No, no…. Not those guys….
Not long ago I wrote about a recent coincidental sequence of reading I’d done that all featured executions, of all things. The theme of recent weeks, apparently, is simply “doors.”
It all started over a month ago as I was listening to NPR, and they were interviewing author, Chris Bohjalian about his new book, The Night Strangers. Like many of us, I’m sure, I enjoy learning what the source idea of a story is. It turns out that in this case, the author and his family had not too long ago bought and moved into a large house in rural New Hampshire (or was it Vermont? I can never keep those two straight). One of the unique features of the house, we listeners learned, was that it featured a basement with a largely earthen floor (the one exception being where the laundry machines stood on a concrete slab). Not noticed initially by Bohjalian was a door in a remote corner that was nailed shut and apparently hadn’t been opened in many years. The curiosity such an object aroused in him was the kernel of the idea that grew into his novel, The Night Stangers. A story that I hoped would be perfect “Halloween Season” reading, but in the end was a bit of a disappointment.
Later, I learned via another blog of the recently published horror story anthology, Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead, edited by Stephen Jones. I purchased this one “immediately” and am about five or six stories in thus far. In short, it is everything that I had hoped another recent purchase (The Haunting of Twentieth Century America) would be, but wasn’t. (how’s that for an awkward sentence?). Great, genuinely scary “ghost” stories! The third of which was titled “The Door,” written by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes, a.k.a. Britain’s “Prince of Chill”(!) love that nickname!
In this great story, a writer has purchased a 300-year old door from a lately demolished 16th century manor house. His grand plans for it involve replacing a cupboard(!) door with it (after enlarging the aperture) so that it will be facing his work desk. “It will inspire me!” he proudly tells his dismayed wife. The door had an “intricate pattern that seemed to grow more complicated the longer it was examined.” The man begins to play with his imagination, speculating on what kind of room the door must have led to in its heyday. “There was a certain eerie satisfaction in creating an imaginary world for the door to guard.”
Via his imagination (or was it becoming more than that?) he even is able to transport himself to that room of long ago that the door once served. Of course, and we knew it was coming, the door turns out to be a two-way portal (as all doors are, aren’t they?)… A great, very creepy story, inducing chills in me that proved the validity of the author’s nickname. There are other great stories in this book and, even though I’m only part way through, I highly recommend it.