The last thing i remember;
I was out with friends, we were at some pub and i had just finished a pint of beer and was heading home, the pub was closing, the bell for last orders was rung an hour ago, i staggered outside. No stars tonight, but then London hasn’t seen stars for the last hundred-and-fifty years so why would tonight be any different, makes you wonder what we’re all missing up there. Stars, planets, ourselves swimming in the endless blackness of nothing. Clouds are moving in, are they dark because it’s going to rain, or because it’s night, who can tell anymore. Now are the days when the weather girl says;
“It’s gonna be a hot one, we have sun sun sun. And be sure to take a brolly because with this low pressure moving up from the south it looks like it might rain, the met-office has issued a weather warning”.
Okay that might be a little extreme but what do you expect from me, i’m drunk and my mind wonders. Man i wish i could see the stars instead of a cabbie arguing over the cost of the ride, the he’s half out the car waving his right arm in the air like that’s going to help the drunk fool bent over facing him understand his thick accent better. Or over to the right near the beer garden a couple are making out, his hands like leeches trying to suck the life out of her breasts and his head is rotating from side to side quicker than a metronome on cocaine his lips the pivot point like a toilet plunger trying unclog her throat. His erection is way to obvious to the crowd that has gathered to gawp, laughing and pointing to the bulge in his trousers rubbing up against her leg. Or over to the left in the small car park,if you can call it that, a fight has broken out. Again. I swear this happens every friday night, i’m surprised the police don’t just post a couple of guys here, it would save them the trouble of traveling. Yep every friday you can guarantee one poor sod was heading to a hospital and the other was heading to the local Magistrate. I’ve seen this all before, someone should start up a pool. UFC: Undignified Fighting Cunts. The one half bent over looking like he’s going to vomit and swaying from side to side is gonna loose.
I look down the street and see my friend, he’s waving his arms about, gesturing for me to hurry up, i step in something, at first i thought it was dog shit, but i didn’t slide through it, my left foot was stuck to it, i couldn’t move it free without losing my shoe, i looked down at my feet, and sure enough my left shoe was stuck in a small puddle of what looked like tar, stupidly i look up as if the tar had fallen from the heavens, i hadn’t noticed at first but the noise from the fight had stopped, i look to my friend who was standing still, just looking at me, that’s when i released that there was no noise just that silent rumble in your ears, isn’t that the blood vessels or something like that? I don’t mean that the crowd fighting had stopped, they were still going at it hammer and tongs, but there was no sound. I put my little finger in my ear and tried to shake free the wax, still nothing, i turned to the group of fight UFC’ers and they are just standing now like my friend, looking at me, expressionless. The couple making out in near the beer garden had stopped and they were also staring at me, so were the gawkers, he still had that uncomfortable bulge in his trousers. Even the cabbie was looking at me from the front seat of his Volvo estate and his fair in the back seat too, i thought i was dreaming because nothing is this weird.
One other person was looking at me, but i couldn’t make him out, a man i think, in the shadows a silhouette shaped like a man in a long coat, i didn’t see him before. I pull my foot from of the tar and then like a crashing wave all the sound comes back, the fight was still in full swing the cabbie was still arguing, and the dude with the uncomfortable bulge was still eating face and my friend was calling to me. I could feel the sticky tar still on my shoe as i started to walk towards him, i could barely hear, he seemed so far away, he’s pointing at something, but what? Now he’s running towards me, “I’m fine” i slurred, and wave a hand like i’m batting at a fly. He’s still pointing though and he seems to be screaming something, i turn to look over my shoulder when a dull thud contacts the back of my head, i fall to the ground, i can feel the wet path beneath my cheek, but all was a haze, like a thick fog had just landed. And the stars. I see stars.
That’s the last thing you remember. Stars.
The haze is still before you and your head really fucking hurts, reaching to the eppi centre of the pain you feel a lump and a small amount of warm fluid, you open your eyes and look at your hand, but you can barely see it the fog is so thick, but the tinge of red is unmistakable, one of them UFC’ers must have cracked you with something, that’s why your friend was running towards you shouting, he was trying to warn you, but why did he then leave you on the wet floor, and for how long? Some friend.
