Black Petals Issue #96, Summer, 2021

The Poison Doorway
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Ort's Last Undertaking-Fiction by Taylor Hood
Sail Away-Fiction by Chris Allyne
Sleeping Again-Fiction by Russ Bickerstaff
The Poison Doorway-Fiction by Dionosio Traverso Jr.
The Tick Bite-Fiction by Robb T. White
Bake Sale Inspiration-Flash Fiction by Samantha Carr
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The Bravest Ant-Poem by Mehmet Akgonul
Ain't Alien Spores-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Giant Goldfish-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Igopogo-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Megamouth Has Cavities-Poem by Richard Stevenson

96_bp_poisondoorway_hstanton.jpg
Art by Henry Stanton 2021

The Poison Doorway

by

Dionisio “Don” Traverso Jr.

 

 

“I've never seen that other room there.”

Moira looks at the new doorway, there off to the side of my living room, between my bookshelves filled with the works of Kurt Vonnegut, Harlan Ellison, Dennis Lahane, Franz Kafka, Homer and Jorge Luis Borges.

“That's because it wasn't there before,” I tell her. “It just appeared one morning, after the last time you were here.”

“'Just appeared'? Like out of thin air?”

“Yep.” I look around for my key on the side table next to my couch. “Let's go. We'll be late.”

“What's in there?” Moira asks.

Reluctantly, I answer, “I don't know. Come on. Let's go.”

“You haven't checked?” She starts to move toward it.

“Don't go there!” I snap at her.

She looks at me, surprised.

“Why not?”

“You see what it says over the doorway?”

She looks up. There, on the top trim, is the word “Poison” in plain capital letters.

“It's just a word,” Moira says. “What are you worried about?”

“Not just the word. You can't see anything beyond the doorway.”

She looks again through the doorway as I step beside her, ready to restrain her if she approaches it again.

“It's dark.”

“Not just dark. It's black. It's darker than black. No light at all.”

“OK. Then just reach in and turn on the light. There has to be a switch just inside, by the doorway, just like in the other rooms here.”

She doesn't understand. “Let me show you something. Stay here. Don't move.”

I rummage through a kitchen drawer and bring back a flashlight. I turn it on, pointing it toward the ceiling. “See how bright this is?” I ask. We both look at the circle of light on the ceiling, so bright we can see it even though my curtains are drawn back from my living room windows and the sun is shining brightly. “Now watch.” I point the flashlight through the doorway.

Beyond the doorway, it is still dark. Before she can suggest it, I ask Moira to draw the curtains and turn off all the lights in the adjoining rooms. I shine the light through the doorway again. We can see the beam end there, at its threshold. The deeper-than-dark doesn't change. With the windows shaded and lights off, the living room looks brightly lit in comparison.

“That’s creepy. Have you told anyone?” she asks.

“You're the first to see it, besides me. I don't like to go near it. When I do I feel...panic. Like it's dangerous. Don't you feel it?”

Mona shuffles closer. I take hold of her hand, not forcefully, calmly but quickly so as not to frighten her again.

“Yeah. I feel it. It's scary. Why is that?”

“I don't know. And I don't want to mess with it. Let's go.”

“Aren't you curious?”

“It says “poison” over it. It's darker than dark. It feels bad. That's all I need to know. Just leave it be. Let's go. Please.”

She turns her body toward me, but still peers through the doorway, searching for any ambient light. She won't find any. “OK.” Her voice is barely audible as she says it, almost a whisper. “Let's go.”

We leave the house and get into my car. She's silent the whole trip to the restaurant, staring through the windshield but not seeing the street.

*

“It's still here,” Moira says as she walks into my living room.

“Don't look at it.”

But she does. I sigh, sit on the easy chair I had set up to the side of the doorway, far enough that I don't feel the panic, close enough to stop her from walking through.

“Why do you think it came here?” she finally asks.

“I don't know or care. Ignore it.”

“How can you ignore it? This is your doorway.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“It's here. It...chose this place. Your place. So it must be yours, somehow.”

“That's crazy. It's an anomaly. A mistake.”

“It must be yours. It's connected to you at least. Look how it affects you. You can barely look at it.”

“And you look at it too much. Stop it. I think it's driving you mad.”

“No.” Moira shakes her head, standing in front of it again. “I feel like it belongs to you. When I'm near it, I feel like...like the first time we had gone out together alone. I was nervous, frightened. I knew you, but I didn't know you, not really.”

