The Doorway. Short Story.

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was fairly bland. I basically slept lots. I’m no longer sick, which is awesome! Unfortunately it meant I couldn’t really do much this weekend, I didn’t want to have to go on another course of antibiotics, so I basically avoided anything and everything that might make me sicker or lower my immune system.

On with the show!

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He had watched them for weeks and it never changed. Someone, man or woman, he wasn’t sure, would approach wearing a dark cloak with the hood raised. They would approach the space, stand before it for a moment, then step through. The second they stepped through the area was filled with a blinding white light. The first time he had watched, he couldn’t see properly for twenty minutes and it was another half an hour before his night vision returned. He didn’t know what it was, only that whomever approached it, did so in secret. They sometimes looked around, as though worried they were being followed. He had seen no others and they had not seen him. He didn’t know what would happen if he was caught, but it would not be good. This area was forbidden, not just to him but to everyone.

He had snuck in every night with little bother, there were no guards posted. Why would there be? No one entered this place, at least, that was what everyone thought. Even after three weeks he felt wrong being here, he was trespassing and he knew it. The consequences would be severe if he was caught. The courtyard itself wasn’t nearly as ostentatious as he expected, it looked like any other. Plain, grey walls, a small fountain and a short, white tree. The tree was what he wanted to see and it was just as legends described. Pure white, even the leaves glowed softly in the moonlight. He wanted to touch it, to feel it, but he couldn’t bring himself to do so. He knew if he had one of those leaves he would be set for life, everyone would want to buy it. No one would ask where he got it of course, but if asked, he could say it was passed down through his family. He didn’t know what the leaves were made of, no one did, but they had so many uses. The most common of which was melting them. They felt like normal leaves, could even be torn, but if they were melted they could be forged into never dulling blades with astounding properties.

The doorway, or at least, what he thought was a doorway, was just to the left of the tree, those that came didn’t glance at it, they didn’t seem to care. He wasn’t sure if they were the same person, or if it was different each time. He had never seen anyone return, even when he stayed all night and the next day as well.

He had expected to see priests inside the courtyard, but he had seen none. Of course, officially they were not allowed here either, but then they had different rules from everyone else. One thing he noted was that the people never spoke. At first he thought they might have been part of The Eternal Silence, but the people so far had been much too short for that, nor did they have the tell-tale gait. The people didn’t seem to do anything special, no dance or ceremony, not that he could see. Something must be on the other side, there was no other reason people might be going through it. There had to be something.

On the fifth night of the fourth week, he watched the hooded figure, shielding his eyes as they stepped through, then he emerged from his hiding place. He would follow them. He intended to find out what was on the other side. He paused a few feet before the doorway, staring at the tree longingly. No, he would get a leaf, maybe two, on the way back. No one going through seemed to carry anything like that with them. Maybe they couldn’t. He took a breath, then walked through.

He took a few steps further, then stopped. He was in the same courtyard, except it was daylight. He looked around, confused. Had he blacked out? No. There was another difference. The tree was black here. He went to his hiding spot, he was uneasy now that he was here. What if there was no way back? He crept from his hiding place, towards his entrance, and carefully peered outside. There was nothing but fields all around. The city was gone. He looked around, trying to spot people, but as far as he could see, there were none. It might have been fifteen minutes since the person had last gone through, but there was no sign of them here. He stepped out of the entrance carefully, and slowly circled around, keeping watch the entire time. The lands were empty of anything but grass. There were no flowers or trees, just the same, steady green. The grass itself was quite short, for that to be the case, someone must be tending it. He looked around once more and satisfied he was alone, he started to walk. The land was flat, strangely so and no one would be able to sneak up on him.

He walked for five hours before he finally saw something. He had walked in a straight line the entire time and ahead of him was a building. It was another hour before it started to become clear. The building looked identical to the one he started at. It was strange, but not impossible. When he reached it, he went inside. Again, there was a black tree. He didn’t think anything of it, perhaps all trees were black here. He located the strange doorway and decided to step through. He was in a courtyard, this time at dusk and the tree was a deep red. The court yard was empty as usual. He approached the tree and grabbed two leaves, he might as well return home with a prize, perhaps these leaves could be useful as well. He tucked them carefully into his pocket, then he stepped back through the doorway, deciding he should go home.

He looked at the black tree and considered taking some leaves, then decided he would take some from the first courtyard he entered. He stepped from the building, then looked around. He wasn’t sure which direction he had come from. He had not noticed it before, but the sun had not moved during his time here.

He walked again for five hours before finding another building, the first one he hoped. He stepped through the doorway quickly, eager to be home. He looked at the tree and felt his stomach sink. It was a light blue. He took a leaf, then stepped through the doorway again. He stood, staring at the flat land, wondering which way he needed to go. He did not feel hungry here, nor had he been thirsty.

He circled the building, trying to decide which way he had come from. There were no markers, nothing to indicate direction. Even the sun seemed to move with him, no matter where he went, it was always shining on his left.  He took a deep breath and started walking again. He had a long walk ahead of him.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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