Over the timeline of incomprehensible latitudes and impossible longitudes, the lights in the basement would go out and turn back on against the shrill suffering, which gradually eased to distant wind chimes. When darkness reigned off, he felt a container full of water being thrown upon his face, into his mouth and eyes and chest. He savored it whenever he could. The muffled gong would also bring a bucket of dust over his head. He trained his ears to hear Jarry Doors emerge from the walls. He could hear his quick lips. He felt time move more slowly and kept himself sane by the light of his phone, but before long, that had expired, and he was left with an internal clock that was frequently jarred into discordant configurations.

He probed the floor before him with uncertain gestures, the carpeting sneering with coarse peaks. He would press harder when he felt like he should be awake, absorbing every lick within the darkness or his own discomfort. The coarseness of the carpet may or may not have flayed his palm; he couldn’t tell.

Pain remains vague in darkness.

One night, drifting in and out of the half-light of consciousness, the tip of his wandering finger clipped something solid. He shuddered to probe and gingerly surveyed the object with his palm, still imagining the licks of light in the dark. It felt like a smooth block of wood. Cedric petted the thing for as long as it took, the rhythmic gestures leading to meditation.

It was a chessboard. This would become apparent once the lights blasted him awake and Cedric found himself across the room from where he thought he was. Upon closer investigation, the chessboard was populated by chess pieces in the design of green insectoid creatures, each one imbued with life. It was shocking.

They danced and trained, organized neatly within their respective squares. Their bodies resembling medieval-armored mantises and networks of eager centipedes erupting from their backs, and upon closer inspection, their hands were rotating metal cubes that would morph into various forms seemingly at random as they tarried before the next battle. Cedric watched them for what felt like hours before venturing an interaction, pushing one of the smaller “pawns” forward. The lights cut out once, Cedric groaning nervously as he shuffled back in the direction he came from. Once the lights came on again, a pawn from the opposite side of the board had moved forward. Each side jeered and coughed viciously at the other. Their language was like muted metal grinding.

Cedric checked his body for scars or points of entry, eyeing the chessboard suspiciously. Soon enough, he was back at it, moving another piece forward. A pawn. He was unfamiliar with chess.

The cycle repeated itself. The darkness obscured time and space. It had its own soothing temperature. With his eyes open, he lived a dream, and with his eyes closed, he dreamed of esoteric life. The game progressed turn by turn, and when conflict arose, they engaged in true combat. Their cube hands contorted into kaleidoscopic torture devices which they used to tear each other apart, spilling white blood upon the board. Before long, it was spackled with miniature gore.

When he closed his eyes, he would hear them shift upon the board, and as the will to live blurred, he stopped caring if they approached him. As he drifted into an obscure sleep, he saw them in his dreams. His visceral second self.

One at first, and then a group of no more than seven. For brief moments, he could understand them as they disclosed their secret history. The language was synchronized, but the syntax was off.

Cedric was regaled of stories of great conquests that spanned from quantum irregularities to galactic brawls where entire planetoids were used in offensive maneuvers. Through these transitions they could manipulate time and construct intricate messages along the fault lines of dimensions. They told him that. At every level of existence, slavery can be found. Eventually it found them. Jarry Doors found them.

“The same will do to you, he will. Let him if.” Words were cruel explosions, contained.


“Hold them tight to your face until I can find some children’s sizes,” said the teacher to the wobbly trio. “Take deep breaths until you feel normal again.” The three boys pressed their palms to the edges of the gas masks covering their faces and waited attentively.

“What were you reading before?” asked the fat one. The woman was arranging the loose sheets upon the desk and sliding them into a red leather attaché. “It’s for grown-ups. It’s very complicated stuff…history.” The blonde one stepped in front and attempted to crane his head to see. “It didn’t sound like you were having a good time,” he said. “No…” she replied absentmindedly. “What are you three even doing in here? How did you even get in?” The fat one stepped forward. “We went through where Jarry Doors came out, it was unlocked, we didn’t know—“

She turned around quizzically. “You know Jarry Doors?” All three nodded. “How much do you know?” All three shrugged. “You’re not supposed to know who he is.” All three waited patiently for her to continue, but she went back to her work. The blonde one finally spoke up. “Who is he supposed to be? And why did I feel so weird before?” She buckled her papers into her suitcase and placed it on the floor, holding a lone sheet in her hand. She walked over and bent down closer to their level. “They pipe gas into the school and some other buildings to keep everyone in a certain state of mind. You’re not supposed to be in here, and neither should I, in fact. If Jarry Doors catches us, he’ll rip our arms and legs off, so let’s get going.”

