The Door

Henry Wyckoff
August 1997

A Highlander Fanfic. Standard disclaimers apply

* Worst-Case Classification: R (That's just me. Please rate it yourself if you're concerned about what your children read.)

Chapter 1

I could see the moonlight as I walked on the unlit road. Though the moon was full, I could barely distinguish the asphalt from the ditch that ran alongside it and the thick grasses and yucca on the other side of the ditch. I was going by what I knew, rather than what I saw, so it didn't matter.

I stopped, the feeling that I was being watched stronger than ever. As usual, I could see nobody, but I knew that I wasn't just being paranoid. I was being watched.

I resumed my pace.

* * * *

She looked at me with those eyes. "Have a good life." She said it with good intentions, but my heart tore itself into knots. My face must have been a mask of misery over a soul of misery, restrained in chains.

I wanted so desperately to stand up and say, "Wait. Please don't go." But I didn't.

* * * *

At a later time, she had told me, "I admired you," or some such thing as that, meaning that she was proud of my strength. That I had the guts to walk away. The strength that would ensure that I would live in misery. Suffering nobly. Even after all these years, my guts were torn into knots as I shoved those feelings deep down inside. Every day and every night, those feelings erupted when nobody was watching. Never when I was in public. They surfaced most especially at those rare moments when I was truly happy. When I had encountered something truly funny, or a place that stirred the soul. The Chapel had truly stirred me, but once I left that place, the full reality of my situation hit me and I had to hold back the silent flood of tears.

I would have made a good Englishman. Stiff upper lip and all that.

I knew for certain that I was being watched. "You can come out," I called out. I knew that my voice must have sounded almost aristocratic in its apathy and boredom. "I know you're there."

I heard the voice before I sensed her with any other sense, "You have good eyes. I would not have known that you were there." Her voice was French and openly aristocratic. But it was not the same quality as mine. I smiled, glad that it was hidden in the darkness.

"Have you come to kill me?" My voice showed no concern. Truly I didn't have concern. Though I had a sword and a knife, I had no intention of using them. My intention was to die.

"Don't be silly!" she snorted, coming into view. She didn't sound nervous, as if she knew she were talking to some lunatic hobo in front of a liquor store. That made me reach a conclusion.

"A pity..." I drew my sword now. "Perhaps I can force you into it." I didn't know why I did it, but I had this feeling that a lone woman in this kind of place, in these environmental conditions, had to be able to handle herself. If she could kill me, that would be even better.

For her own reasons, she carried a sword. "I don't know who you are, but you're making a big mistake!"

"I made my mistake a long time ago!" Though I could barely see her, I attacked. It was the instinct and reflexes that drove my movements more than my eyes and mind. Three of my attacks missed before I felt a painful sensation enter my hands. I screamed in pain, falling to my knees. Then came the pain in my skull, worse than any migraine headache. Then came the blackness, but that was after a while.

* * * *

The Chapel of the Holy Cross was built before I was born, in an era that I never truly appreciated until now. It was pain that made me appreciate it after all this time. The Chapel was built in such a manner that it blended into the red rock mesas. You had to know where it was to even see it, let alone get there.

The sensations I felt were overpowering. They didn't fill me with emotion. On the contrary, I felt balanced. No overpowering emotions shook my being. I felt a sense of awe. "I'm not a Christian," I said silently to myself, "but this place would make me one."

I saw the lit candles, and felt an urge to light one myself. When I got back to town, I would light the one I had at home. The Tibetan candle on the old statuette, lying on the mantle.

"In a past life, you must have been a monk..." she whispered, "because of what you want..."

* * * *

I opened my eyes, and found myself lying on a soft mat. Some kind of synthetic padding that lay beneath the sleeping bag. The next fact that entered my brain was that I was in a small camper's tent.

A mature woman with black rain-matted hair was in the process of rubbing some stinging substance on my skull. It could have been peroxide for all I knew. I couldn't smell it, whatever it was. Through the pain, another sensation cut. It was a sense of awe. I was awed by her. She had been muttering in French, but now that she knew that I was awake. "You have quite a story to tell, I believe." I think she did too. I knew her. Though I couldn't say her name, I knew her.

"There's not much to say. I wished to die, and you chose not to kill me."

"I might have killed you, if you were the man I was hunting for."

Looking into her eyes, I knew that was true. Images ran through my mind, and I could see a bearded warrior stoned to death. It seemed not so much a daydream as a flash of a dream between moments of wakefulness. "Then you could have killed two birds with two stones. A labor-saving device." I shrugged at her look of confusion, sitting up. For a moment, she protested, but that protest died in her throat for some reason. Pain flooded through me, but it didn't overpower me. "It seemed logical to assume that you... would have the ability and desire to kill me. You must not have believed that I was a threat."

I think she was scared of me now. Perhaps she believed that I was a lunatic. "What do you believe that you are?"

"What do you think I am?"

She looked annoyed, "I asked first!"

I shrugged, "Nothing at all." I was honest. Why bother with evasions? "Because I am nothing. There is nothing within me that is not duplicated by someone who can do it better. I have nothing to offer. I have no interests. No hopes. No dreams." The last was a whisper. "Only suffering. All I touch is brought to ashes." Something moved through me then, and I had to clamp everything down. I couldn't let anything show.

She was sad now. Not concerned. Not scared. She was sad. Something was whispered softly in French. I couldn't understand it. Sleep came again. I whispered something, I think, or someone whispered it to me. "Olympias."

* * * *

Marie shook her head in sadness. Such a handsome young man, and he had such a bitter soul mired in that body. She couldn't help but wonder what he might be like if he had a shave and a shower... and could banish whatever demon he was harboring in his soul.

"What could you have done...? You're not immortal and too young to be a Nazi." Vietnam, perhaps? No... still too young.

"Olympias," the man whispered.

Marie froze. "What?"

The man was asleep. He didn't hear her or say anything else.

She took out her cellphone and thought for a moment. She knew that Duncan MacLeod lived in the area. He hadn't seen her in a long time, but she knew he was bound to remember her. A slow smile crept on her face as she dialed information. "Seacouver please. Yes, I would like the number for Duncan MacLeod... Give me all the listings, please..."

A few wrong numbers, and she got the right man. "Duncan MacLeod."

"Duncan? Guess who!"

He sounded weary. "I don't know. Who is it?"

Too bad. "It is Marie! Surely you remember me!"

* * * *

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