Short Story
                                              The Doorway
                                                                                  By Micah Castle


      The Doorway is several, The Doorway is everywhere. They cover the peeling walls of my office, the
termite-eaten floorboards, the gaping ceilings. Their decrypted flesh covers thin, sharpened bones that
weave towards the ground and sky underneath. At first, I felt them, I felt their cold and papyrus surface and
a chill went through my body.

      In the bookstore, with my wife the first day I could leave the hospital. Not a mental asylum, no, a
medical hospital; a place I stayed for months after my eye surgery. A mugger took my vision away, but a
doctor returned it, with a price.

      In the bookstore, between two large hardbacks, the first Doorway appeared and opened. Infinity
swirled into an abyss of nothingness. Tall arching bodies, long sinewy limbs, gaping crevices where their
eyes should’ve been. They drifted across an infinite pool of gray towards a twisting cavernous vortex of
white, outlined in black, ripped into the dreadful ivory sky.

      That was the first I saw them. Before I was torn away and thrown into unconsciousness.

      I was placed back into the hospital. The doctor said it wasn’t the eyes that caused the vision — not
vision, no; I’ve seen what’s there, beyond the layer of reality — but it was the drugs. A drug. Novisca.
Experimental, too potent. He halved the dosage. A few weeks later, I was released.

      Home, oh home, the house my wife and I bought together. The house in which we tilled the soil and
grew flowers and vegetables and planted an oak tree in the front yard. The floors we carpeted and the
walls we papered and decorated. The rooms we made love in, one by one, until we were sore and
breathless, and we sat out on the porch, giggling like teenagers, and drank wine naked under robes while
the night breeze wafted in between our legs.

      The house is now in shambles. The floorboards are like bones without flesh, holes yawning from the
ceilings, the walls yellow, as though they suffer from liver failure. The sinks and toilets and bathtubs are
filled with debris and shit, and the yard is so overgrown that not even the strongest of adventurers can
manage their way through.

      But I stay, I live, in the spare room that once was my office. Where I wrote stories about things that
weren’t real. The computer was stolen, the desk is in splinters, the boxes of papers that once contained
my life’s work are in a pile of ash in the corner. Warmth comes first, doesn’t it?

      The Doorway, The Doorway, The Doorway. They disappeared. No, that’s not right — they were
waiting. Once they’re seen, they cannot be unseen; no medicine or surgery can change that — I learned.
They were waiting for the time to appear again. They waited a long time. Then, the second Doorway
appeared.

      When the house still had meat on its bones, and my wife hadn’t left, I was returning from the bathroom
and there it was, inlaid into the lower wall of my office. Too small to fit through. I crouched, felt the cold
papyrus layer and waited. For what? I didn’t know. To see? To see something beyond The Doorway like I
did before? Did I really want to see the strange world? Did I really want to see the unraveling of reality? I
guess I did.

      The Doorway slowly ripped open, like tearing flesh from bone. A silvery mist billowed out, covering the
floor and my feet. Oddly warm. I got down onto my stomach, closed one eye and peeked inside.

      An oily sea stretched into infinity. It was as if I laid right upon the surface, so close that I thought maybe
my clothes would get wet. Something on the horizon appeared. A black form. Tendrils slowly jutted out
from its frame, then blossomed across the dreary sky. Like veins pumping blood, they grew and grew
across the bleak backdrop, before they reached so far that I couldn’t see. Then, I saw them.

      They clawed at the corners of The Doorway. Like vines they shot up the walls and stretched to the
ceiling. I jumped to my feet and backed away. They moved across the ceiling, down the opposite wall,
across the floorboards. I followed them down the stairwell, into the bedrooms. They grew and stretched to
every possible place in my home before all that was left was absolute blackness.

      Then they began to chip away like dried paint. It rained blackened ash. Each falling piece was
replaced by the cloudy sky. It happened within seconds. Then I was in nothingness, in the world where the
giant creatures drifted towards the vortex in the distance.

      There wasn’t a vortex and there weren’t any creatures. I stood in the gray ocean and saw nothing.