You try to push yourself up off the ground. Lightning, but no sound of thunder, it’s more like a buzzing sound tapping on glass. The ground feels different under your hands, it’s not the path its something else, feels more like wood. You stand and rise above the mist that has settled about three feet high, your head spins for a second, your mind is still a little clouded by the blow to your head, the lights flicker and the wave of dizziness courses you to loss balance, you instinctively put out your hand to support yourself against the wall. Wall?, where are you?.
Your head is still doing somersaults, you must still be out of it because you’re standing in a corridor, the smell is enough to make you vomit, so you do. Bent double you exercise your bar food. Your sweating but you’re cold. Is it the humid air in this place or the sickness that is coming over you that is making you sweat. The wall even feels like it is sweating, it’s wet and has a strangely soft touch, like a tough leather.
Once you’re finished spitting out the remains of the vomit and stomach contents you look at the door in front of you, apparently it’s number 00, odd that there is a number double zero, but then what about this so far isn’t strange, You’ve never seen that before, you knock on the door, the sound echoes down the uninviting corridor its end you can not see through the darkening haze, a light flickers a greenish glow, this place looks like it’s been dredged up from the Thames river, smells like it too. You knock again and wait, still the sound echoes into darkness and still nothing, on response, you look down, frowning at the brass doorknob, you notice that there isn’t a lock or even a key hole, well what for it, you grab the brass doorknob and turn it anti-clockwise, nothing happens, the door doesn’t open, you try again, still nothing, you step back to get a better look of the over all door: dark blue in colour and the number 00 screwed in brass with a matching doorknob, you look to the another door behind you, number two. 02 in copper, you grasp the copper doorknob, still nothing, are all the doors locked? You shout out for somebody, your own noise courses your head to throb like the sound never left your mouth, but stayed in there and bounced around your head. You’re alone. You move down the corridor, the floor feels soft under foot like stepping onto a wet carpet even though you remember it being made of wood and every now and then there is a crunch but you can’t see the floor through the layer of low lying fog. You’re not sure why you are moving down the corridor, deeper into the dark but you know that you need to, you’re looking for your door, you’re not looking at them anymore, you know where you’re going, the ninth door to the left. But why this door? How do you know this door is unlocked and will open for you.
You know, because you just know.
You are standing in front of Door 18, you look at the number emblazoned in untarnished gold screwed in place with golden screws, the door is a rich red velvet the handle like something from a posh 1930’s hotel, and apart from the smell in the air and the slime at you feet this door looks like it belongs in a high end hotel in New York or Monte Carlo. Your right hand moves for the door but you stop it just before grabbing the golden handle, it wasn’t you moving your hand, you didn’t want to do that, but some uncontrollable force moved your hand for you. Willing you.
You look to the left back the way you came, the brass number 00 is just visible through the haze in your mind, that way doesn’t feel right, you look the other way the haze clears but you can’t make out the numbers on the door farthest from you, but still it doesn’t feel right, in fact that way makes you shiver and feel nauseous, it fills you with dread. You look back to the rich red velvet of the door in front of you, the gold numbers unblemished in this tormented corridor, somehow this door is the way out and you know this to be true. Your heart tells you so.
You reach out for the door handle, and like some unknown force your hand is drawn to it, a pleasant warm feeling fills your arm and for a moment the haze in your mind lifts and all is clear to you, you turn the handle anti-clockwise, a click and the handle pushes your hand away as if it no longer wants or needs your help, and the door opens, just a little, your task is almost complete, the haze returns clouding your thoughts. You lean forward and try to look through the gap between the door and the frame, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to see, just darkness. Nothing, after all this, nothing, now how the hell do you get out of this FUCKING PLACE! You turn to your left and step away from Door 18 but as you do you hear music, it’s not your cup of tea like something you would hear in an lift, you stop and turn back to the door, the darkness is replaced with a golden light, you move towards the music, and with your left hand you push the door open.
