He sighed. He looked through the windows. It was night. The fog thickened on the street, as it did the first day of his stay in that little apartment. The tree was spreading its threatening branches toward the sky. He had lost track of time and did not remember how many days had gone since he had first come. One week? Two? No idea. But he remembered last night he did not go home but stayed there instead. And then, breaking that strange routine in which he had spent so many days and nights like floating in a strange world, everything changed. The most terrible fear had spread within him; a fear that was now making him shudder as he sat on the edge of the couch.
(read the second part of this tale here)
(read the first part of this tale here)
A third dream. A nightmare, that night he stayed in the apartment: He was in the living room. The noises on the other side of the wall became a new romp. Laughter could be heard across. At a certain point he was shouting, “come here, come to my door and I’ll open.” The steps went away. Then somebody knocked on the door and he opened without hesitation, excited. And there she was, with her big, dark, deep eyes, her sweet face, her white skin and her shiny black hair. She looked at him shyly but happily smiling, trying unsuccessfully to placate an intense and pleasant emotion. They held hands, and still looking at each other went inside the living room. There they both looked tenderly at each other for a long time. But suddenly, from the street came a horrid crack, and both looked through the windows. Down there, outdoors, the tree, the dark, looming tree had begun to rock as if it was alive. Its branches waving in the air, and its trunk seemed to be struggling while trying to leave the land. Then he turned to look at her again, and got her glance back in the form of wide eyes and a face twisted by terror. Then she let go his hands and ran away down the hall. He was desperate, and followed her. One after the other they crossed the threshold and ran across the landing. When coming out he suddenly realized that the front door, that sinister door, was open. She ran toward it without stopping, despite his pleas. He could not reach her, as she moved with incredible speed. And as she turned on the threshold to slam the door behind her, she looked at him for the last time, with a semblance of infinite sadness, her eyes filled with tears and her teeth clenched in a grimace of both rage and despair. And then she screamed, her voice quivering with tears: “Never come here, you can not, should not, this is over forever.” Then the door slammed shut, and right after it he felt to the ground loosing his breath.
Since the moment he woke up that morning after that dream, restlessness and fear had not left him. There were no smiling faces in the air. There were no gently noises across the wall. That strange and charming attraction he had experienced for so many days, forgetting everything else, perhaps making him crazy, was now gone. Now there was only fear and anguish in the air. There was horror.
Something was going to happen. He knew it, he felt it within his gut. Since he was up and the images from his dream had vanished sheepishly, a dull fear had begun to beat around. Poured from the apartment next door, from the front door, from whatever was on the other side of the wall. He felt it clearly. It was the same aura of evil fate, the same horrible toxicity he had always felt coming from the opposite door, now enlarged to the immeasurable. So big it was he had not even felt strong enough to leave the house the whole day, and had spent the hours walking up and down the living room or lying on the couch trying to calm and remembering over and over everything that had happened in his dream, until it became dark and the fog reappeared on the streets.
And then, at that particular moment, when all his memories had paraded through his mind, he knew what he was going to end up doing sooner or later, not knowing at all its consequences.
He lit another cigarette. The cat was back at his side, sat at some distance from him in the arm of the couch, watching him intently, strangely attentive and petrified. Something was up, he could feel it. Everything just began…
No more evoking. There was the landing. The door. He began to feel deep throbbing in his head. He began to stir. All came from there. The mystery was on the other side of the wall. He shall go there.
The dense fog hung in the blackness of the new-born night. He put the cigarette in the crowded ashtray. His pulse trembled. He stood up. He started walking slowly toward the door, indolently, dragged down by a fatal, mesmerized push. The cat followed him slowly, without losing sight.
He tried to, he tried to go back, to go away, but he reached, turned the knob and opened. The landing was dark, and that oppressive and sinister pollution was everywhere. The rungs of the ladder disappeared into the darkness. The wind howled louder than ever, threatening whistling. The high skylight let pass only an insignificant glow from the outside, a weak night-light that clung to the ceiling as darkness crowded below enveloping everything, so deep that seemed to shake around him. The front door stood out unmistakably in the shadows, waiting. He crossed the threshold and started to approach hesitantly. He felt like floating, trembling, mesmerized by that strange strength that was emanating from it, helplessly compelled to take one step after another. His footsteps echoed in the hollow and creaky old wooden floor. He felt chills. His heart was pounding so much it seemed to be about popping out of his mouth. His temples were about to explode. His hands were sweating and trembling in rough spasms. There was the door. There, in front. Open it. Enter.
A thrilling shiver ran through his body. It was ajar. The air stream he could hear hooting came precisely from there. He had always been coming out from there. The constant cry of the wind sprang from the small opening that drew between the frame and the door. The cavernous whistle took there the intensity of a whimper. He was only a couple of steps away from it. A breath of cold air licked his hand as he reached out to push the door and enter.
