Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Doorway

This story is in response to a @JibenNoDensetsu prompt.

The young man sat atop the smooth peak of one of the obsidian pillars, the world beneath them obscured by the cover of thick gray clouds. He leaned back, propping himself by his hands and turning his torso somewhat, his taut upper body exposed over tattered pants.

“Why is it so warm up here?” He squinted, and craned his neck, but saw nothing around him except endless black-and-blue sky. “The way the wind whips up, I should be freezing. Right?”

The being facing him was much shorter, only a few feet tall, like a child; although, as far as he understood, she was at least a few thousand years old. He thought of her as a “she,” but truly, this was just for the efficient convenience of his own mind, as her general form was difficult to describe, much less comprehend. Her body was a translucent gray-green in color, and appeared paper-thin like she had been stamped from some great sheet, yet she possessed remarkable stores of strength. He was also unsure whether her faceward protrusion was a white mask with black eye holes or, indeed, part of her actual ‘face.’ She had arms and hands (well, tips, at least, to her arms), sure, but usually hovered a bit over whatever surface she was traveling. Her ‘feet’ were typically blurry and not easily counted.

“Do not vex yourself,” she assured him, in that distinctively musical tone of hers, like a master’s blend of piano notes and cat purrs. “It would be best if you remain calm and still.”

He would try.

She hovered in front of him, rather closely. She looked to his chest, then to his eyes. “Are you ready?”

He sighed. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I suspect.”

She nodded, and looked back to his chest. There, square in the middle, was a door. A miniaturized version of a common, plain wooden door, brass hinges and knob and all, about four inches tall. The skin immediately around the frame was smooth and pinkish, uneven, like scar tissue. She leaned in even closer. With one ‘hand,’ she opened the door. With the other, she began shoving her arm deep inside the young man.

He winced, a bit, and shifted his body weight slightly from one side to the other. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this,” he said, quietly. He tried to describe the sensation to her, once: “It’s like someone reaching right into your stomach and twisting it all about, except that it now feels like your stomach is thirty feet behind you. It’s really intense, and weird, but not painful. Not at all.”

So she continued, this ‘twisting’ treatment. She kept reaching her arm inward, impossibly, more and more. He thought he could feel them, this time – the little fingers, the tiny palms, all the flesh constantly rubbing together in its sweat and heat, thousands deep.

“Here we are,” she whispered.

Then, as always, it happened so quickly: She suddenly clamped her free hand onto his shoulder, and yanked back with her other arm. There was a sound, like denim being torn. Then the sight, of a baby-like hand, wriggling and writhing, its form a mass of fingers at one end and a set of spindly, ancient roots on the other.

This one was spattered in lesions. Deep, violet marks all along the skin. As soon as he saw them, his nostrils felt assaulted by an odor, rancid and sour in its bloom.

She hunched down, holding the item in one hand, shutting his door with the other. Then she tossed the item skyward, remarkably high, hundreds of feet above them in a spinning arc. In an instant, something tore through the air, a blurry mass that snatched the root-hand away almost imperceptibly.

He sighed, and even smiled, as he rubbed the front of his door. “Thanks… again,” he said.

“My duty,” she said.

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