nothing specific, just something: a change in atmosphere, a click or tap, maybe quiet scratching; but just barely enough to penetrate my ears with the strange sound.
And it was growing to worry me.
I kept my eye out for Ms. Weeks, yet she seldom appeared at the building. She obviously didn’t need to be here often, as there were few tenants to look after. But even that worried me, for I never saw them either. Sure, I heard them, or rather, the sound of them living. A television as I walked past their door, footsteps, a muffled voice. Yet that was it. I wasn’t too eager to try and meet them either.
I just filed all this off as nerves though, for pressure at work to complete increasingly more difficult work was mounting. I slept badly at night, with nightmares of people in the walls. And those weren’t even the bad ones. The worst involved The Door. I would approach it in the complete darkness of the hall. And the thing I dreaded most was opening The Door, because it opened in my dreams. Suffice it to say, I did not enjoy what was beyond. The door would creak open, penetrating the silence of night. I would step through to the pitch black room. Once my eyes adjusted, all I could see would be a single figure, crouched on the floor. He would look up at me, with glassy eyes, and outstretch his burnt and blackened arm. He could not stand, for his legs were fused with the wood, and his face was a twisted contortion of pain and delirium. I scream and back away, yet as I do, I bump into a solid figure. I turn to see Ms. Weeks, standing, unmoving, and smiling broadly, a sickly pale look to her.
And staring straight into my eyes.
“Problem?” she would say, yet not in her own voice. It was deep, and cracking, and far too slow.
I run past her to the front door, all the while her screaming drowning out my thoughts:
“You opened The Door! You opened The Door! You know what this means don’t you?”
I turn to look at her, fearing the worst. Her face is shrouded in shadows. Yet not for long.
She steps forward as she says the next words, revealing a face that can only be described as: Not hers.
“It means I get to feed you to George!” She cackles with glee, gripping her hands together in delight. I hear an equally maddening laugh from behind her: George. Before I know what’s happening, she’s in front of me with my arm in a death grip, and is pulling me towards George. She’s still cackling and yelling as she drags me to George: He’s laughing and cackling and gurgling, and laughing some more. My vision blurs as Ms. Weeks forces me to my knees in front of George. The last thing I’d see before waking is the mangled face of George, as he opens is his mouth wide, revealing blackened teeth filed to points.
And that’s all I’d remember. Yet I didn’t have this dream every night. Like I said, sometimes it was of the people in the walls, whispering to me as I tried to sleep, peering out at me from peepholes.
Sometimes, I find Ms. Weeks standing over me, staring at me. Then I jolt out of bed, realizing that I was just dreaming. Yet I’d always remember her face. Just as it was in the dream, her face would be different: A very sick, clammy look, with her veins showing through, her lips never completely closed, as she’s always whispering. Behind her lips, her teeth are yellow, and, like George’s, filed to points.
But it’s the eyes that always get me: Wide, and angry, almost furious. The pupils resemble that of a dog’s, enlarged so there’s very little white to show. Yet they aren’t black like a dog’s, they’re yellow. And full of madness.
I was hoping that these nightmares would end after the first month or so, but to no avail. They kept haunting me at night, and in the waking light of day. Work was the only place where I found solace. I couldn’t stay in the apartment for too long. Sure, I would see Ms. Weeks occasionally, but only ever long enough to say hello; she always had to be somewhere. So, one can imagine I was having misgivings about living here. At first, it was great, but after a while, I feared that I was starting to lose my mind. So naturally I spent much more time at work, and because of that, I was earning more and more money. And people were beginning to notice. Pretty soon, a good portion of New York was reading my articles, and I was finally able to afford an apartment that wasn’t possibly haunted.
Of course, to that moment, I had no real reason to suspect it was haunted, only that I was having nightmares. Yet I shrugged that off, telling myself I was just being a baby.
Yet day after day I was racked with nightmares, and was ultimately relieved when he received word he would be getting a raise.
Which meant a lot more money.
Which meant he could now afford a different apartment. And as much as he hated to have to break the news to lonely Ms. Weeks, he knew he had to. And, just like her habit of not appearing for days to weeks on end, I had to stay until I finally managed to get a hold of her, and break the news to her.
Gently, I might add, as I still wasn’t sure whether or not she was in fact some sort of demon, or if living in such a strange place, with such a strange relic was finally getting to me.
And one day, I realized it was.
After a long day of work, I came home to find the usual: furniture where it’s supposed to be, lights off, as per how I left them for work, and door securely locked, and not budging. I wasn’t surprised, as it had been for the past few months. I approached it as I usually did, ran my fingers lightly over the markings around the edge, put some weight on it to see if it would budge (never did), and finally, tried the door knob. And, just as every day, it was locked. I know that anyone hearing of such a strange ritual that I honor every day couldn’t help but wonder why. For me, it made perfect sense. This door, that stares at me, unmoving every single day since I moved in, is mocking me. It does it every day, because every day I try to open it, to learn what memories or secrets are behind it, and every day, it denies me entry. It jeers at me with its jagged scars as cruel smiles, its markings dancing around the edge with snickering laughter. I turn my back on it in defeat and it has the gall to laugh at me. Me! What did I do to deserve this? Nothing: that is what I did. I did what I was supposed to do. I was born, I went to school, I discovered my talent, and I chased my dreams to the point in which I questioned my own actions. I did everything life asked of me, yet now, all it does to repay me is to throw a door in my face (figuratively, as we all know it’s not opening any time soon). This monstrosity, sitting in my home, taking up room and board here, where I live, owes me everything. And I don’t even ask for much. I ask that it opens up, that is all. Just a tiny crack so I may see what secrets are beyond it.
I find myself standing in front of the door, eyes fixed on the dead center of its frame. I think upon all the disgust and disease it has brought to my mind. It’s revolting, this door, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I want to tear it off its hinges, yet I can’t. All I can do is think about the door, and how much I hate it, with every fiber of my being. I think back to the long hours I’ve spent sitting in front of the door, staring. How many times I’ve yelled myself hoarse, trying to coerce it, to appease me. And then, a thought all together new to me hits: the other tenants.