All the Agony You Could Ever Want

The way I used to describe my job to people -which was only funny the first time I said it and not the ten thousand times after that- is that I was in charge of the world’s supply of a major root vegetable. I liked to lean in and wiggle my eyebrows when I said it for extra effect. Emphasized major every time. Major root vegetable, I’d say. Like I was a Hollywood agent representing Tom Cruise or something, and there was a whole ranking system for the celebrity status of root vegetables. My boss loved it, or at least she pretended to, although I bet she also hated it after a while.

 

If you’re curious, it was nothing as important as carrots or onions, but if I’d stuck at it another ten years I probably would have been in charge of both of those. Hell, in another fifteen years probably nothing that grew below God’s green Earth would have been outside my purview. Strange how good that sounds, now. When I was fired I’d barely worked my way above yams and parsnips.

 

My secretary used to say I liked to yam it up. She had so many “corny” jokes- Huh, I haven’t thought of her in awhile. I miss her. She was one of the first things to go. It went after the little things first, you see. It started at the edges and worked its way in.

 

Oh right, not there yet. Look at me getting ahead of myself. For a second there this felt like an old work meeting. Forgot where I am.

 

This is all my dumb way of saying I was involved in industrial agriculture. I traveled all over the world, first taking soil samples when I was a newbie and then dispatching teams to take soil samples for me when I worked my way up to major root vegetable status. It was a life of isolation, for the most part. I hardly ever spent more than five days in one place.

 

I had a wife, yeah. I even had a daughter, but that only counts for so much when you’re bouncing all around the globe three weeks a month. The second I stepped onto the plane, to what I’d come to consider my normal life, it felt like I was a friend to no one nowhere. Like I was just some kind of weird animal that lived in airports. It was idyllic, though, really. To have them waiting for me at home like that. You just never appreciate what you have when every day is the same.

 

So that’s why I did it, I guess.

 

I did it because I was bored and because I didn’t know what I had and because I grew up poor and couldn’t stand the fact that I’d made it out. And because I’m dumb as a sack of potatoes.

 

Y’know, I’ve tried a hundred times to count how many doors I walked through before I realized what was happening, and the nearest I can come up with is about five thousand. Five thousand worlds traveled through, each new one a bit worse than the one before. It’s accelerating, now. The doors are exponential. It took me a while to figure that out, too. When I first started they didn’t even change anything that big. Maybe my shoe would come a bit untied, or my hair wouldn’t look quite as nice. I walk through a door now and it’s as big a jump as all those first five thousand. Maybe worse.

 

So, consider yourself warned.

 

Someone has to know. Just in case it travels this way again. There’s not an infinite number of worlds, you see. God help me, but there’s not. I think it yo-yo’s back and forth. It came for me, once. That means it has to come back this way, eventually.

 

I found it while I was working. I was walking through some godforsaken bit of the rainforest in Brazil. That’s as much as I’ll tell you, not that it matters. It’s not there anymore, not in this Brazil, at least. I was born there, you know. Took pains to hide it after I came stateside, even though it was nothing to be ashamed of. I liked it when people thought of me as just a body that did a job and not some guy with a whole past and life and everything. Not even sure why I’m telling you, but I was born less than a hundred miles away from that place. My dad took us away from there not long after I was born but… nevermind. It doesn’t matter. All that connected me to that door was my own shit choice.

 

I’d got an email the weekend before I found it that we were looking to buy up acreage in the area and clear the land. Tens of thousands of acres. On a purchase that big I was obliged to go out with the teams and see what the land was worth. I don’t know why I really had to go. It’s stupid. I wasn’t going to learn anything firsthand that would be even a thousandth as valuable as what I could get from soil tests and drone surveys. Policy is policy, though. You don’t get to be in charge of major root vegetables without learning how to take orders. You think the Roman Legion had discipline? Try living your life at the whims of a plant deciding to grow or not.

 

So, there I was, pretending to be Indiana Jones and hacking my way through the jungle, when I came across the Door.

