The Poison Doorway
never seen that other room there.”
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.
because it wasn't there before,” I tell her. “It just appeared one morning,
after the last time you were here.”
appeared'? Like out of thin air?”
I look around for my key on the side table next to my couch. “Let's go. We'll
in there?” Moira asks.
I answer, “I don't know. Come on. Let's go.”
haven't checked?” She starts to move toward it.
go there!” I snap at her.
looks at me, surprised.
see what it says over the doorway?”
looks up. There, on the top trim, is the word “Poison” in plain capital
just a word,” Moira says. “What are you worried about?”
just the word. You can't see anything beyond the doorway.”
looks again through the doorway as I step beside her, ready to restrain her if
she approaches it again.
just dark. It's black. It's darker than black. No light at all.”
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.”
doesn't understand. “Let me show you something. Stay here. Don't move.”
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.
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.
creepy. Have you told anyone?” she asks.
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?”
shuffles closer. I take hold of her hand, not forcefully, calmly but quickly so
as not to frighten her again.
I feel it. It's scary. Why is that?”
don't know. And I don't want to mess with it. Let's go.”
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.”
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.”
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.
still here,” Moira says as she walks into my living room.
look at it.”
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
do you think it came here?” she finally asks.
don't know or care. Ignore it.”
can you ignore it? This is your doorway.”
do you mean by that?”
here. It...chose this place. Your place. So it must be yours, somehow.”
crazy. It's an anomaly. A mistake.”
must be yours. It's connected to you at least. Look how it affects you. You can
barely look at it.”
you look at it too much. Stop it. I think it's driving you mad.”
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,
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.”
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.”
get up off the chair, walk to her, hold her shoulders gently. “Come on. It's
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.
Moira. Will you stop? Can we just eat in peace without talking about it?”
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.”
I don't want it here. I don't like what it's doing to you.”
can say the same thing about you, the way you cower around it.”
says 'poison' over it! It's obviously dangerous!”
How is it dangerous? Why do you say it's dangerous?”
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.”
what does it mean? Why did it do that when you got near it?”
don't know! And I don't want to find out! Please, please stop with the
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?”
throw my fork down on my dish, glare at her from across the dining room table. Defiantly,
she stares back, waiting for my answer.
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.
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?”
stand there for a moment, facing away from her, unsure how to respond. I return
to my bedroom alone.
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.
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....
I wake, she is gone.
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.
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.
thought sends ice-water running through my spine.
run to that doorway, that damned doorway with that deepest night beyond it and
the frightening word above it.
see nothing through the doorway. Nothing but black.
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.
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.
hear her whisper again.
started some time after I collapsed. She whispers from the doorway. Calling me.
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.”
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
tired, hungry, naked, I sit on the floor before the doorway, listening to Moira
call my name.
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....”
close my eyes. Reach my hand forward.
eyes open. My arm is up to the elbow in blacker-than-black. I panic and pull it
back as if burned.
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.
breathe deeply, swallow the terror, and reach inside again. Warm. The word
above is almost gone.
beckoning. “It's OK....” I believe her. Now I believe her. On hands and knees,
I crawl through....
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?
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.
laugh. I laugh at my fear. I laugh at my denial. I laugh at my darkness. I
drink it all in. My potion.
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.
© March 7, 2021 by Dionisio “Don” Traverso Jr.
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