Some people swore that the house was haunted. But what would they know? Did they ever talk to the dead? Huh! Not that that would make any difference! You could talk to the dead all day long, and you’d never get a yea nor a nay out of them. And what do you expect from a bunch of stiffs?
All I know is that when I used to step into this one particular spot, I would get this twisted feeling as if I were in Hell’s waiting room–but not all the time—only in the very early morning, just before the light could pry its way into the bedroom. At the foot of the bed, there seemed to be a little bubble of quiet, and I don’t know what or who was in there, but there was definitely something. I would walk through it several times every morning as I got ready for work. It was like a dead zone. I’d get into it and just look and listen—it was kind of seductive, so I’d have to push myself to snap out of it, to go make my coffee before frittering away my precious time sniffing out something that’s not about to let itself get found. It’s playing a joke on me, isn’t it? It’s a riddle: I’m all around you, but you can’t see me. I’m scaring you but you feel calm, I’ve just shut off your hearing, but you can hear the echoing silence of the Void, I’ve just revoked your soul, but I’ll allow it to follow you out the door on a need-to-leave basis just because…
During the day, I’d think about the bubble and wonder if I was losing my mind or if my dead parents were there in some parallel universe, trying to contact me. Maybe it was some kind of weird energy vortex worming its way up through the earth’s surface to suck a few hundred kilowatts out of some unsuspecting schlep (in this case, that would be me). Could the bubble actually be a portal for an alien abduction waiting to happen? Maybe it was a religious revelation, and I was chosen by some higher power to be the vessel through which a divine mystery would be revealed. For me, the most comforting hypothesis would be that I was merely losing my mind—with that option, at least, there were bound to be a few pharmacological straws at which I could clutch if things got too bad.
I’d always been perceived as being slightly wacky, but I never considered that to be my problem. Just to play safe, though, I never mentioned it to anyone. Every morning, I’d slip in and out of the bubble, trying to ignore it, but never quite managing to. Again and again, I’d stand there, mesmerized by something I’d call sacred if I weren’t so irreverent.
One morning, a morning no different from all the other mornings, I was walking through the bubble when I stopped for my usual obeisance to the Void. I smelled the coffee brewing in the kitchen, checked the time on the alarm clock and saw that I was running a little behind. Oh, and that coffee smelled so good! Like a jealous lover, the Void yanked me back to stare once again into the quiet, magnetic nothingness, but I managed, reluctantly, to turn my head, just in time to watch myself walking away from me.
And after that, nothing…was…ever…the…same…again…and…again…and…
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