      Eventually I screamed. Eventually I cried. Eventually I pissed myself and prayed that someone or
something could take me away from that maddening world. There were no sounds, there were no
thoughts, there was utterly nothing. I ran through the water. I came to nowhere, then I turned around and ran
again; coming to nowhere once more.

      I fell into the water and couldn’t get back up. The seabed teemed with life. Teemed with tiny claws that
hooked to my body.

      A maw opened below me, a maw lined with endless rows of beady gums that pulsated with vivid
purples and blues. Then I was inside, engulfed into the warm womb of the seabed. Colors cascaded with
blackness; Oblivion danced with unimaginable hues. One moment I was upside down, another I was
downside up. A gooey substance covered my body, entered my mouth and coated my stomach.
Everything was warm and comfortable and slowly I fell into a lull.

      I heard my wife’s high-pitched scream from somewhere in the womb. I closed my eyes at some point
and when I opened them, I was on the floor upstairs, I must’ve ran back to where I found The Doorway.
Urine puddled underneath my groin, and drool and blood pooled beneath my head.

      That was the second time I saw The Doorway.

      The doctor said it was absolutely the drugs causing the visions but I knew he was wrong, deep down in
my consciousness, I knew it. Despite the rationale, the reasoning, the logic, I knew he was wrong. Once
you see, you cannot unsee. But I didn’t argue. I nodded my head then I went home, back into my office like
nothing happened.

      Weeks, months, years passed. The visions wouldn’t leave, The Doorway wouldn’t leave, burnt into my
retinas and my mind. I couldn’t sleep without picturing the world beyond, I couldn’t daydream without
seeing the sinewy giants drifting across the gray sea, I couldn’t have sex without picturing the seabed
womb engulfing me in warmth and colors. I withdrew into myself mentally and physically.

      My wife forced me to see even more doctors and more doctors and more. Not medical ones, no —
psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, the list goes on and on. Countless interviews and
appointments and drugs, oh the drugs, so many that some of them must be able to cure whatever ailed
me, right? But my mind wasn’t sick, I wasn’t ill, maybe before seeing The Doorway but now I wasn’t. I was
seeing what was truly there — how can they say that’s ill? How can they say that’s wrong? They’re the ill
ones, they need the drugs and appointments and the nods from the judgmental doctors as they scribble
notes onto their pads…

      More time passed, more years, more blurs of weeks and days in a never-ending cycle. Something did
change, eventually. My wife. Her mind changed. She was no longer able to deal with me, deal with the
reality in which we lived. I was too much; what I said, what I thought, my beliefs, the insomnia, the crazed
writing, my disheveled, sickly appearance. She screamed. I screamed. We both screamed until we were
blue in the face and our throats were numb. The front door slammed shut and I was left alone in the house
that echoed with her exit, left in the house that is no longer a house but a doorway, the Doorway.

      I entered my office, her screams still ringing in my ears. That was the third time The Doorway revealed
itself. Large, peaked, papyrus and golden brown, standing nearly ten feet tall and eight feet wide, taking up
the entire wall and then some; but the room adjusted to its size.

      Like a paper cover caught in a gale, the bottom right corner ripped, whipping against the wind, then
the whole cover was torn off. It flapped in the breeze and disappeared into the ether. The sea stood before
me, lapping against the floorboards of my office. The ivory vortex outlined in black loomed, levitating, in the
distance.

      The giants appeared. They drifted up an invisible set of stairs and passed through the vortex. Their
arms swung like pendulums with their small strides. They did not notice each other, did not notice me
standing behind, they just moved into the opening.

      I heard a voice. Rich, full, enchanting, but only a whisper. It called behind the portal. It called for
everyone and everything. Though I couldn’t make out what it said, I still felt intoxicated by its strange words.
Drunkenly I strode across my office, past the Doorway, past the clouded sea, past the gaunt giants and
climbed the invisible stairs.

      As I stood, they moved into the void. My thoughts raged and my body tingled. I looked down at my
hands and saw long, dull colored, sinewy things; my arms were thin, decrepit; the ground seemed much
further away than it did before I left my office, then I realized my legs were needle thin and oddly shaped. I
touched my face, felt no eyes, only deep-seated holes where they should’ve been.

      I tried to scream but I had no vocal cords, I had no throat, and I didn’t believe I had a mouth.

