Photo by Kenneth Lu. Kenneth Lu has no affiliation with me or A.B.Normal Publishing Media Group, nor do they support my work and/or practices.
Screams of horror and terror filled the darkened room. So many faces were contorted, twisted into obscene ways, questioning the origin of such inspiration.
“Hey, I’ll be right back.” The man leaned over and whispered into the ear of his skittish love.
“Aw, but it’s getting to the good part. You’ll miss it.” She whispered back while she cautiously munched on another handful of popcorn.
The man sighed and muttered, “I know.”
The man got up from his seat and made his way down the aisle and left the theater room.
He stepped out of the room, and turned back, watching the door slowly close; muffling the screams in the hallway. The air seemed to swirl and prance with the scent of freshly popped corn, and other various foods offered at the concession stand. The neon lights that decked the lobby and paraded attractions in big letters, ‘COMING SOON!’
The young man grunted, turning his attention to the matter at hand—his full bladder. He made his way to the restroom, with the original intent of quickly returning to the screening. Having finished, the man went over to the sink and washed his hands. After drying them off, he pressed his palms on the countertop and gazed hard into the mirror at his reflection.
The man was tall, slender and relatively built. He already had slight wrinkles and scars, which showed his experience in life’s early challenges. He dampened his fingers with some more water to part his dark blonde hair. The lighting in the bathroom brought justice to the hue of white of the man. Oblivious to the sun that rained down its typical ‘friend or foe’ alignment. He adjusted his glasses, and then his wedding ring—smiling. He became lost in his thoughts, reminiscing about the year coming to pass. He was married to the most beautiful women he had ever come to know, and the new little addition they both welcomed.
Then his smile slowly fell to a frown as he thought of his pressing matters that loomed above. His need to find a new job, and the need to relocate their homestead. The persistent doubt of himself. He sighed. His eyes dropped to the floor, then rose back to the mirror. He could feel the anger that slept, which, so far was undisturbed for the day. He wondered when it would awaken and what it would bring with it. He stood up straight and rolled his shoulders and head. He started to walk to the door, ready to leave his humble rest stop.
As he reached for the handle, he felt a particular rush of energy. The rush disturbed him so much that he tried to open the door in a panic. However, a force unbeknownst to him kept him barred and captive in the restroom. It became ironic, to him, that a bathroom could become a room of a such a face, and a spiteful thrash; quite the contrary to what it was meant for. For several moments, he struggled with the door: kicking, punching, pushing, yelling for help, whatever method he felt could make the door open. He took his phone out to see if he could call for help, but it was of no use—no service. Typical.
He felt the rage begin to swell and boil to the surface. He faced the mirror and in a fit, he struck a mighty blow against it—shattering it. The red haze took over—anger was awake now—the emotion he tried too long to suppress was now lashing out on his insides, his arms, his chest…his wrists. He had succumbed to his rage. During this fit, he grabbed the door handle and flung the door open.
He became mystified by what now laid beyond the door. He gazed out into his newfound environment, his sight playing him for a fool. All that he could see was absolute darkness and could feel the frigid air pass through him. The slight illumination from the restroom stopped only a few feet from where the door was. He peered around for anything that offered familiarity before he came into the bathroom. He took a few more steps from his sanctuary [and prison] he had become accustomed to. He kept looking back at the restroom as he pressed onward into the swarming darkness. The invisible arms of the darkness embraced the man, and pulled him closer away from the restroom, farther from the light. Slowly the light became swallowed up wholly in the black hole. Here he saw nothing, only pure darkness that blinded him, and hindered his movement. He collapsed in fear and desperation—waiting, wondering, angry.
The man had begun to press onward, to reach whatever destiny awaited him. What more punishment, judgment or salvation was there in store? The more he questioned if this was a dream or some prank, the more real it seemed it was. He would notice ripples and waves of darkness. As strange as it was he thought, he only wanted to reach the end and reunited with his love. His gut instinct made him press on, hard, and fast, while his mind told him to proceed cautiously. As he slowly wandered in the darkness, he began to hear whispers—low tone voices—from down the hall.
“Hello,” he shouted out into the abysmal darkness…there was no reply.
Since his discovery, he had begun to rush further into the darkness. Occasionally, he checked behind him for anything that lurked. The more he seemed to plunge into, the more the whispers grew. He wasn’t able to understand what the voices muttered, of who…or what about him. He only focused on if there was perhaps, maybe, someone around, and that they would know what the hell was going on, and where he was.
