Mental Castles, Part III

The third part of “Mental Castles”. You should have already read “Part I” and “Part II”.

Down here it was quiet.

She stood outside the wooden house. Almost a shed, really, but it had once been a palace. The brown dirt spread out evenly around the building, and then just—stopped, at the edge of the world.

Her hands dangled loosely at her hips—there was no tension here. Why had she waited so long to come back?

She stepped forwards, hearing her shoes crunch quietly against the dirt. The door to the shack needed a little force to push open—not from disrepair, but designed that way. The sensation of sturdiness and a childproof lock had meant a lot at the time.

The inside of the house was bare. Everything of import had been moved up to the bunker, she remembered. The only things left here were a couple of images and recordings that could not be moved, or that had sunk into the house itself. And…

She stood on the short grey-blue rug, a few steps from even the closest wall, and felt the tiniest thread of uncertainty return and stroke her mind.

Em. Em could be here.

With misgivings uncomfortably nestled on the left side of her brain, with guilt mantling the right, she algorithmically inspected each of the corners and alcoves of the house, noticing again how easy it was to glaze over and entirely miss what might be there—and conversely, how effectively one could get lost in what seemed like a mere nook. With each one, the tension increased, entirely uncorrelated with the string of empty spaces being verified.

Finally she straightened up. There was no one here. She nudged the rug with her foot, and it sprang into a roll—a neat trick that had been one of her first creations—revealing one last trapdoor.

Beneath this door lay Chaos.

With a growing (returning) sense of apprehension she stepped forward, striding pace by pace towards the center of the room. It wasn’t Em down there, it was someone else.

She had forgotten, deliberately locked away this part of herself and then painted over it, covered it up with a rug, and set about forgetting what she had forgotten. And so she didn’t understand it all, and that meant she didn’t understand at all.

There were Reasons, though,

(another step)

reasons to keep it outside. Or inside; at this point it didn’t matter. Keeping the Chaos down was certainly critical, for all sides of her…

…but at this point the not knowing had joined with the echoing pain of separation, and involuntarily her eyes dropped down, as if to pierce the grains of wood and peer out to whatever had to be beyond.

She imagined Em appearing behind her suddenly—she imagined Em piercing her with a dagger of fractured ice—she imagined Em poised in wait to destroy whatever was inside that box, outside in Chaos.

But when she turned her head she saw Em merely standing, not in front of the door but next to the window, wearing the same unchanging shift. Waiting to see what she would do.

Yes, that’s where it ends. Thank you for reading.

Part of NaCreSoMo.