6. A NEW EXIT

In the days following the new door incident, I tried my best to ignore the whole thing.

I’d become quite good at ignoring irrelevant matters over the years.

But this one turned out to be a tricky one.

One evening, after I had cleaned the kitchen and was about to go to bed, I went downstairs to turn off the lights in the entryway.

As I did, and everything went dark, I saw it again.

The door was back, and this time a bright light was seeping out around its contours, as if there was bright daylight at the other side.

I froze and stared at the door.

Not because I was scared, strangely enough, but because this didn’t fit in with the idea I had about my life.

The concept of me.

Up until that point, everything had had its own place, and there were very little unexpected happening.

Sure I might slip on the ice from time to time when out shopping groceries, but wearing spikes would easily take care of such unforeseen and unwanted events, and I never got seriously injuried or broke anything.

Bills were paid in time, family relationships were stable, if somewhat uneventful, and my health was pretty good for my age.

The door simply didn’t fit in, and the daylight behind it added to the feeling of disharmony.

As I stood there staring at it, the glow from around its edges slowly faded, and it was gone again.

Again, I chose to ignore it, and again, I probably added to the impact of the powers that were waiting for me just around the corner.

Behind the door, to be more exact.

I went to bed, hoping it would go away and not come back.

A few days passed with nothing strange happening, and then it struck again.

It was a Monday.

I hadn’t slept very well.

I usually try to get a good rest before the start of a new week, but as I had gone to bed the night before, I just couldn’t rest.

All kinds of thoughts kept racing through my mind.

People I hadn’t seen in decades and totally had forgotten existed, suddenly popped up in my memory.

Unimportant events from different parts of my life materialised before my inner eye.

Without any apparent reason.

When I eventually fell asleep, it was the middle of the night, and the last thing I remember thinking was that the next day would be rough.

It turned out to be an accurate prediction.

After my morning ritual, which was followed by an extra double espresso this particular morning, I went downstairs to put on my shoes, scarf and coat and leave for work.

As I was kneeling down to tie my laces, I got an eerie feeling of being watched from behind.

I turned around, still squatting on the floor, and stared at the wall where the mirror should be.

Again, I froze.

The door was wide open.

Behind it, a bright light beamed out and blinded me.

I instinctively put one hand in front of my face, and after adjusting to the light, I could see that something was standing in the doorway.

At first I couldn’t make out if it was a small person, or an animal.

It felt very much alive.

But there, in a new doorway in what used to be my familiar entryway wall, a red, shiny, triangular shape was now hovering.

Floating in the air.

Spinning slowly.

As it did, it revealed four perfectly shaped triangular sides.

I kept staring at it for what seemed like minutes.

Still kneeling, with one shoe on.

Then, to my surprise, the shape said: “Come!”

And before I could process the command, or think of a good answer, I got sucked up from the floor, lifted across the entryway, and swallowed by the formation in the doorway.

In what seemed like no time, I was inside a small, red room with triangular walls.

The bowels of the thing.

It was both claustrophobically small and endlessly vast at the same time.

I somehow couldn’t grasp where its walls began or ended, they had a kind of gradient quality to them.

Suddenly it felt as if I was moving vertically at high speed, but I couldn’t see anything that I could relate my own position to.

I kept my mouth shut, as I was still too puzzled to speak.

After a few seconds I managed to open it and ask: “Where are we going?”

“To the source”, the shape answered.

Strangely content with the answer, I kept quiet for the rest of the time that it felt like we were moving.

Then the feeling of movement abruptly stopped.

And then, without warning, the walls of the room dissolved.

That’s when I got scared.

I now found myself hanging in thin air, several hundred meters above the city.

I could see the cable-car’s upper terminal far below, and scattered clouds both around me and above me.

It was freezing cold, as if to remind me that I was physically present, and not just dreaming.

The voice of the shape appeared again, this time from inside my head.

“This is all you have.”, it said.

“A unique perspective.”

“You own nothing, not even your own personality.”

“All the ideas you have about who you are, are constructions.”

“You only have this.”

Gasping in the cold air, paralysed by vertigo, I found no response.

“Let’s have a closer look.”, the voice said, and I instantly fell towards the ground.

I tried to scream, but there was no sound.

I felt totally powerless.

Just as I thought I was about to hit a rooftop that came zooming towards me, I stopped in the middle of the air just a few meters above the house.

I recognised it.

It was my own.

But it was different somehow.

Firstly, the house seemed to be about double the size of what it actually should be.

Then, as if by magic, the roof dissolved and disappeared.