After swimming, as it seemed, through the darkness, he fished his way to the end. He came upon a great door that beneath its bottom emanated a soft white glow. He could see a figure’s shadow, passing left to right. He reached out to push the door, only to feel a burning sensation. He retracted his hand and looked at it in the darkness. The warmth of his blood fueled him to try kicking instead.
After several attacks, the door finally gave in. The darkness lifted to the spectacle of several candles around the interior room. A pale light from above showered on a single figure in the center of the chamber. The sight was strange to him since there were no surrounding windows, but this lone person.
He looked down at his hand, noting marks that ran along his wrist, and few marks on his hand. He considered it a fictitious wound, deployed to deceive those who would enter. He looked back at the long dark corridor from which he came from and looked at what he had left behind. The frigid air poured in, causing the candle’s flame to dance in the makeshift twilight.
The young man closed the door, a single whisper escaped to his ears—madness. He turned around, and faced the enlightened figure, noting that his gaze was jumping from each corner of the room to the next. The figure’s head turned in fashionable means, but to what, and to whom. . .the young man did not know. As he took steps towards the figure, the young man noticed several empty pews—dust inches thick, bibles scattered about, and books of hymns stacked in a strict manner, skeletons only remained.
The young man tread cautiously towards the figure. He knew where he was, how, though, he did not know. He felt the priest could answer his questions.
As the young man slowly drew the distance to a closure, he observed the well of light that bathed the priest, to him it seemed that there was no source. He followed the blind eyes of the time warped face that was peppered with liver spots and freckles and its bright white beard. His eyeglasses idle on the tip of his nose. Adorning this old figure, was a great fashionable bishop crown bearing the holy cross. It seemed that only time affected this man and room. His attire, however, was untouched by any means. The blaze of light that swarmed him, and projected only but a few feet from which he stood. His speech was weak, incoherent—mumbling.
The young man stood close to the father, watching as the he turned his head to the spectral audience that had sat still—and was in oblivion. He found a place at the front to sit down, and the man took a seat. The sermon came to a halt.
In the silence, the man was overcome by a sudden chill. He could feel the eyes of the past, present, and future upon him.
The priest then uttered words he was not expecting. “It seems we have a visitor in our service. Rise, my child, come forth and tell me what troubles your young soul.”
The young stranger silently rose, looking about at all the long-forgotten faces, before approaching the father.
He knelt down before the priest. “Excuse me, Father, for my intrusion. I am lost…and I do not know how I came upon your clergy. I ask you…can you, please help me find my way home?”
The old man’s face—much like the light that enshrouded him—beamed. He smiled, and said to the young man, placing a hand upon his shoulder, “My dear boy, you are home. Let go your feelings of dark. Sever your pain. Give up your anger…and let it all go.”
The young man became startled as he could feel a stirring deep within himself. All the pain, anger, hatred, loss, and love he had experienced so far in his life. Vivid memories flashed on his mind’s camera before him—the feelings associated came and went. All that was ill ridden, and chained him down, now left his body and coagulated into a pool.
The priest began to continue with his sermon.
The young man watched as the pool began to boil over, and take shape into a figure before him. Slowly, the figure finished its delicate touches of detail, down to the very cells. He peered at himself, just as if it were a mirror. He stood up and gazed upon the negative manifestation of himself.
The priest then spoke his last words, “Lest, we are all forgiven for our actions.”
The old priest’s voice began to drown out as the light dimmed with the resurgence of darkness. The young man was not afraid, nor was he scared, or he was angry. As the moment passed, he thought of what he valued most—his wife, family, and friends—all that he took for granted in life.
He pushed the mirror image away and watched it slowly fall and shatter to pieces. Screams, horrendous sounds, and pain flooded the room.
As the priest continued with his sermon, he slowly faded with the light—becoming one, whereas then, a new light focused on the redeemed man. He smiled as he gazed up into the warm light that bathed him. Then uncertainty hit him when the light fully engulfed him, blinding his sight and consciousness.
He heard a soft whisper, “Not yet.”
He awoke several moments later, to a face he was well accustomed to, and to those that he knew well, all surrounding him. He glanced down at his hand where an IV line had been implemented, and where cuts were made—bound with bandages. The lights from above overwhelmed him, as those around him drew closer. He knew he was indeed ‘home’, and that he would make the best of the hand he was dealt.
Robert J. S. T. McCartney
A.B.Normal Publishing and Media Group