Chapter Two

After a night filled with odd dreams, Frank blinked his eyes to the Sun’s rays as they burned away the remnants of his fitful sleep. Stretching arms and legs with the bright warmth caressing his back and sides, he sat up slowly, slid out of bed, shivered slightly as his feet sought their slippered home on the chilly wooden floor. Once in the bathroom, he fully revived with a long, hot shower. Today, he decided, he was a new man. The previous day’s experience had been a random oddity due simply to an over-active imagination.

While eating breakfast, he went through his morning routine of checking the news and social websites to catch up on what he may have missed overnight. No messages, nor world-shattering information awaited. Full of the latest information, oatmeal, toast and a scrambled egg, he threw together a bagged lunch, cleaned up his mess, and locking the door, strode across the back lawn to the church. Although the weatherman assured everyone it would be sunny this Sunday, and winter was officially several weeks behind him, Frank wanted to get the furnace fixed as soon as possible.

The mechanical monstrosity greeted him in silence, maintaining its new vigilance in the middle of the basement floor with various tools left lying around it. Confident that last night’s strangeness had been some self-induced delusion, Frank decided to ignore the walls in case he might imagine something bizarre again.

He worked steadily, concentrating on fixing the heater. Around noon he discovered that the internal wiring had been severed – most likely by mice. After further inspection, he became concerned. It looked as though someone had deliberately damaged the machine. The cuts were too precise and clean for mice teeth to have caused them. He grabbed his lunch bag and went upstairs to catch Father James and let him know someone had purposely damaged the unit. He might know who would try such a thing.

As he came close to the priest’s darkened office, he remembered the pastor was attending a clerical retreat through Saturday. Frank walked to the kitchen, popped open a can of soda from the fridge and ate his lunch quickly, anxious to get done with the job. While at the table he noticed the dirty floor and remembered part of his dreams from last night.

Little goblin-like creatures had danced around him with spears poking at him. He had defended himself with a mop and bucket. They laughed and shouted with angry, hate-filled cries that he was going to die for trying to interfere.

Shaking himself and chuckling at his bizarre imagination, he finished his meal, tossed his trash in the bin, made a mental note to clean the floor today and headed back downstairs, determined to finish his project. To avoid forgetting about the kitchen, he went to the opposite corner of the basement and pulled out some cleaning supplies: cleaner, wipes, mop and bucket. As he walked across the floor, he stopped and visibly shivered. He noticed a drawing on the wall – the same one he had convinced himself was not there.

He marched over to the wall, mop in hand, and thrust it at the drawing, resolved to eradicate the mess. As the mop touched the drawing, it kept moving – through the picture. In fact, it started moving as though something was pulling it into the wall. Quickly, Frank grounded his feet, gripped the mop tightly and yanked. It did not slow but began to pull him forward as well. Before he could let go, his entire body started shaking with an electric rush. The wall now stood a few inches from him. The drawing had grown and changed. The little archway had expanded so much that if it were real, he would pass right through it.

And he did.