The Wicket Gate

16 Mar

Brenna: This was the product of an assignment for English class; I was required to write an autobiographical fiction and thus decided, ‘ALL the allegory!’

 

The Wicket Gate

“We’ve been watching you.” The inflectionless words were the first thing to greet Anita upon waking. She didn’t bother to stifle the groan of discomfort she gave at becoming aware of the awkward position she sat in. The metal folding chair wasn’t helping either.

She opened her eyes and sat up gingerly, moving her arms and legs slowly so as not to hurt herself against any restraints. Interestingly enough, there weren’t any. “Well,” she thought, I thought I’d been kidnapped. Now I’m not so sure.

A woman identical to her mother sat across from her, a cheap folding card table between them in the tiny room. The woman had a manila folder full of papers lying on the table before her. She sat with legs crossed at the knee, hands folded under her chin, and elbows resting on the table, composed and non-threatening.

Anita, apparently a victim of kidnapping, took in the room. It was a tiny, hollow, concrete cube, maybe ten feet by ten feet by ten feet. There were two doors behind the woman, one on the left and one on the right, but no visible doorknobs. Anita turned around, looking for another possible escape route–oop, nope, biiiiig scary soldier man in that direction with a biiiiiig scary sword.

Somehow, she ended up behind her mother’s evil clone–or secret twin, or doppelganger, or whatever–cowering in fear, having discovered personal teleportation. “This is not what I was going to be doing today,” Anita thought maniacally.

“Do not fear,” said the soldier, taking a step into the room, plate armor being surprisingly quiet. “WHY IS HE COMING CLOSER I’M GOING TO DIE,” Anita’s thoughts screamed hysterically. He smiled politely. “I come bearing a message.”

Anita found her backbone again and straightened up from her ball-shaped crouch of panic and pointed down at her human shield, who was looking faintly amused, and asked sarcastically, “Did she bring the donuts and coffee, then?”

“Would that I did,” the secret clone answered dryly. “Maybe then you’d be a bit less uncomfortable.”

“Er, yes, speaking of uncomfortable,” Anita said as she returned to the other side of the table and sat down with several nervous glances at the soldier, “would you mind telling me where I am?” She tried to demand it, but the words came out as more of a tentative mumble.

The evil twin gave a perfunctory around the tiny room and then shrugged, relaxed as you please. “Here. It’s not exactly a ‘where’ like you’re probably thinking of. It’s…less of a place and more of an idea.”

Anita sat there looking blank for a long moment. The silence felt like a balloon being blown up as it dragged on, expanding uncomfortably against the walls. “Yeah, no,” she said suddenly, stabbing a pin into the balloon, “that explained exactly nothing.”

The doppelganger shrugged again in the same easy manner. “It doesn’t really matter, anyway. We’re here to talk about this.” She pushed the tidy manila folder across the table so it rested in front of Anita, who kept her hands securely in her lap and did not plan to touch anything she didn’t recognize. “It’s not going to explode or poison you with anthrax or anything else going through that crazy imagination. I promise.”

Anita looked at the woman suspiciously, and then decided to trust her, as there seemed to be nothing else for it. She slowly lifted a hand and set it on the edge of the folder, poised to open it. She glanced at the woman again, who gave a single encouraging nod, and carefully, slowly opened the folder.

A name was printed across the header of the top page. “Hey,” Anita exclaimed confusedly, “that’s my boss!”

“Yes,” the woman said calmly, settling back in her chair. “That’s why we had to snag you off the street unexpectedly. Do go on with your reading.”

Anita peeked behind herself at the soldier, who stood at a sort of parade rest, looking straight ahead at the incredibly interesting wall. She swallowed, trying to force down her nervousness like a mouthful of bile, and returned to the folder. She lifted the top page and read the text on the next. Her eyebrows furrowed deeper and deeper as she moved farther and farther down the page. Abruptly, she looked up and demanded of the secret twin, “Is all this true?”

The doppelganger nodded. “Unfortunately so.”

“He tried to…?” She held up the corner of the page in askance. Another nod. Anita blanched. “No way.”

“It gets worse. I recommend you read it all, and then I have another folder for you to read about my employer.”

“If it’s as bad as this one, I absolutely refuse,” declared Anita, slapping the folder shut and pushing it away.

The woman pushed it back. “Please finish reading it. I think you will find it highly informative. And the information about my employer is infinitely better than that about yours, so there’s nothing to worry about there.”

Anita fiddled with the folder for a moment, biting her lip in distress as she tried to decide. Finally, she threw the folder open and started to read again, with frequent glances at the apparently-not-evil clone to make absolutely positive that this was indeed all correct. Anita’s eyebrows were vivid indicators of the emotions she was experiencing, rising in shock or disbelief and falling in confusion or disgust.

