A home pulled straight from my dreams; my Shangri-La, my sanctuary, my serenity. The illustration of my own personal fairy tale, slowly drowned by the tears of my own nightmare.
Every home has a door, a gateway to the inside within which any kind of feeling can reside. Some mask the entrance to darker realms filled with bitter secrets, some serve as a portal to a beautiful and romantic private world. Mine is quite unlike the welcoming, beckoning ones that most people are used to; it’s different, reeking of omens most foul.
The doorway is shabby with brown, peeling paint, and when I come home at the end of every day I dread to think that it’s waiting for me. To everyone else it is just plain, ordinary, perhaps a little boring, but to me it is the gateway to another world; a world I hate, a world I long to escape, a world I fear above all else.
The door itself is heavy, made from oak as old as time. It groans loudly every time it opens, roars out in pain at the outside world as its hinges slowly part. The gateway to this house is alive, a living, breathing entity that fears the house as much as I do. Its pitiful, anxious groan is actually it crying out in anguish, screaming to warn whoever has hold of the handle that it’s being disturbed, and what resides within is being given a chance to get free.
This story, though I do not like to call it that, is about what happens as I step over the shabby threshold of what I once called my dream home, the house that haunted the back of my mind, the house at the end of Kedathara Way.
The terror began, as most things seem to, on one chilling November night. I was lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, tracing the patterns with my eyes, waiting to be gripped by slumber, when I heard a noise far below me that made me rise from the comfort of my cocoon. The noise was out of place, I had never heard a thing at night since I had moved in many years before. The house was normally as loud as death; most houses knock and creak, but not this one. The sudden change sent shivers down my spine, made my skin crawl, and had me absolutely desperate to investigate.
I crept slowly down the stairs, softly, cautiously, as though I was afraid that a single sound could draw open the long closed eyes of the dead. Desperately I forced myself silent, after all I didn’t want to alarm whatever, or whoever had been the source of the commotion. As my bare-feet touched the hardwood flooring of the hallway I could no longer hear any sound, or see anything at all out of the ordinary.
It’s important that you be made aware, dear reader, that this house is like a maze; the rooms and corridors are laid out in the most peculiar manner, so much so that it is impossible to see what’s going on in any one room whilst standing in another.
So, on that chilling November night I crept warily from room to room, my eyes moving from dark corner to dark corner hoping to catch a glimpse of my intruder.
As I gazed about books on meticulously clean shelves shone out at me from the darkness, their spines browned and ravaged by age but their pages pristine and flawlessly intact from decades of remaining unread, forgotten on the shelves of purgatory. Hugo, Dante, Byron, Voltaire, Poe; their names all stood proud and glorious from their display but sadly absent from my under read mind. Great works of the Bard stood beside the gold-leafed tomes of those that followed him. His creations proud beside their tattered neighbours, somehow untouched by the sands of time. Perfect, almost as though they had been recently renewed.
As I made my way from chamber to chamber I started hearing noises once more, noises that were coupled by the sporadic beating of my anxious heart, noises that I could tell were coming from inside my living room. There was someone there, I was sure of it.
It’s my plan to tell you all about the terrors of another world, but I should first of all tell you about my home, for it alone is the gateway to all misery. It was part of my life long before I was lucky enough to live there. As a child I passed it nearly everyday knowing even then that there was something important about it. I feared it even more so than most of the other children. Everyday I felt its presence, felt it looking at me, felt the clutches of its reaching ivy. To the young the building represented fear, every friend I had was terrified of it, and in my youth I wasn’t fortunate enough to become a great exception. Friends would goad me to walk up the garden path and touch its dreaded front door. I wanted so much to be the one to succeed, but like all who came before me I would flee it’s threshold in desperation like a sprightly lamb avoiding the jaws of a prowling wolf.
As I grew up something happened; I changed, it became the object of my desire and I was desperate to have it. Little did I know my new found love was far from coincidental, it was a preordained becoming etched in ancient stone; the house was calling me home.
Reader, to truly understand what I feel, to really know that to me the building is more than just aged bricks and mortar, you must see it as I see it, through my eyes, and allow me to describe it to you.