The fat one stepped forward defiantly, adjusting his mask as it slid forward. “We’re on a mission, too. You’re going to tell us about Jarry Doors or you’re going to have a lot of explaining to do!” The woman sighed—her long blonde hair deflating to frame her—and handed him the paper. “Sure, I’m not even sure what I’m doing here anymore. Look there, what do you see?” The paper depicted a cryptic pen and ink drawing on graph paper, nearly microscopic equations littering the edges with the image of a ship in the center breaching a solid sky.

“Did you draw this?” asked the blonde one, crowding around with his friends and pressing the masks closer to their faces awkwardly. “No,” she responded, “we found these records around the town, mostly in the tunnels beneath the houses. They go… hundreds of feet down. That ship in the drawing is an older one but it’s like the one that brought me here. This whole generation of adults came with me and we’ve been waiting for orders for years, that’s when we started exploring the underground…but I can’t make any more sense of these. I’m the only one who really cares about it anyway, everyone else is just hanging around or trying to grow vegetables so we don’t die.”

“Is that why we only have terrible veg?” asked the fat one.
“Who told you about not-vegetables?”
“I saw it in a dream.”

“What else do you dream about?”
“Mostly shadows.”


Cedric awoke to Jarry Doors’ ghoulish and irradiated lips glancing across while exhaling like a freight train into his mouth. Darker teeth, frayed skin like centipede legs mirroring his mind. Cedric was waving his arms forward, caressing Jarry’s smooth, glasslike skin. Hot and fetid air filled his lungs and through the throat it blasted from, the sounds of struggling clockwork. Nearly joined as one, a zone of stony quivering.

When the lights clicked to life, and Jarry was across the room, fused to the wall, mouthing something he didn’t have an interest in understanding. Jarry Doors’ eyes were sunken in so deep the paint was cracking; either a fact or an illusion that revealed itself after a long line of small revelations. Cedric was covered in cracked plaster, ash, and soot. Some of it was from the buckets; some of it was from Jarry Doors hovering over him in the ceiling. The water made it into mud that hardened and clung to his clothes. He awoke a statue and the days became greased.

How many days? Three? Twelve? One time, the lights came on and DK emerged from the back room. The door was shut so softly.

His gait was casual, unassuming. Cedric crept towards him like a predator, gazing upon the transformation. DK’s skin was as pale and moist like a sweating glass filled with milk. His head had been shaved and his face was covered in tiny lacerations. His ears and nose were missing, fully amputated and healed over like a prisoner of war. He perked up when he saw Cedric: “Hey, man!” His un-assaulted friend wanted to seek some form of physical contact, but he was too disturbed. “What happened to you?” asked Cedric. DK looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”

At one point in the past, he would have pointed to the door to accentuate his point, but now he was a gargoyle marbled in dust and plaster. The opened door revealed a washing machine, a dryer, a sink, and piles of unidentifiable rubbish. “What happened in there?” DK looked back and returned with a furrowed brow, “What are you talking about?” His eyes read like he had just exited a salami store, yet his bottom lip was quivering weakly. Cedric’s own eyes were opened graves of understanding. Jarry Doors left dull burns where his fingerprints once were and a cruel, lingering vapor in his skull. “Let’s go.”


The school. As the woman hurried the Hill Boys out of her office, the dirty one craned his head around, bumbling the grip on his mask. “What’s your name?” he asked. She looked around cautiously and trained her eyes on the exit at the end of the hall. “Suzanna,” she answered, ushering them towards the exit while shutting the door behind her. As she secured the lock, the doors at the opposite end of the hall swung open and a tall figure stood muffling the rain at its back, muffling everything. The air was evacuating. Panic. “We need to go, hurry,” Suzanne urged upon hurried breaths. Jarry Doors was entering the school backwards at a calm but brisk pace. His arms reached back lazily. Water dripped from his gigantic boots as they glided across the polished floors. The air evacuated from his vicinity.

He made the sound of a whale song in slow motion. The boys darted towards the exit with no care for stealth, with Suzanne quickly gaining speed behind them, gripping her attaché. She looked back briefly and saw his long leather coat within reaching distance, his back to her but gaining in impressive speed. She squeaked pitifully. He made no sound. He grasped his hand backward and glanced across her hip, which she hastily knocked away. He felt so firm. Dead. She fell forward. The boys burst through the exit and into the outside with Suzanna in clumsy tow, tripping and losing grip on her files, scattering them across the wet asphalt. The door slammed shut behind them. The sound of the rain cleansed their senses.

The boys pulled the masks off their heads and tossed them aside, salvaging what papers they could from the rain and muck. The blonde one grabbed a slicked stack and inspected the top sheet, depicting a large dark shadow on what appeared to be a topographical map. “Is this why the town is in the shape of a guy?” he asked. Suzanne snatched the soggy pile from him and shoved them back in her satchel with the rest, attempting to flatten them out. “How do you know what shape the town is in?” she replied.

