Albert stared in utter disbelief, he was sure he had seen a door out of the corner of his eye, and yet when he focused on the wall ahead of him there was nothing. For a brief moment a feeling of déjà vu entered his mind then was gone as quickly as it had arrived. Turning his gaze deliberately away once more until the wall was once again in his peripheral vision, the door reappeared! “It must be a trick of the light,” he thought; “and yet maybe not?”
He walked over to the wall, and reaching out his hands he carefully felt the entire surface of the wall with his eyes closed, allowing his fingers to do the seeing for him. “Touch cannot be fooled, unlike my eyes,” he reasoned to himself.
Beginning his search at the base of the wall, the soft pads on Albert’s fingertips brushed lightly across the surface. The signals sent to his brain told him that they were touching nothing more than cold, hard, moss covered damp stone. As his hands continued their search above his head, he rose up on his toes in an effort to reach as high as he could.
At the same time, his ears tuned themselves in for any audible sign that his fingers may have found a catch of some sort, which he hoped would release the elusive door’s locking mechanism, but no sound emanated from the seemingly solid stone wall; in fact it didn’t dawn on him that he heard no sound of any kind, or even where the space that he occupied at that particular moment in time actually was.
Abandoning his fingertip search and retreating back across the space, to where a stone bench stood against the opposite wall, he deliberately positioned himself on the end of the bench at ninety degrees to the wall, staring straight ahead. Sure enough within a nanosecond he once more saw the door out of the corner of his eye.
This time, instead of leaping to his feet, or immediately turning his head, Albert remained motionless allowing his peripheral vision to take over. He studied as much detail of the elusive door as he could before his overly inquisitive eyes naturally turned towards it once more.
The door appeared to be approximately four feet wide by six foot high. It had three panels inset into it, one large arched panel at the top with two small plain rectangular ones below it sitting side by side. There appeared to be neither a keyhole nor a door handle. Nor was there any visible sign of any kind of hinges, and yet the outer edge of the door was also clearly defined within a doorframe.
The area where the upper panel was located on the supposedly solid rock wall was the one area of the wall with the most moss covering it. Albert decided to explore this area first. So once again he stood up and walked back to where he had stood moments earlier. He stared at the moss for a long time before deciding to try and scrape it away.
Slowly he began removing as much of the moss as he could, halting briefly from time to time to breathe on his fingertips to warm them as the icy cold of the space and the stone numbed them. He worked for what seemed like several hours, until he felt sure he had exposed the entire top panel. Only another brief spell on the bench opposite would reveal if he had been successful.
Sitting once again at ninety degrees to the door, Albert allowed his peripheral vision to take over once more. Sure enough, he had cleared away the moss which had formerly covered the upper panel in its entirety. A feeling of elation came over him as he now began studying it closely.
Removing the moss had revealed a curious pattern of runes surrounding a grotesque mask with what looked like gemstones for eyes, set into the rock. Albert got up once more and went back to the rock.
Instead of facing the rock, once more he turned ninety degrees to it. His peripheral vision soon focused on the gemstone eyes. Carefully he reached out with his left hand, allowing the fingertips of his hand to brush against the first of the gems. He felt a pleasant warmth being transmitted through his body by the touch of his fingers on the gemstone eye nearest to him.
Careful not to shift his position, he tried to touch the other gemstone eye with the fingers of his right hand. But it was hopeless, no matter how hard he tried; it somehow shifted away from his reach, never allowing him to touch it.
The feeling of déjà vu returned yet again. Panic immediately set in as Albert realized to his horror that he was being subjected to his lifelong recurring nightmare of the elusive door yet again, only this time he was wide awake, realising too late that the nightmare which he had suffered since childhood ever since he had got himself in trouble with his parents when he had locked himself in the priest-hole at the top of the stairs in the old Flemish farmhouse he lived in as a child, had now become a terrifying reality.
His heart began racing, his body was now bathed in a cold sweat as he once again shouted for help, but this time no sound came from his mouth. This time no one would come to wake and comfort him. This time, his relentlessly cruel nightmare had had enough of his always escaping back to his human reality, denying it the cruel pleasure of his company for eternity and had decided to wall him up forever in the seventh dimension where the worlds of nightmares like his are their own reality.
Albert screamed as the door in the solid rock within the space opened briefly revealing a shadowy wooded world beyond, which pulled him in before the door closed behind him forever, sealing him off from his three dimensional world, never again allowing him to appear to any other mortal, nor to open for him to retreat back to his reality.
Albert’s screams went unheard. His sweat soaked bed in the real world was now empty. When his bedroom door was next opened, thanks to his nightmare, no one would be expecting to see him. No one would miss him. To the world at large Albert had simply never existed.
The mask smiled to itself as it now awaited its next mortal target…