I could now see the layout of the different rooms, and everything seemed familiar. 

I looked closer, and saw that all the rooms were correctly laid out.

I had been involved in both drawing and building the house, so I knew it very well.

All the rooms were there.

All the furniture.

All the familiar mess.

Except that the outer wall facing East had been changed.

Instead of being the outer end of the house, this wall had now been replaced with a higher and much thicker inner wall.

On the other side of this new wall, the building continued for what seemed like the exact length of the original house.

And I realised that this other part was exactly identical, only it was mirrored.

I quickly scanned all the rooms to confirm that the details were correct, as if to confirm the existence of this new part of the house.

And that’s when I saw it.

In our bedroom, someone was lying on my bed.

It was me.

I quickly shifted my focus to the other side of the house.

In the mirroring bedroom, on the side of the bed that would be mine in an inverted world, someone was lying, too.

Just as I tried to focus on the person’s face, I was violently dragged back into the air.

It felt like I was sucked into a vacuum, and in a split second I found myself back inside the triangular shape with the red walls.

It hurled upwards through the air, and after a roller-coaster-like ride, it stopped, and spat me out through the new door in my entryway, which quickly faded and disappeared.

Very confused, I found myself back on the floor, kneeling, wearing only one shoe.

Knackered, I sat down on the floor.

I must have been sitting there for half an hour when I picked up my cellphone and called in to work to report that I wouldn’t be coming in today.

Afterwards, I undressed and went back to bed.

Something I had never done before.

5. THE PRESENT

I am working my way up the mountain hillside where the cable car runs on wires high above, like I’ve done so many times before.

As I gain altitude, the city draws itself out beneath me.

I love these mountains.

Always have.

I try to walk up here daily, now that I have all the time in the world again.

You see, the situation I’m in is a pretty new one.

Not like before the door opened.

After my oldest son was born, he’s 32 now, I went back to study.

To become a wireman.

At the local Polytechnic.

My interest in electronics had been with me since childhood.

I used to sit in my room and assemble little electronic kits, burning my fingers on my soldering iron.

The smell of molten lead is one of my fondest memories of the time.

Vapourised lead.

I eventually got myself a job as in repair and installation.

It’s been a career I’ve quite enjoyed, if not spectacular in any way.

We got married, bought a house near my parents’ house, then had two more kids over the years to follow.

My interest in music stayed with me as a passion, and my record collection eventually craved its own room in the house.

I loved that room.

It’s all in storage now.

As I reach the plateau at the top of the trail, I enter the small cafe at the cable-car docking station.

I buy myself a cup of green tea.

Trying to give up coffee.

There are quite a few tourists in the cafe.

They’re looking through postcards with pictures of the northern lights, our most valued natural resource.

I like that.

Magnetic shifts in the ionosphere.

That can’t be harvested, like fossil fuels.

Or maybe someday they can.

Magnetic storms could prove to be great sources of energy.

I’m sure Nicola Tesla had a plan.

I sit down by a table near the window.

I can see the whole city from here

Flickering lights.

It’s starting to get dark, even if it’s just 2PM.

November.

Sunless days.

But still brighter than five years ago.

When everything crashed.

For all I know, I should have seen it coming.

It’s not that anything had drastically changed, but little signs had emerged.

I had, for instance, taken up martial arts.

An old childhood dream.

A clear sign of mid-life crisis, I’m sure.

In parallel, at the other side of the spectrum, I had become a part-time smoker again, after more than two decades without a single cigarette.

I guess I found both these activities liberating, at some tiny scale.

But none of these changes could warn me about what came next.

It all started one seemingly normal moring.

I got up at 0645, went downstairs and made myself coffee, as any other morning.

After a quick glance through the usual websites and social media over a couple of slices of bread with cheese, I got dressed and left for work.

My wife works shifts, so she was still fast asleep, and all the kids had moved out, which had left me to enjoy the solitude surrounding my daily rituas.

Just as I was about to walk downstairs, I saw it.

The door.

At first I just stood there, staring at it.

We have lived in this house for almost two decades.

And there has never before been a door there.

This might sound unbelievable to you, and I’m not going to lie to you; 

I will lie to you.

Lies are part of my story.

Like they’re part of the stories of most people I know.

But what I’m telling you is true.

A door had appeared at the entryway wall, where before there had only been a small mirror, and a couple of family photos in black and white.

As the initial puzzlement passed, I came to my senses, and chose to ignore it.

I hurried past it, caught my coat, left the house, and went to work, like nothing unusual had happened.