 

The locals don’t know shit about it, by the way. No legends. No stories of gods. No whispered threats of wandering demons who ask people to walk through doors. I make a habit of reading up on the local cultures and it’s not in any books. Not in any world I went through. And nobody’s ancient grandmother knows about it either. Believe me I asked. I asked hard, too, if you get my meaning. You don’t literally burn down the rainforest without becoming a certain species of bastard and I was desperate by that point.

 

Here’s what I learned to save you the time: The door wasn’t from this world. It might not be from any world. I think the door was just moving through this world by chance, and I happened across it through pure dumb bad luck.

 

It was still me that did the stupid thing by walking through it.

 

I found the door in a clearing, which is a rare thing if you’ve ever been to the Amazon in any world. Everything on the forest floor is dark there. They don’t call the tall trees the canopy for nothing. So, when I saw the clearing, I was curious. I figured there had to be a pond there or something, but there wasn’t. I made my way to the clearing, and in the middle there was the door.

 

It looked a bit like stonehenge. Three coffee black timbers, two straight up, the third laying across the other two. Not made of any kind of wood I’d ever seen before, and given my profession that’s saying something. The grain was finer than oak or rowan, and when I say it was black I’m not kidding. I shouldn’t have said coffee. It was black like squid ink. Like the bottom of a cave older than the sun.

 

It was the simplest kind of door you’d draw as a kid. Except on each beam, in English -although I suspect the writing probably looked different depending on who you were, so it always gave the same message- it said, “All the Agony You Could Ever Want.”

 

So basically, the Door to Hell is right there in the middle of the jungle with no preamble, neatly labeled in a language I could read. What a thing, huh?

 

It seems stupid on the face of it, and maybe if I’d felt it was stupid it wouldn’t have worked. It wouldn’t have drawn me into it like it did. You ever flick a loose tooth? Just so it will hurt for a little bit? I do. Every damn time. If I wasn’t that kind of person, I’d have just walked away and made a note of it in my report.

 

There, in the middle of the damn jungle with nobody around but me, it felt as serious as a heart attack. As serious as student loan interest, and 401k plans, and the mortgage and the economy were meant to be serious. It also felt… wrong. Heavy, like it was more real than everything else around it and it tugged at everything around it with some weird gravity. Like it was more there than anything else was there. I’ve always felt pain is more real than anything else, and it excited me.

 

Taking it as seriously as I did, you would have thought I’d be afraid, but my dick could have cut a diamond, and my heart was up in my throat, like it hadn’t been since I was a teenager and I saw my first porn mag. Here, at last, was something real! Here was consequence! All I could think of was my whole stupid boring life, how it was just going to keep going on and on, how I’d keep committing these distant crimes against nature one pen-stroke or email at a time, until I got old and died in a retirement home and somehow because of that… seeing that door made me harder than I’d been on prom night.

 

Maybe it was hell on the other side of that door, I thought, but if so, at least hell is an important place. Hell is significant. Hell is different than doing the same thing every day. In hell you can’t watch your life go by because you’re too busy watching Netflix or Hulu or trying out the latest fad diet with no meaning to any of it. Things matter in Hell. Hell is one of the realest things there is. Hell is distinct. You’re the focus of attention in Hell, because everything there has to conspire to make you miserable.

 

I wanted to be real, like my idea of Hell. I wanted to have meaning. I wanted consequence to my life. I wanted distinction. I wanted attention.

 

I ran to the door and through it, closing my eyes and expecting that at any moment a demon would come out of the forest and eat me whole. I felt the shadow of the door pass over me as I passed under it, and my whole body went cold like I’d gone polar bear diving or something. It was the most thrilling experience of my entire life. I fully believed I would be devoured, and it thrilled me to face death. I even came, if you want to know.

 

I kept waiting for the demon to come but it never did. It doesn’t work like that. The worst demons kill you by inches.

 

I didn’t stop running till I tripped over some roots, landed dick first, and the pain was so intense that I didn’t even notice that the door was gone for probably five minutes. Gone like it had never been.