      The lovely words continued; they still called for me, they called for everyone. Everything meant nothing
compared to the lovely feminine voice. I lowered my hands and drifted into the opening, the translucent
layer like a thin veil hanging above. It flowed over my body and settled.

      Inside, God… how wonderful. How could I ever explain the beauty past the vortex and the gray sea?
How could my meager, trembling hands write words to describe what those creatures traveled to? I don’t
believe there are words in the dictionary to describe it, even if I tried. The warmth. The enveloping lull of
comfortability. It felt like I was floating in an ether of lukewarm water and cushions that perfectly formed to
my shape. Endlessly the whiteness stretched around me. I, not of my accord, drifted listlessly across the
pearly void. My fears, my emotions, everything that was pent up inside washed away as if it were the dirt
on my body.

      Another opening revealed itself after a while. A black vortex outlined in gray. If I weren’t in the
whiteness, I might’ve been afraid, terrified of what was to come and what could happen to my feeling of
bliss, but I idly drifted without a care in the world and passed through the black opening.

      A void in a void. Utter nothingness. A darkness that was blacker than black, it dwelled there; living,
breathing, moving as though it were sentient. I couldn’t see it, but I felt the walls miles and miles away
move, felt the floor tremble, felt the quivering of the far-off opening that didn’t reveal itself until much later.
Fear enveloped me, terror filled my mind like water in a pot, nihilistic self-awareness settled in my head
and spread across my body. Wave after wave after wave of despair, of my current and future
shortcomings and negativities bombarding me for what felt like forever. The loss of my wife, the loss of my
sanity, the inevitable loss of my house, the inevitable loss of my work. Nothing was what I was, what I am,
and what I would always be.

      The unrelenting pain of depression and despair brought me to convulsions, enough so that I squeezed
my eyes shut in the hopes that I could force it away by sheer will. They soon disappeared, but I kept my
eyes sealed. At some point later, I looked to see a silvery vortex, felt myself pass through, then
consciousness ebbed and vanished.

      When I awoke, I was in my house but not my house, the house that is no longer a home but the
Doorway. My office was in disarray; gaping holes in the ceiling, jagged openings in the warped
floorboards, wallpaper peeling, debris littering everything, and a pile of ash in the center of the room. I
rested on a piss-stained mattress, the size of which looked like the one my wife and I shared. When I
realized it was that same mattress, but now ruined, I reeled.

      “What happened?” I asked the cold room. “How long has it been?”

      I peeked out the nearly opaque window and saw the overgrown yard, a tall, leafless, gnarled oak tree,
the houses across the street in disarray and dilapidated. In the distance stood a silhouette of a city,
skyscrapers with their jagged tops reaching for the heavens above.

      I turned back to the room, seeing the Doorway; many renditions of the Doorway. The floor, the walls,
the ceiling — the Doorway.

      I found a few scraps of paper underneath the mattress, and a broken pencil and began this entry; my
last entry to the world.

      Although the Doorway has taken me in, re-birthed me into this world that is no longer my own, gave me
the ability to travel through time, let me see what is beyond our reality, let me truly see what we, humans,
are — soulless, giant, drifting monsters — I don’t want to return yet. I want to breathe the Earth’s air, feel
the cool breeze on my skin, perhaps take a warm bath. I want to live in this world, despite what it is, what
we are.

      They open. The papyrus layer of the Doorway encompassing the floor pulls open as if tugged from the
inside. The layer of the Doorway in the ceiling swirls, rips, tears into nothing. The layers of each Doorway
on each wall turn into shreds, turn to flecks of paper that are thrown into the wind.

      I can see the pulsating gum womb below, the white vortex outlined in black above, the bleak sea
everywhere else. I can hear the enchanting words. I can feel the warmth and comfort of the womb. I can
see the drifting people stride across the water.

      What lies behind the Doorway is its own being.

      I’m a part of it — we all are, whether we know it or not.
About Micah Castle

Micah Castle is a weird
fiction/horror writer. He
has been published in
various magazines and
websites, and has three
collections currently out.
He enjoys hiking, playing
with his animals, and can
typically be found reading
a book somewhere in his
home.  
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.