Instead of a sharp, metallic, click, Tristan heard a high-pitched shriek. The scream was so loud, and shrill, that he became momentarily disoriented. His hands being otherwise engaged, Tristan was unable to shield his ears from the cry. The piercing wail was so intense that he had to shut his eyes to feel a sense of balance, though the noise persisted.
Just as suddenly as it had appeared, the sound ceased.
Relieved, Tristan opened up his eyes, and looked upon a pure white landscape. A landscape isn’t quite correct, as the word implies change in elevation, some form of scenery, or even a gauge of distance or direction. This was entirely different, as everything, was ivory. The experience was similar to being snow-blind, and standing on a perfectly flat surface of earth. Above, and all around him, as far as he could perceive, was alabaster. Tristan took a few meandering steps in proximity to his original location, though after doing so, he couldn’t manage to pinpoint exactly which piece of white plane he had occupied.
Tristan oriented his body in a direction, and began to walk, hoping that he might encounter a wall, rising point on the flat plane, or some object to serve as a mark on the otherwise, blemishless expanse. His feet made no sound on the white surface, and he couldn’t directly feel anything on his soles, though he propelled himself forward.
Tristan internally clocked around an hour, though in that place, time seemed impossible to gauge. It may have been twenty minutes, or two hours, for all that he knew. He didn’t feel weary, though he was approaching annoyance at the lack of any perceivable progress. He slowed his pace, then stopped walking, deciding on a brief rest to soothe his irritation. He sat on the bleached ground, drew his knees towards his body, and rested his elbows on his kneecaps. He folded his toned forearms over each other, and brought his forehead down to rest upon the pair.
Tristan had barely placed forehead on forearms, when he heard a very faint noise. He quickly raised his head, then stayed motionless. A short time later, the sound repeated, rather, it was a succession of similar sounds. Tristan shot to his feet, not longer irritated, but eager, and excited by the break from white nothingness.
The sounds repeated, but Tristan couldn’t tell from where in the ivory prison the sounds were originating. Not discouraged, Tristan lashed himself to his minute raft of hope, and developed a plan.
He would face one direction, walk for fifty paces, meticulously counting each step, and if the sound weakened, he would take fifty paces directly backwards. He would then shift his left foot, ninety degrees, adjust his right, so it would be parallel to his left, then repeat the fifty pace process.
He had little other alternatives in the pale, sterile, emptiness.
He set out in the first direction, and, twenty, slow, paces in, could hear that he was moving away from the sounds. He cut his plan short, and back pedaled twenty paces.
He shifted, stepped forward, and began counting. At thirty paces, the sounds, once again, began to fade. Tristan stopped, and took thirty steps backwards.
Once more, he made a right angle with his feet, then parallel lines. Within ten paces he knew, he was headed in the right direction. The sounds went from muted, to barely perceivable, to slightly audible, to somewhat clear, to distinct whimpering. Tristan had taken several hundred paces at this point, but when he finally realized what the sounds were, he stopped in his tracks.
He listened to the melancholy weeping for a few moments, focusing on the breathlessness between the sobs. The heaviness of sorrow that he felt, taking in the sounds, was near crippling. He stayed motionless for a minute longer, absorbing the persistent, miserable cries.
Then he pressed forward, seeking the source.
The ululation continued, and its volume intensified, as Tristan continued his forward march. Before long, a visual accompanied his auditory stimuli. A distant speck, that Tristan couldn’t be sure was in the air, on a wall, or on the floor of his chalky environs, appealed to his vision.
The anguished weeping continued, as Tristan accelerated to a sprint, this speck in the distance finally providing a non-white point of optimism.
As Tristan closed the distance, the dark aberration gradually expanded in size, shifted slightly in its shape, and began to lower towards the flat, ivory, plane. The despondent sobbing continued, and intensified as Tristan neared the inky shape.
Within what he gauged to be a few hundred feet, Tristan reduced his sprint to a jog, then a brisk stroll, and finally, a slow saunter. He drifted towards the curious shape, which was now on the “floor,” or occupying the same parallel plane as the soles of his feet. As he dialed back his intensity from a sprint, to a slow walk, the gloomy sobs ate into his resolve. His slow approach was agonizing, the desperate weeping penetrating, and clinging to him like morning dew.
He approached the edge, where the whiteout ceased, and the shifting from blankness occurred. The color of the non-ivory plane was curious. It was a pearlescent, constantly shifting shade. It was predominantly a metallic obsidian, but pulses, flickers, and shimmers of silver-flecked aubergine, and platinum-accented midnight-blue, rippled through at unpredictable intervals. It’s main shape upon the ivory was consistent, a shape that Tristan rendered as familiar, though he couldn’t say he’d seen in recent history. Contained within the outside lines of the discoloration, the shifting interior behaved like liquid. Tristan watched curiously, as the center heaved upwards, then sunk below the white plane, and the “surface” of the basalt shape rippled, dipped, and bubbled, at random intervals.
The desperate sobs emanated from the anomaly, while Tristan stood transfixed, gazing at the shimmering fluidity of the dark shape.
While he paused, statuesque, the borders of the shape began to contract. The extremities of the discoloration converged, the obsidian irregular that was once upon the ground, began to take solid shape. The center of the shimmering, fluid-like, oddity, began to rise. It coalesced around a footprint of two feet by two feet. A figure, dark, of shimmering coal, royal purple, and intense indigo, formed before him.
The previously intense sobs, and cries could still be heard, but were heard mutedly, and experienced as if coming from a far distance.
“Please. Please don’t.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“It’s too late for that.”
“It’s not too late, I’m here. I will always be here. I’m a part of you, and I will always be a part of you.”
“I can’t stay here.”
“You don’t have to, just take me with you. I’ll go wherever you go.”
The figure moved forward, and placed a silvery-black hand on Tristan’s chest. The figure began to ripple, and shift. The female figure that it once emulated began to twist, contort, and twitch. Tristan felt a strong compulsion to turn around, and flee, but the spectral hand upon his chest held him tethered.
The once human-like form slowly elevated, morphed, and changed into an obsidian spear, with the tip being the hand upon his chest. Tristan stood rigid, sensing the inevitable, yet paralyzed. The spear whirred, spun, and with a tornado like whoosh, forced itself deep into his chest.
Tristan howled into the ivory absence, as the twirling, anomalous, obsidian, whirlwind, flowed into him. His body recoiled and twitched at the foreign presence, acquiesced to its effect, then finally slowed as it sunk into him.
As the pitch-black flow seeped into his chest, a blinding light flared, shocking all of his senses, and simultaneously obliterating the white expanse.
He was back in the bathroom, his liberated panel of flesh was pulled back, the metal was exposed, and the ancient key was inserted into the aperture in the panel.
He turned the key clockwise, and heard the teeth of the gears clicking almost imperceptibly.
A perfunctory, metallic, thunk, occurred, allowing Tristan to finally open the panel.