A grand ballroom lies before you, a red carpet, red and gold furniture, this whole room is decorated with red and gold, how incredibly tacky, with hugh gold trims lining the ceiling all very 1930’s, massive red velvet drapes hanging from the ceiling either side of the pillars that could be decoration or might actually have a purpose, the pillars stand every twenty or so feet apart and are a marbled white and gold and red, the ornate ceiling is a pearl white with crystal chandeliers held by golden chains hanging from high moldings. A standing sign which looks like a picture frame from the Louvre on an easel just inside the door tells you this place is the Gold Ballroom and apparently it opens at 8pm sharp. You look at your watch it’s 7:30pm, again confusion, you were sure you left the pub after mid-night, you look up and notice a bar at the far end, a bit small for a place this size, but then in a place this fancy you would have waiters right? And with a dance floor of birch wood i suppose people come, or came here to dance rather than drink. You head towards the bar taking a quick look back to the door as you go, it’s still open, but you notice a black stain on the red carpet a few inches from the door, you stop immediately and look down at your left shoe, there’s nothing there, could of sworn you stepped in tar or something, oh well the bar awaits, you clap your hands and rub them together. There isn’t a bar tender, the sign did say it opens at 8pm sharp, did it mean the ballroom or the bar or both, you look back to the door, it’s still open and you can see the flickering lights in the corridor and the mist seems to be held back some how. It just floats there, not entering this place.
You turn back and a bar man is standing in front of you cleaning a glass with a brilliant white towel, his hair is slicked back, he is wearing black trousers and waist coat, a white shirt underneath with his sleeves clipped just above his elbows, he asks about the lump on your head pointing with a point of towel, you stop and stare for a moment, not sure whether he spoke aloud or you heard his voice inside your head, then tell him that last night, “I guess”, you were leaving a pub and then all became quiet, you couldn’t hear anything, then you noticed your friend pointing to something, and as you turned you felt a thud, “i see” says the bar man, you ask for a Carlsberg Export, but the bar man just shakes his head slowly, a budweiser then, again he shakes his head, you ask what beer he does have, the bar man stops cleaning the glass putting it down on the counter with the towel, and retrieves another one from underneath, moving to the tap the bar man begins to pour out a beer, you pull out your wallet and take a ten pound note from inside, the bar man puts the beer in front of you, it’s golden colour inviting you to drink, you offer the tenner the bar man raises his hand to stop you and tells you that your money isn’t any good here, that’s when you notice the American accent, you lean forward and gesture for the bar man to move in closer, you ask where you are, the bar man simply replies, “The Gold Ballroom, sir”, you frown at his answer, “where in the world am i?” you ask. The bar man stands up straight picks up the glass and continues to clean it, “I don’t think that matters, sir, do enjoy your drink”, confusion seems to be the word of the day today, whatever day this is, you look at the beer, then around the ballroom, at the bar, at the bar man still cleaning the glass. This place looks vaguely familiar to you. You’ve seen it before.
And so maybe have you?
Behind you over by the door the Tar begins to crawl growing as it moves spreading like a fungus across the regal red carpet, corrupting it as it moves with a purpose like a living thing stalking prey.
You look into the mirror behind the bar, the door is still open, you look down at the drink again, wondering, a free beer in a place like this, you look to the dance floor, then to all the empty seats, you take your wallet off the counter to place it back in your pocket but you drop it, it lands by your right foot but you just stand looking down at it for a second the thought of just leaving it there crosses your mind, you don’t need it here, like the bar man said, your money isn’t any good here, but you bend down to pick it up anyway, the throbbing behind your eyes worsens.
The Tar, like some nightmare creature has made its way to the wall beside the door and is climbing and spreading its foulness, tearing away at the fabric of this room like crows on a corpse, picking it apart piece by fleshy piece. Carrion, only eating dead things.
