Enter Here

Loretta Haskell

 

The sound had come from the end of the hall.  It had been quiet, subtle, barely more than a whisper at first.  Then it grew, louder, more threatening, and violent till Aden’s curiosity had peaked. 
           

The theatre was very old, abandoned in the late seventies.  No one had kept it up; no one had entered it in over 30 years for fear lived within its walls.  But she was not afraid of the supernatural, she was not afraid to die. 

 

The old floor creaked under Aden’s feet, making each step sound like a gunshot reverberating into the distant unknown.  Dust rose in thick clouds around her, blinding her from distant surroundings.  The smell of old, wet, rotting wood filled her nose, seeping inside of her like a poisonous fume. 
           

The sun had begun to set beyond the black, grimy windows, casting her in lengthening shadows.  The hall was long, lined with towering black doors, the paint peeling and fading away.


Aden wrapped her hand around the ornate handle of one of the old doors and heaved.  The door inched open, squealing till there was just enough room for her to fit through.  Slipping through the crack, the sounds of the city traffic died away, leaving her in an oppressive darkness and unbearable silence. 

 

The sound again, so close she thought she had made it.  Spinning quickly, she strained her eyes to see, her ears to hear; something; anything.  But there was nothing, just her quickened breathing and pounding heart.

 

The air was close in here, nearly suffocating.  Still, she moved on, making her way towards the stage.  Looking towards the ceiling, she saw glittering chandeliers and ornate paintings, the faded glories of the past.  The stage grew ominously, its faded and torn red curtains hanging limply.  As she stepped onto the stage, she could see the long forgotten foot prints of old actors and stage hands, the scuffs of careless workmen.  The lights surrounding the floor of the stage had long ago shattered, the metal back panels were blackened from burnt out bulbs. 

 

A crow screeched, tearing through Aden’s ears and heart.  It spread its great black wings and flew into the darkening sky through a shattered window.

 

Aden moved off the stage, so intent on a discolored photograph pinned to a cracked mirror that she did not see the mist rising around her, did not feel the cold that seeped into her skin, causing the hair to rise on her arms and neck.

 

She did, however, hear the whisper, though, when Aden turned, there was no whisperer, just the disembodied voice.

 

            “Enter here.”  Harsh tones, a voice that had not been used in many years.
            “Enter where?” Aden whispered her eyes wide as she strained to see someone, anything.
            “Enter here.”

 

Aden’s eyes alighted on a small metal staircase that led into the bowels of the theatre.  A soft glow was emanating from whatever lay beneath.

 

She moved towards them, griping the cold metal railing, taking in the scent of something unknown, something unwelcoming.

 

            “Enter here.”

 

Slowly descending, regret and dread started to stream into Aden’s heart.  Still no sound from the world beyond, there was only the light glow and the strained whispers.

 

Her feet touched the icy wood floor.  She was in a dressing room, the glow emanating from the end of the room where a woman sat, in an antique dress, her hair mounded in curls on the top of her head, the faint smell of roses wafted over to Aden.  The woman was pale, dark circles around her eyes.  The ghost was gripping a letter, sealed with red wax.

 

The woman looked up as Aden approached, her eyes were strangely dark.  She just stared at Aden.

 

Aden cleared her throat, “I’m here, why’d you need me, Perdita?”

 

Perdita did not speak, but continued to stare, unblinkingly, at Aden.

 

            “I’ve heard of you.  I’ve heard your story’s heartbreaking; that you were lost, forgotten.”

 

Perdita lowered her eyes, but still did not speak.  She gazed at the letter clasped so tenderly in her hands.  Slowly, she motioned for Aden to come closer. 

 

            Aden moved, but slowly, cautiously.

            “Take this, Aden.  Set me free.”

 

Aden gently slid the letter from the ghost’s long, slender fingers, but she didn’t look at it.  She blinked and everything went black.

 

Hands out in front of her, Aden scrambled for the stairs, fear finally overtaking her.  Clambering up the staircase she made it to the stage.  Looking across the theatre, at the many cobwebbed and broken seats, the last slit of light from beyond the cracked door looked like the horizon.  Aden knew, long before she was conscious of the feeling that she was never going to make it. 
           

She looked down at the envelope clasped in her hands.  With the last small slice of light, she tore it open and read the elegant, slanted writing that filled the page.

 

My dear, all is lost, but never forgotten.  With the flames of distant time, I shall be remembered and released from my tomb, a spirit allowed at long last to fly among the highest spires and into the painted sunset.  With great loss comes great understanding.  To be reunited again…

 

Aden, forgive me.  It is only through you that I may be liberated and your destiny fulfilled.

 

Aden, enter here

 

Aden knew it before she felt it, it was indeed her destiny.  Turning slowly towards the heat she felt at her back, Aden faced the great flames that were engulfing the theatre, setting Perdita, the lost victim from so long ago, free at last.

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790