"Knocking" | A Chapter From the Work-in-Progress Sequel to THIS BOOK DOES NOT EXIST

A knocking sound wakes me up. Where is it coming from? Could there be someone at my door? Who would be here now? I have no idea what time it is, but I know the sun hasn’t risen. I shift my body underneath the covers, taking care not to rustle the sheets too loudly. If I hadn’t gotten rid of the box springs, just thrown them away in the dumpster behind my apartment building, they would be squeaking right now and I would be in trouble. I silently laud myself for finally making a good decision. I hear more knocks. Are they coming from inside my apartment, from somewhere on the bottom floor? I’m upstairs in the loft. No, no one would be knocking if they were already inside. They would have no reason to knock. Would they? I reach for my nightstand, for my watch with the black face. The digital readout is orange. Another knock. Several knocks. Persistent, like someone is rapping on plaster with their knuckles. Who is this person? What do they want? Are they inside my walls? I look at my watch. The readout isn’t bright. My contacts aren’t in. It’s too dark. I can’t tell the time. I can’t see anything. The someone knocks again. That’s it, they’re at my door, I’m sure of it. I’m afraid to go downstairs. I flee the protection of my bed and the shield of my blankets and sneak towards my phone, which is plugged into the wall opposite my bed, resting on the floor. I pass my desk. My old BlackBerry, which I now use as an alarm clock and a place to keep all my passwords, is sitting on top of it, waiting to be called into duty at 8 AM, positioned far enough away from my bed that I can’t shut off the alarm and immediately fall back asleep. The time on the device is no longer in sync with real time, as the clock keeps running faster and faster. As of yesterday morning, it was fourteen minutes ahead. I keep getting up earlier and earlier. The knocking has me out of bed before the alarm. There the person goes again, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven knocks. But not on my door, somewhere else. Is she in the ceiling? In a crouch, I reach for on my iPhone on the floor. There is more knocking, and more knocking, and - this is driving me mad. Is the sound coming from the wall again? I think the knocking is coming from the wall behind my bed, but lower, outside of the loft, somewhere near the kitchen, downstairs. Is something inside the walls? I used “she” before. Why did I say “she?” Could it be the girl? Could the girl be hiding inside my walls? If it’s the girl then I should be making noise. I should be yelling. I should be banging on the floor trying to notify her where I am, that I’m here, that I need her to take me to the Door. I should be tearing open the walls to see her face. But how can I know if it’s her or not? Even when I see her face, I won’t know that she’s the girl. I’ve been thinking that I will, looking at women on the street, checking them out online, believing in the critical nature of physical attraction, or something more fraudulent, love at first sight, or worse, love at first profile viewing. I’m useless. I still can’t even tell where the knocking is coming from. I look over the edge of the loft, through my floor-to-ceiling windows, outside, to where I thought I saw red and blue colors flashing earlier. Now I see nothing. I start to cry. Can the person outside my apartment door hear me? What about the creature in the walls? How about the serial killer in the ceiling? My phone says it’s 7:21 AM. Why would anyone come to me at this time of day? The bars closed too long ago. FedEx never shows up before nine. What if I go downstairs and the door to my apartment is red? What if it has become the Door like what happened inside the bathroom of the Olive Garden before the World Trade Center Incident? I destroyed the Door. I blew it up. We used a bomb. We watched it explode. A reviewer on Goodreads said I was deploying an on-the-nose metaphor for moving on, but she didn’t see the blood on my face, the bruise on my ankle, the strands of my soul leaving my chest. The other world cannot be bleeding again. But yet I’m looking for the Door part-two, another entrance. Why, why, why? Why am I doing this? Because Geppetto told me to. Because I believe I need to be in love to be whole again. The knocking will never end. I think it’s happening inside the wall, not outside the door or beneath the ceiling. I don’t have any missed calls. Outside, there has never been a rainbow. I don’t know what the colors were. Lights from a police car. Geppetto dressed as a cop. This isn’t a nightmare, I don’t think, because I am the nightmare. I am paranoia. I lean over my loft. There are no holes in the wall downstairs, no snarling, fur-covered monster, no version of Satan from Rosemary’s Baby. I think about continuing to lean until I fall. If I fell head first I would break my neck and perish. I need to make a will. I lean away from the edge. I cling to my phone. I bend at my knees. Nothing has happened on Twitter. I stand up straight. I realize the knocking has stopped. The someone is gone. I said the knocking would never end. I was wrong. After being right about the box spring, I’m back to being wrong. I walk across the floor and collapse into my bed. I curl into the fetal position. The knocking was nothing, I think. The knocking was nothing at all…  

For the next thirty minutes, I dream of God and the Devil and the other world and a rotten cartoon heart that crumbles apart while pumping blood.

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