You’ve fetch your wallet from the floor and returned to the counter, suddenly music and people, lots of people have filled the ballroom, you stare at their reflection in the mirror, a man to your left bumps you and quickly turns and apologizes slapping you on the back, you sit staring at yourself in the mirror, the dance floor is filled with people doing the charleston and waiters are moving from table to table like soft flowing water around rocks taking orders, with your wallet still in your hand you rub your face and your eyes, again looking at the mirror, afraid to make eye contact with any of them, quickly you reach forward and stop a bar man, you ask him where the toilet is, the bar man can’t hear you, so you shout, “where’s the gents, the gents!”, the bar man nods and points to a door just behind the bar, you look to your left and push yourself away from the bar but quickly you stop, you look at the drink on the counter, man you need that right now, you snatch up your pint and make for the toilet.
The Tar has reached the ceiling and has spread unseen behind draped decor over most of the far wall and is moving across the ceiling, consuming the reality of this room like a disease. The edges of the Tar made up of thousands upon thousands of demonic claws tearing the room apart like it was flesh, peeling away the epidermal layers to reveal the muscle and fatty tissue underneath. Consuming it. Becoming it.
You pass a large Texan in a white suit, boots, and stetson smoking a fat cigar at the door to the men’s, you let him pass without looking him in the eye, in fact you haven’t looked anyone in the eye except the bar man. You enter the mens toilet. The decor in here is vulgar to say the least, gold plated sink units and fixtures and red painted walls, luckily the door has a lock, you turn it and quickly move to a gold plated sink, putting the beer down on the marbled pearl white, red, and gold worktop, you look long and hard at yourself in the mirror, maybe your head injury is worse than you thought. You eye a cubicles behind you in the mirror, gold plated toilets, who ever decorated this place needs to be shot, taking a roll of toilet paper you tear off a piece and a glint catches your eye, you take a closer look at the toilet paper, it’s got gold woven into it. You start patting the area around the lump, what blood remains is dry and cracked and black, but only moments ago it was fresh, you check your watch again, 11:37pm, “What?”, you suddenly come over dizzy, the nausea comes back, with your hands on the sink unit you drop your head down, more confusion, the haze is returning to you and the throbbing starts up again like a hammer tapping the back of your head. You turn the cold tap on and filling your cupped hands with water and soak your face hoping that you’ll wake up on the ground outside the pub cold and wet from the coming rain. Anger fills your body, hands on the sink unit again you drop your head and let out a scream, tensing up your body, your knuckles white.
At the top of the toilet door the Tar crawls through the space between door and jam burning the paint work away charring the wood black underneath, it moves up to the ceiling in a thin vein of poison ruining everything it touches, the red/gold ceiling becoming dull and wasted, peeling away to reveal a corruption of dark flesh charred and burnt, flakes of burnt tissue fall slowly to the ground like black snow flakes decaying the floor where they land. It’s moving towards you, slowly creeping, silently stalking its prey.
You push off the sink unit and kick it, there well made, and now besides the throbbing on the back of your head and behind your eyes your foot starts to hurt, you calm down and pick up the still full pint glass of beer.
The vein of tar is almost over head,
You take a mouth full for the beer, it’s still really cold and tastes great, it has to be the best tasting beer you’ve ever had, wonder what it is, never tasted it before.
The poison vein above you releases a drop of itself. Just a small drop.
As you left the pint glass back up to your mouth the little drop of Tar lands in your drink unnoticed, you tilt your head back place the glass on your bottom lip and pour the rest of the beer down your neck. The drop of Tar like a tadpole swims down with it vigorously flapping it’s tail. With your head tilted back, you open your eyes and immediately see the vein of Tar running across the ceiling, you drop the glass and it shatters in silence, you jerk away from it moving backwards to the wall behind you. You follow the vein to the door, did it follow you in? And why did it stop right above you? A shiver of realization comes over you, you look at the broken pint glass in front of you, then it hits, pain is excruciating, you double over, it’s unbearable like razor blade are raining down on you from inside, cutting and tearing, ripping your insides apart, tiny insects trying desperately to escape. You use a golden sink for support and the gold starts to lose it’s luster at your touch the gleam fades to a dull yellow, then a brown, then like parched earth it starts to crack. You slowly make your way to the door stepping through the broken glass, but once you let go of the once golden sink you fall, your legs will not support you anymore. You look up at the vein of corruption above you, it ripples but does nothing else, You feel like it’s watching you, waiting. You turn over and crawl to the door dragging your feet through the broken glass, you reach up and unlock it, you feel like you’re being eaten from the inside, like something is tearing into you, the feeling is moving upward, from your stomach to your chest. You can feel something under your ribs, you’re finding it hard to breath. Your head is becoming light.
