A Place between There and Now
I was walking down the same hallway I had seen a few times already. Once again, I arrived at the end of the corridor and stood in front of that door. I hated it, and what lay behind it. I knew that I was dreaming and knowing that I couldn’t walk away opened the door reluctantly.
As I stepped into the “room” It felt familiar. I knew that I had been here before but this time was different, it felt way more real, not like a dream. I looked behind me and like every time before the door was gone. I could feel the black creeping up around and inside me. It covered my whole body until I could no longer see anything but pure black, hear anything but pure black, smell anything but pure black, feel anything but pure black. I closed my eyes.
I opened my eyes again and something felt different. I hated this nightmare, and I was sick of it. I screamed, surely, I would wake up any second now. Minutes passed and not like before it didn’t end. I was out of breath, I couldn't scream anymore. Why didn't I wake up? why was it different? I didn't understand, how could I, it didn't make any sense and even today it's hard to call it sensible or logical.
I reached into my right jacket pocket, its fabric was the first thing I felt in the dream. I pulled out my knife. I remembered that they always say in films that you wake up if you die in a dream. I didn't know if that was true, but I had no reason not to try it. I moved it in front of my throat, I could feel its blade on my skin. It felt real, but I didn't know what a dream felt like. I closed my eyes and dragged the knife along my neck from left to right, making a deep cut in it. I could feel the blood covering my throat. It didn't feel like a dream, no, it wasn't a dream.
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I woke up. I wasn’t inside the black room of infinite nothingness anymore. Instead, I was lying in a corridor I had never been in before but it still felt familiar. The walls were painted a uniform white which made me almost invisible in my same coloured clothes, or at least that was what I thought at the time. Still slightly drowsy, I turned to the right and looked behind me down the other side of the corridor. I couldn't move anymore. I didn't want to believe it, not because I didn't understand it but because I couldn't bear it anymore. No, not after everything I went through.
I could feel a tear running down my cheek, but I couldn't let out a sob. I sat there in pure shock, as if I had just looked the devil in the face. But it wasn't like that, I had escaped the grip of the devil even though I didn't understand how and now he was there waiting for me, not wanting me to come back to him again.
I saw it, the door at the end of the corridor behind which my sorrow lay, it was like the hangman, it hunted me, as it did in my dreams. My vision blurred slightly and I could feel my legs, my arms, my head shaking. I saw a black liquid flow out from under the door, shadows formed from it and slowly moved towards me, trailing a black cloud that covered my entire vision. With every step the shadows took towards me, drops of pure black dripped from their shoulders, arms and heads as if they were made of oil. They stretched out their arms toward me and it looked like they were going to grab me at any moment.
I opened my eyes, the door was still there, unchanged, no shadows, no black cloud, no oil. I could hear the chattering of my teeth and the sweat running down my face. I felt like I was going to throw up at any moment, even though I didn't know what I could spit out, I hadn't eaten for days. Since my body was resetting every day I had technically never eaten anything. But that wasn’t what I thought back then, all I thought back then was I feel so shitty I think I'm going to die, no, I want to die.
I saw my hand slowly slide into my right jacket pocket and felt my fingertips touch the handle of the knife. as if in a trance, I grabbed it and slowly pulled it out of my pocket. A tear rolled down my face, along my cheek and down to my chin. then another and another. The drop that formed on my chin as they flowed together one by one became too heavy and fell down, right onto the blade of the knife I was just moving to my neck to cut my throat with, like last time.
I heard the soft splash of the single drop as it shattered on the blade. I paused. I pulled my arm away and looked at my knife in confusion. I threw away my knife, disgusted with myself and what I saw as a solution. I could think clearly again, or at least clearer than before. Killing me wouldn’t solve my problem, no it would just make it worse. I looked at the door, it was just a door, an ordinary one like I saw every day. I tried not to let my fears and nightmares influence me and to act as racially as possible.
I turned away from the door and got up. Still sweating and shivering I decided it would be best to just leave the door and look what lay at the other end of the corridor. As I started walking away from the door it felt like it was staring at me. Just let it be I thought, what was I supposed to do, tear the door to pieces? It was best to just ignore it, I knew that but it was still hard to not take a glance back at it.
Walking down the hallway I noticed that it looked exactly like I dreamed it. The air was a bit stuffy but I couldn't see any air conditioning or vents anywhere, so this only made sense. Either way, I was sick of the plastic smell which was everywhere. A second corridor branched off to my right, but as there were no signs telling me where it led, I didn't turn and kept going. I could already see a door about 30 metres away at the end of the corridor. a second corridor branched off to my right which seemed to be only a link between the one I was walking in and one running parallel to it, but as there were no signs telling me where this one led to, I did not turn and continued walking. I could already see a door about 30 metres away at the end of the corridor.
I arrived at the door which seemed to be another one of those kitchen doors from earlier. I opened it and stepped inside a room I hadn’t been in before. It looked a bit like a classroom and an office space at once. There were desks everywhere but they weren’t rotated towards the E-chalkboard. Strangely there were no Computers on the desk, which neither fit an office space nor a school. There also weren’t any DTUs in the desks or the chairs which were made out of wood for some reason. The E-Board was for some reason set to the classic design and covered in dust. It must have been switched on for years or at least not used for that long. I could hear the chirping of birds outside the windows through which light streamed into the room. In the rays of light, the dust that had accumulated here over the years and was now blown up by me became visible. All this felt very familiar, as if I had spent years of my life here. I felt at home and more at ease than I ever had since I arrived here.
I started slowly walking towards the windows when I heard a creak under my feet. I looked down and saw that the floor was strangely made of wooden planks. I kept walking until I was standing in front of a school desk next to the window. I looked at the glass pane, behind it was a poster with a few trees on it, which was lit by a lamp. Another lamp was mounted above the poster, it shone in a pleasant warm orange yellow which flooded the room with light. I looked next to me at the school desk, which was turned towards the window. I turned it back towards the teacher, the way it always stood. I took the chair, put it back behind the table and sat down on it.
a bit small I thought but that was to be expected, it was 12 no 13 years ago that I was here, of course the chair didn't fit me anymore. I didn't even try to squeeze my legs under the table and just sat there behind the table. my gaze wandered to the table in front of me, it was also the wrong way round. Tetsuo will really get in trouble if the teacher sees this and as I thought this a smile formed on my face. I looked for my name tag but it didn't seem to be here anymore, just like the others. I reached into the drawer under my table, my books were indeed still there, I thought to myself. I pulled a pile of papers out I had never seen before.
Suddenly the lights hanging outside the windows went out and the lamps above the blackboard came on. They shone in a dark red which was the only source of light in the room and coloured the chalkboard and the person standing in front of it in an almost blood-red tone.
The man lifted his head and looked me straight in the eye through his glasses. His dark brown hair and beard, I recognised him. I hated him, I despised him, I feared him. He opened his mouth but said something other than his three <live:the:repeat> words. "Good morning my children, today we are going to teach you about the Umbraus also known as the Shadow".