A long moment was spent in the near-silence of nothing but breathing and the quiet turning of pages. Finally, Anita finished. She closed the folder gently and pushed it away. Her mother’s look-alike took it and it disappeared somewhere. Anita folded her arms on the table and rested her forehead on them, taking shaky breaths and struggling against tears induced by a variety of emotions–confusion, shock, fear.

The second promised manila folder made a soft papery sound as the doppelganger set it on the table. “Are you ready to–”

Something slammed against one of the doors behind her, cutting her off with a jarring thud. She turned and frowned at the left door, as though trying to make the intrusion vanish with the power of her mind.

A sibilant and rasping voice slithered under the door. “Anita,” it whispered like a knife, “time to come back…Lucian wants to see you…wants to talk to you about all these lies they’ve been telling…” It was a voice out of an abyss, hinting at slit throats in dark rooms and the color of nightmares.

Anita sat pressed as far back in her chair as she could get, fists tucked up against her collarbone, muttering, “I am not having a total wig out, I am not having a total wig out,” over and over.

The soldier moved quickly across the room, sword at the ready, and shoved the left door open. The space beyond the frame was dark and empty, but not nearly as dark as the thing standing framed there. It was velvet mange and sulfurous yellow eyes and bright jagged teeth, made of shadows and secret thoughts. It took a whispery step forward and Anita whimpered and pressed herself back in her chair, trying to become as small as possible.

The doppelganger looked at her with tight eyes and the corners of her mouth sad. “That’s what your employer looks like, you know, under all the lies.”

The thing hissed and Anita swallowed in response. “Lucian does not lie, Anita. Only these people–” it spat the word “–lie to you. Don’t forget that they kidnapped you.”

The soldier raised his sword and said in a low, threat-filled voice, “Do not twist her heart and mind in this place, dark worker.”

The dark worker leered. “We are only forbidden to physically harm her here.”

Anita had to look away from the two glaring nuclear weapons at each other in the doorway. Her nervously wandering gaze fell on the table before her. There sat the second manila folder. Anita opened it, a motion punctuated by the livid screech of the dark worker. A shudder crawled up and down her spine in response to the abysmal sound. The name printed across the header of the top page was familiar.

Anita thoughtfully tapped the words with finger. “Hey, I know that name. I’ve heard that before. I hear people talking about him sometimes.” She started to read. The dark worker began chanting an unending stream of persuasive lies, trying to claim Anita’s attention, but they went unheard and unheeded.

Every so often, the dark worker would try to enter the room, reaching talon-tipped fingers through the doorway; the soldier repelled it each time with his blade or sometimes with only his gaze. Anita didn’t notice, too engrossed in the amazing works of her kidnappers’ boss. After an incredibly long, astounding read, Anita closed the folder again, tapping the pages neatly into place, a pensive expression painting her features.

“He’s offering you a job, Anita,” the doppelganger said softly, gently. The dark worker wailed in helpless fury. Anita realized dimly that it was the first time the other woman had said her name. “He’s been watching you, and he wants you to work for him.”

Anita looked at her closely, not seeing anything out of place. After a moment, she nodded slowly. “I’d like that,” she said quietly, trying to speak over her shellshock. “I–yes. I want to work for him. I want to work under him.”

“Ha!” The soldier barked triumphantly, and slammed the door in the dark worker’s face, cutting off a litany of remarkably indecent language. “We have her now, and you can do no more!” Anita was surprised, and gave him a funny look. “What?” He asked. “They are serious rivals of ours.”

“Okay, relax,” the doppelganger said with a small smile, standing up and collecting the folder. She turned to Anita and motioned to the right-hand door. “You’re free to go.”

“Will…will it ever look the same to me? Out there?” Anita waved in the vicinity of the door.

The woman smiled softly and sadly. “No. It will never look the same. But you will learn how to move within it and hold onto what you know at the same time. The dark workers are out there, but now you’ve seen them, you can spot their lies, and we will teach you to combat them. And someday, when he decides you are ready, our employer will tell you exactly what to do. Until then, keep learning. Keep improving. Just remember, no matter how badly you mess up, we are always here to help. Now, go. We have others to contact.” She pushed the door open, holding it there for Anita.

Anita glanced over her shoulder at the soldier, who grinned at her. She turned back and looked at the woman, who returned the searching glance. “Okay,” Anita said finally. “Okay. I’m ready. I can do this.”

She walked out the door and onto the straight, narrow path beyond.

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One Response to “The Wicket Gate”

  1. Sarah Spradlin March 16, 2014 at 6:34 PM #

    Love it! Keep it up 🙂

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