The Gate-Keeper’s Woes

He had been the gate-keeper for longer than he could remember. He had not expected for the bell to ring.

It was not an ordinary bell. It was made to ring on specific frequency, only he could hear. If it rang, he would be obliged to open a gate, only he could see. The gate would lead to a time and space of unlimited possibilities.

Once, these objects had been the cause of wars amongst nations. To the powerless, the gate had offered a possibility of a different reality than the one they had been living. To the powerful, the gate would have been a threat to their position had it fallen to enemy’s hands, and an opportunity to gain even more power and influence if they had managed control over it. So it was no wonder that the gate-keeper had been wanted by both sides.

He had perceived this opportunity to get bargaining power. “To bring peace, to get people together,” he had reasoned.

For a while, he had enjoyed his position of power, and even got a little cult about him and few followers. But soon both the oppressors and the oppressed had come to conclusion that he had been the obstacle, who had stood in their way of accessing the gate. When he had refused to go, they had come to get rid of him, his cult followers prosecuted. He had hidden the bell and sealed the gate before escaping to the mountains. From then on, he had shut the world behind him and lived in recluse.

As the heat died down, he would get out to towns. He would whisper doubts about him and his gate and spread rumours whether they were real. Over time, people had began to selectively forget. A number of generations later, he and his gate had been relegated to the realm of tales, legends and myths, their existence questionable.

He would laugh on some of these stories. One had stated that he had been killed in one of the battles and the gate had been lost forever. Another mentioned him a storyteller telling tales about a gate that had not existed. The most preposterous of all, he mused, was that he had escaped through the gate and lost in whatever was at the other side of it. Of course, he had crossed the gate before and roamed the other side to his heart’s content. But he always returned to keep his promise, to stand on guard of the gate. Although not literally.

He had wondered though, sometimes aloud, why he had bothered with this task of keeping —”It’s ‘baby-sitting’ to be precise,” he would argue— a gate. Surely if the gate was something only he could see and the bell something only he could hear, to others these object were, in effect, non-existence. Although it had been partly his machination that barely anyone, today, knew about them. Sometimes he lamented the loneliness his non-existence had brought. But most of time, he convinced himself that this was for the greater good.

Now, he stood in silence as the wind brought to him, over and over, the sound of the bell. Someone had found out about him and his gate.

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