 

Here’s a crazy thing about human psychology: Do something so fucking weird as to be impossible in the middle of nowhere, with no records and no one around to see it and see how long it stays in your memory. See how long it takes before it starts to feel like you made it up. I made it about two days before I wrote the whole thing off as a daydream, aside from the mess in my pants.

 

Seeing as how I hadn’t died, I got up -made some fuss over my bruised but thankfully not broken dick- and limped the three or so miles I needed to walk back to the jeep. I was shook up for a few hours, but by the time I was flying home I hardly felt any different than I’d always felt. Bored, distracted, wondering why everything felt so empty. I walked through thirty six doors during those three days. I remember each and every one. That’s a lot less than it could have been. A whole lot less, so I guess I should be grateful.

 

What did I notice first? Let me think…

 

The in-flight magazine on the way back wasn’t any good, but then I don’t think they ever are in any universe. This one didn’t even have any advertisements for cool gadgets, though. It was just a lot of boring articles about flying safe. I remember one of the peanuts I ate was sour and the flight attendant was rude. My left shoelace kept coming untied, like I said, but I attributed that to the way I was crossing my legs.

 

The biggest changes came when I got home.

 

My wife was never what you’d call a looker, but she was still above average. To me, anyway. I married her for her stability, because you could always count on her. When I got home she was still pretty, and not really less so than when I’d left. Just a little bit worse for the wear. Not ugly, just… worse. You ever go to a small town bar? Sometimes, not always, you can find a mother and daughter working there and hold them up like snapshots in time and you can see how what’s inside starts to bleed through to the outside. What a hard life does to a person. My wife looked like that, like her life had been harder. Not much, but some.

 

My daughter was crying, too, wanting her pacifier, which wasn’t completely out of place although she was usually happy to see me for the first few hours when I got home from a business trip. I usually got a big hug and a kiss, and a bunch of requests to see what I’d brought her. This was cold, though. Very cold. We made our pleasantries if somewhat less enthusiastically than usual, watched some bad movies together, and fell asleep on the couch as a family.

 

It was nice. I’d go back to that world in a second if I had the chance.

 

I was over a dozen worlds away from it when I got into the office the next morning.

 

My secretary had a mole when I went back to the corporate offices. She hadn’t had one before. It was the size of a pencil eraser right on her neck. I didn’t know how to ask about it without being rude so I didn’t say anything. I tried to mention it to my boss later, without coming out and talking about it directly, but she just played dumb. Didn’t even seem to know what I was talking about. My boss was still warm to me, though, flirty but professional, like she’d always been.

 

You know how many doors I walked through on a given day back then? Here’s a taste: bedroom door, bathroom door, back out the bathroom door, front door, car door, back out the car door, lobby door, elevator door, office door, conference room door. The office by the way? Did not have an open floor plan. Everyone was crammed into some office somewhere. On a given day I’d walk through about fifty fucking doors. Fifty doors. On any one given day.

 

My wife had died her hair blonde by the time I got home that night. She’d never been vain before, but this was super blonde. Trashy blonde. And our daughter was hollering like I’d never heard before. My wife just got up and put in another DVD. No talks about feelings. No kissed ouchies. Nothing personal to it at all.

 

My wife announced she felt tired and would be microwaving our dinner. I didn’t know what to say. We’d always been pretty traditional in household responsibilities, but I didn’t feel like I could come out and condemn her for the house falling apart. We didn’t talk much and we both knew our marriage had been circling the drain for a while, but neither of us was driven to either leave it or make it better. My focus was on my work. It was just the kind of sacrifice I made on behalf of major root vegetables, and I figured I was paying the price for success by letting it go. I also felt like I’d find a way to make it better later and that it wasn’t worth a fight.

 

That’s how I thought back then. Always thinking I’d make it better later. Never did, though. Not once.

 

The next day, another fifty doors. The mole on my secretary’s neck was bigger every time I looked at it. The end of the second day it was the size of a silver dollar. The emails I got from other department heads were a little angrier. We’d lost a field of potatoes to some blight that seemed resistant to our pesticides, which wasn’t cause for alarm, but definitely something that needing looking into before it became a problem.

