3. The Door and the Attempt
The streets were cold at night but the air was fresh and serene. The hours waiting for dusk to come seemed quieter and slower. Tom’s hasty footsteps and heavy breathing did nothing to disturb the sleeping city.
When Tom got out from the taxi and arrived at the door of Uncle Pete’s building, it was nearly 5am. He hadn’t been running much, but he felt short of breath. He pressed on the intercom. The bell rang for a while, before Uncle Pete’s voice arose.
“Who the hell?”
“It’s Tom, I have to see you, I have to talk to you.”
“It’s 5 in the morning!”
The disgruntled Uncle Pete let Tom in. As soon as Tom walked into the apartment, Uncle Pete could see he was in panic. He told Tom to sit down, and started to make tea.
“So what couldn’t wait?” said Uncle Pete as he placed a cup of hot tea in front of Tom.
“It happened again.”
“What happened again?”
“It. The dream. The voice. The dim place.” Listing the details seemed somehow less uneasy knowing that Uncle Pete would understand.
“I was sleeping, then I felt the pain in my heart. Then it happened again. I couldn’t move. The place, the dimness, the nothingness. Then the voice. I came here as soon as I could move again. Why did it come back? I thought it was over, I thought it was warning me about Gary, so it should be gone now…but why is it back?”
Uncle Pete had regained half of the alertness in his eyes. He didn’t say anything.
“Then what is it supposed to be?” Tom was almost talking to himself. “If not an omen…maybe we got it all wrong, we thought it predicted death, maybe it predicts something else? Or…” Tom tried to stay calm, “…maybe the death it is predicting isn’t Gary?”
Uncle Pete had a strange look on his face.
“Please go home.”
“Huh?” Tom responded just before his startle began to show.
“Just go home. Go to sleep.”
Tom felt a flicker of rage creeping up inside him.
“Go home? What do you mean? Did you hear what I said?”
“Yes, and I think you should go home. I don’t want anything to do with it.”
The rage Tom felt before had now grown to a dischargeable size.
“You don’t want anything to do with it? You had this…this disease before too! Now you’re just going to leave me with it?”
“There’s nothing I can do. There’s nothing you can do.” Uncle Pete’s voice also raised a little.
“You have to help me, there’s no one else who can, they all think I’m crazy!”
“Maybe you are!” Uncle Pete had stood up and was walking towards the door. He opened it. “Go home!”
Tom sat there, looking at the Uncle he thought would understand. He got up, and walked out. He tried once more at the door, “Please, help me…” The door was shut.
It was dusk when Tom stepped inside the door of his home. He sat down on the couch and closed his eyes. He was exhausted, but there was no way he could sleep. He could never sleep again. As he tried to rid his mind of all thoughts, one thought either remained or appeared. He needed to see who the owner of the voice was.
He closed his eyes once more, and tried even more fiercely to free his mind. He remembered that in every occurrence of the previous episodes, he had been in a relaxed state. Trying to replicate that state was absurdly difficult at that moment, but his determination to clean his thoughts was strong.
At first nothing happened, and an hour had passed before Tom felt the pain in his heart. It was faint at first, then with each beat it grew, until it became intolerable, by which time he had lost all ability to express the agony through any movement. It became pitch black, then slowly lightened, like the first beam of light at dusk, while never actually reaching morning.
The voice that eventually came brought more dread through its familiarity. The whispers still sent shivers as if it were Tom’s first encounter with it. He tried to turn his head towards the voice. It was a futile attempt, but he didn’t intend to stop. The battle between his neck and an invisible, relentless grip brought what might have been sweat to Tom’s head. Every single portion of his body was in on the struggle, all of his bodily energy focused in his neck, on the one simple action. Tom could feel the rush in his brain, and soon he could see nothing but blackness once again.
The next time Tom caught a glimpse of light, he also saw curtains and trees on the opposite side of the window. It was a warm day, and the light shining through was gentle but refreshing. It took a few moments before Tom realized that he was in a room, and a few more to realize it was not his own. He was sitting on the floor, facing the foot of a bed. A quick glance around and it was easy to see where he was. The room was simple and decorations were scarce, yet there was a large, framed photograph hung above the bed. In the photo was a couple, smiling on the most romantic day of their lives. The woman looked humble in her simple but elegant dress, one hand carrying a bouquet, the other holding loosely the hand of her man. The man was young and confident, with a piercing and alert look in his eyes.