9. The Invisible Door

9. The Invisible Door

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Goodness me, it must be since last Thursday, or maybe the Monday before that,” stammered Sallowman, “I can’t be quite sure because, well, to tell the truth time seems to play odd tricks and stops a fellow from seeking the light of his Lord and getting back into the sun.”

Phooey,” said Paul rather rudely bearing in mind the nature of the man he was talking to, “you must have been here a great deal longer than a fortnight if you think the first world war’s still being fought! In fact, as I work it out...” and he started muttering incomprehensibly to himself and counting something on his fingers, so Davey took over.

What my friend is trying to say,” he murmured, “is that you must have been here for well over a hundred years! Which must make you very old indeed. When were you twenty-one?”

What? A hundred years? Nonsense!” responded Sallowman, “I wandered in last Tuesday, or maybe the one before.”

So when might you have been twenty-one?” repeated Davey

Oh, that’s easy, I remember my birthday, silly, and I celebrated my twenty-first on December 6th 1899,” came the reply, “I was given a new pair of trousers and a cuff-link set, and my girlfriend, well, she was my girlfriend then but she fell out with me over a passage in the scriptures, she gave me a pair of good strong socks and a darning needle for when I wore them out! She was so thoughtful, but as I said, we had our differences.

You fell out over something silly like a passage in the scriptures?” asked Paul, amazed.

Silly? There’s nothing silly about the Good Book! Anyway, our differences concerned quite an important passage involving the presence of women in Heaven,” sighed Sallowman, “the scriptures make it quite clear that women aren’t allowed unless they turn into men. It’s really quite sensible, dont you think?”

And you fell out over something that was written originally by a misogynist in the bronze age and translated through goodness-knows how many languages, each one risking altering its meaning until it’s probably nothing like the original anyway,” mused Davey.

Maybe,” agreed Sallowman.

Why do you call yourself Sallowman, anyway?” asked Paul.

It’s what the little fellow in the glass jar calls me,” smiled the vicar, “and it’s sort of stuck. He says it’s because I’m sallow, you know, pale and clean shaven. But come on, my friends, I need to show you around. It’s quite a place, is this Mansion! And despite the fact that I’ve been here for what seems ages, I don’t think I’ve explored half of it yet! You see, there’s the sleeping room.”

The what?” asked Paul, “do rooms here actually go to sleep?”

The vicar looked at him and frowned. “Don‘t be silly,” he muttered, “it’s the room where we visitors go to when we need some sleep, when we’re tired. That’s all.”

Davey frowned. “You mean, there’s actually rooms in this dump?” he asked.

Hey! Careful what you’re calling my family seat!” growled Paul. “It’s no dump, and never was!”

There are more rooms than you could shy a coconut at,” nodded the vicar, “it’s a bit like Heaven I suppose. In fact, I sometimes think I must have died when I was out for my quiet summer walk, maybe took a wrong turn and ended up in a battle somewhere, and got shot. And this is where death took me.”

You mean, hell?” grated Davey.

I’ve tried to live a decent life,” began Sallowman, shaking his head mournfully, “but I do sometimes find myself wondering if this is Heaven, how bad hell might be. But come: you see this wall here?”

He pointed to a solid wall made of stone blocks and looking as solid as the Earth itself.

Yes,” murmured Paul and Davey in unison, both frowning as if they wondered what interest they could possibly be expected to find in an edifice of stone indistinguishable from any other wall in the Manor.

This is the way in,” grinned the Reverend Tidy, “I found it after searching for a long time, then I noticed one of the fleeters actually emerging from it. Hey fellow, I said, where have you come from? And he told me that it was the sleeping room, and, you, know, the moment he said that I felt as tired as a man can feel! So I made to walk into the wall just like him, but to start with I felt daft, what with that fleeter watching me...”

Just a mo. What are fleeters?” asked Paul, frowning.

Oh, they’re the main people in this gorgeous old mansion,” replied Sallowman, nodding as if he was about to proclaim a great truth from an ancient text, “they live here, I think it must be hundreds of them, working away, toiling at Blondeau’s great work, creating whatever it is that Blondeau’s creating. Look: there’s one coming now,” and he pointed.

At first Davey thought it was a shadow and then it seemed to gain a kind of solidity as it approached them, walking, it seemed in thin air with nothing under its feet and smiling as if everything in creation was jolly. The closer it got the more solid it looked, yet when it was really quite close to themit still had a translucent quality as if it might be half in this world and half in another. And what was it? Male or female? Androgynous? It was hard to tell, dressed in a floor-length pale grey gown and its face covered in equally pale skin, walking as though it was going from nowhere to nowhere and with no purpose to whatever it might be doing other than walking.

They’re all like that,” whispered the Reverend, “each and every one of them, and not really communicative. They’re workers I suppose, and so there’s no need for them to think of anything other than their work.”

But they need to sleep?” yawned Paul, “because if they do I could manage forty winks myself. He got me up at the crack of dawn...” and he indicated Davey, who frowned back at him.

Come. I’ll show you,” invited Sallowman, “just follow me and you’ll be all right.”

He turned and faced the wall that he’d been looking at, and then very purposefully, he walked into it. And as he did so he vanished. Bit by bit as if he’d stepped into an invisible opening in the wall, he was gone, yet the wall remained there, apparently as solid as it had ever been.

Well, that’s something new,” grunted Davey.

Let’s take a look,” suggested Paul, and he followed in Sallowman’s footsteps.

Davey had to rub his eyes because his overweight neighbour did exactly the same as the strange Sallowman in his vestments. He vanished as if the wall was engulfing him, and he was gone.

Crikey,” thought Davey. And he raised his voice. “Paul! Where on Earth are you?” he called, “come back, we ought to stick together and get through this together!”

Just you keep your voice down!” snapped a nurse dressed in white and with long flowing blonde hair, “let the man sleep, for goodness’ sake!”

© Peter Rogerson, 10.11.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on November 10, 2020
Last Updated on November 10, 2020
Tags: invisible, vanishing, ghostly, fleeters, nurse


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..