 

When I got home my wife’s hair was cut short, our daughter was eating candy, watching a DVD and somehow knew how to change them out herself. We had made a rule about her using electronics by herself. We hadn’t wanted to raise an electronics zombie. We got into a big argument. Unlike before, we didn’t make up again in a few hours.

 

The next day, another fifty doors. My secretary was out for the day seeing a dermatologist. She didn’t feel well. My boss seemed angry at me, and the tension between us was bordering on the less than professional. My 401k had lost 15%. The emails from department heads were more alarmed. The blight was looking more serious. Was I able to go make a personal risk assessment?

 

I figured time away from the wife would help things cool down so I said yes.

 

You know how many goddamn doors there are in an airport? Departing and arriving? Forget about it. My wife was gone by the time I got home. Our daughter was with my wife’s parents. She’d gone to Bermuda, and maxed out our credit cards, in order to find herself.

 

I was gutted, but for the first time in my adult life I felt awake. I felt keen and aware as I had when I was a kid on the streets. I was miserable and alive. Consequences, here at last! Something to snap me out of the goddamn daydream.

 

As bad as that was, I’d even be happy to go back to that world. All that bad stuff was just stuff that impacted my personal everyday life. Even my secretary wasn’t that bad. A few months of treatment and she would have been fine. Nothing real bad had happened then. Nothing global.

 

I called in sick to work when I got back, said I was going to be working from home for the next few days or not at all, and didn’t leave my bedroom for the next two days. I was wallowing but my mind was racing to figure out what to do. I felt alive and ready to take action at last. I didn’t get up once, not even to get up to eat or go to the bathroom. My life was horrible, but it stabilized for those two days as I sat there plotting how to put it all back together. That was my first clue. My boss even sent me a sympathetic email, telling me that she could find someone else to do my work for me if I needed time away.

 

I should have said yes. If I’d left it there, maybe I could have found a way to bring it all back around somehow. I didn’t of course. You know me, always putting off the fix for later. Even after just a couple of days things started to feel the same again.

 

On day three, I decided my wife’s choices were outside my control and that any grand gesture on my part would be futile and I spent the next week burying myself at work. No matter what I did, every day the situation got worse and worse. I was running around to tens of offices, trying to get status updates and every office I went to it was bad news. If I emailed, though, the news was neutral or the same as it had been.

 

I’d never been a superstitious person, apart from the First Door, but now I was starting to make all sorts of strange leaps. If I called for someone to come to my office from inside my office, they seemed happier to see me. If I tucked my head out the door and asked for them to come see me, they seemed less happy. If I stayed home, like on a weekend, everything stayed stable.

 

I saw on facebook that my wife was back from Bermuda and spending a lot of time with a childhood friend of hers. A friend of hers that I’d never seen as a threat. Apparently, he’d recently lost about fifty pounds of fat and put on thirty pounds of muscle. And gone back to school. Her choice, I thought. Her choice. What could I do? I tried calling her. She never answered.

 

At night, I dreamed of the Door.

 

Each morning, I told myself I was being ridiculous and that these things happen all the time and now I was just the unfortunate person they were happening to. Wasn’t this what I wanted though? Wasn’t this what I’d asked for when I walked through the first door? I sure as hell felt awake every day.

 

Another week passed like that, until I collapsed, ordered myself a bunch of pity pizza and this time I didn’t leave my room for three days. I watched all of Netflix and cried myself to sleep every night, oddly grateful that at least my life wasn’t boring anymore. At least I could feel that I was alive everyday, even though I was in pain.

 

I made plans with my wife’s parents to go see our daughter. There was no reason she should be neglected and it had been two weeks since I’d seen her. With the trips I’d had to take, not talking to my daughter had seemed easier than explaining why mommy and daddy weren’t together anymore. It seemed kinder. Truth was, I also felt like a selfish bastard for focusing so much on myself. I told work the time off was necessary for me to put my marriage back together. My boss was less than happy about this, but she agreed. She told me she thought of me as a son, and that there is nothing in the world more important than family.

