Every door, and Nowhere

The desolate labyrinth. No footfalls, only the resigned eternity of silence. A small clicking at a constant tempo, a grandfather clock at the end of the hallway. The pitch of the clock’s mechanic staccato varied slightly every few beats, almost a cryptic melody unheard as he strained his eyes against the benighted hall.

The weathered timber windows were all open, but no wind carried in to dance with the curtains. The very air about him was lifeless, oppressive and quiet. He stepped cautiously down the hallway, gently easing the pressure of his steps with trepidation against the musty carpet. What he took for moonlight splashed in each open window, casting muted silhouettes across the walls about him. He continued creeping along the hall, his eyes fixed upon the door at the end.

He neared the grandfather clock, and turned to glance at the austere, stoic face as he passed it. The hands dutifully ticking in sequence, endless and perennial, neither rumination nor commiseration to offer. A soft scraping noise echoed down the hallway from where he had entered. He paused, mid-step, and turned to cast his gaze back down the long, eerie thoroughfare. The door at the other end lay ajar, the mildewed bottom dragging across the ancient floor.

He held his breath, an anticipatory reckoning of what must come; an emergence of some inexorable thing amidst the shards of lunar radiance slashing through the murky gloom. Nothing ventured forth, no nascent ruin or salient suddenness to accost him. Silence and emptiness, just as before. He looked, almost absent-mindedly, to his watch, noting the late hour, before he turned back to the clock, frowned at his own dissonance, and resumed his measured pace toward the door. He reached one withered hand forward, taking a firm hold of the cracked, brass doorknob, and turned it carefully.

The door had suffered serious neglect, and stuck firmly in place despite leaning more and more of his weight against it. Finally, he slammed his shoulder against the door, busting the hinge and flinging the withered, swollen door open violently. A wide platform opened out abruptly in front of him, mottled with dark stains and the torn, ragged wreckage of a book sundered terribly.

Thorny plant-limbs curled in a serpentine pageant across the dilapidated planks of the platform, and at one side a heavily rusted outdoor setting of chairs and a table stood resolute in their decay against the brilliance of a moon alien to his eyes, iridescent and magnificently large, but utterly indifferent to the mandates of geometry, of physics, of aesthetic compliance. Another enigma to abuse his precious proclivity for order.

There was no sign of the sentinel or warden of the motionless wretches; his only companions these fading vestiges of furniture, chained and bereft of sentience, in the sprawling, tenebrous exterior of this place that had become a prison. A tomb, perennial. He sat wearily, contemplative of the empty expanse beyond, and the illusion of the lunar blossom silently mocking him. A sigh of resignation sluiced unconsciously from his mouth, a final condemnation of his own mortality.

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