Wide is the Gate, Easy is the Road

The kid’s name was Gilbert Smith. An unfortunate name, half-boring and half-bully magnet, and the kid looked like it fit him well. Pale. A little too chubby and a little too thin in all the wrong places. Glasses, and horribly unfashionable ones at that. He looked like the kind of kid that got shook down for lunch money, that got bumped in the hallway so all of his books would fall out of his arms and onto the floor.

Officer Matthews shook his head and frowned. He didn’t like to stereotype teens, his own shitty high school years being close enough still that he could remember them, but this seemed like exactly the kind of kid to walk into school one day with a gun and just start blasting. Sad and lonely and for the most part, not doing anything. Just sort of there.

Until the moment you turn your back on him and he sees an opportunity to sneak into the bedroom of the most popular girl he knows and slit her throat.

“Gil, believe me. This is going to go a lot easier for you if you cooperate with us,” Matthews said.

“Fuck him,” Officer Walters said. “He doesn’t want to talk, we don’t need him to.” Walters walked over the chair Gilbert was sitting in, lowered his face to within inches of the kid’s. “You’re obviously guilty, boy. You’re going to be charged with murder, you’re going to be tried as an adult, you’re going to be found guilty, and you’re going to get sent to a federal prison where your pasty ass is going to get fucked every day for the rest of your miserable life. How do you feel about that?”

Gilbert said nothing. He didn’t even turn to look at Walters.

Walters snorted and turned to Matthews. “You want to take a crack at this little shit, or should we just throw him into the lock-up and let the others have their way with him?”

“Do whatever you like,” the kid said in monotone. “The Wanderers will return soon. They told me to come to this place of power and suffering, and so I have. I got here in my own way, of course.” He looked up at Walters and smiled. “I did it because it had to be done. I did it to her because the bitch had it coming.”

Walters’s face contorted in anger, in fury well beyond the act that he used to intimidate small-time criminals into confessions. Matthews put his hand on his friend’s shoulder, but the man shrugged it off. “That insanity defense shit won’t save you, you know,” he said coldly.

The kid looked away, stared off into space. “No, I suspect that it wouldn’t.”

“Let’s all calm down,” Matthews said. “I’m going to grab some coffee. James, coffee?”

“No.”

“Come with me anyway.”

“I’m fine.”

Matthews was silent for a moment, but he didn’t press the issue. “Gilbert, coffee?” he asked, but the kid didn’t respond.

Matthews walked out of the room. When he returned with a styrofoam cup of coffee in his hand, he found his partner face down on the ground in a puddle of blood, the kid standing over him bruised and battered. A simple rectangle drawn on the wall. Symbols and shapes framing it, inside it. There was a faint sound. A dog scratching at a door. The heavy breathing of some massive animal.

In a single, smooth motion, Matthews pulled his pistol free from its holster at his hip and aimed. The cup of coffee hit the ground, bounced, spilled onto his boots. “Hands in the air! Don’t fucking move!”

The kid smiled, split and swollen lips pulling back in a broken-toothed grin. “They’re coming, Officer. My power and his suffering. I’ve called them. I’ve reminded them of their old home. All they have to do is tread the path. All they have to do is step through the door”

“Get on the ground! Make any other moves, and I’ll open fire!”

“They’re here! The Wanderers have come home! Come in, come in!” He laughed and turned to Matthews, his expression feral and triumphant. He took a step forward and Matthews fired three rounds, a deadly triangle with two points in the kid’s chest and a third in his head. He fell backwards, his body coming to rest in the corner of the room.

The gunshots were deafening in the tiny interrogation room, and Matthews felt more than heard the roar that came from behind the meaningless nonsense the kid had drawn on the wall. It was like there was an elephant lurking in the space between the interrogation room and the hallway. Matthews couldn’t do anything but stare. There was a heavy thud he felt in his feet, his teeth. The blood that formed the rectangle flaked away. The cold, unyielding concrete was cracked.

Another thud. The room shook. The cracks grew.

The kid croaked out a laugh, his voice barely louder than a whisper. Matthews turned to look at him. What was left of him.

Walters’s last shot had been off. The kid stared back up at him with one eye. The round had carved a messy tunnel through the side of his head. Blood dripped from bone. Pulp dangled. And still the kid smiled like he didn’t have a care in the world. Like he didn’t even feel the gunshots. The pounding at the wall grew ever more insistent, and Gilbert raised a blood-slick hand to point at it.

“There’s someone at the door, Officer.”

Matthews stared, his face blank and his body motionless. The wall seemed ready to crumble into the room, a sickly light filtering through the cracks. He ejected the magazine from his pistol, pulled another from his belt, and slammed it into the gun. The kid laughed and laughed, the noise thick and wet as blood seeped into his stomach, his lungs, down his throat. His words were slow, his strength fading as his life slowly ebbed out of his body. “Don’t worry, Detective. You don’t need to prepare. You don’t need to do anything at all.

“They’ll let themselves in.”

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