At my first apartment in Toronto, I had a neighbour I will never forget. His room was impossible to miss. It looked like the containment cell where they kept The Incredible Hulk. The door hung off a single hinge, the wood along the edges smashed into splinters, and had enough filled-in foot-shaped holes that it was now made as much of putty as it was of wood. There was a handle, as well, but it didn’t seem to get much use.
His was the room directly across from the elevator, and so the first thing a new resident would see when moving in. It didn’t make a great first impression.
We met him when my roommate moved in. His mother had come along to help and was already in a panic. This was her eldest son, leaving her protection for the first time. She made the mistake of checking the news to see what kind of neighbourhood we were moving into, and was now convinced that, the next time she saw her son, he would riddled with bullets and heroin needles.
The shattered door didn’t make her feel any better. “That’s a crack den,” she said, pointing at it knowingly. She had learned about them on W5. “They’re all over Toronto. People come over for a crack party, and then they never leave.”
She made us promise never to invite anyone over for crack. It was a bad sign. In the morning she had been worried that we might not stay focused on our studies. Within two hours, she had deteriorated to the point that she accepted it as inevitable that we would become addicted to crack, and just wanted to make sure we were clear on the appropriate etiquette.
Five days ago, I read a witty e-mail from a man named Andrew Gardner. To amuse myself, I typed up a silly answer. It’s something I’ve done a few times in the past, but this was the first time I ever decided to hit “send”.
I did not expect that, by Monday, it would be on Boing Boing. Or that, by Tuesday, it would be on Toronto Life, The Huffington Post, and getting tweeted by over a thousand people. Or that, by Wednesday, I’d be sitting at work trying to hide that I’m reading articles in the Star and the Globe and Mail about how Shoppers Drug Mart is trying to find me and can’t prove that I exist.
The joke was a lot funnier coming from a company than from some guy who wants you to pay attention to him, but I started feeling like I was actively lying to my employers. So, if I have to be honest, I might as well get some self-promotion. This is, after all, the closest thing I’ll have to a celebrity sex tape.
I am a writer, or, at least, am a writer in the way your friend who works in Customer Service but tells people he’s a writer is a writer. This a site where you can read things I’ve written.
I have also set up a Twitter, because apparently people on Twitter like the story. Maybe I will post some tweets. Maybe there will be Instagram photos of things I eat.
I hope you enjoy it.
Start at Day 1
That night he laid in bed unsleeping for hours. He was watching a single cockroach crawling along the hardwood floor. It traced its way up the stale white walls and climbed up to the roof, directly above him. Then it clung there, a solitary black dot in an empty field of white, and didn’t move.
He all red
in the living room. The drapes were open, but the window was a thick, oily black, and it seemed to be dripping. The anything outside of the room was lost in a darkness the light couldn’t penetrate.
A train of black insects were crawling in from the dark, each one a featureless speck as black as the dar
kness they had come from. At first it was just a few trickling in, but then they came in hordes, specks of darkness converging toward him and devouring the light on the way. Brennan tried to run, tried to escape the blackness, but there was nowhere to go. Then it caved in on him and it was complete.
He could feel the movement of a thousand flies and worms crawling along his skin. The thin hairy legs of insects were scratching against every inch of his body. Trails of mucus scum slid across him. They just wandered at first, tracing the contours of his flesh and sliding through any open cavities they could find. Then every one of them inched its way down and climbed off his foot.
He was completely alone in total blackness, naked now, cold and shivering. Traces of residual grime still tainted his bare skin. He knelt down and clutched his body to fight off the chill running through his spine.
Then a dead, rancid flesh it was
u d a boy coated in a thick layer of some black oozing liquid, as though he had been drowned in motor oil. He was no bigger than a toddler. He stared at him with his featureless face, blank and motionless. A thick drop of the black sludge slipped to the tip of his nose. It hung there for a moment, shaking and glistening, until it snapped. Then it came crashing down and splattered on the floor.
Start at Day 1
That night he was in and then they d r a g g e d him into the .
“Stop it, stop kept pushing and pushing tight confined couldn’t breathe
pounded and pounded and pounded and pounded and pounded and pounded and
the key the door the key the door
and then he woke up.
He couldn’t remember what he’d dreamt, except that he was all alone in a tight space and he couldn’t breathe. He remembered trying to move, but he was completely encased inside of a space so small that he couldn’t bend his knees. And he remembered two tall, dark figures dragging him in there and locking the door.
In the morning he had a horrible ache in the pit of his spine and on the balls of his knees. Though he’d just woken up, he felt exhausted. For a long time just laid in bed not thinking of much of anything at all. Then the alarm on his cell phone went off and he forced himself out of bed.
The Locked Door is a five-part work-in-progress that I intend to upload bit by bit over the next few weeks. This is not a final draft.
THE LOCKED DOOR
Down the decayed wooden steps, in the deep dark of the basement there was an old wooden door. It was carved out of thick oak planks withered into rotted tatters through years of deterioration and decay. A faded coat of fire brick red paint had slipped and left colourless streaks and scratches in its place. It was split with crooked tremors and black holes torn by termites and vermin. The smell of rot emanated out of every inch of it.
On the edge of the door there was a round iron handle that had corroded to a dead red shade of rust. And there below it was an old brass keyhole no wider than a man’s thumb.
You know Lori-Anne, right? Malcolm’s wife, the blonde bimbo who looked forty last week and thirty this week but still tells people she doesn’t use Botox? There’s a laugh if I ever had one. She could do Carnegie Hall with jokes like that.
You would not believe what she put me through!
So, the other day, I was just running a few errands, you know, picked up some KD for the kids and stopped by David Newman’s to get my hair fixed – are you going to David now? He’s good, isn’t he? I’m supposed to stop, what with keeping on a budget and all, but I just can’t feel good if I don’t look good, you know what I mean? As far as Brian knows I got it cut by one of those Barber College kids, so keep that one between you and me, but I mean, God, I wouldn’t even be able to step outside if I let one of those kids butcher my hair.
The lights in the white house were still out when he came back. The driveway was still empty and there wasn’t a single sound coming from inside.
He went up the path to the front door, a black duffel bag hanging from his shoulder. The door was stained oak and it had a small decorative stained glass window at the top, but it used a simple pin and tumble lock. He slid the tension wrench in and when he twisted it to the left there was a little give. He slid the pick in and raked it slowly along the pins. He worked each one carefully until they were all in place and when he turned the tension wrench all the way the door came open.