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Title: The Doorway
Author: Smith, Evelyn E., 1927-2000
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Doorway" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

    _A discerning critic once pointed out that Edgar Allen Poe possessed
    not so much a distinctive style as a distinctive _manner_. So
    startlingly original was his approach to the dark castles and
    haunted woodlands of his own somber creation that he transcended the
    literary by the sheer magic of his prose. Something of that same
    magic gleams in the darkly-tapestried little fantasy presented here,
    beneath Evelyn Smith's eerily enchanted wand._


 _by ... Evelyn E. Smith_

 A man may wish he'd married his first love and not really mean
 it. But an insincere wish may turn ugly in dimensions unknown.

"It is my theory," Professor Falabella said, helping himself to a
cookie, "that no one ever really makes a decision. What really happens
is that whenever alternative courses of action are called for, the
individuality splits up and continues on two or more divergent planes,
very much like the parthenogenesis of a unicellular animal ... Delicious
cookies these, Mrs. Hughes."

"Thank you, Professor," Gloria simpered. "I made them myself."

"You must give us the recipe," said one of the ladies--and the others
murmured agreement, glad to get their individualities on a plane they
could understand.

"Since most decisions are hardly as momentous as the individual
imagines," Professor Falabella continued, "and since the imagination of
the average individual is very limited, many of these different
planes--or, as they are colloquially known, space-time continuums--may
exist in close, even tangential relationship."

Gloria rose unobtrusively and took the teapot to the kitchen for a
refill. Her husband stood by the sink moodily drinking whiskey out of
the bottle so as to avoid having to wash a glass afterward.

"Bill, you're not being polite to our guests. Why don't you go out and
listen to Professor Falabella?"

"I can hear him perfectly well from here," Bill muttered--and indeed the
professor's mellifluous tones pervaded every nook and cranny of the
thin-walled house. "Long-winded cultist! What is he a professor of, I'd
like to know."

"Professor Falabella is _not_ a cultist!" affirmed Gloria angrily. "He's
a great philosopher."

Bill Hughes said something unprintable. "If I'd married Lucy Allison,"
he continued unkindly, "she'd never have filled the house with
long-haired cultists on my so-called day of rest."

Gloria's soft chin trembled, and her blue eyes filled with tears. She
was beginning to put on weight, he noticed. "I've been hearing nothing
but Lucy Allison, Lucy Allison, Lucy Allison for the past year. Y-you
said yourself she looked like a horse."

"Horses," he observed, "have sense."

He was being brutal, but he couldn't help it and didn't want to.
Professor Falabella was only the most long-winded of a long series of
mystics Gloria was forever dragging into the house. _The trouble with
the half-educated_, he thought bitterly, _is that they seek culture in
the most peculiar places_.

"I'll bet she would have let me have peace on Sunday," he said. "It just
goes to show what happens when you marry a woman solely for her looks."
He drained the bottle; then hurled it into the garbage pail with a
resounding crash.

Gloria's shoulders shook as she filled the kettle. "I wish I'd decided
to be an old maid," she sobbed.

A very unlikely possibility, he thought. Even now, shopworn as she was,
Gloria could have a fairly wide range of suitors should something happen
to him. She looked sexy, but how deceiving appearances could be!

Professor Falabella was still talking as Bill and Gloria emerged from
the kitchen. "I believe that it is possible for an individual who exists
on a limited plane of imagination to transpose from one plane to an
adjacent one without difficulty ... Great Heavens, what was that?"

Something had whisked past the archway leading into the foyer.

"Don't pay any attention," Gloria smiled nervously. "The house is

"My dear," one of the ladies offered, "I know of the most marvelous

"The house," Gloria assured her coldly, "really _is_ haunted. We've been
seeing things ever since we moved in."

And she really believed it, Bill thought. Believed that the house was
haunted, that is. Of course he had seen things too--but he was
enlightened enough to know that ghosts don't exist, even if you do see

Professor Falabella cleared his throat. "As I was saying, it is possible
to send the individual through another--well, dimension, as some popular
writers would have it, to one of his other spatial existences on the
same temporal plane. It is merely necessary for him to find the Door."

"Nonsense!" Bill interrupted. "Holy, unmitigated nonsense!"

Every head swivelled to look at him. Gloria restrained tears with an

"Brute," someone muttered.

But ridicule apparently only stimulated the professor. He beamed. "You
don't believe me. Your imagination cannot extend to the comprehension of
the multifariousness of space."

"Nonsense," Bill said again, but less confidently.

