It was three days ago that I discovered the hole. It was early, and the sun had not even yet broken the horizon. The first chirps could be heard of the earliest of the early birds as they began to tune up for their day’s work. I found myself distinctly aware of this strange morning-night hour, as it was one that I experienced rarely. Rolling out of bed before ten had been a rarety since college, perpetuated by countless third-shift jobs that I found myself wallowing in after the wake of graduation had passed. On that morning, however, I was awake well before my natural hour. I had an interview to attend, one that could potentially break the everlasting chain of disillusionment that I had been dragging ever since I recieved my diploma and instantly realized I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.
I opened the closet door, pulled the chain that caused the lightbulb hanging from the ceiling to sputter to life, and began the process of deciding which one of the two suits would make me appear more professional, and therefor desirable, amidst an economy that had become the sort of self-perpetuating forest fire that keeps serial arsonists awake at night. I removed the powder blue suit from the rack (I had come to self-agreement that the pinstripe gray was perhaps a bit too cold and distant for the occasion), and that’s when I saw it.
A hole had punctured the back wall of the closet. It stood at about chest level, and was about three inches in diameter. Black, and perfectly round as though augered by a carpenter’s tool. I laid the suit carefully over the back of the chair (so as to avoid wrinkling the key weapon I was bringing to the interview), and walked into the closet to take a closer look.
The closet was small, but not filled with clothes. I had come into the habit of reusing as much clothing as possible before making a trip to the laundry, so that left a few spartan pants and shirts hung on the rack. I brushed them aside, and peered at the strange, little hole. It, in turn, peered back. I leaned down so that the hole was at eye-level, and looked inside. There, I saw only inky darkness. I should have been able to see the back of the wall that stood on the other side of the closet, but there was only blackness.
I stepped out of the closet intending to get my flashlight when I noticed the LED clock that sat at my table side. Though it had only felt like minutes, my time in the closet staring at the little black hole had somehow swallowed a half hour of my morning. The curiosity of the hole was suddenly overtaken by cold panic as I realized the window for arriving at my interview in time was growing small at an alarming rate. I stripped clean and threw the suit on with the speed of a pop star between sets. No sooner had I slipped my shoes on than I was out the door, the little black hole and the closet wiped clean from my mind.
I arrived home later, empty from the lack of optimism I had after the interview, and full from the lunch I had ingested to dull the pain of the akward session I had just endured. I threw my powder blue coat onto my bed and swept my eyes absently across the apartment. They fell upon the closet and the muscles in the back of my neck tightened. I had left the door open in my rush to leave that morning, and yet it was now shut.
I approached the door hesitently. I would like to say that I was afraid of the hole, but I was a more practical man at the time and found myself more concerned at the prospect of a hiding burgler. The city outside my walls was not one of the safest in the country, and it was not uncommon to come home to broken windows and stolen televisions. Though I owned no television, I had heard a story on the radio that reported on a recent string of break-ins and acts-of-violence that somehow constituted as a gang initiation and good idea for the local youth. I remember the story quite well as it was the last I heard before I threw my radio in the trash. Swallowing deep and preparing for the worst, I placed my hand on the closet doorknob and twisted.
The door pulled open easily, and I found no murderer or rapist behind it. Instead I found only dim shadows. I reached for the light bulb string instinctively, but when tugged, found no illumination was produced. It had occurred to me that in my hasty exit earlier, I had likely left the light on and it had burnt out after time. I swung the door open wider so that it nearly touched the adjoining wall, and the newfound openness allowed sunlight from the nearby windows to find its way inside. In the warm sunlight, I saw the hole. And I saw that it had grown. The hole was now the size of a softball. I stared. It stared.
After a few minutes of this, I went to my dresser and produced my emergency kit. I opened the kit, removed the bottled water, medicines, and ready-to-eat freezedried-chicken-dinner kit, and withdrew the flashlight that lay at the bottom. I raced back to the closet, and flicked the flashlight on.
I bent down so that the hole was again eye-level, and cast the flashlight beam inside. I felt a cold sweat break out on the back of my neck when I saw that there was nothing beyond. The beam of light was perfectly visible once it entered the mouth of the hole, but it found no end. It was like shining a flashlight into the night sky. A sudden horror dawned on me; there was a hole in my closet wall and it was infinite.
The enormity of the concept was too much. I shut the door and did my best to push the hole from my mind. With no television, and a radio long-since transported to the city dump, finding ways too ccupy myself was taxing. I read the previous day’s newspaper twice, played a few hands of solitar, and managed to swallow a hotplate prepared macaroni and cheese dinner before inevitably coming back to the hole.
I opened the closet door and stared at it. It had grown to the size of a bowling ball in the span of a few hours. How long would it take to fill the entire closet? Would it stop there? Would I one day awaken to find myself teetering on the edge of an infinite chasm? I drummed my fingertips on the doorframe as I mulled these questions over. Ultimately, I decided, it was time to find out exactly how much I could about this strange entity.
I pulled two wire hangers from the rack, uncoiled them, and twisted them together at the ends. It effectively gave me a prodding device the lenght of a bout two-and-a-half feet. Not great, but a start. I knelt down on the floor of the closet, and holding the end with both hands, shakily pushed the wire through the mouth of the hole. There was no resistence to be found, though I was well aware that the tip of the hanger should have touched the wall on the opposite side rather quickly. I wisted the wire around, hoping to touch a floor or ceiling of some sort, but found no resistence no matter what direction I pushed.
I slowly withdrew the hanger after ten minutes of prodding, and observed the length of it carefully. There appeared to have been no damage done, the end was not hot, nor cold, nor warped in any way.
I sat the hanger on the floor, and stared into the black hole for a few minutes. Then, and I assure you I cannot tell you why, I reached my right hand outwards towards the hole. My fingers lightly caressed the darkness.
Thinking back on it now, that simple gesture was the beginning of the end. What a fool I was.
I gave it a taste, you see.
And it liked it.