 

In my waking hours, I’d finally started to think of the door I’d seen in Brazil. I started to wonder how it was that everything kept going wrong. I started to wonder if it had been real and if I was in hell. I still didn’t realize how bad it could get.

 

By the time I got to my wife’s parents house, I was no longer welcome. I made a fuss and they threatened to call the police. I forced my way inside and I discovered my daughter wasn’t there any longer. My wife had picked her up and taken her to her sister’s house. No matter that I’d talked to them only a few minutes ago. No matter that my daughter had waved to me through the window. I went to their guest room where my daughter usually stayed and that was the first time I felt a big change. I felt the whole world shift at that door.

 

Now, the story was different. My wife had picked up my daughter and her new friend was taking them both to Disneyland. It had always been that way. For the first time, the doors had rewritten history.

 

I’d walked through eight doors before arriving, getting ready and gassing up for the trip. Just eight. I walked through another eight in the house. That’s when the doors started to really hurt, though. That’s when each door started to really matter.

 

Dejected and feeling like I was going crazy, I opened the door to my car to make a phone call and as soon as I sat down I got a text that my secretary had passed away. Skin cancer. From mole to corpse in just a month.

 

I also got a rude email, completely out of character, from my boss saying I had better get my ass to work if I still wanted a job. And it also seemed… angry at me personally somehow for not being there. Like I’d betrayed her.

 

I called my wife. I shouldn’t have. I was too shook up. When I did she seemed half-awake and I could hear a man murmuring in the background. She laughed and hung up the phone before I could even work up the appropriate level of anger.

 

I pulled over to the side of the road and puked out my window. I kept the door closed. You bet your ass I kept that door closed. I was sweating, trembling, as it all started to come together in my head.

 

The doors. I knew it then, as I should have known it all along. It was the doors. It has to pivot to be a door, by the way. Windows don’t count. I didn’t know that then, though. I figured that out later. It’s the pivoting that matters.

 

I crawled out the car window when I got home, crawled through the backyard window to get into the house, but I couldn’t get around having to go through the bedroom door to get my passport and the money in our safe. That was two. Just two doors. Now I could feel it, like a misting of oil over my skin, each time I passed through.

 

When I’d crawled back into my car through the window, I got an email saying I’d been fired. Almost immediately after that, a very drunk voicemail from my boss saying that we could be better friends since we didn’t have a work relationship anymore. She was married and old enough to be my mother. At office parties, she used to pinch my cheeks and tell me I was cute as a button. Her voicemail offered considerably more than that, and it felt like something ugly, scarring and wicked.

 

There was really only one thing left for me to do.

 

It took me almost a month and four more doors to get to Brazil.

 

Once, I had to go to a grocery store to get toilet paper so I could go to the bathroom in fields on the side of the road. I couldn’t help it, I felt too gross, and I was stupidly starting to doubt myself. You can only drive so far before your entire psyche dissolves and you question everything you’re doing. Go on a road trip with somebody sometime, and it only takes a few hours for them to tell you everything they’ve ever felt or done. The doubt ended shortly after I grabbed the toilet paper. The door on the way in saw me getting a text message from my wife that she wanted a divorce. The door on the way out got me another text that my daughter had been diagnosed with a learning disability.

 

She’d been in the gifted kindergarten program before all of this started.

 

You’d be surprised how creative I got. The lies I told. The gas station attendants who would have sworn that my car door was broken who helped me crawl through my window. The way I’d ask hotel staff to leave the windows open for the room so I could get some fresh air circulating before I took occupancy. How I’d pay bellboys to run errands for me, or tell me where the nearest open-air beach shower could be found. The drive-ins where I’d stockpile whatever salty greasy concoctions they had so that it would stay good for longer.

 

Things were okay for a while. My wife even texted me to ask if I was okay. My boss sent a message apologizing for her behavior and offering me a good reference.

