Alone i stand on the path at the edge of the drive.
Under the sickly orange light of a street lamp shaded partly by a winter tree, its spiney fingers scratching at the sky, the leaves have long since faded away. The moon is full and high there is a spattering of clouds, it’s close to freezing the frost is thick on the ground and the steam is thick as i breath, i wrap my coat tight to my body and hug myself for warmth, hands under my armpits. I take what could be the last look at that house, we had good times in that house. Shame…
I can’t stop thinking about what just happened, i turn to the right and walk slowly down the poorly lit street, the orange glow from the street lambs casting a faded shadow that chases me, over takes me, then is gone only to chase me again. Looking down at the uneven path in front of me as my shadow over takes me again and again. Images and random words keep popping into my mind, didn’t think i, of all people, would be like that.
I don’t hate them, it’s just not in me to hate, we were supposed to meet up in a pub at some future date, guess that ain’t happening, not that it matters now anyway. Things will be forever changed.
This walk isn’t very long but it’s cold, i pick up the pace a bit, knew i should’ve brought the bigger coat but didn’t think it was going to get this cold. I should have washed my hands and face before leaving. My hands are sticking to the inside of my pockets. I can see the alleyway i have to walk through to get to my bus stop, but looking the way i do right now, I’m not sure that the bus driver would let me on, he might call the police though.
I hate this alleyway, i have to walk through it every time i make this trip. It’s dark because the local kids have broken all the lights. It smells like piss and vomit because it’s dark and no one can see them pissing and vomiting. They piss because they drink booze and the vomit because they drink too much booze. They usually congregate at the other end, a large group of them, all in their hoodies, holding bottles of Vodka, acting like Vanilla Ice or that M&M guy, what do i know, trying to look hard. Dare you make eye contact with them, all they need is the smallest opportunity to start something with you, but don’t hold your head low, look straight ahead and don’t show them that you’re scared, they’re animals after all, they can smell fear or at least sense it, hold your head up high and just walk through them, ignore what they say and just keep moving. Although i have to say that tonight i don’t feel the anxiety i used to, things have changed. I’ve changed. As i enter the outer limits of the alleyway the smell of piss, which would melt the face of a lesser man, is incredibly strong, i look down at my feet as i walk, i don’t want to step in a fresh puddle of sick, I can’t hear the youths talking, usually i can hear them before i even get near the alleyway, maybe they went to get more booze, lucky me. Almost halfway and the smell is getting stronger, what is that dog or human shit? I move past the magical mystery turd and continue through the darkness.
Wait a minute, i just noticed something out of the corner of my eye, it looked like something was shining for a second, i stop walking and look back, apart from the orange light in the street at the end of the alleyway, i can’t see anything, i take a few step back the way i came and there it is again, something is reflecting the light, i move in for a closer look, it’s a number. The number 11, made from glass attached to the brickwork of the alleyway.
Voices, oh great the ‘red hand gang’ are back, and oh to my joy it sounds like they have a few more bottles of Vodka, but for right now they can’t see me, good thing too, because I’m not in any mood to be fucked with and i don’t need to be getting in any more trouble than i already am. Or will be
I move closer to the glass number eleven, odd that it would be here, maybe they put it here, but why?
A dizzy feeling comes over me, my head starts to spin, i stagger back hitting the wall on the other side hard, letting out a gasp of air, still the dizziness has me, the youths have heard me, they are calling for who ever is hiding in the dark, the dizziness is too much, I’m starting to see stars, tiny points of light streaming across my eyes, all moving to the centre of my vision, more and more of them, my sight is almost completely white, the youths are moving in, heading this way, i drop to one knee, desperately trying to hold on, then i hear it “Oi, you drunk bastard”, all is quiet.
A brilliant flash of light.
I come to, laying on a sodden wood floor, where am i?
A mirror is standing in front of me, a smell is of stagnant water. In the mirrors reflection my face is clean, i continue to look at my reflection as i stand up, slowly, i take a step back and realies that it’s not a mirror at all but a door, with a glass door knob and glass hinges,
My head is still light, where am i?
Where did the youths go?
Why is there a door made from a mirror with glass fixings in the middle of…….
As i look around me i come to realize that i’m no longer in the alleyway, but a corridor, i look to the right and see a blue door with, i think there brass fixings and to my left a red door i think, it seems to be charred, guess those youths must of torched it and scribed the number 47 into the woodwork with a knife, great now they have knives, wait, how did i get here, did the youths bring me here?
