Was everything a dream? Did I actually meet Neil? I wasn’t sure. I had been having so many nightmares that I couldn’t tell the difference between reality and my dreams any more. I felt dirty, so I decided to get up and take a shower. I shed my pajamas as fast as I could, and set the water as hot as I could stand it. I put on my “Classic Rock” playlist and stepped into the shower. I let the water stream down over my head, allowing myself to relax enough to feel the water droplets as they slid down my body. I let the stream of water massage the back of my neck and shoulders. I must have stood under the shower head for half an hour before I actually washed my body.
When I was finished I wrapped one towel around my wet hair and dried off with an oversized towel. I slipped into my neon pink terry cloth robe, stepped into my fuzzy pink slippers, and I went to the kitchen where I had Dunkin Donuts coffee waiting to be brewed on my Keurig. I savored every sip of my coffee and had a granola bar before getting ready for work.
I walked into work and Leah and Jessica were waiting for me. They asked me if I was ready for my date tonight with Neil. “Oh good, he wasn’t a dream!” I thought to myself. I told them about my outfit, and that he was picking me up at 6, but other than that, I didn’t know where we were going or anything. Leah and Jessica were both ecstatic, and they too thought he was rather handsome!
The work day went by surprisingly fast considering that I was looking forward to this evening. I rushed home and re-applied my makeup, changed into my outfit, and waited for Neil.
Neil pulled into my driveway at exactly 6 o’ clock. I was very impressed. I opened the door and saw him walking up the driveway carrying a bouquet of lilies under his umbrella so they didn’t get destroyed by the heavy rain fall.
“Oh, Neil! “ “They’re beautiful!”
“I was hoping you liked lilies.”
“They’re my favorite, thank you. Just let me put them in a vase, and then we can go.”
“You have a lovely home.” Neil said as he followed me into the kitchen.
“Thank you, it belonged to my grandmother.”
After putting the flowers in the vase, and giving them some water, I noticed how handsome Neil looked. He was wearing a pair of blue jeans, a button up black shirt with a Henley collar, and dress shoes. He smelled just as good as he looked.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“Yes, where are we going?”
“Do you like Mexican?”
“I love it!”
“Great, then how about El Canelo?”
“That sounds good to me!”
Neil held the umbrella over my head as we walked, and then he opened the passenger side door of his black Chrysler 300. It has all of the bells and whistles and was very sharp looking.
“I like your car.” I told him.
“Thanks, so do I.” He looked at me with that crooked, sly smile I was starting to love.
Neil and I had a wonderful conversation over dinner, but we didn’t talk about work once. I learned that he had recently moved to Oakland from Baltimore, and he was living in a town house in Mt. Lake Park. He was hoping to save some money and put a down payment on a house in the next year or two. I told him that I play clarinet in the Community Concert Band, and we talked about our families, goals, and dreams. It turned out that Neil and I have quit a lot in common.
“My buddy keeps bugging me to come to his party this evening. It’s just a small group of people and a few drinks. Would you want to go with me?” Neil asked.
“I don’t know, “I said as I rubbed the back of my neck.
“Oh please, he won’t stop bugging me if I don’t go, and I know this is very forward, but I don’t want our date to be over yet.” He looked at me with big puppy dog eyes, and so much hope that I would say yes, how could I say no?
“Okay, but I don’t want to stay out too late.”
“Thank you! You have no idea how much grief you just saved me.”
I chuckled as I took the last sip of my water.
Neil and pulled up to this gorgeous log cabin in McHenry. It was located way back in the woods. Neil came around and opened the door of the car for me. He held his arm out for me to grab onto. I took his arm and we entered the lovely home. Neil guided me through a very large crowd of people. “I thought you said this was a small group.” I stated.
“Yes, well. I guess I was misinformed. “
There was a handsome, sort of nerdy looking man sitting on a couch. He looked over at Neil and his eyes widened.
“Hey, bro!” “I’m so glad you could make it!”
“Yeah. I told you I would try. This is my date, Kristian. Kristian, this is my friend Jared.”
“Hi Jared, it’s very nice to meet you.” I said as I extended my hand.