 

Did you know that border gates count as doors? I didn’t. They pivot! I was driving, tired, and didn’t even think. I’d avoided them all this time, I thought I could keep it up. In the gate, out the other side. That feeling of being misted in oil hit me each time. Stronger than before. I got a text from my wife that our daughter was officially developmentally delayed. The text I got from my boss was… explicit and included the adage that “Every son needs a mother.”

 

I spent a lot of time studying maps after that. Reworking routes to avoid major thoroughfares. I couldn’t afford another door.

 

I got there. I found the place where the door had been. I’d been trying to get there all along, without even realizing where I was going. It had been my plan to fix this terrible mistake, but I didn’t know how. Maybe try to go through the door the other way. I thought I had learned my lesson. I was ready to leave hell. I’d had all the Agony I Could Ever Want. More than I could ever want.

 

All I found were GPS coordinates. No door. No clearing. Everything was overgrown. Trees grew there that were hundreds of years old. Of course the door wasn’t there. It was worlds away by then.

 

I found some locals and tried to bribe them to tell me more. When that didn’t work I resorted to violence. It seemed easier there, away from everyone I knew. I was this disconnected monster on his way to hell, and what did it matter if I drug a few people there with me? I was just like my dad and uncles, living in the shadows and all the choices I made were bad ones. An old woman spit on me and said I was a demon, and instead of cringing in horror or laughing, I attacked her and demanded to know where the Door to Heaven was. There had to be a white wood door! Something that would turn the direction around! I needed a way back! Didn’t she see?

 

Nobody one knew a fucking thing.

 

I spent a whole summer out there asking. I was almost insane by the time some old co-workers found me and took me to this hospital, so don’t blame me for the way the world is now. I couldn’t put up much of a fight by then.

 

I hadn’t even gone into a hut, you see. Not one door after that border gate. Not one. I slept every night under the stars and garbage out of alleys. Not just for my sake, but because I was terrified of what the changes would do to the rest of the world.

 

My friends broke the world when they brought me here. The whole world… it just broke.

 

First there was the door of the ambulance they put me into. Then going back out the ambulance. The doors to the hospital’s main entrance. All the doors they have for the different wards. The elevator doors. The room doors. I don’t think any building has more doors than a hospital. While I was unconscious I must have passed through hundreds.

 

Those changes… those changes were profound.

 

Exponents are a motherfucker.

 

Last I heard, when I still had a daughter, she had Down Syndrome and was dying of leukemia. I was forced into an isolation cell one night and by the time I got out she had never been born. My wife’s remarried and pregnant. Triplets. Oh, and somehow she’s been addicted to crack cocaine for the last fifteen years. My boss is writing an erotic novel with thinly veiled versions of us doing obscene things and I hear it’s expected to sell big.

 

If that were all that was wrong, I wouldn’t even mind. I loved my daughter. I’d give anything to bring her back, but she’s only one person. As much as I love her, she’s still just one person. Nobody else is even hurt by her being gone.

 

This world? The one we’re in right now? There’s hurting everywhere. This world is all wrong, top to bottom.

 

Do you know I never heard the term “developing world” until after I woke up in this hospital? In my world, the Soviet Union peacefully collapsed in 1972 after being bankrupted during the Space Race. Democracy spread to every nation on Earth. It was like wildfire. China reformed during the Tiananmen Square uprising with no casualties. The US never overthrew the Iranian government and it stabilized and modernized the whole Middle East. There were still poor countries, but there wasn’t anybody starving anywhere. There weren’t whole countries that people from other countries couldn’t go to. We burned down parts of the Amazon for my job, sure, but we did so under careful government scrutiny and at a rate set by someone other than us, and nothing like on the scale of what I see in the news here. We’d choked global warming, and it was already ending.