You manage to open the toilet door to the ballroom to see that the Tar as consumed everything, walls floor and ceiling rippling like a ocean of disease. All except the bar and the bar man who is still cleaning that damned glass. The music is playing at a slow speed and getting slower as if the music itself was dying, the people that are left are in panic as they watch their friends being eaten by the Tar, sinking into it with on escape, the screams are hellish, the people run aimlessly in slow motion, like they are underwater. You crawl forwards through the pain eating at you, you know where the door is, you try to find it but the bar is in the way. The last of the guests is consumed by the Tar letting out an inhuman scream as her body is ripped apart and the music finally dies.
Silence engulfs you. It’s as if all other sound doesn’t exist, except the sound created by you as you crawl through the Tar looking for the door, you pass the bar and see the flickering light from the corridor, the bar man asks you if you’d like another drink, it’s too far away and as you move through the Tar it begins to attack you from the outside now, it knows it’s inside you, eating and tearing from the inside, breathing is becoming too much effort as you gasp for air. Outside the Tar is nibbling at you, taking little pieces of flesh. Like birds nibbling at bread.
The Tar starts to encompass your mouth, it slowly begins to pour out of the corners running down your neck, you breath is wheezing as you gasp for air. Your nose at first starts to bleed, dripping at first then it explodes in a gush pouring out like a hose but not for long as the Tar replaces it, slowly moving down your top lip and joining with the now black hole where your mouth used to be, your lips are cracks deep and your tongue a burnt stump. You can’t breath, your chest burns as it tries to move desperately fighting to draw in air. The Tar starts to spread around your face moving to your ears first, going inside, then your eyes, covering them and eating at your eye lids so you can’t close them. You spasm, your body jerking up and down as it fights for air. You can no longer hear you own noise, you can’t hear anything and your vision is turning grey as the oxygen in your brain is used up. Then that grey fades to black and from the pupils of your eyes the Tar forces it way out like a spot being burst, the lens spits and opens up and the Tar licks out, soon after your face is a mass of Tar soon after that your body is being consumed by it, your body spasms in seizures as you claw desperately at your throat. You are fully aware of what is happening to you, it won’t let you die no matter how much you beg for it.
Your body is frozen like a hideous obsidian sculpture, on your knees your head tilted back and your left hand stretched out as if you’re reaching for something. Your right hand contorted at your throat. The door slowly closes, the shaft of flickering greenish light thins to nothing.
Darkness. Silence. Nothingness.
The pulsating pain returns to the back of your head, you open your eyes, your nose is inches away from the golden number 18 and the rich red velvet door. Quickly you stagger back away from the door crashing into another, you turn with freight to see a wooden 17 nailed to a door that looks like it’s made of tree bark. Backing away from that door you stand in the middle of the corridor the mist has gone, you see the brass double zero, a flash, you look down at your shoes, the tar that was there earlier is gone, again you look to the red door number 18 in gold, you stare at it while walking backward to door 00 not taking your eyes off that golden number 18, to where you woke up, there has to be a way out over there, the crunching beneath your feet again, you look down to see the insects that infest this corridor, you start to freak out walking like you’re on hot coals, maybe it’s because you forgot about the wet floor but you slip and fall backwards hitting the back of your head on the footpath. Just before you pass out you turn your head to see the pub and the couple who were making out watching whatever it is you are doing.
Whatever was in that room is out now, never to return to its prison, and a part of you is now trapped forever in purgatory. In the Gold Ballroom, a piece of your soul so to speak shall forever remain there. In a familiar place that is also unknown.
I Shine to the Red Golden Room of 18.
The Corridor of my Subconscious – Door 18.
Yours In Darkness.