Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Terror in the Doorway

I'm afraid of my bedroom door. I'm not afraid of it like I'm afraid of snakes. A door poses no real threat to me. The only thing a door can do is stub my toe or slam shut on my fingers. The door can only be in my way where a snake can approach and attack and fuck me up. Either that or make me run in the opposite direction in a manner that is shameful and depraving. Snakes do that to me. Doors do not.

I'm really only afraid of my door during the moments in the early morning when I've awoken with only half-consciousness and maybe turn to look at the alarm clock and silently cheer for the next three hours of sleep I'm allowed to have. And then I turn back over and see a figure standing in my doorway. The only illumination I have comes from the light of my alarm clock and the little green LED light that belongs to my phone charger so the figure is more or less a silhouette. But I could tell that it wore a cloak-type garment. It was the color that blood takes on when it dries. A dark rusty red. The figure stands there or rather hovers there, still and silent. From what I can tell, it has no legs. It has no bottom half at all. It crossed its arms, (if that's what you want to call them,) across its chest. Its stance and demeanor was like that of a monk 12 hours into meditation. Calm and unaware of anything outside itself. Not there to harm nor there to threat but just...there to be there. There to exist in that space in my bedroom...

...but it's a figure standing in my doorway. Figures don't belong in my doorways and when there are, I get scared. And when I get scared I feel outside myself. I feel like this other person that is driven by survival and pushed by the threat of harm and the reluctance to be harmed. I don't like that. The bright side is that I will fall asleep again in just a matter of seconds and wake up three hours later with little to no immediate recollection of being scared.


It's always been preached in our family to re-use towels. The theory was that after a shower, you were clean. Therefore, towels never got dirty. I had the bad habit, however, of using a new towel everyday. After a week, the pile of towels that had accumulated would start to demand my attention. One day, having left the house earlier that morning with the pile of towels, now starting to attain a mustiness, still piled on my floor, I came home and they were gone. The towels were gone and a towel hanger was now stuck to my door. On my bed was a note from my mom. It said something to the degree of, 'hang your towels,' 're-use your towels,' 'your bedroom smells,' and 'p.s. I found your weed. I'm disappointed. Love, Mom' I was to start hanging my towels on this hanger so that when I walk out of my bedroom in the morning it will be right there, in front of my face, begging to be grabbed before proceeding to the bathroom.

The first day, while the hook was still empty, I got to my room after my shower and obediently hung the towel on the hook. That was the same day that the figure started standing in my doorway. As I'm sure it's been pieced together by now, the figure in my doorway is not actually a figure at all. It's my towel hanging on the hook. So I proceeded using the hook, re-using my towels, avoiding towel piles on my floor and prevented any further lectures on towel use from my mother. Therefore, I also awoke in a split second of frightened panic almost every day somewhere between the hours of 4 and 6 a.m. So why not stop using the hook, you might ask. Because, I will answer, when you've only slightly entered consciousness after having slept for a good 4 or 5 hours, those fleeting moments where the eyes are open but the brains still have some catching up to do, shit doesn't bother me. I become the laziest motherfucker to ever occupy a bed.

Once, when my parents' house was being infested by mice, I woke up to scratching and scurrying that came from inside my walls. I turned my bedside lamp on and at the exact moment, one of the mice darted from my closet to underneath my bed. I sat frozen for a minute contemplating my options. I could get up, put on the wood stove gloves and take care of the situation right there or I could simply turn my lamp off, get back under the covers and convince myself that I was just dreaming. I opted for plan B. I always opt for plan B because during the hours of the morning when the drunks are passing out and the graveyard shift employees are counting down their final hours, I simply don't care about anything. Start a fire in my room and I might care. Burst in pointing a gun at my face and I might care. But if my life is not being threatened, it's amazing how much of a fuck I do not give.

So one morning, weeks after the figure started appearing and weeks after piles of towels started accumulating once again due to my newfound negligence of the hanger, I awoke in a haze of whatever inebriation I took part in the night before and my alarm clock told me that it was 4:13. I didn't have to work that day so I, in a voice full of gravel and phlegm, rejoiced with a "Fuck yeah." I then turned over and there I saw the figure. But it wasn't the same figure. This figure had legs and it stood in my doorway and my door was open and I knew after a few moments of confusion that this wasn't a towel. This was an actual person. It stood there, still and calm, and the green light from my phone charger illuminated teeth that were arranged in a smile which made me feel uneasy and scared.

I had always wondered what I would do if I ever encountered a ghost or some paranormal thing to which I had no idea how to interact with. I always assumed I would just regress into a childlike state of mind and hide under the covers until it went away. But this was different. It was not something I could just ignore. It was that smile. What the fuck was it smiling at? So very slowly, I reached over to turn on the lamp that sat on my bedside table. And then the figure sneezed. And then it sneezed again. And again. Suddenly I started thinking about every horror movie I ever saw and every ghost story I ever heard and never once had I seen or heard of a serial killer or monster or troll or ghost do something so human as to sneeze not just once but three times. I wasn't scared anymore. I turned on the light and there in the doorway was my mom wearing her nightgown and wiping her nose on her arm. When she looked back up her eyes stared straight ahead of her at nothing at all.

"Mom?" I asked. "Mom, what are you doing?"

"I don't know," she replied.

"Why are you in my room, you scared me."

"I don't know," she repeated.

There was a pause in which I didn't know what else to do. At this point I figured either my mom had been bitten by a zombie and already eaten my dad and my dog and was now about ready to eat me....or she was sleepwalking. The last I checked zombies neither sneezed nor spoke words so I got out of bed and tried to wake her up.

"Mom, wake up. You're sleepwalking," I said.

"Do you want a fried egg sandwhich," she asked. "I bought some spinach."

"No mom. You need to just go back to bed."

"I think Everybody Loves Raymond is on," she said.

"Ok," I told her.

I walked her upstairs and to her bedroom and she crawled right back into bed and fell back asleep.

I walked back downstairs and tried to go back to sleep myself but I was far too awake. And that pissed me off because I didn't have to work and I couldn't enjoy sleeping in. So I sat there in my bed and tried thinking about what I was going to do that day. I really just wanted to be lazy and do nothing so I decided that's what I would do. And then this scratching sound started coming from inside the walls. Starting with one or two scratches every minute or so and then progressing into persistent scratches that couldn't be ignored. I scratched back. And then I heard some rustling bags from inside my closet and it became clear that we had mice again and I was not asleep and so therefore I had to give a fuck.

I hate having to give a fuck.

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