Something I would later regret.

4. MY FIRST STORY (THE FOOL)

My story is simple, really.

I was born in a small arctic town.

Back in the sixties.

My father was a captain at sea, while my mom was at home looking after me and my two brothers.

I had a fairly pleasant childhood, though I found it a bit empty and lonely at times.

So when I reached my teens, my main ambition was to get away.

And become someone else.

But I never left this place.

In fact, I still live only a stone’s throw from the red brick building where I was born.

Every time I tried to get away, some unexpected obstacle would appear, and prevent me from going anywhere.

Almost mysteriously, like at the hand of some invisible ghost.

The urge to dream up a new existence wasn’t because the one I had was unbearable in any way.

It was just that my adolescent life seemed to provide the perfect canvas to create something new upon.

So at 18, I decided that the best thing would be to leave and start again somewhere else. 

I attempted to move south, to the big city.

It seemed like a place of opportunities.

I got myself a job as a mailman, and spent most of the money I earned on buying records, and going out to see bands play live in dark clubs.

But I soon got caught in a loop, and after a few months I couldn’t get up in the morning, and just stopped turning up to work.

Needless to say, I was fired, and money soon ran out.

I decided it was the wrong city for me, and returned to my hometown.

Back home, I got myself a new job as a salesman at a local records store.

We were selling 12-inch dance singles to DJ’s, and progressive rock LP’s to middle-aged men.

And cassette tapes with mainstream eighties pop to teenagers.

It was a job I quite enjoyed.

After all, music was my main passion at the time.

But because I bought so many records for myself, I still didn’t earn much money.

One month, when I went to pick up my paycheque, an amused manager told me that I actually owned HIM money, due to the amount of records I’d picked out for myself.

So I left his office as broke as I entered.

Even if life was pretty good, due to the job, and the fact that I was in a lovely relationship with a new girlfriend, I still didn’t think the setup was right for me.

So I made new plans.

This time, I set my eyes on Berlin.

It seemed to be the European city where the most interesting music were made at the time, and an interesting place to live due to being this strange western island situated deep inside the Eastern Bloc.

This was before the wall fell.

So I quit my job and sold most of my stuff, and told my girlfriend that I needed some space, and that we would have to see where things headed.

She agreed.

But just when I was about to leave, she told me that she was pregnant.

So I stayed.

As any decent man would.

3. THE MIND MACHINE

I am five years old, and I’m asleep in a cabin on my father’s ship. 

In the middle of the night, I suddenly wake up. 

It is dark outside, and the ship is moving slowly through the black waters. 

I get out of bed and exit the cabin into an empty corridor. 

The ship seems to be abandoned. 

All I can hear is a low, humming noise coming from somewhere above my head. 

I find the stairs and climb towards the sound. 

The sound seems to enter my consciousness from within my mind, and not through my ears. 

At the top of the stairs, I find myself at the bridge of the ship. 

It seems to be empty, but I can feel a strong presence of someone else being in the room. 

The humming sound has now turned into a modulated, muffled sequence, like some incomprehensible language, and I realise that the sound and the presence I  have been sensing is coming from across the room. 

I look around, but there is no-one to be seen. 

But as I look towards the navigational instruments lined up in front of the bridge, it strikes me. 

The sound is the voice of the radar console, shining its flickering green light into the darkness, trying to tell me its secrets.

2. BECOMING TWO

I am sitting on one of the thick branches of a large tree.

The tree is dark and old, and carry no leaves, yet it seems to be very much alive.

I somehow get the feeling the tree might be able to live forever, although I myself don’t feel particularly immortal sitting in it.

A young girl is looking up at me from another branch down below me.

She is very upset, and tears are rolling down her cheeks.

Deep within I know this is my doing.

1. IN THE BEGINNING

A vast desert landscape.

The sky is foggy, and the features of the place fade into a blur in every direction, making it seem without limits.

A young man slowly emerges from the distance, walking barefoot across the sand.

He wears an orange robe and carries a staff in his right hand.

His face seems old. His head is shaven. His gaze clear.

The young man comes to a halt, raises his staff, and parts his lips.

A slow, strong tone builds up from deep within his lungs, resonates through his throat, and spreads out across the landscape.

As the sound grows louder, the grains of sand begin to move, and rise up into the air.

Gradually, different formations emerge in the air around him.

The shapes flicker in and out of form, then begin to glow in colorful patterns as his voice raises to an unbelievable strength.

And then everything snaps into existence.

As I’m walking through the city today, I have forgotten all of the above.