The Void

John was a very curious 18-year-old, so no locked doors for him.
When his family rented a cottage in the mountains, the owner made sure to tell them a room was off limits. No off-limits room for John, if you want to call his attention, just tell him he can’t get somewhere, he’ll be sure to try.
His daddy went hunting and his mom went to the grocery store in town, and John went to work. He got a card and tried to open the door, to no avail. Next he got some pliers and a screwdriver and started messing with the lock with a vengeance. It took him quite a while, but he finally got the door unlocked. He pushed the door and before he realized it he was inside a dimly-lit room. He didn’t feel he stepped into the room; it was more like a transition from the outside to the inside.
The room was completely empty, no furniture, nothing, it didn’t even have a window so no light could come in. He couldn’t understand why an empty room was off limits. What was the point? He looked around once more, nothing. He decided to leave the empty place, so he turned around and started walking towards the door, but where was it? Such a tiny room, it should be easy enough to find a door, “goddamn it”, he thought.
He started groping the wall around him in search of the door, but there was no door at all. “It can’t be.” He remembered there was an eerie light when he was transitioned into the room, but now, it was pitch-dark.
If it was such a tiny room, how come now he was feeling the wall, but it seemed endless, it seemed the wall went on forever and ever. The room didn’t seem tiny any more. He didn’t want to shout to his parents to let him out, at least not yet. But he was getting very agitated. How long had he been here? One hour already? More? Less? It was ridiculous!
Maybe the door didn’t have a handle on the inside and so he was mistaking it for the wall itself. Well, long enough, time to start screaming. He screamed and screamed until he got hoarse, but it was useless.
He decided to fumble around the wall again for the door. So he started walking in the direction of the wall, and walked, and walked and walked, but no wall! He started running, but it seemed he was running in place. He couldn’t get anywhere, anywhere!
He eventually got tired, and sat down on the floor.
“It can’t be! Where am I? What is this place? Where is the wall? It has to be here!”
He got up and started running again until he fell exhausted. It was endless, endless, he couldn’t get anywhere.
Shouldn’t he be hungry by now? Well, he wasn’t. It seemed he had been in the tiny, endless, dimensionless room forever, but he wasn’t hungry at all. And it was dark, so dark, so gloomy, like an abyss. Jean Paul Sartre said: “when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” That’s exactly how John felt right now. He felt eyes everywhere in the darkness staring at and into him, like they knew him inside out.
Curiosity killed the cat.
John was no cat, but maybe the cat had a better fate than his. “Kill me already”, he shouted, “Just kill me, nothing is worse than nothingness! If there is a monster here, devour me already, whatever; just get me out of this void, please!”
After a while John couldn’t feel his legs anymore, or himself for that matter. That total darkness started playing tricks on his senses. Was this tiny room some kind of sensory deprivation chamber? Time passed… or did it?
He knew he was a bad boy, horrible actually. They had decided to bring him to the cottage not only for a vacation, but because he was so bad nobody could stand him. Not his classmates, not his little sister, not his grandparents. They actually said he was “evil”. Can you believe it? Okay, he was bad, but evil? His grandfather said he was surely a serial killer in the making since he tortured animals when he was little and according to everybody, or most people, he… was… evil. Was he? Did he deserve this fate?
Should he be hungry, thirsty, sleepy, how much time had passed? Time? He had no concept of time anymore. The only concept he had now was of horror, indescribable horror, loneliness… He missed everybody, no matter how obnoxious some of them could be. He existed, but now, where was his body? Was he crazy now?
He couldn’t feel anything anymore, except he existed somewhere. He couldn’t talk anymore. He had tried. Maybe he screamed so long and so often he’d lost his voice. He didn’t know, but now he had lost everything. He couldn’t see a thing, he couldn’t smell a thing, he didn’t feel the floor or the wall, he was nothingness inside a void, but… he thought, he remembered, he remembered how evil he was. Was this some kind of punishment? If it was, no punishment could be crueler.
Where were his parents right now? The police didn’t even try to pry open the door for sure. His parents were probably celebrating the fact they didn’t have to put up with him anymore, and his little sister was probably jumping for joy because she didn’t have to be hit by him all the time, and once, he pushed her down the stairs and she ended up in the hospital. She’d broken her leg and arm and nose. Did he regret what he had done? Not at the time, but now, he was sure this was punishment. The god of revenge had finally caught up with him.
