Unlocking The Doors
Writing Prompt: Gate to Infinity
He used to love sleeping, the sloth that he was. He told himself constantly that he could be active whenever he needed to, but there was never a need; nevertheless, he reminded himself of his ‘active nature’ all the time. Deep inside, he knew that he didn’t really know, not anymore. He had changed.
The pitch-black darkness was when the delusions kicked-in (he didn’t believe in ghosts), the night no longer embraced him. The cozy bed had disowned him—he frequently woke in the middle of the night and could physically feel the presence of the new owner lying on the other side; he never dared turn and look. The presence was always around, ready to pounce. His world had changed.
At night, in the piercing fluorescent light, he would get in his bed and pull the duvet up to his head. Here, now, he could safely disappear and ignore the world. The light would keep the monsters out, although it would make it equally hard for him to sleep. Sometimes he would stare up at the ceiling, at the gate to infinity.
He was at the bottom, the gate to infinity at the top. It was kinda funny now, really, given that the gate had been there all along and he’d noticed it only recently. He’d just lie there, staring at the gate, wondering. It was getting frustrating now. Tantalizing, how the gate was so close, within reach, yet so far. And it made him think of his life, his own smallness, his finiteness. If only…
Every morning he would wake up and see the stranger in the bathroom. The mirror, too, had disowned him; the reflection wasn’t his. He remembered a time when he spent hours in front of the mirror, styling his hair, fixing his face. There were a few scars on his face that bothered him, but he had learned to ignore them, just like he had learned to love himself and his handsome face. He had studied the stranger’s face a few times, seen the same scars in the same places on his face. He knew what he saw wasn’t true, that the stranger in the mirror was indeed he, himself, but how can you deny what you repeatedly see with your own eyes? And now the stranger was always in the mirror, reminding him that every breath that he took was stolen; for every breath he took, the stranger would lose one. He could no longer look in the mirror, could not meet the stranger’s eyes. He was always ashamed, like a thief caught red-handed, a tomb-raider, or worse, like someone stealing from the helpless: those who could witness the crime being committed against them but could do nothing about it. He could no longer meet the eyes that were supposedly his own.
That’s how his day started. His smallness and shame were reflected in everything he did, and in everything he didn’t, or couldn’t, do. Such was every waking moment of his life. The fantastic dreamland that he once owned, one he could always retreat to and find solace in, had been pillaged. Dark clouds had taken over it, all sorts of wicked beings had found home there, and waking up with a start every night, his palms clammy and his heart pounding, was now routine.
Until he decided to collide head-on with the storm. He would no longer cower or fear, hide or bow. He could do this, he knew he could. Suddenly everything started to make sense, this was what he was destined to do. He looked back on his life and realized that everything had led him to this moment, and now was the time.
It was an hour to midnight. He unlocked his room’s door, it required no key. He unlocked the main door of the house, the key was in the lock. With only a few bucks in his hand, he went to the place that held the key he needed. Even at this hour, the shopping district was teeming with people going about their business. He walked a short distance and went down a flight of stairs to the basement. The place was dingy and depressing, the paint chipped off in places on the only wall that was visible; the others were covered with shelves. This is where the key was. He traded the money he had for the key. It was that easy.
On his way back, he could feel the wind embrace him. All the years of his life started weaving a cocoon around him. He felt empowered and, for the first time in months, he felt sure. He knew what he was doing. He held the key in his hands and he knew how to use it.
He got back inside the house and locked the main door, the key was still in the lock. He went to his room and locked the door from the inside, it required no key. Now was the time to use the key he had bought.
He unwrapped the key, uncoiled it, and untangled it. The gate to infinity didn’t work like a normal gate, there was no unlocking mechanism; it was a portal. He prepared the key and fastened it around the gate. The key had a small opening, hanging in the air for his head. He placed a chair on the bed and climbed on it, putting his head through the opening in the key, and kicked the chair. The instant the chair fell, the key began working on opening the portal. He started not toward a new direction, but a new dimension, to a still infinity.
He went to sleep one last time, not on the bed that disowned him, but above; above the bed that he had now abandoned forever.