I live in a building with hundreds of other families, maybe thousands. We live here, eat here, sleep here. Our kids learn here. The adults work here. And once, maybe a few times a week, people enter into our building and they take our people away from us. They rob them in the dark. They steal them from us forever. Many times they take our children, sometimes they take the adults.
This building has no doors.
We tell the keepers of this building, the Doormakers, “We have no doors. That’s why they can get in and take our people. We don’t have doors at the front of the building. Our homes inside the building have no doors. Our rooms inside our homes have no doors. They can just walk in. They can just take us whenever they want.”
And the Doormakers tell us, “I’m so sorry.” They clasp their hands together, and they wring them together like they’re squeezing water from a sponge. The look shared on their faces is one of pain. “You are in our thoughts,” they say, sympathetically. “You are in our prayers. It’s the Shadow People,” they say. “From out there. From beyond the Building.”
“So you’ll make us doors?” we ask. “You’ll put them on for us?”
“Doors won’t help,” the Doormakers say, regrettably. “The Shadow People will just open them and walk right in anyway.”
“I have a solution to that,” you tell them. “Locks. We lock the doors.”
“But then all doorways will be impassable,” the Doormakers say. “You’re talking about closing off all the doorways, forever. We can’t do that.”
“No, what we can do is give everyone keys. Keys to those who should be able to use the doors. We’ll all have keys to the building. And those who live in their homes will have keys to their homes. And those who live in the rooms of our homes can have keys to those rooms.”
“Keys are very costly,” the Doormakers say.
“So are our lives,” we answer.
“You’re trying to restrict all freedom of movement,” the Doormakers say.
“What? No, no, no, we’re just trying to stay safe.”
Here, the Doormakers pull out The Document. We all signed the Document in order to live here, and the Doormaker points to a part of The Document that has long been underlined, underlined so many times the pen has nearly worn through the paper. (No other of the Document’s precepts have been underlined in such a way, and the Doormakers don’t seem to remember what the rest of The Document even says.) “Look here,” the Doormakers say.
They point to the precept which reads:
The well-regulated hallways will represent the right of the Building’s people to have unrestricted freedom-of-movement.
“See?” the Doormakers say. “We cannot restrict movement.”
“But that’s not precisely what the precept says,” you explain. “It suggests that first, this is about the hallways, not our homes or the front of the building, but it also notes that the hallways are well-regulated. The hallways have no doors, no cameras, no regulation at all. Anyone can walk down them and enter our houses, our bedrooms, our most private places. That’s how they’re taking us.” Whoever they are, we think but do not say.
“That is the cost of freedom,” they say.
“But this isn’t freedom, this is the opposite of freedom.”
Being taken is not freedom, we point out.
“Why do you hate freedom?” the Doormakers say. They tut-tut us, and hurry back to the stairway, to head to their penthouses which we have never seen. We feel uncertain of what to do. We don’t want to restrict all freedom, do we? This seems like common sense, but now we’re left wondering — are the Doormakers right?
At night, more of our children are taken from us.
We announce it over the intercoms, to the whole building. Every day or three, a tally of those who were taken from us. We’ve grown resistant to it. The most we do is listen to hear if the names are names we know; if not, maybe we don’t listen so hard. In part because it’s too sad to think about for too long. In part because it’s just becoming noise. The background sound of the tragedies of the universe, unstoppable and implacable, we tell ourselves. Like old age. Like entropy.
But sometimes we get mad again.
We get mad when we know the names, when we know who were taken.
We try to talk to the Doormakers about it, telling them, “At least do something. Put some boxes in front of the door. Or half-doors. Even an alarm so we can hear when people are coming through. Or cameras, to see who is taking us.”
They say they know who is taking us. The Shadow People. And they mumble at us about how sad they are for us, and how we are in their hearts, and then they hurry back to their penthouses.
One of us looks up the history of The Building, and they find documents from The Architects who built it — the Architects didn’t intend for the Building to have no doors, it turns out. They wanted doors. It’s why they created the Doormakers to govern the building. They didn’t want people from inside or outside the building to be able to enter our homes! They wanted the hallways to be clear, yes, but that’s it — just the hallways. Our homes are our homes. We send a missive up to the Doormakers — they’ve stopped meeting with us — to tell them what we found. We receive a message over the intercom as a result thanking us for our due diligence, our time, our thoughtfulness, and that’s all they say.
“Does that mean they’ll do something?” we ask one another.
“Maybe,” we tell one another. “Maybe they’ll make us doors.”