I can’t stop looking at the mirrored door, if i turn my head away it starts to hurt, a throbbing at the base of my skull. I reach for the glass door knob and turn it anti-clockwise, the door pops open pushing away from my hand. I stand looking at my reflection in the mirrored door, why is my face and hands clean? I don’t understand, i look down at my hands, holding them out to get a better look, there still covered in it, my reflective counterpart is doing the same, but his hands are clean, i unzip my coat and hold it open, looking to myself in the mirrored door it’s like i’ll been to a dry cleaners, looking down at myself I’m still covered with it, this is weird, very very weird. I this a dream. Am i…
I like to think that I’m a cool headed kind of guy, okay i make rash discussions from time to time, but who doesn’t, but right now i can’t even believe what my eyes are telling me, i know the truth of my current situation but the mirrored door is showing me something else, but why and how, i just don’t get it. I move around like some comedy sketch show trying to catch my counterpart out, right hand, left hand, right leg, left leg, i walk off to the left and back to the right, i hop on one feet then quickly change to the other, i spin around and hold up 7 fingers. He does the same.
The most unsettling thing though, is that when i look myself in the eye it doesn’t feel right, it’s like another person is looking back from behind a piece of glass, i move in closer to check the finer details of my own face and the closer i get the more i want to go through that door, up until tonight my self control was epic, i could stand abuse till the cows came home, why can’t i stop this feeling of walking through that door.
Ahhhhhhhhhhgggggggggggggggg, i hate not being in control.
I step away from it turn my head so i can’t see it, then i walk away, just a short distance, what is this place, i’m looking at another door, this one is made of tree bark with a 17 made from wood, as i approach it insects scatter, for a second there it looked like the door was alive, almost breathing, i look back towards door 11, then to the door in front of me, door 17, i have no urge to open this one, I’m feeling no compulsion to go through this door, i grab the wooden door knob and turn it anti-clockwise, a click, just like the other door, but it doesn’t open, why isn’t it opening, it’s unlocked isn’t it, i feel it again, i need to go through door 11, it’s the only way out of this place i know it, but how do i know that, i’ve never been here before, slowly i move back to door 11, my reflection stares back, clean, i hold out my hand and push the door open slowly, as the door opens it reveals a room, wait, is that our living room?
I’m standing in the middle of our living room, but it can’t be i was just in a dingy corridor a moment ago and now I’m standing in the middle of our living room, the mirror above the fireplace shows me the same way the mirrored door did, clean and un-spattered. Why am i back here? It looks the same as when i left 5 minutes ago, i wonder if she’s still upstairs, wait of course she is, she ain’t just going to get up a walk out, but still i should check, i look around the room, hoping that something is different, like if someone had come down to clean the place, and then maybe i could believe that earlier was only a bad dream and this is real, that some how i fell asleep and what happened was a dream and the walk back to the alleyway, the corridor, all of it was some disturbed nightmare. To my left is a door that will take me to the hall, to my right is the dining room and then the kitchen,
The dining room is nothing special, nothing of consequence happened in there, i continue to the kitchen, my mug is still next to the kettle, i feel it, it’s warm, my mug still has the tea bag and sugar in it, the cutting board, where i was making my sandwich before it happened, the stick of French bread is cut open and buttered just waiting for me to finish cutting the fillers, turkey, where’s the turkey? The mayonnaise is here and the cheddar sliced and ready to eat, i look for the turkey, i know i had some, i removed the last of the turkey from the packet and then i throw the empty packaging away, i look towards the bin, the Turkey was in my hand when it started, i look down, there it is, at my feet, a few strips of turkey, i bend down and pick them up, place them in the French bread on top of the cheese and add the mayo, i then place the top half of the french bread on to the finished sandwich, i looks great, smells better, but this is where it started and i can’t stay here, the door to my left takes me into the hall, standing in the hall/kitchen doorway I’m looking at the front door, the orange from the street lamps. The foot of the stairs is just feet from me, i walk over to the bottom step and look up into the dark, slowly, careful not to let the steps creak i ascend. Blood. Half way up, just a drop but it’s clearly blood, the light is off as i reach the top and turn around to my right and stand looking at our bedroom door, red finger prints and more drops of blood, why did this happen, i stand in front of the bedroom door, now i remember what’s behind it, did i block the memory, oh god i hope she’s okay, unlike the mirrored