A Door is a Door is a Door

A Sci-Fi Short Story written by Pat O'Malley

A Door is a Door is a Door

by Pat O’Malley

 

Can a door covered in Christmas lights be the magnum opus of a mad genius, or is it just mad?
 
 
Pat O’Malley lives in Long Island where he loves to write the kind of quirky and weird type of fiction that he and his friends would love to read. So far, his work has been published on webzines such as The Weird and Whatnot, Teleport Magazine, Dark Fire Fiction and more!
 
 
Contact info for Pat O’Malley:
 
 
 
 
 
Other TTTV stories by Pat O’Malley: https://talltaletv.com/?s=pat+o%27malley

I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s not like I’m handy or anything. Hell, I could barely assemble a couch! Still, maybe it was my desire to fulfill my late grandfather’s request or I just wanted to take my mind off Gina leaving but this time was different. This time, the finished product looked just like the picture in the blueprints.

Standing in front of me in my basement is a door frame. A very weird, impractical-looking door frame.

I’ve triple-checked the instructions, carefully studied every last minor detail, and repeatedly confirmed that every wire, electrode, and screw is in its right place. The blueprints of my grandfather’s DIY project from beyond the grave indicate that the project is assembled correctly but that can’t be right.

I know I must have done something wrong. This can’t be what my grandfather; the tragic genius had in mind. I’m expected to believe that this was my grandfather’s “magnum opus?”

It’s undoubtedly a unique sight. The arc of this doorway is composed of some strange reflective dark metal. Naturally, there is no actual door inside the frame. That would make way too much sense.

My grandfather never specified in his notes exactly what type of metal it was or how he had obtained it. Lucky for me, he had already done the heavy work, welding the mysterious alloy into several sloping, curving rods. All I had to do was screw together the rods one at a time until they resembled a half oval large enough for someone to walk through.

Next, I wrapped the peculiar frame with regular store-bought Christmas lights connected to a small generator. For Christ’s sake, the former Quantum Mechanics professor thought that wrapping his dying work in Christmas lights was a good idea. According to the instructions, the lights are just meant to indicate when the door is “unlocked.”

The doorway was held in place by two small vices modified so that they could “plug” into outlets that my grandfather had installed at the bottom corners of the arch. The vices connected to a tangled spider-web of dark wires that led to a switchboard resting on a dusty old couch in my basement. Flipping the on/off switch on the circuit board would send a minor current of electricity that charged the frame as seen by the Christmas lights sparking up.

In my hands, I’m holding the last page of the blueprint. Beneath the drawing of the “finished” door frame is a single statement written in pencil in my grandfather’s handwriting.

There are better worlds than this.”

I was close to my grandfather, the only one in my family who put up with his eccentricities. That was more than could be said by the University Professors who labeled him a crackpot or the rest of my family who found him off-putting. Now here I am, still indulging in my grandfather’s delusions even after he’s dead.

All that’s left to do is to flip on the switch.

I know that this is all just a big joke, nothing is going to happen. Yet as I saunter towards the switchboard I can’t help but move slowly as if I were around unstable plutonium. I can’t explain why but at that moment felt as if any false move could cause a wormhole to erupt in my basement, sucking every last bit of reality into it like a shower drain.

Carefully, I reach forward with my index finger and flicked the power switch on. The beautiful, multi-colorful glow of the Christmas lights illuminates my windowless basement. The dark metal frame of the doorway is contrasted by the vine of rainbow lights wrapped tightly around it.

Ah, there’s that strange humming sound coming from the metal again. Wait, that’s strange… is there some kind of faint shimmer in the center of the frame that wasn’t there before? Like the warping color of transparency seen in bubbles as they flex and stretch in the air? I squint my eyes, no there’s nothing beneath the arch; just thin air and the other side of my basement. I must be working too hard.

Well, after coming this far I might as well see this through to the end, right? The doorway is complete and unlocked it’s waiting for me to step through to the other side wherever that may be. It’s time to see if my grandfather was really on to something. Taking a deep breath, I begin to walk towards the doorway.

I take two more steps before I stop.

What am I doing? This is stupid. God, I’m such an idiot. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m not going to entertain this delusion any longer. Behold! My grandfather’s dying work: a magic door that leads you to where? Narnia? Oz? Give me a break. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to recognize what science is; cold and unforgiving facts.

Time is a linear concept that only moves forward. The universe is expanding and will continue to do so until the day it inevitably collapses on itself. When we die, the electric impulses in our brain that make up our “soul” go quiet forever and our body becomes meat.

There aren’t any loopholes or tears in the fabric of reality that insignificant specs like us can take advantage of. That’s just not the way the universe works.

Growing up with my nose in sci-fi and fantasy books, I used to wish more than anything that this kind of magical technology would come to exist someday. Well, surprise, surprise, adulthood and the state of the world sure as sh*t beat those dreams out of me. Maybe that’s why my grandfather left me the blueprints and equipment along with the wish that I finish off what he started. He thought I still believed in magic when my faith has already moved on to photons and particles.

It’s tragic really. I don’t know how such a brilliant mind could fall victim to such naiveté.

I’ll call it what it is; this was nothing more than a dumb hobby to take my mind off the thought of Gina coming by to collect the rest of her clothes this weekend. If I happened to carry out my grandfather’s dying request while doing it then that’s just a bonus. Good job, me.

Whatever, after all this hard work I think I’ve earned myself a drink. I walk up the creaking basement stairs into the kitchen. Reaching into the fridge I crack open a beer.

Guzzling it down, I think about the choices we make every day. Steak of salad for lunch? Go to work or take a personal day? Call her back or no? Every little choice supposedly creates a brand new reality. Think of the highest number you can think of then multiply it by two and that’s still not even a fraction of the number of infinite worlds created by all of our choices.

For example, if the multi-verse was real then there would be a world where Gina and I are still together. A world where I tried harder to keep her instead of shrugging indifferently at her words. A world where I decided to walk through that “magic door” after all.

It’s a nice thought but that’s all it is.

I cough, the last drop of beer going down the wrong pipe when a startling thought occurs to me. Typical, I forgot to switch the damn thing off! The power bill from all those Christmas lights is going to burn a hole in my pocket.

Grumbling, I turn towards the basement when I hear a sound coming from downstairs. Startled, I drop the empty bottle, shattering as it meets the kitchen floor. Bits of broken brown glass litter the tiles while my body trembles in fear. I tell myself I must be hearing things but then I hear the sound again and my worst fears are confirmed. A few seconds ago I was alone in my house but not anymore.

There’s someone grumbling in my basement. They sound familiar.

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