When I got home Wednesday night, I was exhausted from a long day of work at the accounting firm. The end of the fiscal year meant our workload was about to triple, so I’d been working extra hours to tie up loose ends before the influx of income tax reports. I’d lazily bought lasagna at a bistro on the way home to avoid the hassle of cooking for myself. After enjoying my meal in front of the TV, I decided to change into something more comfortable, and headed towards my bedroom. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the sliding glass patio door in my dining room. I didn’t have a patio.
I stood motionless in front of the fog-coated door while my brain tried to process what I was seeing. I wondered if I’d somehow absent-mindedly wandered into the wrong apartment complex. That theory was debunked quickly, when I confirmed that my family photos were still hanging right where they belonged. I approached the door cautiously, feeling an odd sensation as I got closer. It was as though the door was both present and absent at the same time, like when you watch a 3D movie and try to grab one of the objects popping out at you. My eyes acknowledged the doorway’s existence, but there was a sort of disconnect with my other senses, as though they were going numb. I placed my hand on the glass: it was wet and cold to the touch, like a mirror after a steamy shower. In a circular motion, I wiped away part of the fog that was obscuring my view of what was beyond the pane, leaning close to get a good look.
The other side was bizarrely ordinary. It was my home, but in reverse, as though I was looking through a mirror. I squinted, pressing my nose against the glass to try and make out the details. I could see the tall grandfather clock in the corner, the stacks of papers on my dining room table, and even the side of the flatscreen TV in my living room. What I did not see was my own reflection looking back at me. It was a small detail, but it bothered me tremendously. If this was a reflection of my home, then were was I? My attention turned to the handle. If I opened the door, would I find the painted concrete wall that should have been there? I had to know, so I tugged on the handle.
A small gush of air came in from the other side of the glass door as it slid to the right, revealing a mirrored version of my home. I had to touch it to make sure, so I slowly reached a hand towards the image of my apartment, still expecting my hand to brush against something solid. My fingertips passed right through, as though the wall had never existed. Still unsure of what to make of it, I stepped over the threshold and into the mirage. The moment I reached the other side, the world became completely silent. I could hear my accelerating heartbeat echoing in my head, but nothing else: not even the dull hum of electronics. With a deep, stressed inhalation, I realized that the room had no scent. The atmosphere was strange, too. It was as though I was walking through water, and it seemed like everything was in subtle but constant motion. I could see the walls and objects jittering just outside my vision, but they seemed stable whenever I turned to face them. I reached for the table, but my hand phased right through the object, as though I were nothing but a ghost.
As I made my way through the apartment, I noticed one blaring difference between it and my own: the blood. There was blood everywhere. An ever-growing feeling of dread stirred up inside of me as I made my way towards the source. I turned the corner and followed a trail of stains leading to my bedroom, where I saw something that nearly made me lose my supper. I had found the “other” me, and he was dead. He was sitting under my bedroom window, mangled and torn open from the abdomen. Claw marks could be found all over and around him, as though a wild animal had attacked him. I screamed, feeling blood drain from my face and extremities. I had to get out of there. I ran down the hallway, through the kitchen, and out the sliding door as quickly as my feet could take me. By the time I caught my breath and turned around, the sliding door was gone. I brought a hand to my mouth, gasping in shock. My knees buckled, and I fell to the floor. I spent the rest of the night going over it in my head. What did it mean? Was I just daydreaming? Had the lasagna given me food poisoning?
Having to go to work the next day was hell. I was sore and stressed out, barely accomplishing half of my daily tasks. I wasn’t in the mood to do much when I got home, so I bought a loaf of bread and started heating a can of tomato soup on the stove. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety pressing down on me. I felt as though I was on the verge of a panic attack. Then, for a moment, some kind of silhouette appeared in the corner of my eyes. I screamed and jerked violently, accidentally spilling soup all over my suit. Grunting in frustration, I stomped towards my closet for a change of clothes.
When I returned to the kitchen, the sliding glass door stood on the wall across my dining room table, mocking me. I tried to ignore it, focussing on my meal, but I could still sense its presence, and felt as though it was calling to me. Reluctantly, I opened the door and stepped through it. Just like the night before, the other side was quiet as the grave, scentless, and seemed barely within my range of perception. This time; however, I did not see blood. It was actually quite a relief, and I felt myself calming down a bit and foolishly believing it was safe.
Within a few minutes, I saw my other self down the hall. He looked perfectly healthy, albeit a little frazzled. He stood in front of the walk-in closet, body language betraying his terror. I walked in front of him, waving my arms to get his attention, but he looked right through me. Suddenly, a brisk movement caught my attention. The closet doors swung open, revealing a pair of glowing orbs locked on my other self. He screamed soundlessly, bolting towards our bedroom. A large mass leapt out from the darkness and ran after him. I wanted to look away, but I watched as a shadow-like wolf covered in spikes tore through him like a rag doll. Black saliva oozed from its razor maw as it attacked. It shredded my alternate self until he was left lifeless on the ground, just like I had found him the night before. The monstrous form then turned towards me, and for a moment, I feared that he could see me. Thankfully, he walked right by me and returned to the closet. I did the only sensible thing a man could do in this kind of situation: I fled through the glass door, into my home, and drank until I was numb from the inside out.
Today, I drowned myself in my work to keep those horrific images out of my mind. I did everything I could to stay busy and keep myself from having a nervous breakdown at the office. By the time I got home, I’d convinced myself that the magical sliding door and the horrors beyond it were merely stress-induced nightmares. I was going to take the night off and relax a bit. I figured I’d feel nice and refreshed in the morning. Unfortunately, when I got home, my plan hit one big roadblock: the sliding door was back.
I can’t tell you why I decided to go through this time. Maybe I hoped I’d see something better. Maybe I’m too curious for my own good. Either way, after gawking at the impossible door for ten minutes, I went through. The other me was cooking something on the stove. I approached cautiously, and saw him stirring a pot of tomato soup. My stomach dropped, and I finally understood what was going on. My past self started looking nervous. His head twitched ever so lightly in my direction. I knew he’d seen a glimpse of me. He screamed, jerked, and knocked soup over his suit. I was seeing what had happened yesterday.
Maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe I could still save myself. I ran back to my real apartment, frantically making my way towards my bedroom where I’d left my car keys. Then I heard it. A scratching noise coming from the walk-in closet. I stood frozen in front of it. I know what’s going to happen now. I was given a chance to save myself, and I didn’t take it. Now, it’s too late.