"I believe that I have discovered the Doorway," Professor Falabella
continued, "and the Way is Open. However, most people fear to penetrate
the unknown, even though it is to enter another phase of their own
existence. I do admit that the shock of spatial transference, no matter
how slight, combined with the concrete awareness of a previous spatial
relationship would be perhaps too much for the keenly sensitive
individualism ..."

Bill opened his mouth.

"I know what you're about to say, young man!"

"You don't have to be a mind reader to know that," Bill assured him. His
consonants were already a little slurred and he knew Gloria was ashamed
of him. It served her right. He'd been ashamed of her for years.

Professor Falabella smiled. His teeth were very sharp and white. "Very
well, Mr. Hughes, since you are a skeptic, perhaps you will not object
to being the subject of our experiment yourself?"

"What kind of an experiment?" Bill asked suspiciously.

"Merely to go through the Door. Any door can become the Doorway, if it
is transposed into the proper spatial dimension. That door, for
instance." Professor Falabella waved his hand toward the doorway of what
Gloria liked to call "Bill's study."

"You mean you just want me to open the door and go into that room?" Bill
asked incredulously. "That's all?"

"That is all. Of course, you go with the awareness that it is the
threshold of another plane and that you step voluntarily from this
existence to an adjacent one."

"Sure," Bill said. He had just remembered there was a nearly full bottle
of Calvert in the bottom drawer of the desk. "Sure. Anything to oblige."

"Very well. Go to the door, and keep remembering that of your own free
will you are passing from this plane to the next."

"Look out, everybody!" Bill called raucously, as he pulled open the
door. "I'm coming in on the next plane!"

No one laughed.

He stepped over the threshold, shutting the door firmly behind him. A
wonderful excuse to get away from those blasted women. He'd climb out of
the window as soon as he'd collected the whiskey and give them a nervous
moment thinking he'd really passed into another existence. It would
serve Gloria right.

For a moment, as he crossed, he had a queer sensation. Maybe there was
something in what Professor Falabella said. But no, there he was in the
study. All that mumbo jumbo was getting him down, that was all. He was a
nervous man--only nobody appreciated the fact.

Taking a cigarette out of the pack in his pocket, he reached for the
lighter on his desk. It wasn't there. Time and time again he'd told
Gloria not to touch his things, and always she'd disobeyed him. Company
was coming and she must tidy up. Cooking and cleaning--that was all she
was good for. But this was carrying tidiness too far; she'd even removed
the ashtrays.

And where did that glass block paperweight come from? He'd had a penguin
in a snowstorm and he'd been happy with it. This was too much. He'd tell
Gloria off. Stealing a man's penguin!

He opened the door into the living room and bumped into Lucy Allison.
"Don't you think you've been in there long enough, Bill?" she asked
acridly. "I'm sure your guests would appreciate catching a glimpse of

"Why, hello, Lucy," he said, surprised. "I didn't know Gloria had
invited you--"

"Gloria, Gloria, Gloria!" Lucy cut across his sentence. "You've been
talking about nothing but that dumb little blonde for months." Because
of the people in the room beyond, her voice was pitched low, but her
pale eyes glittered unpleasantly behind her spectacles. "I wish you had
married her. You'd have made a fine pair."

Gently, caressingly, the short hairs on the back of Bill's neck rose.

"Come back in here," Lucy said, hauling him back into the living room
where a number of people who had been enjoying the domestic fracas
suddenly broke into loud and animated chatter. "Dr. Hildebrand was
telling us all about nuclear fission."

"Can't find an ashtray," Bill muttered, seizing on something tangible.
"Can't find an ashtray in the whole darn place."

"We've been over this millions of times, Bill. You know--" she smiled at
the guests, a smile that carefully excluded Bill. "--I'm allergic to
smoke, but I never can get my husband to remember he isn't to smoke
inside the house."

"Now take the neutron, for example," Dr. Hildebrand said through a
mouthful of pâté. "What is the neutron? It is only ... What was that?"

The wraith of Gloria crossed the foyer and disappeared. Bill took a step
forward; then stood still.

Lucy smiled self-consciously. "That's nothing at all. The house is
merely haunted."

Everyone laughed.

"Forgot something," Bill muttered, and dashed back into the study. He
yanked open the bottom drawer of the desk. Sure enough, there was a
bottle of Schenley, nearly a third full. "There are some advantages," he
thought as he tilted it to his lips, "in having a limited imagination."

Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Fantastic Universe_ September 1955.
    Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
    typographical errors have been corrected without note.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Doorway" ***

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