Of Tea and Twisted Hinges

A white door stands at the end of a long hallway in my mind.
There is an object on the door and some lettering.
I walked closer to see. Odd. The paint on the door looks
fresh. The object is a red cross. A sign above the door
reads “Intensive Care.” A small gold plate hangs below the
cross and says “Unavailable.”

The door swings open beckoning me to enter. I walk in.
What a nice room! A quiet sitting room. Warmly decorated.
There’s a table set for afternoon tea. There are no windows
or lamps, but the room is filled with light.

I couldn’t help but notice the elaborate arch in rich dark wood.
Then I saw them. Angelic hosts standing on either side of
the arch. They appeared to be guarding the hallway. Their
wings go from the top of the arch to the floor. And they
wore swords that were as tall as I. I feel weak.

Much to my surprise they let me pass. There are a few other
doors. All closed. No, the one at the end of the hall is ajar.
I can see the light in the room. I stick my head in. Well,
there is someone in bed. All curled up with the covers pulled
tight. Looks like a man. My eyes move to the night stand.

A pair of eyeglasses. They look like mine. What? That’s
my watch! O dear God… I’m on both sides of the door.

Then I see the other man. Why didn’t I notice him at first?
Was he there the whole time? He is kneeling in prayer at
the far side of the bed. I can only see his long thick dark
hair. He’s lifting his head. His deep blue eyes pierce my
heart. I bolt for the hallway.

My heart is beating so loudly my head hurts. My thoughts
cannot tell joy from sorrow and seem to meet in
a very wounded place. A place where darkness taunts me
and my confused feelings flicker down the highway of my
mind. Like neon signs you pass in the night:

“Not sure.
I don’t know.
Not sure.
I don’t know.”

Another entrance appears in the hallway. But there is no door,
just twisted hinges. Incense burns on an altar in the center
of the room filling the hallway with the sweet smells of
Babylon. Two black candles burn dimly in the darkness.
The room appears to be empty, but I can tell it is full.

My thoughts head down a side road where a bold
“DO NOT ENTER” sign is affixed high on a chain link fence.
As I stare at the sign, I hear myself groan from my bed.
My bones ache. My mouth is dry.

Oh, no! I could feel it in my soul… it was I who ripped the
door off its hinges and entered that dreaded room.
Somehow I could sense that the praying man at my bedside
was standing bathed in the purest light.

A woman’s laughter fills the room of twisted hinges.
The breath of demons freezes in the cold air above the candles.
She licks the air. Perspiration pours over her parted lips
as she smiles in the darkness. Her eyes open black on black.
Fear grips my soul; my feet won’t move. I hear a
scream and realize that it is mine. I collapse to the floor.
Inaudible prayers well up from deep within my soul.

I awakened in the bright outer room in front of the archway.
The table was filled with little cakes and fruit. That same
praying man poured our tea and gently placed his hand on my
shoulder. As I felt his touch, I wept. For I knew I went where
I was not to go. I entered that dark room. I wept. He held me.
Then, my eyes were drawn back down the hallway.

The door to the bedroom was open but the bed was empty.
The nightstand was bare. Suddenly, there was a great noise.
Of wings beating the air. Then screams. Seconds or hours?
I couldn’t tell.

The whole area filled with winged warriors who knelt leaning
on the hilts of their swords facing the man who had poured my
tea. The blood of demons ran down their swords, only to hiss
like water turning to steam when it dripped on the floor.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

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