“You too! Hey, mind if I borrow your date for a minute?”
“Not at all.”
“Great, there are drinks and snacks over there.” Jared pointed to his dining room table. “Help yourself.”
Neil was gone for what seemed like an eternity, so I decided to go look for him. As I searched the room filled with hundreds of people dancing, my eyes landed on a mysterious figure. I walked closer and saw dark eyes staring back into mine, looking deep into my soul. He was average height; my guess was around 5’11. He had broad shoulders, and the most beautiful dark brown eyes I had ever seen. He smiled this crooked, almost evil smile. I melted; he found my weak spot, but how? I didn’t even know him, yet as I stared at him, looking into his eyes, trying to see into his soul, I felt like I had known him forever. He was leaning against the wall, his arms folded across his chest, and his crooked smile became bigger. I continued to walk towards him, my hands sweaty, heart beating; I could hear my own pulse, could he? Judging by the look on his face, my guess was yes. My legs started to tremble, I was growing weaker the closer I got to him, yet there was this force drawing me to him. I couldn’t deny it, nor did I want to. He stood up straight and reached out for me. As I grabbed his hand, I fell into him. His heart was beating in sync with mine, his breathing was heavy, yet he seemed so calm. He grabbed the back of my head, and I realized it was Neil!
“You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.”
I tried to respond, but I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth.
Suddenly the room filled with the sound of music, something familiar. Had the music always been playing? I thought. I listened. “There’s a devil crawling along your floor.” It was Metallica’s cover of “Lover man.” A sudden chill brought me back to the moment.
“Your hands, they’re so cold.” I said.
“Yes, my darling. You see I’m not living, not the way you live.”
“What do you mean?” I responded. “You’re right here, I can feel you, I can hear your….”
“My heart? Or what you thought was my heart?” He chuckled. “Sweet, naive, little girl, don’t you see? I can be anything you want me to be, I can be anywhere I want to be, I am here, yet I am everywhere. I’ve been around for a long time, and you have no idea how long I’ve desired you.” His eyes flickered red.
I gasped and started backing away from him. He tilted his head and gave me that crooked smile that I now hated to love. He ran his cold, long fingers down my arm. He moved behind me and whispered in my ear “just watch.”
I looked among the people dancing, not sure what I was supposed to be watching exactly. I felt something cold crawl up my leg. I looked down and there was a black snake with red eyes slithering up my thigh, the same black snake that is in my dream from the night before. “Is this a dream?” I thought to myself. This doesn’t feel like a dream. Where did Neil go? Why do I keep losing him? All of these thoughts were flooding my mind.
Still unaware of what any of this meant I kept watching the people dance until one of them looked at me. A slender woman with long black hair motioned for me to come towards her. Before I could even lift my foot to walk I was standing right in front of her. “How did I get here so quickly?” I thought. She kissed my cheek and in one fluid-like motion started dancing again, I felt compelled to join her. My eyes caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror, hanging on a mantel above a huge blue and black stone fire place. The seductress had left her ruby red lip print on my cheek. I stopped dancing, everyone else stopped too. Suddenly everyone but me had fallen to the floor, they started slithering around like snakes, but they weren’t snakes, they were humans, or at least I thought they were humans.
All of a sudden, a huge clap of thunder drew my attention away from the slithering people on the floor. A lightning bolt lit up the night sky, and the lights in the house started to flicker. I looked down at the people, they stopped slithering. They exploded, and blood filled the room. I started swimming though the blood, trying to find a way to escape. I tried to open the front door. The door knob wouldn’t even turn. I pulled and pulled, but it wouldn’t open. I kept swimming, to all of the doors in the house, trying to open all of them, but they would not budge. I heard the most evil laugh I had ever heard.
Neil picked me up, and suddenly the blood was gone. He caressed my face “sweet, naive, little girl. The doors don’t open in this world, on the other side.”
“That doesn’t even make sense. The doors don’t open on the other side of…wait, no! “I gasped.
I ran back to the mirror hanging over the fireplace…. This time, instead of seeing my reflection, I saw my bedroom at my house. I could see my empty bed. I realized what he meant by the other side.
The doors don’t open from the other side of the mirror.