But weeks go by. We lose dozens again. Some point out, “Really, as a percentage, it’s not that we’re losing that many. Do we really need doors?” But they say it with a kind of listlessness, like they’ve given up, given in. Someone else says, “Acceptable losses, really, for our freedom,” but no one seems to believe that. We want our doors.
So we decide to make them ourselves.
Our floor, and the people of other floors, take it into their own hands to put together doors. We’ve never made doors before, and it’s not our purview, but we manage to cobble together crude gates and hatches with rough hinges and uneven knobs. Someone on our floor is even good with metal, so he makes for us locks and keys for our homes. And that night we hear knobs rattling. Our doors shudder against their frames. But none come in. And that night, none go missing.
In the morning, the Doormakers appear.
They have hammers. They strike the knobs off our doors. They pry the hinges off the wall. “No restricting freedom of movement,” they say firmly, hammers in hand. Then they head back upstairs in an incredulous huff.
We look at our handiwork, smashed. We wonder what will come.
That night, more of us are taken again. Nineteen children.
The night after that, a respite, and same with the two nights hence, but then it begins again in earnest, three children, then four women, then some of those who work in the offices of the Building — they are taken, pulled from their desks and hiding places through the open doorways, and then they’re gone from us forever. Maybe to join the shadows, we don’t even know.
The intercom announces the lost and the taken.
Sometimes we’re not even sure if it’s announcing everyone or not.
Then more on our floor have been taken. We know them. We know their names. When they come on over the intercom, we weep.
“We have to do something. We have to make the Doormakers listen.”
So, we decide to go against protocol. Together we march to the stairs and up, up, up we go, to the penthouse. To the Doormakers. But there, we find the most curious thing:
They have a door.
And it’s locked.
“This must be a mistake,” one of us says. “That’s not possible.”
“Hypocrisy,” another says.
“Maybe they need the door to protect themselves.”
“From who? The Shadow People?”
But we fear the real answer: it’s to protect them from us. (Some of us wonder aloud: who are the Shadow People? Are they even real? Are they even a threat?) So we work very hard to take down the door. We use our bare hands. We use tools from our kitchens. We chip away at the mortar and brick, we pull away hinges with our now-bloodied fingers.
The door falls.
The penthouse is revealed. A beautiful world. Gold and silver. Polished wood. And doors everywhere. Doors to every room. Some locked, some not. We hear voices behind one, and this time we offer no finesse — we simply slam ourselves up against it again and again, the bulk of us forming a battering ram, until the door falls and we tumble into a room.
In this room is a table, big and grand.
One one side of this very long table are the Doormakers. On the other are figures in suits. They look like us. We’ve seen some of them here before — they live here. In the Building, on the upper floors. A briefcase sits between them on the table, a golden glow coming from within it. The Doormakers quickly snap the case shut, but when they do, a piece of paper — a contract — slips off the table, stirred by the breeze of the closing lid. The paper lands at our feet. It contains a list of names. We know some of those names. Names of those who have been taken.
Before we know what’s happening, bodyguards of the Doormakers are wrestling us back out of this room, then out of the penthouse. They quickly put up another door — thicker, made of metal, with hinges thick as our arms. All the while we wail and yell and kick and thrash. They’re the ones taking us, we cry. They’ve made a deal with those who take us. There aren’t any shadowy people. It’s them. They’re taking us. They’re paying the Doormakers to not build us any doors, to keep the hallways open. The guards drag us down, down, down, past the floors on which we live, all the way to the basement.
There, too, we find doors.
We’re thrown into rooms. The doors slam shut behind us. We’re left in the dark. The guards hiss at us, tell us we’re the Shadow People, now, and we can have doors if we want to. These doors. Doors we can’t open. Doors that are locked tight, sealing us shut behind them. We realize too late that the freedom they talk about isn’t our freedom, but theirs.
We pound on the doors, screaming to be let out.
These are the doors the Doormakers made.
And we will help to make them.
* * *
THE RAPTOR & THE WREN: Miriam Black, Book Five
Miriam Black, in lockstep with death, continues on her quest to control her own fate!
Having been desperate to rid herself of her psychic powers, Miriam now finds herself armed with the solution — a seemingly impossible one. But Miriam’s past is catching up to her, just as she’s trying to leave it behind. A copy-cat killer has caught the public’s attention. An old nemesis is back from the dead. And Louis, the ex she still loves, will commit an unforgivable act if she doesn’t change the future.
Miriam knows that only a great sacrifice is enough to counter fate. Can she save Louis, stop the killer, and survive?
Hunted and haunted, Miriam is coming to a crossroads, and nothing is going to stand in her way, not even the Trespasser.