Beyond the Door
The man crept silently along the corridor. He could see a door in the distance. It seemed to be only a few yards away. But in the dark mist that filled the corridor, distance became distorted. He approached cautiously, his presence hidden from any unseen spectators by the dark hood and cloak that he had worn for the past three days. He appeared calm on the outside, but inside he was burning with terror. He was a man possessed, possessed by his quest for the door. His quest would be ended today.
Strangely enough, he did not want to open the door. But it was not a choice. His mind told him that it was he who controlled the door, but in reality it was the door that was controlling him. Nothing could prevent him from reaching his goal. It was his life. His mind kept telling him to get away, but his eyes could not let go of the door.
He didn’t know exactly what was on the other side of the door. He only knew that he wanted it. It was power. Part of him already knew that it was a power that could not be controlled. It didn’t matter now. It was too late to turn back. The door was his life. It concealed a terror that could destroy the world. He would control that terror at all costs.
He finally reached the door. As he reached for the handle, he realized that the opening of the door would signal a new age. He would be its master. His stomach churned with excitement and terror. Behind this door was something no man had ever seen. He wanted it, so he grasped the handle and began to turn it.
As he turned the handle, he suddenly understood the reality of what he was doing. It was not a game. It was the completion of his quest. Yet he still did not know what was on the other side of the door. To him it was heaven and hell. It was good and evil. It was his to control. But as he turned the handle, he realized that it was only hel.
As the door opened, a dark light spread throughout the hall. Furious winds leapt from the door. Still he would not be stopped. He threw the door open wide and stood in the doorway.
“I’m here! Your master!”
His dark cloak blew in the wind. It was exhilarating. It was hell, his hell. He stepped inside.
Stephen Luther returned home from a grueling day at work. He was exhausted. God, he hated that job. It was so monotonous. His feet were throbbing. He could tell by the familiar, far away ache in his head that a migraine was near. He entered the living room of his meager one-bedroom apartment and lied down on the couch. Not bothering to turn on the lights, he drifted to sleep almost immediately.
The laughter seemed eternal. It continued on and on. Horrible, cackling laughter surrounded him. Everything was blue. Vision was impossible. Stephen didn’t have a clue as to where he had been brought. Mist flowed in from every direction, enclosing Stephen in blue darkness. He was blind. Fear. Loneliness. Stifling hopelessness. Stephen fell to his knees.
“Why?” he screamed, “Why?”
A form stepped out of the darkness.
“Who are you to ask such a question?” asked the figure.
Stephen gasped. The man had no features. He looked as though he were a three-dimensional shadow. He was dressed in a black hooded cloak. Stephen could not tear his eyes from the shadow-man. Stephen felt as though he was being drawn into the shadow. The shadow-man himself drew Stephen out of his mesmerized state by asking another question.
“Who are you; what do you call yourself?”
“I am Stephen. Stephen Luther.”
“I have seen you before, Stephen Luther, but you remember it not. It was long ago, before the state of the new age of Man. You cannot remember. Come, let us walk.”
The mist spread apart and a silver trail appeared. It led in a direction that Stephen somehow thought to be south. With a wave of the shadow-man’s hand, this mist thinned and Stephen could breathe easier. The shadow-man began to walk down the path. Stephen stood and followed the man.
“This is my realm. You are my guest. Do you know where you are?”
“No. Tell me.”
“You are in the land behind the door.”
“How did I get here?”
The shadow-man laughed loudly. It was the same laughter that Stephen had heard earlier. It had a cruel tone.
“It you do not know how you came to be my guest, I think I will not tell you. All I will say is that I have invited you.”
Stephen glanced behind himself to find that his footsteps were leaving deep impressions on the silver ground. Yet the shadow-man’s footsteps made no impression at all. It was as though Stephen had been walking alone. He turned to his mysterious host.
“Where are we going?”
“Why, nowhere of course.”
“Nowhere?” said Stephen in a puzzled voice. “What do you mean?”
“I mean exactly what I say. We are going nowhere.”
“Because nowhere is my somewhere.”
Suddenly there was pain. Searing disorientation swirled into Stephen’s mind like a descending tornado.
“We have arrived, Stephen Luther. Welcome to hell, my hell. Today, you are the guest of honor!”
The mist immediately cleared to form a large room. The blue mist turned to black and solidified into walls. Strangely enough, the room seemed to be well-lit despite its apparent lack of lighting fixtures. In the center of the room was a long banquet table. There were eleven men in dark blue robes seated at the table.
“Come, sit and eat with us,” said the shadow-man.
Stephen reluctantly sat down at the table. The sadow-man took his place at the head of the table. A platter was uncovered, revealing small black crackers. They ate. Next, a cup, white as though it were made of bone, was brought out. Inset on the side of the cup were forty pieces of silver. They drank.
Stephen felt sick. He had not wanted to seem unfriendly to his host, so he had eaten with the others. Maybe that had been a mistake.
“I-I must be going now,” he
stammered. “I’m not feeling were well.”
“Traitor!” said the eleven in unison. “Traitor! Traitor!”
The shadow-man stood. Everyone was silent.
“Where is it you want to go, my friend?”
“You are home.”
Without warning the walls came alive. The black mist smothered his soul. Stephen Luther fell to the ground. Tears welled up in his eyes. The shadow-man’s voice boomed.
“You will soon know the ecstasy of eternal pain. I will see you again.”
Stephen was crushed by the oppressive hopelessness of the mist. Darkness filled his mind as consciousness faded into the swirling balck shadows.
Stephen Luther awoke suddenly. He was crying. As he wiped his eyes, he realized that there was blood in his tears.