I Keep the Gates
by Peter J. Rosado
forum: I Keep the Gates
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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I Keep the Gates


          I live on a four-walled-wooden-house on the top of a pole dug deeply into a wasteland tentatively called: Earth. And I keep the gates. I keep the gates open yet sometimes they seem to close on me; it is harsh work. I keep the gates clean and polished. I protect them, but I am alone. For the others went through the gates millennia ago, they are all in heaven now or whatever we can call the place I've never seen. I am left here to wait for the command to close them. I am bored stiff every day. Chess no longer entertains me, and I've read all the magazines. It is only when they walk around my kitchen that I am amused. Today, the first savior comes and asks:

          "Are you still here?" he asks mockingly in his own angelical voice, browsing around in the kitchen for coffee crumbs. Today he wears what seems to be a bathrobe, some kind of white overall—a white robe. Though, his wings are as bright and blonde as ever.

          "I have no choice and there's no coffee there," I reply pointing at the empty cupboards. And he comes towards me.

          He smiles and pats me on the head.

          They come through here sometimes, the ones from over there, from beyond the gates, from heaven. They stop to talk; they also ask questions and have a crippling addiction to coffee.

          Sometimes they walk right through the kitchen—angels and demons alike—across the living room and out the front door leading to nowhere.


          I sometimes wonder where they go, but I've never dared to ask. This one is different. This one stays, and I enjoy his company. This one grabs a chair and sits in front of me. He has become a friend, though I know not his name. He has eyes, deep engrossing ones, heavenly brownish eyes that penetrate you and readily ask you for a cigarette. And his wings are different from the rest also. His wings carry the scars of war, yet they are blonde and always bright. I sometimes wonder which one is him: Gabriel or Uriel? But have never summed up the courage to ask. He has visited me since the beginning, since the day everyone crossed over there for the first time. Out of pity? I don't know.

          "I don't smoke either, so I don't carry cigarettes on me. I have enough keeping the gates open for you." I say to him sharply, tossing a small mound of lint that had gathered on my coat, predicting what he would ask for.

          He gives me a look that deserves the word 'pity' and spreads his wings.

          "We never close," he chuckles mockingly and adds with a small and rapid movement of his hands, "you in part are lucky, having a nice view from here."

          He refers to the horrid view of the long-dead Earth that adorns my window.

          A crumbling Earth is not a nice view, I've always thought and for my sins I've had to endure it day after day. It has all paid off in some way though, for I have a living, breathing, desolated painting for a window. I hate it.

          "You cannot speak, for you come here once a week, sit on the same chair and drink my coffee," I say to him seriously, but he chuckles.

          "I hear eternity is coming to an end. That means you will retire soon. Your punishment for the unacceptable individualist thinking crime will finally end," he says, casually emphasizing on the mentioning of the sin that cursed me and playing with my salt-shaker in between his fingers—reminding me of my past life deeds and just grinning—his wings fluttering lightly and glittering under the small rays of light that the gates irradiate behind him—I just grin at him politely, and give no apparent trust for him to take.

          "Or so you hear." I doubt. I had heard these words in the past several dozen times already and had started to grow skeptical of them. The day eternity came to an end would be the day they would stop coming to eat my coffee and crackers… which keep me awake for the guarding of their gates.

          "Actually, that is the main reason I arrived early today—" he declares and drops the saltshaker accidentally; it rolls on the ground, stopping at his feet. Noticing this, he bends to pick it up, but I grab his arm forcefully, with a very menacing grip, for the first time in my life, stopping him and bidding him to continue. The arm feels cold; he looks at me and my hand with his own confused eyes and I retire nervously.

          "Pack up then. You are pardoned. The Lord has invited you to salvation and his breast; you close the gates today. However, there will be paperwork to sign and a passport to acquire before joining us in the heavens—as well as a non-disclosure agreement—you know how things are," he says, fluttering his wings, still confused by my actions. I keep my emotions hidden behind a straight face. In my thoughts I clench my teeth and punch his face right in.

          Damned fool, I curse.

          Damned gates, polished and bright golden arcs of mechanized teeth, damned gates that took up almost all my kitchen space, the space I had reserved for a small wine cabinet, I curse.

          Whatever happened to the old idea of heaven as a place of illumination? I don't know. But it went away with their sanity.

          My home, my house stuck on a pole dug deep into a decaying land would soon be gone, I curse: as matter would dissolve into thin air forever.

          Damn it all, I curse.

          This one rises up—the savior and angel—waves goodbye, turns around and walks calmly towards the gates, his wings lolling from side to side as he goes, but just before he crosses them I ask—for curiosity had overrun me and I had finally summed up the courage, to hell with it all:

          "Which one are you?"

          He turns around slowly, smiles, and with a slow, steady movement of the arms he says:

          "I am Lucifer."

          My eyes widen in surprise, but I am not angry—I find it curious though and ironic, that such a criticized beast from old myth would be deemed more important than a gatekeeper—a gatekeeper that guards the way to the heavens for that matter—and allowed to cross the gates firstly than him.

          He winks at me—sarcastically?—and says, "Goodbye, old friend."

          He crosses the gates and leaves me alone to my thinking.

          All is silent now, but the sudden silence gets to me and I grow anxious.

          I must pack, I tell myself desperately and I think about the gates, polished gates; damned old friends. I ready the keys and cast one last look out the window:

          A wasteland it is, an endless wasteland, no remnants of man at all to be seen, end's edge. There is no evidence of reality, surrealism or any form of existence.

          Let it all go to hell, I say. It is my turn now.

          For it would all dissolve when the gates close, matter would stop being matter, and I would stop being human, last, but sure.

          That one and this one, the other way around, the saviors… they all wait for me at the other side of the old and polished gates. So I instantly go into the solemnity of my quarters and toss all my clothes into a small, flimsy bag.

          I flick off the light-switches and disconnect all the electronics out of old habit and lock the front door. I turn to face the gates. And I see they stare back, light radiating from them as it does everyday—no traffic though, so they must be ready for the closing—I walk towards them to test the keys. The keys still turn, and my mind burns with anxiety.

          I have to go home, I think. I have to join them, it's my turn. At last!

          Eternity is coming to an end after all, so I must make haste.

          I keep the gates; I close them, and wait.



copyright 2006 Peter J. Rosado.

Peter J. Rosado has been writing for many years now in both Spanish and English. His favorite genres dwelve between surrealist fiction/fantasy/science fiction and speculative fiction. He is the editor of a small Spanish Science Fiction/Fantasy magazine called "SupernovaCF".