(Tribute to Kafka)
“How did I get here?” I exclaimed.
It was a moderately large room, lit by soft electric light. I was walking along, hand brushing the cold walls.
I noticed a door that I opened when I came upon it.
On the other side was darkness, pure and unadulterated darkness. I peered into it, even leaning my head across the threshold into the blackness of the room.
Inside I could see nothing and pulled myself back after a moment. I shut the door.
I continued to circle, hand brushing the wall, for I had nothing else to do. I counted fourteen paces to a side. Twelve well timed breaths and I could encircle the whole room.
Nothing else was here with me.
After the boredom of walking had gotten to me, I returned to the door that led to the darkness and opened it again. Staring into the emptiness I felt an anxiety deep within me.
I wondered what the room could contain, could eyes be peering back at me from the other side of the doorway.
I stood there; hands braced against the door frame and continued to wonder what could be concealed in the blackness.
I felt a cool breeze blow in from the doorway, or maybe I just imagined it, either way my heart seemed to be chilled by the wonder of what was hidden before me.
I shut the door again and took a seat on the floor in the center of the well lit room that I occupied. From my seat I passed judgment on my surroundings.
I was held by cold stone walls, the same rough stone covered the floor and the ceiling.
A small light bulb hung from a wire in the center of the ceiling, and the wooden door stood in the center of a wall.
I stood and looked up at the light bulb. It wasn’t anything spectacular, a mere piece of round glass, encasing a fiery filament.
But it did shower light down upon the entire room, softening the cold stone walls. The wire that it was attached to seemed to jut directly into the stone above it.
I assumed that it was attached to a battery, or possibly directly to an electrical plant. Yet, from my position inside of the room, I could not see where thee wire extended to beyond the ceiling.
I reached up, stood on the tips of my toes, but the bulb was out of my range.
I wasn’t sure what I would have done if I had been able to touch it, I don’t know how it would have satisfied my curiosity, yet I still attempted it.
After my evaluation of my source of light, I turned my attention to the door.
It amounted to just that and little more. It was a dark slab of wood with a nob for a handle.
The face of the door was as plain as could be; the only detail to be gained by staring at it was to familiarize myself with the pattern of its grain.
When I turned the nob a small metal bar pulled inside of the door and allowed it to swing open from the wall, where a small recess remained for when the metal bar was put back into place.
There were also two hinges on my side of the door, allowing it to open only in my direction.
I pondered the room, the light and the door for as long as I could sanely ponder anything. Yet my thoughts kept circling upon themselves in a more rapid fashion each time.
I don’t know when exactly, but I do know that there were times I slept.
I recall dreams about the light going out, dreams about hands grabbing at me from the inside of the dark room,
dreams of beasts salivating while they begged for me to cross the threshold into the darkness of their lair, dreams that I had in fits,
dreams that I would wake up from with screams fresh in my throat and sweat on my brow.
Time passed, seconds, hours, weeks, maybe even years. In the room I couldn’t judge the passage of time well at all.
I only knew that I had exhausted all of the thoughts that I could possibly have inside of the room.
I kept my sanity as well as I could. I wondered why I was here, but was given no reason.
I wondered who was responsible for the creation of the room, who made sure the light kept shining, who had built the door, but my mind held no answers.
I peered towards the doorway with trepidation.
I wished there was a way I could secure it in the closed position better than simply with the little bar that was triggered by the nod, but there was nothing to use to slow it from being opened.
Time continued to pass. I could feel old age setting into my body but could do nothing to prevent it from happening.
My breaths became shorter and my legs became quickly tired of walking around the room, which took more and more steps to encircle. The light seemed to be further and further from me as days passed.
My brain moved slower, trying to evaluate what secretes could possibly be held by the room I occupied.
In the end, I lay on the floor, its hard stone being my only comfort. There I closed my eyes.
It felt like the light above me finally went out, yet some part of me that was far away knew that it was the light inside of me that flickered before it was extinguished.
Only then did I wonder why the darkness of death was less fearful than the darkness of the unknown.