“Gateways aren’t toys. They’re not to be trifled with. If anything, you should see them as doorways directly to Hell. Would you want to open a door to Hell?”
I shook my head no.
Pop nodded. “Smart lad. Now get back to the house and help Nan and Gi with supper.”
It was my first lesson about Gateways. About things other, things unknown. Things not from here.
And it was the most important.
But, time has a way of fading urgency. Of making us forget the importance and history. The relevance.
Or maybe humans are just fools.
Either way, that night, the night that started all this, I relented.
In all honesty, this is all my fault.
Gateways shouldn’t be opened.
That’s why there’s always a keeper. That’s why my family has lived here. For generations, we’ve been the keepers. The ones who make sure nothing goes wrong. Who make sure the doors stay closed.
There was an accident once.
Way back in the day, back when Pop was the keeper.
At the time, he was a young man. Unmarried. Just him in this place.
I don’t know what happened exactly. All the information from the newspapers at the time have been redacted. Blacked out. As if the world might be able to forget it. How many were lost. How much damage was done.
I know the town certainly did.
They’ve completely forgotten.
Not because no one is allowed to know. Or because there was a memory wipe or something.
No one talks about it.
Not even Pop talked about it.
Which, personally, makes me question the incident more.
The severity of it.
If it were all that bad, they’d let us know, right? They wouldn’t let us forget.
Isn’t that how history works?
We repeat it forward, so humanity isn’t thrown backward.
Maybe if they had taken that approach, I’d have learned my lesson. Would’ve taken Pops more seriously. Would’ve taken my job more seriously. If they had communicated how truly horrendous the consequences were, I’d not have allowed anyone to follow through on the action. I’d have thought of this in a more serious manner maybe.
If I had, this mess wouldn’t be here.
But it is here.
As the monsters pour out of the gateway, all fangs and fur and claws and spider limbs and shadow and bones and maggots, I know the mess is here. And I know it won’t be easy to clean up.
But, as the mess compiles, charging through the red door, I have to wonder:
Did Pops face something like this?
Was this door the same one he opened all those years ago?
Or had I unleashed a different type of hell on us?
Had I unleashed something worse? Something that couldn’t be stopped?
Was this the end?
I didn’t know.
And, until the end of this actually came, I wouldn’t know.
Regardless, this was my fault.
Even if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered.
This was my job.
Taking up the family crest, I brought my weapon down.
I tore into hell.