“I felt the same way. I'd seen you around. Talked to you when we were out with our friends. Alone with you, I'd realized how little I'd really knew about you.”

“That's right.” She gazes into that deepest dark silently for a moment. “That's how I feel with this. I'm scared, but I want to know more.”

I get up off the chair, walk to her, hold her shoulders gently. “Come on. It's late.”

“Can I stay?”

Moira has spent more time at my place since seeing the doorway. I would enjoy it more without her obsession with it. I let her stay, steering her toward my bedroom. We undress and lay down on my bed. As with every other night she's spent here, she just holds me until she falls asleep.

*

“Why 'poison'?”

“Jesus, Moira. Will you stop? Can we just eat in peace without talking about it?”

“I can't believe you don't want to know. This thing, this wondrous thing just appears in your house and you want nothing to do with it.”

“Right. I don't want it here. I don't like what it's doing to you.”

“I can say the same thing about you, the way you cower around it.”

“It says 'poison' over it! It's obviously dangerous!”

“How? How is it dangerous? Why do you say it's dangerous?”

“When it first appeared, when I first approached it, I felt...I've told you this already. Then the word appeared over it, faded in like a caption in a movie. It's like it was warning me.”

“But what does it mean? Why did it do that when you got near it?”

“I don't know! And I don't want to find out! Please, please stop with the doorway!”

“Right. If you don't want to know anything about it, if you don't want it here anymore, why haven't you done anything about getting rid of it? Why haven't you boarded it up, blocked with furniture, anything?”

I throw my fork down on my dish, glare at her from across the dining room table. Defiantly, she stares back, waiting for my answer.

I have none.

I get up and stomp off to my bedroom, slamming the door behind me. I throw myself onto the bed, stare at the ceiling. Remember the word fading into view as I had approached the doorway that first time, that feeling like I was teetering on the edge of a deep endless pit. I push the memory out of my mind, try to empty my thoughts, but a static fuzz of anger, confusion and fear remains, an oppressive white noise crushing my whole body.

A couple of hours later, I leave my bedroom. I find Moira sitting astride one of my dining room chairs, arms folded across the top of its high back, facing the doorway, staring as usual. I sigh, turn back, when she says, “You know, 'poison' has its root in an Old French word meaning 'potion' or 'drink'. But you don't care, do you?”

I stand there for a moment, facing away from her, unsure how to respond. I return to my bedroom alone.

*

One day, yet another day of us not speaking to each other, of her staring at the doorway for hours from that chair she had set in front of it, of me sitting in my easy chair off to the side watching out for her, Moira suddenly gets up and walks into the kitchen. I glance at her, then continue to read my book, Gide's and Barrault's dramatization of “The Trial”. A few minutes later, I hear her return to the living room. I glance again, then look up, startled.

Moira is nude, standing before me. She takes the book from my hands and drops it on the ground. Pulls me up from my chair, untucks my shirt and pulls it off over my head. I try to kiss her, but she avoids me, crouching down to undo my pants. I manage to kick off my shoes before she roughly tugs my pants and underwear off together. I haven't stepped out of them before she takes me in her mouth. I gasp, my penis swelling quickly as her tongue plays along its length. When I'm fully erect, she pulls away, then guides me to her chair in front of the doorway, sitting me down but still dodging my kisses. I feel the panic, the fear emanating from behind me, but Moira takes my penis and slowly straddles it, the sensation erasing all others from me. She grinds against me, faster, harder. Her hands hold my shoulders back, keeps me from touching her body with my lips. I begin to orgasm, but she stops, as if cued to my reactions. Waits until I'm no longer on the brink, then begins swiveling her hips again, slowly at first, then building speed. All the while I see her eyes transfixed on the doorway behind me. I feel the panic again, then, seeing her staring at that damned doorway, I feel anger, and I want to rise up from the chair, taking her with me, and stab myself as deeply as I can into her. I want to make her cry out, to scream as I bury myself inside her, batter her with my body. As I grip her hips, I match her thrusts, hear our skins slap, hear her moan as I violently push myself further. She cries out, and it snaps me back, make me feel horror, shame for what I had intended to do. I start to lose my erection, but Moira grabs the base of my shaft, pulls it out and caresses the tip of my penis across her labia. She caresses my face with her free hand, saying, “Ssshhh. Ssshhh. It's OK. Ssshhh.” The fear, horror, shame drains from me, from my eyes as my tears flow down. I am hard again, and am engulfed by her once more. Her motions become wild, frantic. Her fingers dig into my shoulders. Her arms wrap around my neck as she lowers herself down, breasts pressed against my chest, hips furiously pounding away at mine, and as I explode inside her, as I feel the flooding warmth from her, feel the pulsating grip of her vaginal muscles holding me, she clamps her mouth onto mine, tongue writhing with mine as she groans into me, into my very core. She pulls her mouth away with a cry, hugs her whole body tightly against mine, even my penis being held tightly inside her. She rests her head on my shoulder, and I know she's staring into the doorway. As I start to fall asleep, I keep thinking of how much that doorway had excited her, and how jealous that makes me feel....

