Threshold

It was an ordinary day. A typical Tuesday morning. I woke to the alarm, showered, dressed. Off to work. I arrived at my desk right on schedule. I hung my hat and coat, and headed to the break room for my coffee.

Generally, I keep to myself at work. I prefer not to draw attention, so I usually hurry down the hall early, before the rush, eyes on my feet to avoid any conversation. The long hallway is always buzzing with activity, but this morning it was surprisingly quiet, which caused me to look up. And I saw the door.

It was at the end of the hall, tall and skinny, painted pale yellow. I had never seen this door before. I was certain that it had not been there yesterday; I have worked in this office for seven years, and I had never seen this door.

I looked around; still no one. I continued down the hallway, staring intently at the door. It was a strange yellow, almost a sickly yellow. Why did the door seem too thin, too tall? Why hadn’t I noticed it before?

I passed the break room. Usually a small crowd gathered by the water cooler or the coffee maker, but I saw no one. It was quiet. Too quiet.

Starting to sweat, I loosened my tie, cleared my throat, never taking my eyes off the door. I was still walking slowly, but steadily towards it. For some reason, it didn’t appear to be getting any closer. The end of the hall was still a ways off. I tried to walk faster, lengthen my stride, but my shuffling feet wouldn’t cooperate.

Maybe this was a bad idea. The door was unnerving, seeming to pulsate and throb with a strange energy.  I should turn back.

My reluctant feet kept moving. I tried to turn around, to look away, but it was too late. I was reaching for the knob. It was cold to the touch. I felt dizzy as I turned the handle.

The door swung open on silent hinges.

I saw only darkness.

Heart pounding, I tried to look away, to shut the door, turn around, anything, but I was trapped, gazing helplessly into the void.

I don’t know how long I stood there, resisting the urge to step over the threshold, fighting with every ounce of my being to avoid taking that step. Sweat was trickling down my face, my breath was coming in fast, harsh gasps.

A sudden flash of light blinded me, and I shielded my eyes, unsure of what to expect. As my vision cleared, I saw what lay beyond the door.

A mop. A bucket. A rickety shelf stacked with toilet paper, cleaning supplies.

I had discovered the janitor’s closet.

“Sir? Are you okay?” A man pushing a trashcan on wheels stood a few feet away, hand still on the light switch. “Did you need help finding something?”

I took a shaky breath. “Just a cup of coffee.”  I shut the door. The knob seemed to tremble… or was it just my hands shaking?

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