The Threshold is a ten-part Weird Fiction story told in 1,000-word bites, give or take a few words. In the tale, Doug, a millennial everyman, finds himself exploring increasingly horrifying worlds trying to return home.
The Threshold is a ten-part Weird Fiction story told in 1,000-word bites, give or take a few words. In the tale, Doug, a millennial everyman, finds himself exploring increasingly horrifying worlds trying to return home. Visit The Threshold’s Installments Page for a list of all installments in this New Pulp Tale.
Part 6: Extraterrestrial
The car sat idling outside Doug’s sister’s apartment. He hadn’t seen her for a long time now. He’d thought about going over to Josh’s, but his time in the asylum hadn’t cooled his rage toward his friend. He never would have been tossed into that horror show if Josh hadn’t called the cops on him. Some friend.
Doug turned the car off and took a deep breath. Without heat from the vehicle’s engine, the fall chill made its way into his bones. He picked up the phone which the car’s owner had left in the cupholder and brought up the map again. It didn’t make any sense to Doug. He didn’t recognize the name of the city he resided in, but he knew all the streets and roads once he got a short way from the asylum. He decided it was a question for his sister. She was the smartest person he knew. She’d gotten a master’s degree.
He checked to make sure no one was looking before darting out of the car toward her front door. Doug hit the buzzer and waited. His breath came out in quick smoke-like puffs. Every sound made his head dart in its direction. Who knew how long it would be before the cops, the nurses, or whoever owned the car found him?
“It’s about time,” said his sister opening the door. “I ordered that pizza nearly an hour ag—”
Doug waved stupidly. “Hey, Ellen.”
Her freckled brow crinkled into a scowl. “Where the hell have you been?”
She stepped aside, and he entered her place. It was just as Doug remembered it. Geeky paraphernalia adorned every surface. A Lego Captain Marvel guarded her key hook, a Pop Vinyl Doctor Who stared at him from a bookshelf, and a stack of books and comics, mostly Saga, littered her entryway. Doug proceeded into her living room and collapsed into his grandma’s old couch. She’d inherited it instead of him, and they’d argued about it for years.
Ellen shut the door and followed Doug into her residence. “So, what’s the deal?”
“I don’t have the slightest fucking clue. I might be losing my mind.”
“You never had a mind. I meant, why are you wearing contacts?”
“Your eyes. Why are they that weird shade of ocean?”
He sat up straight. “I was born with these eyes.”
“No. You were born with brown eyes. Like me.” She gestured to her iris’s behind her trendy silver glasses.
Looking where she directed, Doug saw her eyes really were brown. Every memory of their eyes ran through his head and confirmed that they’d both grown up with the same bluish-green eyes. Their parents both had them too.
“I need to tell you about the past few days.”
The pizza arrived halfway through Doug’s recitation of his journey to her door. He started with the threshold in his living room, touched on his encounter with the asylum entity only briefly, and concluded with his flight to her home. He left out all the most demented details about the rats eating his hall mate and his own attack of the orderly. Doug hoped he hadn’t killed the man, but the unease in his stomach didn’t go away.
Ellen finished her second slice of pineapple and red-pepper pizza. “So, you claim you’re from a town called Hazel Peak that is identical to our town in layout?”
“I’d never heard of Arkham until I found it on the GPS.” A memory flashed through his mind. “I mean. I sort of remember thinking it was odd that the police who picked me up had the word written across their cars, but I just thought it was some cop thing.”
“Well, I guess you were born dumb in that other reality too.”
“What do you mean?”
She stood up to point at the TARDIS model hanging from her ceiling. “You’ve traveled to another dimension like the Tenth Doctor. When you came back through the threshold, you didn’t return to your original reality, you ended up in another new one. I mean, that is if I choose to believe you aren’t just insane.”
Doug smiled, but his already upset stomach roiled in discomfort. The three slices of cheap pizza hadn’t helped anything. Now he just felt gassy and ready to fall asleep.
“In your dimension, you and I had different color eyes, and our town was called Hazel Peak instead of Arkham. There are probably a zillion other differences you’d notice if you had a more analytical mind.”
“Did you just insult me? After the time I’ve had?”
She darted over to her collection of movies and television shows. “It’s kind of like Sliders, the 90s show. Why did you get to go on the super cool dimension-hopping adventure? The only science fiction you like is Extraterrestrial.”
“What the hell is Extraterrestrial?”
“You know. The movie Ridley Scott made with Sigourney Weaver?”
Doug raised his hands in confusion. “Alien? With the Facehuggers?”
“Hmm. Seems like we found another weird difference in our universes. Honestly, if I’d been the one to go on this adventure, it would’ve made a lot more sense.”
“Adventure? I’ve been nearly killed by horrible monsters’ multiple times now. Not to mention being locked in an asylum.”
She tossed Doug her copy of Sliders on DVD. “As I said, adventure. This is so cool.”
He didn’t remember his sister being so friendly and excited around him. The two had barely talked in the last four years. Their dad had kept them in contact, but once he’d died, they’d drifted apart. Growing up, they hadn’t been all that close to begin with.
“Is Dad still alive here?”
Ellen’s enthusiasm vanished. “No. He died about four years ago.”
Doug set the DVD down on her coffee table. “Damn. I guess nothing is better here. Just different.”
“Well, we’ve spent a ton more time together since then, though. We even started our geek review podcast. Although you let Josh jump in about a month ago. Well, I mean, I guess that wasn’t you. Which raises the question. Where is the Doug from my dimension?”
He shook his head to show her how little he understood his own situation. “Maybe he’s in my world? Better for him since we don’t have monsters.”
She blew a stray hair away from her face. “There are no monsters here either. Arkham’s a city of witch legends, but none of them are true. Even my time reading through the rare books at Miskatonic didn’t show me any evidence of spooky things, and some people who read those texts actually do go mad.”
“I’ve never heard of that university. What state are we in now?”
Doug threw himself back into the couch’s comfort in an exasperated fit. “Jesus. Hazel Peak was in Pennsylvania. I’ve traveled to another dimension and another state.”
“Yeah, traveling to another state sure is freaky.” Joked Ellen. “Maybe something about the rotation of the earth causes the portal to spit you out in another region?”
Violent knocks shook them out of their conversion.
He stood up and grabbed a replica Arwen sword, that hung next to the couch, to defend himself. “Whoever owns that car found me. Or the police. I won’t go back to that asylum!”
Ellen turned to him with a smile. “Don’t worry brother from another world. I’ve got a plan.”