In the abandoned gym all the doors are locked with steal padlocks. Two metres by two and a half. Thick doors, heavy, as if the long-gone owner had wanted this gym to be reminiscent of his previous job as a banker. But the round walls lacking any acute edges speak nothing of strictness and discipline. Massive tall walls constantly yellowing with time and weather. Their pinnacle lines do reveal some spreads of wonderful white dye, probably rainproof.
– No guarantee for mold –
The outside yard and the parking lot are fenced with high aluminum frames, each one sprayed in a different colour, “only bright colours please”, the only direction of the owner to the painter still echoing through and out the tiled wires of the frames and inside the yard – never outside. The outsiders do not peak inside, despite the transparency of the fence and the lifelessness of the trees and rose plants inside and along the perimeter. Young children playing with older ones, pedestrians, ladies going to the church, dogs, cats, rats, insects, nobody would even turn their heads to the direction of the old but well-constructed gym.
It was the smell. A dense, repulsive, dark odour. A smell from hell, a smell from the Abyss, a smell of a million decaying corpses, the stink of a giant’s guts in a pit three by two and a half metres at a depth of three metres.
Nobody turns their face to the building. The old woman uneasily holding her nose with her light hand and her stick with her left walks by, she needs to rest for a second, to place her fingers on the fence. But she does not dare take the fingers from her nose. She has seen people faint around the area. She has heard of children sick. The cats dizzy, the dogs crying. The rat trembling in the corner of the brick uplifted by the escaping root of the rose tree. “Why isn’t the rat hiding or running away to my presence?” she wonders and presses her fingers more tightly on her nostrils.
The children choose this area to play because nobody ever comes to bother them for their noise. But if you ask them they cannot describe the gym from outside. They wouldn’t want to, anyway. If you walk around the fence and count the missing toys inside the yard you will find the children have abandoned one hundred and thirty four plastic balls, fifty one single trainers and seven bats. They never go and get anything that falls inside the fence. Not that they are scared. It is the smell coming out that doesn’t let them intrude, or they would – extra-heartedly. The thick cloud of odour is very intense inside the fence, but only one metre further in the diameter outside the periphery. And then it mysteriously dissolves abruptly, unexpectedly. The pavement around is only one metre wide. The old lady stays on it with the smell, but she doesn’t risk her life with the cars. Others did, many accidents of running over stunned pedestrians were reported. It is all but two hundred metres of walk inside the strange veil. You either choose to walk within limits of reach or on the asphalt. What could be worse?
Take your eyes and walk with me inside the yard. Leave your nose behind, leave your ears behind, outside with your friends. Just concentrate and follow these lines.
If I jump over the fence I am always careful to cut off fall acceleration holding on any dry branch I find. Careful! Don’t land among the rose plants. Thorns are never due to wearing out with time or weather.
The smell now is a thousand times worse. Consuming. Denser than the soil we are walking on. More solid than the small white stones the path to the main entrance is surfaced with. Don’t take your eyes off the path. To your right and your left there are other eyes watching. I cannot see them but you can. So don’t look at them. Perhaps they are the eyes of a new breed of Medusas. Don’t look, let me. I am scared, dude; hold my hand while we are approaching. Did you bring the wire cutter? No, I told you! I’ve been telling you every day all this long! We need to cut the padlock to enter. No other way, wall’s too high. Shhh, you are making too much noise on the path, lift your weight upwards as we are closing in. Look at me doing it. I am almost walking on my tips. Lower your head and don’t look back to the other children. They saw you enter with me, I know. But they will soon forget.
Here we are. Give me the cutter. Huh? You wanna do it? No.
Give me the cutter. Gently. Right. That’s it. Now push with me. This door is rusted like the axons of an eighteenth century wagon in a junkyard. Push harder. Oh my, the smell now, I feel I am opening the pit where I could have been saving a giant’s guts for a fortnight. Fresh, boiling smell, poison. It is poison. But we are not here, remember. It is just your eyes. You haven’t given me your body or any senses for what is worth. Just your sight. That’s all we need for now, relax, I know you don’t wanna come in, but if you pulled your legs a little harder to the front, and pushed your waist with the force of thinking that your friends might still be watching and not yet forgotten you, then entering will become so much easier. There you go.
It will be pitch-dark once you enter. Watch where you are going and avoid any sharp edges or broken glass; it is possible that the smell sits on surfaces and materializes into poison.
Thank you for choosing to follow me in here. But now you have to go on your own. I cannot show you anymore. I cannot enter any further than this. My time is due. I will walk back noiselessly just as I’ve escorted you until here. I will close the door behind you for your protection. Do not worry about darkness. Its left hand is always left outside such buildings. I will even place the padlock back to lock position. For your protection. The medusas are lurking, remember. And we don’t want to bring light inside the gym. Destroy it we will if we shed any light. Give body to the smell we will. Change the status of things we would, if I came in. You are on your own.
What is this? The door sound. He really did it. He left me here and locked the door. Where am I, really? I thought this was a gym. An abandoned gym. But it is a wonderful mansion! Dark? Where is darkness? Its right hand, or … whatever. Why did he say it is pitch black? I can see e-ve-ry-thing! It all so well-illuminated! Massive modern chandeliers hanging godlily at a length of five meters below the humongous height of this Hall!
End of Part One