“Hey, can you come here for a moment?” The hushed voice startled me from my slumber.
I turned over in my bed and saw him standing in the bedroom doorway that led to the pitch hallway.
“Yeah, sure,” I yawned.
I got up, stretched briefly, and got out of the bed, putting on my pants and shirt. I walked out of the dark bedroom and followed him down the hallway to the living room; bewildered as to what could be keeping him from sleeping at this hour.
We furnished our outdoor apparel, and we ventured outside. It was typical as to what ritual nature would partake of this time of year. A thick fog blanketed all around. The gray street post illuminated a soft white somber glow. The air frigid. It was lightly snowing. The dark heaven’s had rolled out its carpet of stars long ago; the distant faint beacons in the twilight that had been absolved by the grayness of the night’s fog. A few streets over at the condominiums, the horizon, was lit in a charcoal glow.
We walked along on the sidewalk together, heading down towards the river in the depths of the woods.
“So, what’s up?” I inquired, the frosty vapor vanishing in the night and snow.
He was hesitant at first. “There’s something I want to find out and probably you too. Some answers.” His words added a chill to my ears.
We meandered through the thick brush and flora, coming upon the river at last. Before us, there was a strange spectacle: dirt, twigs, vines, had shaped an eerie archway. I walked around it to view it differently, while he stood there with his hands in his coat pockets.
I turned to him. “What’s this?”
He took in a deep breath. “Well…that’s what we’re about to find out.”
I nodded, and we simultaneously walked through the strange portal. There was a slight sensation when we passed through. Nothing painful, it was just like a shiver that ran up and down your spine.
Inside, there stretched a long dark corridor—violet and jet intermingled. It seemed to stretch on forever. Behind us, the would-be portal almost appeared to have vanished; only a spiral swirl of gray and white that spun. I reached out to touch it, only to have it distort, and feel the cold shiver return.
I turned around to see him going from side to side of the corridor. Various items were strewn about on a small ledge that stretched on with the length of the hall. I reached out to touch this ledge—warm—yet cold. It was like it neared the precipice of death. I approached his side, and truth be told, intrigued, just as to what these items could be. My eyes searched: photographs, hockey equipment, cigarettes, lighters, action figures, comics, books, various multimedia, tape cassettes, CD’s, Magic cards, alcoholic bottles…the list went on. I looked over at him…his eyes still wandering piece to piece.
“These are all mine. . .” he muttered. “It’s all stuff I’ve grown up with or has been apart of my life.”
I did nothing. I didn’t even know what to say. I just kept watching…listening and waiting.
We continued our misadventure through the corridor. It slowly became more twisted, and darker with each mile. Times and memories that were troubling, moods, stuff I never really had come to know. I could sense a hint of sadness emanate from him, though. There was something that laid in waiting ahead.
At last, we came to a patch that reeked of a putrid mix of indescribable words. Hints of burnt hair, flesh, plastic, cigarettes, marijuana, and God knows what else. The acrid odor caused me to cover my face, while he did not. He simply wandered on, investigating what was abound.
On one side, there was a mini refrigerator, one that apparently did not work. He opened the door wide. There was a clear plastic bag with a body of a female inside. I could tell who it was and by his expression, he could as well. He sighed heavily, before opening the bag.
The female’s body, crumpled, like a piece of paper, gray, broken. She reeked of smoke, hair, tissue and death. What remained of her dark blonde hair, was matted against her face, a few remaining strands covered her closed eyes. A sad, solemn expression on her face. Her mouth was open, battered, and broken from this short of time. Her tongue lazily hung to one side.
He closed the bag and the door before setting off to the next container on the opposite wall.
This vessel took on the shape of a bass amplifier. He fiddled with the knobs, buttons and then turned it around to find another body. She was recent, familiar, especially to him. I didn’t know her all to well, only the praises he held for her…the good and bad. She was more contorted; arms lazily folded over her crushed chest. Her face was painted gray, nearly resembling a macabre. Vines and other plants sprouted from her ears and tangled themselves in her dark brown hair. A few cannabis leaves budded from her eyelashes. Her face hinted at sadness; adorned by the small blue jeweled crescent moon that drooped to her cheek.
He turned the amp around and continued to wander the corridor.
As we traveled further down, we heard a familiar sound [meow]. One I was accustomed to when I would visit. Now and then, we would see a gray smokey shade darting around, occasionally brushing our legs but never really there.
At last, we came to an incomplete section of the corridor. The darkest yet we had encountered.
A black and gold trimmed microwave oven perched on the ledge. It was shaped and fashioned like a casket. A gold plate adorned its face. We knew what it read, who it was.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered.
He shook his head. His face away from me, staring at the misshapen, malformed resting place of his father.
“Just don’t look, just promise me that.”
I nodded, “I won’t.”
I turned away, my back to the father and son. I heard the click of the microwave open and the beginning of an unrelenting sob. Cigar and cigarette smoke billowed into the air and wavered all around. The timer of the microwave dinged. A series of thuds…a crash—of glass and metal.
Finally, there was silence. I turned to see him place the battered microwave back on the ledge, grab the shovel that was nearby and start to dig.
“Do you want any help?” I asked.
“No, I need to do this,” He grunted as he dug into the tough malformed earth.
After several moments, he hopped out of the hole and grabbed the microwave. He wandered back to the hole and laid it to rest. He stared at it for a minute or two before starting to bury it.
He ventured once more to the ledge, retrieving the gold nameplate. “Alright, let’s go.”
I nodded as we began to return to the entrance of his ‘memory lane’.
Upon exiting the corridor, at last, we turned to watch the archway disintegrate into ash. From there, we wandered back to the sidewalk and returned to my home. There, on the porch we sat. I, myself, wondered if what happened was real or not. We both lit a cigarette, silent, not questioning or mentioning what happened. We went on with our typical night, but I could still tell something was different about him. Something—that deep down inside, this experience was for the better.