The hinges creaked and the timber moved. He was immediately covered by a wave of sinister and pervasive corruption. A gloomy atmosphere reigned there. A suffocating doom filled the air, oozing from every corner. He went taut, clenched teeth. A quick succession of chills crossed through his skin. His head was spinning. He began to feel dizzy. His eyes clouded. He was breathing hard. His chest ached with anguish. He could see how that floor had a similar layout as his aunt´s, but this one was old, dirty and long ago abandoned. Various appliances and undistinguishable furniture lied in the shadows, covered by dust and spider webs as mere amorphous silhouettes. The flow of cold air was coming from what must have been the living room, and he walked toward there following it with the terrible certainty that at last something was going to happen…
The room had the same layout as the room on the other side of the wall where he had recently spent so many hours of ruminations, delusions and romps. The windows were wide open, and the cold, damp air of that misty night came in gusts from the outside. There, at the bottom, among the wisps of fog there it was the evil tree, still, its sinewy branches spread in the air, forever stalking. A fuzzy glare from the fog came through window dimly lighting up the room. At first he saw only one overstuffed armchair lying next to the windows, old and abandoned. But then, without warning, a huge shock rumbled inside his mind. He ceased to feel his own body, he no longer felt the cold, he stopped feeling things the way he used to feel them. His vision changed, his eyes were different, the sounds were different, the light was different. He thought he was suddenly dreaming. And he saw.
She was laying on the couch he had first seen empty. There she was, beautiful, leaning on the jamb of the windows. Her hands covering her face, her black, shiny hair like the feathers of a raven, falling delicately over her shoulders forming gentle loops. She was dressed in a beautiful black dress and her little bare feet peeked out from under its folds. Her back rose and fell in small spasms as she wept uncontrollably, and her moans filled the entire stay.
He stood there, petrified, holding his breath, barely able to take in what he thought he was seeing. The cat, who had been following him all the time, went down near him, between his legs, approached the girl and began to mew. Then she looked up from her hands. Her angelic face, her white skin and her sweet lips, the same ones he had seen so many times on his dreams. Her deep eyes were now red and watery. She looked at the cat, smiled bitterly and began to pet her. While doing so she glanced around the room without apparently noticing his presence. She did not see him, she could not see him, he did not exist for her at that time. He then tried to speak however, but his throat could not articulate any single sound.
She fixed her eyes on the hideous tree through the window. A tragic expression of resolution suddenly seemed to appear on her face, and after a few minutes of reflection she rose from her chair, left the cat and walked toward the door. He could see on her beautiful face a horrible despair and a sinister determination. When leaving the room she went walking right beside him, but without even noticing his presence. He stretched out his arm trying to reach her, but it just fluttered in the air, and he had just time to turn around and see her crossing the door and disappearing in the landing.
He was about to follow her downstairs, but then the windows attracted his entire attention. The same force that had dragged him there, that supernatural predestination that had brought him into the house to witness everything still was keeping for him one last drama, a last and tragic revelation, inevitably pushing him to peek out. What he had to see was out there.
He walked slowly and peered out. The dark and evil tree was erected there, bathed in fog in front of the house, but something seemed to hang from one of its branches. A lump hung swaying rhythmically. He moved closer to see better. His hands gripped the window frame. The fog cuddle in front of his eyes not letting him see clearly, but in the end he could see, and when he did, when he finally saw what was hanging from the tree, his eyes popped out of their sockets, his jaws became loose in a hideous grin, and his nails dug into the frame of the window until they broke. The horror crossed him, his view faded, and in the midst of a terrible groan he ran to the door, completely insane, forever crazy.
Because the bulk surrounded by fog hanging at the edge of that sinister tree, victim, witness and silent guardian of its tragic secret, was the angel who had visited him in his dream, the ghost who had a crush on him, whose face appeared reflected on the windows, who used to play with him on the other side of the wall, and who was inconsolably mourning in that chair just a few moments ago. A rope tied around her neck, its ending fixed on a thick branch, her beautiful body was rocking back and forth, having committed suicide, many years ago, desperate and without any incentive to keep living after a love affair that had ended badly, shattering her immense heart, a tragedy she had suffered when he was still a child who knew nothing, and she was still that beautiful young woman he had repeatedly seen in his dreams. The last thing he could see through the fog was her face, the face of death, that indescribable face of horrible vehemence, disruptive and eager expression, she had already had while looking at him one night, her face reflected on the windows.
was the last coherent thought he heard in his head before completely losing his mind.
(lee este relato en español aquí)