The walls that surround my home are almost completely covered in ivy. For years I did my best to keep it from growing, I tried and tried every method I had ever read but no means met cause to work. I was worried that the ivy’s neigh on supernatural grip could be slowly damaging the structure, and that one day it would go too far and bring the whole thing down, dusted to its core, its very foundations. In a way it seems that the ivy serves as protector to the house, desperately working to stop a single inch of the old brickwork from showing through. The ivy made the house like a fortress, a well defended stronghold, completely impenetrable but for the doors and windows.
The windows are ancient, the frames cracked and the glass warped, but the sun still finds means to shine itself through. The light doesn’t do a lot to drive away what’s inside though, nothing does.
I had stepped through the door I stood frozen in fear before on countless occasions without ever considering what I was doing, after all why would I? It was a well trodden path I took on a daily basis, but as I stared at that door’s oak frame I was overwhelmed. It was normal, it had always been insignificant but at that moment it was momentous, it seemed to have grown, become something on a larger scale, something glorious, something memorable, much like the very Gates of Babylon. It was just a door, but it pinned my perfectly pedicured feet to the floor and kept me from moving. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to escape.
Time had lost all meaning; it was beyond my talents to work out how long I stood before it, held fast to the floor with the nails of my apprehension. Behind the door I could hear the ticking of a clock but the individual sounds had merged as one into an endless cacophony that I couldn’t possibly keep up with. Instead my mind was occupied by the internal mutterings that were my thoughts. I was desperate to know what was behind the door, yet I couldn’t muster up the courage to find out. What was there? Who was it? Why were they there? How had they got in? Was I being robbed? Was I in danger? Would I open the door and find only emptiness beyond? I was helpless to the ravages of my thoughts, they served only to torment me, to multiply my worries to the power of infinity. What I sought was comfort, but I didn’t find it within me.
The warm glow of candlelight wafted beneath the door like a golden mist, I could see it flickering, dancing, even that unnerved me. I stood in pathetic hesitation, the continuing sounds behind the door pulled at me, twisting and grabbing at my insides, beckoning me to investigate. I knew I had to go through that door, I couldn’t cower behind it forever, Ihadto open it.
With the realisation of duty my questions returned. Who was behind the door? A desperate man in the form of a night-roaming thief? A ferocious wyrm with eyes that burned hot with scorching flame and smouldering wrath? A hell-hailed devil spinning its trident with demonic intent? The thoughts echoed in my mind as I let my hand leave my side. Was I in danger? I turned the handle slowly, trying not to let it click and startle whatever was waiting for me. Should I turn back? The once shiny but by then dulled brass door knob released the stiff catch of the door and it slowly swung open.
My face was enveloped with the warm glow of the candle light that had previously unnerved me, the door that had comfortably shielded me from view was now open, leaving me unguarded, and exposed. At last I could see the source of the noise that had taken away from me any chance I had of a quiet slumber. At last I had eye contact with the cause of my fear. What I could see deserved a reaction, and it got one; my reaction wasn’t one of fear or of anger, it was one of disbelief and wonderment. For what I saw would have surprised any person with even a slight grasp on reality, for sitting on my sofa, quite at home with an open book resting on his lap, was none other, than William Shakespeare.
The house is deceptive, and at first glance you wouldn’t know there was actually anything wrong with it. To the uninformed observer it looks perfectly fine. It’s a grand building, even I, one who has lived within it and discovered its evil cannot deny that, but when darkness falls, and the shadows come to life, it becomes a completely different story. It warps and changes, leaves the realms of possibility and throws away its status as a perfect home. It becomes a Mecca, a prime destination point for the scourge of Perdition. I’m sure in the past you’ve imagined things, played around with the image of what you would expect evil to look like, well I’m afraid you’re mistaken. You see the reality is a lot worse, the image of evil, in my experience, doesn’t always have to install fear, sometimes it can wear the mask of the one person you want to see before you.
So, for the first time in longer than I’m proud of I’m actually releasing the lock. For many years I’ve felt the need to keep the door firmly closed to most, but for you, my friend, I’m making an exception. I feel as though I owe it to the outside world to allow at least someone to enter into this house and experience what I do almost every night. I need to know that my time spent in the house hasn’t made me insane, I need to know that I’m not seeing things, that my eyes aren’t deceiving me. I need to know, dear reader, that you see them too.