Behind A Thousand Doors
The Abysmal Dollhouse
The sweat ran out of Roger’s body, soaking his once crisp white shirt, black slacks, black socks, black shoes. His wispy hair was plastered down as salty drippings ran into his eyes, irritating and momentarily disrupting his eyesight. Wipe, drip, blink, repeat. Roger’s breath rasped loudly; the combination of the extreme muggy heat did not mix well with his pell-mell running. Roger ran. He had to. The sound of thumping footsteps followed, closer and closer still.
Bursting through a door, Roger found himself in another long hallway, dotted with more doors. He’d lost count of how many doors he’s opened, how many similar halls he’s raced through. Straightaways, T-sections, dead-ends. Pausing for a moment, the noise behind him grew. He pushed on, stirred when he heard a woman’s voice call out “mijn, mijn, mijn…”. His heart accelerated before his running began again.
Patches of red bricks shone through areas of decayed and dingy white plastered walls. Roger barely noticed them, passing them by in his haste, leaving hallways behind, closing doors to discover more of the same. Stained glass windows sporadically broke up the passages, filtered colored light barely illuminating his way. Still, the thumping followed him. Still, the echo of “mijn, mijn, mijn…”
A grand staircase stopped Roger: one stairway leading up, the other down. Its complexity in marble and iron railings, its vast size placed underneath a huge stained glass ceiling, startled him momentarily. Up, or down. Roger knew he could not stay where he was. He wanted out of this place, whatever it was. He had no idea where he was, how he got there, or what was after him; he only knew that going on was all that mattered. He only knew his life depended on it. It was that primal.
The noise of a door slamming echoed in the atrium. Roger took off, choosing a downward flight, hoping one of the bloody doors would take him out of this place. Tripping in his haste, he tumbled down the remaining 14 marble steps, falling hard on the landing. His head hurt, his arms and legs were banged up, and his back arched as he lay there, staring upwards. His chest rose and fell with each sharp gasp for air.
Silence. Silence forced his eyes to the top of the stairway.
A woman. The woman. Tall. Her long blonde hair fell below her hunched shoulders, her head tilted down, her dead eyes staring into his. The red dripping from the jagged tear in her throat, staining down her torso, her skirt, joining the red dripping off of the long butcher’s knife clenched in her right hand, spilling red onto the top stairs. Watching it cascade down one marble step after another.
“Mijn,” she said.
“I killed you. I killed you. I killed you!” Roger screamed as he raised himself from the landing. He whimpered: “A suicide…I made it look like…”
Roger, wincing, trudged down the remaining flight of stairs. The woman followed, slower now, matching his rate of descent. He reached the floor, finding himself in ankle deep water. The humidity level had been rising, combining with Roger’s exertions, drawing more moisture out of his pores. His internal cooling system was not working against the overwhelming heat and the unbearable fear.
He slipped. She grew closer, stepping into the stagnant pooling water. Looking around, looking for an escape, Roger saw a line of doors surrounding doors surrounding doors. Each one he went to was locked; each one solid, thick. With each one tried, Roger heard splashing footsteps, heard a gravely “Mijn.”
On the twenty-fourth door…or was it the seventy-ninth…or the two hundredth…or one thousandth…he stopped and turned. She was there, knife raised, still dripping, as she said “Mijn!”
*** *** ***
The lock to The Abysmal Dollhouse’s door quietly repaired itself. The Shopkeeper busied herself cleaning up the bits of broken glass that had been left in the wake of her furtive guest. He had slammed the door so forcefully after rushing in. Ashen, the man barely apologized as he stumbled along the aisleways, brushing against one dollhouse after another.
Small cries of “Mine! Mine” came from her assemblage as he passed them by.
“Hush, now,” she gently said, to none in particular.
Emptying her dustpan of the last of the door debris, she placed it back on its hook and settled her broom of straw and wood in its place in the corner. She heard a distant, tiny cry coming from one of the grander display houses.
The Lawang Sewu, detail exquisite, she felt, was slightly ajar. She walked over to this landmark of Indonesia and marveled, again, and the detail of its many doors and marvelous stained glasswork.
Gently, she brought the two halves of the cabinet house together. She noticed that there was some water leakage coming from its base. Off the Shopkeeper went, to fetch a rag, to wipe up the excess moisture. Doing so, she turned off the overhead display light.
During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.
The Lawang Sewu (the Thousand Doors) is an actual landmark building in Indonesia. It has a long and varied history, and if you’d like to know more about it, click HERE.
There stories of hauntings in the building, with the spirit of a Dutch woman-a suicide-seen by many. Care for a visit?