It’s just an ordinary door. I mean, there’s nothing weird about the door itself; it looks like every other cream colored, six panel, door in this twenty year old colonial style we call home. When you were little kids, it seemed reasonable. There are some things you don’t want your littles messing around with. It could have been a model railroad in there for all we know. God, you would have wreaked havoc on something like that. Or a painting studio. Whatever.
But you and your brother, you’re teenagers now and you gotta wonder…how does this make sense? Actually, the only thing that makes you wonder about it is the whole “forbidden” factor. Your parents are pretty laidback. They don’t get on you for much, not even the time you got caught sneaking into Dorinda’s house at 2am and her dad called the cops…or the weed incident. They would just give you a look like you had kicked a puppy and that was enough to make you behave. But this was different. When you asked them about it, which you do less and less, there was always an edge to their answer. You were not to go in there. Not ever. The intriguing part though, was the emotion in their voices. When you were small you couldn’t really make that out but now it’s pretty obvious: not a threat…but fear. You catch the glances between them and you can tell its real fear. Visceral.
And so you leave it alone. It’s like having the weird aunt live with you. It’s strange but you learn to live with it; actually adds a bit of spice. As a kid, you figure every family has some weird secret and your’s was no different. That is until you told Dorinda. You weren’t allowed to tell anyone outside of the family, but seriously, how can they expect a twelve year old to hold onto something like that? Besides, Dorinda wouldn’t tell anyone. She had secrets of her own…her mother was a bad alcoholic and still managed to be a pillar of the community…until she came home for the day. That was their family’s secret and she would have been in big trouble if anyone knew she’d told you. So you were a bit surprised at her reaction. She told you how bizarre that was: to have a forbidden room in one of the houses just down the street from her. She thought it sounded like some Edgar Alan Poe shit. (You had to look him up), Dorinda was a crazy reader and she was hard to keep up with. While you were reading “The Hunger Games” she was into French literature. But after reading some of his creepy stories, yeah, you can see where she’s coming from.
Five years later and Dorinda is still your bestie; in teenage girl terms, that is a long time. She never mentioned the door to you again and you never brought it up again. Until tonight. You had both been at a pool party at Janet’s house over on Fox Meadow. Her parents were not around and someone showed up with beer. Most of the girls had never drank before so it went from a bit tentative to giggly-tipsy pretty quick.
You were tipsy too but not too tipsy to see it coming. Dorinda was with some girls that were daring each other to tell secrets. You maneuvered to get next to her so you could distract her. Your main concern was that she would tell about her mother. But before you could pull her aside, it came out and now everyone was looking at you. All you could do was glare at Dorinda and run home.
She was blowing up your phone with text messages and “I’m sorry” emoticons, but you were too furious to talk to her. No, you weren’t really mad at Dorinda. It was your own fault, you shouldn’t have told her and there is no way she did it to be mean. You’re not mad at yourself either. You are in a rage that your parents put you into this situation. What could be so damned bad that you have to put all that weight on a child. Fuck them. You’re going in to see what kind of bullshit was in there. Whatever it was sure as hell wasn’t going anywhere after all these years.
Your mom and dad had long since gone to bed when you crept out into the hallway. It was carpeted but there were a couple of places where the floor squeaked. Fortunately you’d had plenty of practice sneaking out and then back in late at night. You crept past your brother’s room. Should you get him? No. He would try to talk you out of it and likely wake your parents in the process. It was summer and so the air conditioning was running but still, it seemed strange that a cold draft was coming from under the door, you could feel it on your bare toes. Slowly, you tried the knob, it was locked of course, but not with a real key. You felt around the top of the door frame and found the hex key. You turned the key in the little opening and twisted the knob. The door swung open.
The room was cold…and empty. There was nothing, bare walls, no furniture. Nada. There was a light switch and you flipped it and a plain ceiling light came up. You opened the closet door and it too was empty. Then you flicked off the light lest someone see it. But before you turned it off you noticed something: another door. You almost missed it because it was around a corner. You walked over to it and opened it, figuring it would be another closet. But what you saw was a set of stairs, leading up. An attic? Who knew?
You crept up the stairs slowly, testing each step for squeaks until you reached the landing at the top. When you pulled out your phone and turned on the flashlight what you saw was a huge empty space that ran the length of the house. Very strange. The roof trusses were exposed and there was no insulation on the outer walls which made it feel that much bigger. And just like the room below, it was completely empty. Why would they let all this storage go to waste? You decided you had been here long enough. Your family were all light sleepers and the odds of someone getting up to use the bathroom or raid the fridge was pretty high. You could always come back tomorrow and poke around more. So as quietly as you could you reversed all your steps, being careful to lock the door and replace the hex key.
Back in your bed, you were left to ponder the why. It would almost have been better if there had been some horrible family secret in there, or maybe a cannabis farm. But no, nothing. It took a long time to get to sleep but you finally drifted off, turning it over and over again in your mind, shaking out your memory for clues.
It was a Saturday so you woke up with the sun and lay in bed stretching and enjoying the warmth of your sheets against your skin. Then you remembered Dorinda and decided you’d better answer her, you were supposed to go shopping later today and it would be better to clear the air first. Your phone was off so you turned it on and waited for the inevitable string of beeps notifying you of all the queued up text messages. But there was nothing. Odd. So you just answered her last message telling her you loved her and you knew she didn’t mean it. What? Damnit. Message failed to send. You tried again only to get the same result. Then you saw you had no bars, but why wasn’t wifi taking over? There must be something wrong with the internet router again. You got out of bed and threw on a robe and headed down the hall calling for your dad as you went. There was no answer. You shrugged and figured he must have gone off for a walk to get the paper and bagels, his usual Saturday routine. No biggie, you knew how to reset it. You opened the linen closet door where the router was and you froze. The closet was empty. It was normally stuffed full of blankets, towels and sheets but it was completely empty. Not even the router. You turned around slowly and looked down the hallway…
You went tearing through the house screaming, mom! dad! where are you? But you knew they wouldn’t be there just like you knew nothing else would be there. You ran out the front door and everything was normal, well almost. There was no furniture on the front patio. No matter you tore down the street to Dorinda’s house, banging on the door, yelling “they’re gone they’re gone! Dorinda help!” But there was no answer. You ran back toward your house knocking on every door. No one answered.
Your head was spinning and you could hardly breathe as you ran up the stairs to the second floor hallway. There was no thought process, you were in a blind panic and so almost on auto-pilot you did the only thing you could do: you went back to the forbidden room. It had to have something to do with the room right? What else could have happened? You kept dropping the key because your hands were slippery with cold sweat. When you finally opened the door, the room was still empty. Almost.
In the center of the room was a cube about a foot on each side. There was no definite color, rather it seemed like a mish mash of all colors. And it was somehow iridescent and pulsing…like it was alive. There was a sound coming from it but you couldn’t make it out. It was like a million voices talking a million miles an hour all saying the same thing. Then you remembered your phone had a voice recorder so you hit record and let it run for a few seconds. Then you hit playback and slowed it down. It was still too jumbled and you had to slow it down several times.
You were sitting on the floor crying, letting the recording run on repeat. Over and over and over again. Voices, men, women, children, your parents, your brother…Dorinda. All of them, every one of them pleading: “Help Me.”