I have lied about my creativity, inspiration, and originality. It’s all false, a pack of lies to hide a sinister truth. The truth — hiding behind a closet door — is something I’m not sure you’re ready to hear. But confess, I must. The moment you walk into my room, you might realize something is off. There is a standing desk, an all-purpose desk for storage, and a minimalist writing desk by the window. ”Why three desks,” you ask? Because it requires a lot of space to accomplish what I’ve been doing in the cover of night.
Next to the standing desk, across from my writing desk, looms the closet door. I even moved my bed last month to better watch the closet door at night, because…well, you never know. As a kid, I suspected something, something, behind those innocuous doors. To this day, I keep my closet door shut, and I’m happy (happy?) to say that my fears were not unfounded.
No, not at all.
A recent discovery propelled a new flurry of writing and, albeit dangerous, adventuring. To remind myself and warn others, I taped a sign — a yellow triangle bordered in black — to the closet. A drawing of an opening door with eyes peeking from the darkness lies at the center. Underneath, in handwritten sans serif, are these words:
Portal: eye protection required
It almost sounds laughable, a joke to entertain friends when they come over. Oh, they do laugh, but if they only knew…
In the middle of the night, when smoke seeps from underneath the closet door and strange sounds wake me from my slumber, I know what I must do. Between the bed and writing desk is an upside-down vegetable crate, the resting place for my books and journal. Beneath my stacks of books hides an extra change of clothes for whatever weather conditions I might face. After pocketing my journal and pen, finding the knife underneath my mattress, grabbing my always-ready backpack hanging on the wall, and stuffing whatever else I can fit inside, it’s time to depart.
I set off, with eye protection on, of course. The clock almost always reads 12:00 AM.
”Set off?” you ask. ”What do you mean ’set off’?” Dear reader, this is when the danger begins, not some midnight mosey by moonlight. I rest my shaking hand on the
closet portal door, the only thing separating me from whatever lies on the other side, and feel the sounds vibrating through. Plunging into the darkness of the portal, I whisper a prayer between the reverberations of my thumping heart.
Then I see it.
Sometimes it’s light, sometimes it’s dark. Maybe I enter into thick woods, the branches so dense I can’t see the sky. Other times, I find myself at the bottom of an iceless glacier surrounded by gray rocks and even grayer fog. Once, I found myself on top of a mountain in the middle of a blizzard and almost froze to death. Since my close encounter with frostbite, I make sure to keep a thick jacket and gloves in my backpack — a wise move for the uncertain conditions I plunge into.
By now, I know you’re shocked and maybe even doubtful. A whole world on the other side? Yes, and this is where all my stories come from. You see, I don’t ”make up” my stories or create ”original” characters or plots. I wish I could, but I don’t. All I am is a journalist, an adventurer, a recorder of what I see and observe.
I have met so many new people and have been on dangerous (very dangerous!) adventures with them. I observe their actions, ask questions, and make notes in my journal. Days pass. Once, I was gone for over two weeks. And then when I least expect it, I’ll wake up in my own bed, the clock reminding me it’s only 12:01 AM. This is when the real work begins.
Tiptoeing across the cold wood floors, I grab my journal and flick the switch for the small light sitting on my desk. As I pore over my notebook, it all comes back to me — the memories, sounds, smells, all of it. The first time I went through the portal, I didn’t bring my notebook; what a mistake. I still can’t remember all the details the first time I walked over the threshold. For some unknown reason, writing in my journal is necessary to remember what happens once I enter the portal.
The last sentence stares back at me; what a night. I close my laptop, hide the maps, store away the extra pencils, and shuffle away the papers strewn about. As I crawl back in bed and gaze up at the ceiling, I never know when the portal will wake me up again: maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe not until next month. And each time, I have no idea what awaits me behind the “PORTAL”, what inspiration or dark secrets I’ll discover.
But then again, you should never trust a portal in your closet.