An Open Mind

Ethan stared off into the pitch blackness. It seemed to envelope him into some kind of stranglehold. Off in the distance he could just make out the tiniest glimmer of light.

He stumbled forward, never letting his gaze deviate from the glistening spell of illumination. As he got closer he found, to his relief, that the light got brighter and washed away the darkness all around him.

Under the light was an old scratched and chipped wooden door with a rust tarnished handle and keyhole. Hanging beside the door was a key on a nail; the key was just as tarnished as the handle. Without thinking Ethan reached for the key and turned it over in his hands. There was something strangely familiar about it.

Suddenly a voice called out from behind the door: 'Help me, please.'

Ethan had jumped back a few steps and was now watching the door intently in case someone, or something, should break through and attack him.

'I can hear you out there,' cried the voice. 'Please open the door. I'm trapped in here.'

He looked down at the key once more and decided that the captive should be released. He didn't know who was in there or why they had been imprisoned, but he knew that the person didn't deserve to be locked up in such a horrid place as this. As he placed the key into the lock the door began to shudder on its hinges. The shuddering became more ferocious as the red letters appeared across the top op the door as if being written by an unseen hand. It was a simple warning: NEVER OPEN.

Who was inside that room? What had they done to deserve such a punishment?

'Ethan!' screamed the voice.

How did the prisoner know his name?

'Ethan, you have to let me go. If you don't we'll both die, don't you understand?'

The voice sounded familiar too. Where had he heard it before? It had been years since he had known anyone he could call a friend and he never liked to force his attentions on anyone, so who could it be?

'You are my last hope, Ethan. If you don't release me it will be the end for both of us…'

'Why are you in there?' asked Ethan, finally finding his voice.

'How soon we forget,' said the voice, sarcastically.

'I don't know you.'

'You know me, Ethan, you must remember me.'

'Why are you here?'

'You ought to know the answer to that; after all, it was you who put me here.'

'I would never do something like that. I would never leave someone in this place.'

'Try to remember, Ethan, please.'

It was hard to think of himself as someone who would lock another person away and forget about it. He must be dreaming; that was the answer. None of this was real and he was merely at home in bed asleep having a nightmare.

The prisoner started striking the door with force and let out an ear splitting scream.

'This is your last chance, Ethan. Let me be free, please…before we are lost forever.'

Ethan looked at the key once more and back at the door as the words multiplied rapidly all over it. Before long the wood of the door was hidden behind a mass of red paint…at least he hoped it was paint.

Ethan turned away from the door and tossed the key as far into the darkness as he could. As it clanged along the floor the voice called out one last time from beyond the door: 'It is over, Ethan,' said the voice, apologetically. 'I tried my best to aid you in recovery, but you have made your choice. I hope your suffering is short and death claims you swiftly.'

Ethan fell to his knees and started to cry. He didn't know why he was crying or why the voice had instilled such emotion in him. Then the light went out and he was in the darkness once more.

'How is Mr Bradley today?' asked Dr Finch, glancing over the notes on a clipboard hanging at the foot of the bed.

'The same as usual Doctor,' replied the nurse, looking despondently at the man sitting in the wheelchair, staring at the wall. 'No response to any stimuli.'

'I will return to see you tomorrow, Ethan,' said the Doctor, patting Ethan's shoulder.

Ethan just continued staring straight ahead at the wall. To everyone else it was a blank grey wall; to Ethan it was a door, a door that was now covered in blood red paint. Behind that door was the mind he had lost so many years ago. That was how he had recognized the voice; it was his own voice calling out to him for help. How long had he been here at the hospital looking at that door? It seemed an eternity since he had seen anything but that damn door. Could it be an eternity? Who knows? The one thing Ethan knew was that that door was to stay closed forever; it was never to be opened.