There was an eyeball in the door where the lock should be, twitching around frantically, lidless and tearful, fearful, too, presumably, overcome with anxiety anticipating the inevitable moment soon when someone would approach and push the key in their hand through the eye’s exposed pupil and into the nerve clusters behind.
I didn’t have a key. I was uninvited. I knocked, but there was no answer. The eye looked up at me while I knocked and then down again when I looked at it looking at me.
I bent down then and pushed my own eye up to the door eye and let it stare into me. I’m not sure why. It just felt like the right thing to do. It was probably lonely, I thought. And shy. Staring directly into the eyes of a shy person is the best way to put them at ease so doing the same to the eye of a shy door would also be the best way to put the door at ease. Maybe it wouldn’t feel so vulnerable and alone if it knew we all had eyes, that it wasn’t alone in the world, that there was more eyes out there, more than it could ever meet, ever imagine.
Of course, that was what it wanted. That was how the disease spread. It wasn’t long before my body had begun to door, before the frantic search of an opening in which to wedge myself consumed every moment of thought.
The gap beneath the stairs where I stored my shoes looked promising, ripe for annexing. I manoeuvred myself into position, settled down and waited for my doorification to reach completion, for the cupboarding of the understair space to conclude.
There was an ear in the door where the lock should be. It didn’t twitch or move or weep or do anything at all really, just went on being very clearly a human ear where the lock should be. I had my key in my hand but couldn’t bring myself to push it into the earhole. What if the human ear was connected to a human brain? What would it sound like, I thought, if someone forced a key into your ear, as the cold metal scraped its way down the ear canal, then the slow twist of of it, metal turning bone, until, with a click, the mechanism was sprung and your face swung slowly opened, the cogs inside revealed to the world, rusted, worn down, barely turning at all.
So I waited around, pretending to talk on my phone, until someone came out from inside and then quickly nipped in before the door closed behind them.
There was a lock in the door exactly where the lock should be, just like you’d expect. But instead of a key I had hundreds of tiny little fingers and toes hanging from my keyring and I had to try each of them in turn until I found the right finger or toe for the lock. It’s horrible, but that’s how keys are made so what can you do about it, really?
I mean, it’s okay for you out there in your fancy cities with your state of the art eye scanners and ear whisperators and the like, but out here in the marshes we’ve got to make do with more durable methods that can cope with the mould and the cold and the harsh salt air.
I felt like that too when i first moved out here but I’m sort of used to it now.
I made some sort of skeleton key joke at work last week when I had to lock up at the end of the day but nobody laughed and a couple of people cried. I’ve probably got a couple of their toes in my pocket, I thought, a little callously, but at least I didn’t say it out loud. I’m not a monster.
There wasn’t a door and there wasn’t a lock and there wasn’t even any keys or anything, anywhere. They were illegal. And blasphemous, or was it heretical, I can never remember which is which. Maybe they were both.
In places where privacy was expected, like toilets, and changing rooms, and weeping chambers, a convoluted series of walls and archways at right angles to each other in varying patterns of complexity were employed, through which you’d have to twist and turn your way through before you reached whichever isolated sanctum resided within and beyond.
Lines of sight from one room to another were thus impossible. It was a very civilised system, and the envy of most other states.
The archways were made of rib bones. The walls from flayed skin. To keep the flies out, human hair hung down from the archways. Each hair was threaded carefully through the many discarded teeth of children, and the rattling these made as you parted them with your hands was strangely delightful in a way I could never adequately explain.
1. Written on September 27th, 2017
2. While I was in the park in Colchester, I think
3. Not that that really matters to anyone I expect