Truth and terror. An envelope in the mail, your address
and name neatly typeset, with no return address, and
only a key within -- with no indication given of
where the lock might be.
You'll go mad within a year, you think. But you don't --
you just persist, trying the key on occasion, when the
setting speaks to something in you.
Careers shift and flow. Several marriages roll by,
spouses forever perturbed by your silence concerning
That Damned Key -- the same key they fear to touch.
One day, you go out and become uncharacteristically
drunk. You really don't know why; and after a while,
you're too far gone to worry about it.
(And that, also, is a Damned Key.)
You leave at closing time, the only living soul
wandering the streets. You pass a familiar wall, and
notice an unfamiliar door, completely unremarkable
-- except, of course, that it didn't exist on
your way _to_ the bar.
You're utterly wrecked, and so you lack the reflexes
necessary to deny that the door is there. Somehow,
you become confused, and think that you have
reached your home. Thick-fingered, you pull out your
keys. The front door key doesn't fit the lock, and
so you blearily figure that you've misidentified it.
On you go, through all of your assorted keys, the
accretion of years, dropping them, cursing as you
nearly fall in recovering your keyring.
You touch the last key -- the key which fits no lock
you've ever tried it in.
You sober slightly as you realize that this is It.
Time to leave what you know. If you were still more
sober, you might bolt for home; or you might throw up.
Maybe the door would disappear if you did.
As it is, you only know that you are doing something
foolish, as you turn the key...
And beyond? A beautiful nude woman? A corpse, reaching
for you? A gullotine? An angel? A band of katsinas?
Perhaps -- an empty closet?
Go through, and tell me what you find.