Everything was black, then blurry, then clear. Focus on the moment, Matt found himself muttering. Remember.
“Outa sorts, eh?”
He searched for the voice’s source. No one. Surrounding him was a waiting room, but for such a small space things were panoramic, doors on top of doors of negative space.
“Behind you, hey.”
Matt turned and he was there, a pale collection of a man, clammy skin and nappy ginger locks.
“Still a scraggly lot of runts you are, eh?”
Matt half understood the man, but he’d been the recipient of enough insults to recognize one. He clenched his fists and flexed as much of his tendrils could manage. In a battle of undersized weaklings, he liked his chances
“No need to get huffy, eh.”
“Who are you?” Matt asked, his voice tingy and airless, realizing he wasn’t, in fact, breathing.
“The cricket in your head. I guess you can call me your Jiminy, eh.”
Matt rubbed his head, which was throbbing from pain and a constant, rhythmic scratching of some truth digging to the surface.
“You’re my conscious?”
“For you and your ancestors, eh. I guard the doors…”
Matt noticed the icons on each door. He walked to one with a mud creature, vibrating with anger.
“Don’t open that door. You’re not ready, eh. The Golem. Little bit of your Jew blood.”
Matt held up a brown hand to Jiminy and twisted his mouth into a smirk. “Yeah, I don’t think so, bro.”
Jiminy chuckled, revealing a gappy grin. “There’s a lot in you blood you can’t see, eh. Look ov’here.” He walked to a door, it’s moving icon a stiff man-like figure, mindless and inert, “Betchu didn’t know you had some zombie hoodoo in ya, eh?”
As he spoke, even more doors appeared, some new and shiny, others old and older still, made of cracked wood, held up by spite.
“I don’t understand,” Matt said, his voice trailing off. The throbbing in his head intensified. “Jess…”
“Remembering the ol’ girl, eh? Kinda hoping you wouldn’t.”
Jess. Sweet Jess, all red lips and icy eyes, never changing, never swaying, even in the act of betrayal. “She used me.”
Jiminy sighed. “Yeah, literally shot you in the heart. Been givin’ it to ol’ boy Teddy the whole time she was with ya, eh,” he said, still grinning as he made a crude gesture to his crotch.
Matt wanted to punch him, to pound him the way he’d been pounded, over and over, bloody and stew-faced, until that final gunshot. He hunched against the white walls, small streaks of red appearing and disappearing where he touched.
“All my life, I’ve been used.”
Jiminy helped him up.
“There’s a reason why you’re here, eh. Listen, you’re descended, eh, from generations of downtrodden. Slaves, whores, Jews, whatever…if there’s been people beaten, bullied, one of ‘em fucked and helped make you.
Look at the doors.”
Matt did, letting each speak to him in a silent language. Every door had an icon, of witchcraft and voodoo and other secret tools of the oppressed.
“There’s a litter of you around the world, but you’re the first. All this belongs to you, if you want it, eh.”
Generations of weaklings and the tools of the passive, accumulating in the bloodline to one day be released.
“Am I dead?” Matt finally asked.
“Your choice.” Jiminy pointed to the last door, beating red. “Open it and you go back with all of this. Power and power, eh.
But you’ll never be the same.”
Matt thought for a moment, about his life and disappointments, of being small and silent, afraid and indifferent, broke and heartbroken.
Things were going to change. He could hear the outside world, of Jess and Teddy making love next to his body. He felt rage, a powerful rage so strong it collapsed the doors until only the red one remained. Jiminy’s grin slowly faded.
“Listen, eh, maybe you’re too soon. Maybe it’s the next generation we want. Ya don’t have to go back…”
Matt was already on his way.The door opened and he walked through, the first of his kind, ready to inherit the earth in whatever way he saw fit.