 

What else?  No 9/11 either. There were wars in my world, but America never got involved. The wars were just mostly tribal conflicts and the body counts were in the hundreds. We discovered and cured AIDS in the course of fifteen years. Getting an organ cloned was expensive, but it was FDA approved in 2005. Rest homes are bad, but the Alzheimer’s and Dementia meds we had would keep you sharp until you kicked the bucket. I swear on the memory of what my life used to be that I’d only ever seen kids starving in Africa in history books before I woke up in this damn hospital. Before all of this started, I’d even been planning a grand three-month tour of the African Federation with the whole family. My way of making up for the toll that a certain major root vegetable had taken on our home life. Africa used to be the number one tourist destination on Earth.

 

All that’s gone now. It’s all faded. Everything here seems like it’s falling apart even when I’m not walking through doors. You’re just starting to get re-usable rockets, but we’d had them for ten years when I walked through the first door. Congress passed a budget to build the technology in 2000, saying it was time America came into the future for real. We were expecting the first manned mission to Mars in the 2018 launch window.

 

I bet that’s the big thing that will go away with the next door. That and self-driving cars. We had those too, but they were just starting to get mainstream and I was waiting another couple of years to buy one when the prices fell. Those are just the kinds of things the door likes to take away. It hates anything that points at the future, anything that makes the world brighter or better. It’ll be gone next time, mark my words.

 

I suppose I shouldn’t even care, knowing where I’m going. There’s only one place left for a man like me.

 

I’ve been having nightmares.

 

Real, real bad ones. There’s a world below all the other worlds, and I see it when I sleep. I think it’s close. Maybe it’s not a world. It’s not round. It’s just… flat, like a plane that goes on forever. There’s a moon there, but it’s just a face and it’s screaming. Oh God how it screams. It says awful things. The worst things you’ve ever heard in your life, and each time I fall asleep the things it says are worse than before. It watches me when I’m there, I’m sure of it. Oh, how it hates me. Nothing has ever hated me that much in my whole life. There are giants too. Bigger than anything you talked about in your astronomy class, even. Giants the size of galaxies who want to hurt you forever.

 

There’s no escaping from that world.

 

If you dug into the ground of that world, deep down, well, that’s the end. There are only so many worlds, and that one is the last world. The world at the very bottom of everything. End of the line. You go below that? Nothing at all.

 

I know because in my nightmare last night I tried to dig a door into the ground. I figured nothing could be worse than that place and I was right. When I looked through the hole I’d made in that infinite plane… I saw nothing.

 

Really, nothing. Not white. Not black. Just the clarity of glass going on forever.

 

I’d kill myself, of course, but death is also a door. Death is a big door. I never knew your whole self pivots when you die, but you do. I’ve already tried three times. I sliced open my wrists with a piece of glass and bled out, but then I just woke up and the window I’d smashed was whole again. I hung myself with my laundry and choked to death, but then I woke up and the pipe I’d hung myself on had broken and all I got was a sore neck. I even drowned myself. There used to be a duck pond out back. I know you don’t remember it. You never remember any of the changes, doc. Besides, it’s only a puddle now. You also don’t remember that there used to be no Ebola, no North Korea, and no subprime mortgage crisis.

 

You don’t even remember that I used to have hands and feet to fight you. That I used to have eyes to watch you pretend to give a shit! That I used to have a nose and I could smell your cheap cologne! That I could taste what the shitty hospital food you shove down my throat! You don’t remember that I’d never been tortured and maimed by kidnappers before you took me through the door to this room!

 

I know you’re discharging me, doc. My family is having me flown back somewhere closer to home. I get it. It’s beyond your control. I know you’re moving me. I know you’re going to strap me to this bed and that you’re going to take me… through what? Seven doors? Nine? Thirteen?

 

I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.

 

I’ve seen where I’m going.

 

There’s no turning back.

 

I might as well be on my way. Please stop trying to tell me I’m crazy or that I need drugs or whatever it is you’re going to say next. You always find a way to tell me I’m nuts no matter what the world is like, and for all the different diagnosis you’ve made you always fall back on that prescription pad.

 

It’s not going to be okay. Stop wasting my time. I’m a very important man. I used to be in charge of the world’s supply of a major root vegetable, you know.

 

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