*

When I wake, she is gone.

I get up from the chair and call for her. Moira doesn't answer. In the bedroom I find her clothes on the floor where she left them. She isn't in the bathroom.

“Moira?”

I look around the bedroom. None of the clothes she's left there over the past few weeks are missing. I check every room in the house. There's no trace of her, no indication that she had gotten dressed and left.

A thought sends ice-water running through my spine.

I run to that doorway, that damned doorway with that deepest night beyond it and the frightening word above it.

“Moira!”

I see nothing through the doorway. Nothing but black.

Moira!

No answer. But I know she did it. I know she went in there while I slept. Fear, panic shakes my body. God, no, no. She stepped through and now is gone forever.

Moira!!!

I fall to the ground, sobbing. I've lost her. Because of this...this thing, this doorway to envenomed ebon nothingness. Because I denied it. Because I feared it. I felt and still feel its power to destroy me. I should have let it. If I had, it wouldn't have taken Moira. Something else joins the fear and panic in my stomach, fills my body and escapes from my mouth in a loud wail, raking through my guts and lungs like razorwire.

*

I hear her whisper again.

It started some time after I collapsed. She whispers from the doorway. Calling me.

I stumble around the house, try to read, to listen to music, to do anything to drown out the whispers. It's no use. I can still hear her, saying “Come. It's OK. Come here.”

I want to go through the doorway. I ponder it, edging closer to it, and then the terror takes over and I back away. I sometimes try to shut out her voice, my hands pressed against my ears like I'm trying to squeeze my brain out through my skull.

Now, tired, hungry, naked, I sit on the floor before the doorway, listening to Moira call my name.

I gaze again into the void. Nietzsche comes to mind, then Borges and Ellison. The fear returns, the panic. Moira, calling me. Tired. Scared. “Poison” it says. She whispers to me. “It's OK. It's OK....”

I close my eyes. Reach my hand forward.

Warm.

My eyes open. My arm is up to the elbow in blacker-than-black. I panic and pull it back as if burned.

But I'm not burned. The panic fades but the fear remains. I look up over the doorway. The word's fading, wavering as if being washed away.

I breathe deeply, swallow the terror, and reach inside again. Warm. The word above is almost gone.

Moira, beckoning. “It's OK....” I believe her. Now I believe her. On hands and knees, I crawl through....

Warmth, through my whole body, tingling like electricity. My fatigue leaves me, and I stand. Through the dark I see points of light, a few first, then more shining through. I can see my hands, my body clearly. My feet seem to rest on nothing but darkness. I feel dizzy, lightheaded, at the thought of being suspended in...space? The void?

But it's more than that. Energy sings through my limbs. Moira is right. I know that now. This does belong to me. I look at the stars around me. I reach out my hand, and I know I can move them. I swirl them into galaxies, compact them until they swallow themselves, explode them then create them from their own debris. This excites me until I'm fully erect. I growl, roar with delight. I run, stirring the stars about, leaping through the shining clusters I've created. I want to dance and fight. I want to fuck and make love. I want to destroy and create.

I laugh. I laugh at my fear. I laugh at my denial. I laugh at my darkness. I drink it all in. My potion.

And there she is. Moira, who knew, more than I, kneeling before me. The stars illumine her body, but she seems to have her own glow. She sees me, smiles. Tears fall from her eyes like comets dropping to earth. She holds out her hands to me. I take them, pull her to me. Hold her close, a hand buried in her hair as I enter her and she wraps her legs around me. I stroke, grasp, clench the stars in her hair. The stars.

 

THE END

copyright March 7, 2021 by Dionisio “Don” Traverso Jr.

Don currently lives in middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin with his partner and muse, two children, and a cat. His stories have been published with the byline of Don Traverso in Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine, Aberations, Midnight Zoo, Cheapjack Pulp, and Armageddon Buffet. He currently has a themed short story collection out, Tales From Walken County. He also makes rhythmic noise as Mekano 46

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