“We biked all the way around it and drew a map. It’s like a giant guy laying on his back. You can even kinda see it from the roof of the church. Is that why?”

Suzanne breathed defeatedly and accepted the soiled papers politely handed to her by the other two.

“That’s right,” she said, “but it’s a giant shadow cast on the planet’s surface a long time ago from something. They built the town on top of it as a research colony, and it burned deep into the ground. I think they had to dig beneath it to be safe. I don’t know where they went, but they left these archives. They’re the ones who figured out the shadow’s responsible for the rain. It doesn’t rain anywhere else on the planet. There’s nothing else out there.” The boys were pulling their hoodies up over their heads when the dirty one chimed in with, “Yeah, we saw over the fences, it’s just rocks and red dirt.” Suzanne nodded weakly and exhaled the words: “Rocks and red dirt.”


DK lead the pair up the stairs. A hollow courtesy found on salted tundra. The door was unlocked and opened from their side. Their dead gestures ensured a silent opening. The entire main floor was buzzing with activity. To the left, they could see into the kitchen and the silhouette of a woman in a long dress staring into a boiling pot on the stove, bolded against the moonlight seeping in through the window to her right. A viscous fluid was dripping down from the center of her face into the pot. They allowed this to remain smeared in their peripherals.

They continued en route towards the entrance, still staring straight ahead and not making a sound. As they reached the door, they could see another scene playing out in their peripheral vision. Forrest was strung up by the ankles in the living room surrounded by four tall cloaked men nearly identical to Jarry Doors. Dark and cloaked and huge. It reeked of chemicals. Otherworldly runes adorned the wall, leading towards a portal of slurried meat and teeth and caved inward. A pinwheel of gore sucked in by an eternal moan. There were flimsy lamps on the ground pointed at the wall like an archaeological dig, swallowed up by the piercing darkness at the center of the portal. The sound of the soul of a furnace used for unspeakable things.

Forrest spotted his friends there in the foyer but was muzzled and unable to vocalize his wishes through concentrated thrashing. Scattered upon the floor were what looked to be weathered tools for carving and gouging, chaotically fused with ossified birds. Forrest was the only one moving, the rest standing stationary, nebulous as they were. Paying no mind.

One of the figures broke formation and approached the portal, then began slowly feeding his hand into the portal’s dark core. He held it in there for a few moments then removed it, completely solidified in diamond.

Cedric and DK slunk through in the background, opened the door and finally exited the house.

They walked calmly to the end of the driveway and let the electricity of the world wash over them. The air was bracing. “Where’s Forrest?” asked Cedric. DK shrugged, “he must have gone home.” His fingers trembled.

Cedric removed the camera from his chest, cycled through the menu screens, and formatted the storage. Everything was deleted.

DK, without hesitating, did the same to his phone. The Hill Boys rushed over and stood in stunned silence as the two approached. Suzanna was absent.

“What happened to you?” The breeze stole some flecks of from Cedric’s plastered and molested face, but the rest held strong, nearly joined as one, a zone of foamlike alibis.

Cedric grabbed the dirty one by the strongest part of his T-shirt and slammed him up against the side of the car, driving the tip of his index into the soft corner of his eye and hooking his thumb into his mouth. “Nothing,” he snarled, “nothing happened. You were never here.” Cedric’s eyes were unfamiliar torches. He caught himself and backed away, abruptly releasing his grip and breathing unevenly. He averted his eyes.

DK began walking away and Cedric followed, leaving the three kids standing with their bikes outside of house what huddled back there dark and silent. A neighbor across the street wheeled a canister of garbage to the curb, growling against the untouched pavement. The three young people approached her and asked, “what’s up with that house across the street?” Her words fell out like recycled water from the mouth of a stiff monument. “There’s no house over there.”

A man in a blue polo and khakis approached them holding a stack of crumpled papers with both hands. He stood in the middle of the street, brilliantly. “Is everything alright over here?” he asked them. DK glanced over and replied, “Nothing, Dad.” The man relaxed his arms and leered forward. “Huh?” A streetlight flickered overhead, and a door slammed shut in the house behind the boys. “I’m your son…” replied DK. The man brought the notes to his face and feverishly leafed through them, settling on something deep. “Oh, sorry…I got turned around…”

He pivoted and walked off down the street and away from his home, staring intently at his papers.

“What’s that?” asked DK, looking at a sheet of damp paper in the blonde one’s grasp. He stared back at DK blankly for a moment before snapping his attention down and glancing at it. “It’s a story about the weird alien god that made the shadow the town is built around. Holly something.”

“How does it end?”

He wagged some drops off the paper and held it close to his face.

“There’s parts that are confusing and I couldn’t follow parts of it, but it says here you need to suspend disbelief for it to make sense.”


For all installments of “Jarry Doors Exits the School,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1