The soft muzzled cough brought Alice back from being lost in her usual daydreams.
It had been months since she had walked freely about the streets. Even longer since the blind run through the dark forests of another world.
If this insane self-imposed quarantine had to continue for very much longer, Alice was going to leap back through into the brightly lit hall beyond. Once there she was more than willing to try her luck at some other random doorway.
“What then?” muttered the low voice of the sage.
Alice could tell he was talking more to himself than to her.
Alice replied anyway, “Anywhere but here.”
The look of the old mages floor length beard partially muzzled by a soft swath of mask looked ridiculous. The rope ties for the ears could not reach so Alice had helped him braid the ends into the facial hair just beneath the cheeks.
The effect gave the ancient librarian a hipster grunge look.
The ink stained hands of the sage had been hard at work rubbing his face again. Either an allergy from the ink that now tinted his nose or from the dreaded Covid virus had been making the elderly gentleman wheeze and cough. He had coughed enough times that Alice had demanded the face covering.
The sage grumpily complied just to silence her complaining.
The whole request struck him funny since it came from a woman wearing no clothes at all…
The doorman had been busy hanging invisible signs about the hall. Each had been hung so that an individual entering could see them with little effort. He was certain when the complaint department was called he would be found blameless in the spread of such ignorance. Each entry had been clearly marked with a request for a mandatory fourteen day quarantine, and each infectious destination properly marked.
The Gatekeeper had even replaced his usual Welcome mat with one that read, “Masks Required”.
“Yes”, he thought, “in a reality of inexistence the flattened curve wasn’t going to catch him in another surge, hoax or not.”
Pat sat watching the falling leaves. The peace autumn brought was a welcome change from the dry hot days of summer. Still the thought to lay naked in those golden rays made his pulse quicken with youthful memories.
“The seasons change with the turn of a word,” he whispered to the quiet room. Though there was a large crowd, no one heard him.
Pat was aware that the sentence could be thought of as political, as well as environmental.
Opinions were changing. Impatient populations desperate for a miracle.
Come November another four years of greatness would be chosen. Hopefully one that meant the destruction of a party founded in racism. If not then things weren’t going to look too good for the home front.
It had been bad enough that this man-made virus was unleashed by corrupt policies of the criminal elite in the attempt of a one-world-order coup.
To have to suffer under the heavy-handed tactics of the cosmopolitan could lead to an actual armageddon between good and evil…
Pat watched the falling leaves. The beauty was not wasted on him. The mix of yellows and reds drifting down. Sometimes in soft spirals, sometimes in a direct glide. Individual leaves and groups all randomly blowing about with a kaleidoscope of color.
None of the meaning was missed.
Everything had a purpose;
Pat just had his own preference in how things should end.
All this change from the green leaves of one tree. Nothing was ever missed…
Alice sat distracted. A nuthatch was slowly making its way down the trunk of a nearby sapling. It’s funny head-first hopping reminded her of the her own first moments leaping through worlds. As nauseating an experience it had been, Alice was secretly hoping to get the opportunity to do it again. The only thing that was holding her back was the how and when.
Alice had gathered from the many frequent visits of disembodied voices that the portal from here to there ( where something she never knew) was always opening and closing. To use it, one simply needed to be determined and fully willing to accept the next outcome. The concept of outcome being as close to exactly what the event actually meant.
Alice couldn’t quite understand that piece of information either.
She just took it to mean 1+1=2 but to get to four the possibilities increased as well as the path. Everyone understands 2+2, or 1+1+1+1, or 1+1+2, and even 1+3. But doing the possible backwards or even not at all could cause a bit of stress. 0+4, 5-1, and so on into infinite realms could get a person marooned, even completely gone from before, during, and after. As insane as that sounded, Alice was not yet willing to prove anyone’s theorem’s just yet.
Why did everything have to involve math…
Alice could bring herself to accept that it had only been three days. What she couldn’t believe in was the constant transition of the garden outside.