“God, oh, God, give me death, swift death, please! Anything but nothingness. This void is driving me crazier than I ever was. Just give me unconsciousness, sweet unconsciousness; I want to sleep, please, at least once. Why can’t I sleep? Why don’t I need any food? Have I died? Am I dead? Dead and conscious? They say vampires are the undead. No way, they are alive, a different kind of life, but alive nonetheless. Why? Because they think, they have a mind, they feel, they know they are”
. Descartes said, “Cogito ergo sum: I think therefore I am.” Oh, yes, he certainly was. How about him? What was he? Just awareness of nothingness. Was it life? Was it death? What was it?
He was thinking all the time. Remembering all the bad things he had done all his life. Yeah, he admitted now, he was evil. He was a very bad boy. He often wondered why Santa gave him gifts every Christmas when he was a boy, because he was naughty. Later he simply knew his parents had given him the gifts, not Santa. He didn’t deserve any gifts.
Why did he like hurting everybody around him? Why?
“I promise, Lord, if I ever get out of here, I’ll change, I’ll be a good boy.”
Well, nothing, nothing, nothing. And he couldn’t sleep, he couldn’t stop thinking about all the bad things he’d done. Did he deserve this? Well, torture would have been much better. Hell with all its purported tortures was better than this.
“Come on, devil, give me your worse”, he thought.
Suddenly he felt something for the first time in what felt like centuries. He hadn’t felt the floor in quite some time but now, he was falling! Falling, falling, he’d certainly crash down somewhere, crash what, where? He didn’t have a body at all, he just felt he was falling, falling, falling forever. It was horrible, first nothingness, the void, now he felt like a fallen angel, but in his case, he was a fallen demon, if that is even something possible. And he fell and fell.
Suddenly he felt his whole body at once, all of it, but strange, it was a very strange body and he heard a big slap and started to cry and opened his eyes. He saw a man staring at him, and the man took him and put him close to a woman in bed. He looked up and it was his mother! He couldn’t speak at all, but he looked down and he was a baby again! His life was starting all over, he couldn’t speak, but he remembered everything.
He started growing up again, but this time around he made sure he would be a very good boy, very good indeed.
There was only one problem with him. He was morbidly afraid of locked doors. Even though he was taken to a therapist, he couldn’t bring himself to say why he was afraid of locked rooms. People had to live with that and so did he. He never told a soul about his previous life, before the cottage and the locked door. Not a soul.
One day his parents told him they had rented a cottage in the mountain and they were all going to spend some time there, his sister would go too and some of his school friends and his dog Puppy, he was an old dog, but that was his name. He didn’t want to go back to the therapist so even though he dreaded even thinking about the cottage, he didn’t say a word to anybody.
Everybody noticed he was reticent, silent, strange all the way to the cottage, but they felt he’d cheer up once he got there. They finally got to the cottage after a 4-hour drive. When the same man who had told them about the locked door told them about it again, he almost lost it there and then. But as long as he never, never, tried to open the door, he’d be fine, he told himself.
His mom told him she was thinking of unlocking the door because she was dying of curiosity. He had a fit. “No, Mom!”
He woke up on a Sunday and he felt he was alone in the cottage. Just like the first time around. He didn’t want to go to the room, the tiny, endless room, but something was kind of dragging him there, he wouldn’t go in, no way. But he wanted to, he had to, he was compelled to just look at the door.
He started walking up the dreaded stairs. He stopped a hundred times on his way up thinking he was probably crazy. How could he even contemplate the idea of looking at the door? That would be too much of a torture, but he pushed himself up, he inched his way all the way up and finally he got to the landing, looked left and moved no faster than a slug to the frightful room.
He saw it, right there, at the end of the hall.
He plodded on and on and finally stood in front of the door. Just looking at it gave him the heebie-jeebies. He felt a cold feeling climb up his spine, he had pins and needles all over, but he forced himself to look at the door. Just a door, yeah, just a door, but he would never, never try to open it. Never!
He noticed something on top of the door, actually on the wall just above it. There was lettering there. Old lettering, words, it was very hard to see the words because they were fading away, but he kept staring and staring and he was finally able to read them, they were backward, but he could understand them perfectly, they said, “DNOCES ECNAHC.”

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