The first gatekeeper

I wandered over to the door and peered out into the night. I’d been doing that fairly often lately – ever since the forest had been brought to my attention. I could feel it out there now, trees singing softly in the darkness.
I sighed and pulled back from the peephole. Eventually I would actually open the door, but there was a lot to consider and organise first.
Just to get the feel of it, I wrapped my hand around the doorknob. I wasn’t ready to turn it yet. This was just my little secret test.

There was a noise just down the hall.
I froze.
I was by myself. There was no one in the house but me.
Perhaps I’d just imagined the noise. Or maybe a carelessly balanced book or something had fallen over down there.
I inched back towards the well-lit living room, senses straining up the dark hallway.
There was another noise.
It sounded fairly soft and innocent, but two in a row was stretching my ability to come up with explanations that didn’t involve a stranger in here with me.
Then the sick and horror-filled nightmare dropped on me – an unmistakable footstep.
Oh God! There was someone in my house!
Cold prickles and sweat broke out all over me. My heart hammered. I felt like crying or screaming or puking. This could not be happening!
What should I do?
Footsteps. They were coming closer.
Panicking, I glanced around. The footsteps were louder. Should I run? Hide? Call someone? Find a weapon? The living room had no cover. The kitchen, with its assortment of knives, was close but could I really fight?
Too late!
I ducked around the corner just as the dark figure stepped out into the living room light. I prayed desperately that they hadn’t seen me.
All. Noise. Ceased.
Oh shit! They knew I was here! The psycho stranger in my house was hunting me.
I tried to stop breathing so I could hear them. There was nothing but silence.
I had to run.
I bunched myself up, trying to force myself to go for it but too terrified to move.
The floor slowly creaked just on the other side of the wall.
I dived forward.
A hand grabbed my ankle.
I fell hard, then kicked and struggled. A pathetic, panicked, strangled noise came from my throat. My attacker was on me, pinning me down. He clawed his way up until his hooded, shadowed head was level with my face. His hands gripped, painfully, bruising.
“What are you doing at the Door?” he hissed, spitting hot breath and saliva.
I was frozen, shivering and crying. “Please don’t hurt me!” I babbled.
“What are you doing at the Door?” he screamed. “Tell me!”
“I just wanted to go out to the forest for a little bit!”
“Oh. Well, that should be fine,” he said, sitting back abruptly. He flipped back his hood, revealing a plain face with a business-like expression. “In fact,” he continued, consulting an iPad, “that would actually work out rather well. How about you leave it with me and I’ll go have a chat with the other gatekeepers and see what I can organise for you.”

Having decided to eventually go part-time at my day job, I naturally began planning. The first step (other than making sure the financial side would work) would be to discuss my plan with my supervisor. I started working out key points to raise to convince her to agree and I began plotting when would be the best time to have The Meeting. From now up until 1 July is one of our busy periods, so I planned to arrange a meeting about going part-time towards the end of next month or maybe early August. End of August at the latest.

In the mean time, I began obsessively playing out possible conversations in my mind. Mostly those mental meetings went well. Although, one or two didn’t. Not sure how that happened when I was supplying both sides of the dialogue. This is a big step for me and I wanted to be in control.

And then, the other day I had a bit of a breakdown at work. Did not see that one coming. At all.

I’ve narrowed down the potential reasons for the breakdown:

  1. Having decided to shift the focus of my life away from my day job, I now subconsciously resent the hell out of it when it takes up extra time.
  2. There is, literally, honestly and without any kind of poetic exaggeration, no physically possible way for my team to complete all the work that is currently required of us and, as you no doubt can tell, I have issues with letting things slide and being disorganised.
  3. I got back from a super relaxing vacation storm chasing (it really is) and was immediately plunged into one of the highest pressure roles in the office during our busiest time with considerable jet lag, no lead-in and general ongoing long hours and lack of sleep.
  4. The Portentous Turkey spirit guide controlling this process is playing games. The damn thing is in the street again right now! (Despite a mad scramble for a camera, I failed to get another shot of it.) Seriously, it’s starting to freak me out. Once was funny; twice is starting to stretch coincidence.
  5. One or more of the above combined – because complex motivations make for a more interesting character.

Fortunately, my breakdown only involved some mildly incoherent babbling to my immediate manager for an hour or so, which wasn’t too humiliating. And, because my immediate manager is generally quite awesome, the result was an agreement that she would speak to the senior managers about me going part-time in December and never acting in the role I’m stuck in at the moment ever again.

So, essentially, that’s one of the goals I set when I started this blog – it’s just happened a little earlier than I had planned and with a lot less dignity.

But that’s good, right?

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