door i have no urge to open this one, in fact i really don’t what to, i can’t see her looking that way, helpless, and it’s all my fault, why did i do it, why did i ruin what we had, I’m doomed to failure, we had a good thing going here and i ruined it, she just lashed out at me, i cover my right forearm, it’s not her fault really, i messed up, i messed up big time, i reach out with my right arm to open the bedroom door, that’s when i notice the trickle of blood, i stand for a moment looking at it, i pull back the sleeve of my jacket and there’s a cut, not very deep, across my forearm, she took the knife off me, i was slicing the cheese for my sandwich and she came down stairs and took the knife from my hands knocking the turkey slices to the floor, she cut me, that’s when i chased her up stairs, into this bedroom, then it happened, the blood on the stairs was mine, the red fingerprints, the finger span matches mine, i open the door, a faint sound of sobbing, she’s still here, the door is open but I’m finding it hard to walk through, one step at a time, as i move very slowly into the room i see her, sitting on the floor, her arms covered with blood, she has a hand over her mouth and her eyes are red from crying, she’s just sitting there, her other arm is wrapped around her middle, the knife is laying on the floor in front of her, i step closer, i can’t see anyone else, well of course not we were the only two here and i left, but why would i leave her in this state, covered with blood, i move over to her and quietly say her name, “Bethany”, she doesn’t look at me, she hates me. But then after what i did I’m not surprised, sleeping with her best-friend wasn’t the smartest thing i’ve ever done, i still can’t understand why i did it, i never felt anything for her before so why then,
Four weeks ago, Bethany was heading out of town and her sister Gracie was going to stay over, we watched television, this isn’t the first time we’ve spent time together alone, i don’t know what came over us, it was like we were drugged, we were like animals, we tore each others clothes off and just did it, on the cold floor of the living room it was the best sex i ever had and am ever likely to have, afterwards we just went to bed, i slept in my and Bethany’s bed and Gracie slept in the spare room, the next morning it was as if it never happened, yeah i bet everyone who has ever cheated and got caught has said the same damn thing, “I wasn’t myself”, “It didn’t mean anything”, trust me they don’t want to hear that, I’m trying to remember what happened four weeks ago that would make me do that, i love Bethany and would never wish to hurt her, but that day was nothing special, work the same as always, few beers after, i remember some joker left a huge oil spill on the pavement outside the pub which got a good laugh after i stepped in it, i came home ate dinner watched a little television, she loves them soaps, she has to watch her stories, and i let her without complaining because i love her, then we go up to bed, she goes on that Facebook and i went downstairs to make a sandwich. Wait, Facebook. I look to the bed and there is her laptop, still on and still in facebook i move in to take a closer look, a message from Gracie, telling Beth that we slept together and that she’s pregnant with my child, i hang my head down bent over double my hands on my knees for support, i feel dizzy again, i turn back to Bethany and tell her again that I’m sorry, she isn’t listening to me, she’s just staring away, i reach forward with my left hand to place it on her shoulder, it passes through her. What the her? I stand up in shock, what the fuck. I try again, same, my hand just passes through her. What’s going on? I crouch down in front of her and shout her name but she doesn’t even flinch, a warm wet filling fills my stomach, i stand up and look down at myself, I’m covered in blood, my hands are now soaked in blood, i tear open my shirt and see to my horror that i have several dozen slits in my chest and stomach, i look back at Bethany, she’s not staring away in shock she’s looking at something, i move around the bed to see what it is.
It’s me, I’m dead, laying on my back my right arm over my chest the blood is still flowing out like a ribbon of water from tap my eyes are still open, i stagger backwards and out of the bedroom floating almost, unsure of what is happening to me, down the stairs and out the front door into the orange light, again, i stagger back down the street towards the alleyway that i hate so much, which i have to do almost every day to get to work, into the alley and i see the youths all gathered around something, there is someone on the floor, wait that’s where i fell, i move in for a closer look, that’s not me that’s just some drunk fresh out of the pub, to my right i see out of the corner of my eye, the glass number eleven, the door slowly comes into view and opens, almost inviting me in, i move, slowly, labored the blood is still running down my front, this time the room is gone, it’s just darkness.
I enter the dark room hopeless, i turn to see the mirrored door close behind me, i hear the door lock, then nothing, i am consumed by a biting emptiness.
“Wake up, wake up they’re coming”
The Corridor of my Subconscious – Door 11