zondag 16 november 2014

The door

It was not that the specific characteristics of 'the door' attracted me in an unusual way. I walked daily through dozens of doors, opened and closed them just as much as anyone else, after all, that's what they're meant for.
For some time now I also locked my bedroom door. In the morning I unlocked it again to go through the hallway, where there were still a few other rooms, to open the front door and get my newspaper. Ever since they’d broken into my neighbours’ house, it had become a routine. It was a checklist that I was ticking off minutely every evening: the bolts on the front door and the locking of my bedroom door.
It wasn’t the oak door frame or the gold-plated door handle in the form of a question mark that, more than other days, drew my attention. It was a diffuse beam of light, that in the middle of the night shined through the keyhole of my bedroom door. The long, dispersed, floating cone of light with swirling particles of dust blasted out in a circle at the height of my waist.
I barely wondered how I got out of my bed and arrived in the middle of the room. Surprised I drew with my index finger the outlines of the projected light on my body…and felt…nothing! Strange, at that moment I’d expected the opposite.
Thinking logically at three o’clock in the morning isn’t really the easiest task, but I knew for sure it was still night. I even remembered that this night there was a new moon, the advantage of having a block-calendar that contained a lot of useful and less useful tips. I just doubted if I’d put out the light on the passage. Lets see: I checked the passage…light out in the corridor of the passage, light on in my bedroom, closing my bedroom door and…locking. Check, I hadn’t forgotten anything.
At that moment my brain and me decided unanimously that I was the next victim of the burglar or…that I was dreaming. Hesitating I took a few steps forward.
There are people who claim that dreams are deceptive, others say the contrary and are reading the future in them or explain them as signs we get from the hereafter. Me, I’m a doubter, always have been. I was situated somewhere between these opposite opinions, just as I found myself in front of the door where the light shined through the keyhole, light that shouldn’t have been there! A desperate someone who had to choose between the burglar and the dream.
It seemed to me that the time my brain passed the order ‘walk to the door’ to my feet, was stretched in proportion as I approached the light source. Still my hand suddenly felt the chilliness of the door knob in its grip.
In dreams that had to be perfectly possible, I thought. A dream? So I stood there, silent, still doubting, still before the door, unmoving with a question mark in my hand. The door knob felt less chilly than just before or was it already longer than a moment ago? There also could have passed a whole hour for that matter. My image of time was somewhere lost between the four walls of the room.   
Slowly, as if on the other side of the door, there was someone exerting resistance – maybe the burglar – my hand began to move. Annoyingly slow, my fist, with knuckles white from the tension, made a clock moving gesture. At that moment I saw that the key wasn’t in the keyhole! Had I, earlier in the evening, put it away on my night table? I didn’t have the habit. No, I always left it in the keyhole, but anything is possible in a dream, isn’t it?
I sweated. Whether it was from fear or from the effort, I didn’t know. But it ran in droplets from my forehead, some of them blurring my sight on things, especially on ‘that door’. I now heard the dripping of perspiration on the ground…drop…drop…drop! At that moment, I knew it for sure. This wasn’t a dream. In any case not a simple weekly ‘just-enjoy-this-kind-of-dream’.
No, it was a plain and downright nightmare!
            A strange word of which I had to look up the etymology at a certain time, maybe on a better moment, when I had more time…or when I was awake. In my imagination I already saw a beautiful mare in the dark of the night, heard the sound of its thundering gallop that bounced ominously in my ears. Or was it only my blood that flowed more rapidly. Maybe the pressure in my veins reached a baleful frontier while my heart fluttered as a beating drum. I saw in my mind a black rampant mare with eyes as carbuncles and hoofs that stroke sparks somewhere on the passage behind my bedroom door.
            The next moment as if in a flash, a sort of a white canvas was thrown upon me. Blinded I swayed with my arms around me and felt ‘something’ pushing against my back.
            I instantly thought: ‘Breath deeply in and out, above all ‘keep’ breathing!’ My first idea drilled as an ice-pick in my thoughts: someone had ambushed me and pushed a knife or a pistol against my back. I froze of fear in the middle of a movement, stood there with arms spread as a lunatic, like a sweating statue just doing ‘nothing’.
                Eventually I detected forms, not perfectly neat, but blurry images, just as if I watched through a cover of a jar or through a smoked glass. Carefully, annoyingly slowly, I turned myself half around and looked surprised over my shoulder. The door was now behind me but there wasn’t any light shining through the keyhole anymore
            Should this alarm me more than before? Was I on the other side of the door? That could be or even had to be the only plausible explanation of this bizarre hocus-pocus.
            They say that light chases away all kinds of ghosts. Is it really so? I felt substances gently touching me. Cold unknown creatures that whispered strange words and sounds to me, soft as velvet, which I didn’t understand, but still gave me the goose bumps. Half blind, rather desperately and with my arms stiff as a stick before me, I admit almost in panic, I explored the light. My hands found  on the same level of my body, hard whimsical forms, protrusions that vibrated from the inside when I hesitatingly touched them.
            At that moment I was thinking to pinch my arm. You can find it in any good ghost story as a well-tried method to know if you are really dreaming or that you, because of the pain that goes with it, you may be sure you’re not dreaming.
            But I didn’t dare. My heart was beating much faster than normal and I still heard the blood rustling in my ears. The fear wasn’t disappeared. Still…
            I became a little bit curious!
            In nature you find these lizards that possess a third eyelid. They call it a nictitating membrane that is present in the eyes of these animals. Such an additional eyelid with this long-tailed animals is for protection. Well, my third eyelid, if I had it or not, opened and maybe some things around me did the same, that was also a possibility. But who would tell me what was reality or not. My sight slowly returned normal and what I saw at that moment…it wasn’t possible at all, it couldn’t be. Not at all!
            I couldn’t be awake. There wasn’t a massive rock in my room, with here and there in between a pointed stalagmite or a little river that a bit further, just between two walls, was meandering into the ceiling and disappeared without leaving a trace. Let alone fishes that flied back and forth over furniture and chairs, as colourful butterflies in a butterfly garden and at the end of my room just evaporated, puff…as if they’d never been there.
            A chestnut dragon stepped coolly out of the left corner and looked suspiciously at me while it was passing by at a tottering pace. He arrogantly turned his giant head away from me and blew some kind of shrubbery in fire in the other corner of the room before he dissolved in the opposing wall. Where did he go?
            Was this the frontier of my fantasy in my dream? Would I go further on this way till I woke up, bathing in my own sweat, with a relieved mind? At that moment I saw, half hidden behind a for me unfamiliar palm tree, that had purple leaves that grew upward and carried pitch black fruit…the next door!
            The awareness in me grew steadily as I slowly took the next steps: this wasn’t a dream or a nightmare, this wasn’t the end but maybe the beginning of a new story.

© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere

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