She vaguely remembered the first time looking out of the window. The season had been late spring. The butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering amongst the many wildflowers and well planted rows of perennials. Annuals like irises taking over where daffodil and hyacinth had earlier flowered but now becoming just green leaves and dying stalks.
With later glances outside, Alice noted the crepe myrtles had begun to bloom with deep purples and reds. Their many branched arms spreading outward casting a welcomed shadow from the hot blazing sun.
And today as she gazed upwards in a daydream daze of building castles in the sky, Alice’s distracted eyes watched as oak and maple leaves began drifting down from leaf clogged gutters. The browned yellows and crimson reds slowly sailing down, down, down carpeting the flower beds.
Alice even noticed amongst the brown blades of overgrown grasses the aster and goldenrod turning to seed. The planting of daylilies she must have confused for irises being nothing but withered yellow and brown mulch piles beside dried stalks of gladiolas.
No. Though she was not a naturalist or expert at gardening, Alice knew the changing seasons without the need of flocking geese or migrant fish swimming up stream. Without a doubt, and without need of the old sage explaining things, Alice knew she was sitting in the middle of 0+1 or something very close to it.
Across the room the sage let out a humourous chortle.
To Alice the old man always seemed to take great interest and enjoyment during her most confused moments. It’s was almost like he knew her mind, and saw all the outcomes before she did, and thought her ignorant.
Along the waters edge where sand and ocean meet
The worlds first words are spoken
By the soft and whispering breeze
It speaks of the many kingdoms
and of ageless palaces carved of stone
All the chambers filled with musical laughter far below in the surging sea
The echoing ripples flowing
Splashing playfully upon the distant shores above
Alas the people of the land no longer remember the beauty
Nor can they walk the halls
Time since it has passed deep beneath a sea foam gray
Softly the wind summons back the memory
As the crabs solemnly standing guard lament
And flying high overhead seabirds call out a sullen praise
There at the waters edge where sand and ocean meet
Had it been seconds or a lifetime of ages since the last time a visitor had past. The doorman was starting to wear thin like the door mat he had been gifted by an old travelling salesman.
At first he saw the humor in the gift as a poke at his own purpose in being. Often the thought had been contemplated that his only purpose was to keep the mud and dirt from getting through the door. Even though the wording and color was beginning to wear away, the doorman still felt “Welcome” in the stylized flourish of flowery writing. After all it never rained or snowed here in his land of make believe.
After all, in all the land of entrance and exit, only he had a comfortable mat to stand upon. Without a doubt a true gift to someone bound to stand until forever ends or begins. Whichever came first no longer mattered to him.
On some occasions the doorman would move his mat down the white halls of light. In picking a new place he had hopes of changing the view for a time. Nothing ventured, nothing gained was the latest saying he had heard. It made perfect sense to him. Of course the only change was in the mind of the doorman. A cityscape of blinding white never dimmed or changed in contrast. In truth the only purpose in seeing at all was his purpose as watchdog. Never open, never close, never allow another beyond the threshold. Absolute and uncompromised in that one task this whole time… Orders he never did really understand. Why have a door then?
The rules never applied to the Author, or Dreamer, nor even to himself should he venture beyond. Somehow they were the same as he or she depending on your train of thought.
Another was someone like the man in the grey suit, but not like the traveller. As hard as it was to tell the two apart only the traveller could gain entrance while the grey suit would just fade away into the darkness beyond the portal.
The thought of the grey suit saddened the usually cheerful doorman. “Could you imagine being aware and completely capable of communication with another sphere of being? Only unable to bridge that short distance of understanding to join. It could drive a being to do horrible things, all the while thinking you had a purpose in stopping something.”
The doorman stared out into the white patiently waiting for an answer. After what seemed an infinity to him he heard a reply.
Some days it felt that it was a wasted effort to take the time to go to work.
And with that the doorman moved his mat once again.