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I Am the Doorway

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"I Am the Doorway" is a short story written by Stephen King. The story was originally published in the March 1971 issue of Cavalier, and was later included in King's own 1978 collection Night Shift and in the 2005 anthology Thrilling, Chilling Tales of Alien Encounters. A likely inspiration for the story was the Manned Venus Flyby, a NASA program where astronauts would have entered the mesosphere of Venus to study the planet, but was abandoned due to concern of danger and high prohibitive cost.

Plot Summary

This story relates a crippled ex-astronaut's account of the terrifying change he undergoes after being exposed to an alien mutagen during a space mission to Venus. The change is not immediate, as the astronaut flew with another astronaut who died during the mission, while the protagonist was able to return to Earth, to which he was rendered paraplegic, but is able to become accustomed to his handicapped status as he received accolades in addition to "this wheelchair, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and a lot of money". Some time after readjusting to Earth life, his primary mutation takes the form of numerous tiny eyes that cover his hands. These eyes act as the titular "doorway" for an alien intelligence, allowing it to see into our world, which, the man perceives, it fears and hates intensely.

Soon, the alien presence is not only able to see through this doorway, but take control of the man's shattered body, using him to commit terrible murders. In a desperate attempt to maintain his humanity, he douses his hands in kerosene and incinerates them, only to find out that once the doorway has opened, it cannot be so easily closed. He manages to make the alien presence go away for nearly seven years. As to his earlier paraplegia, the protagonist adjusts to life with his dead eyes on the hands as he can write with them, shave with them, and even aim a shotgun at his mouth. He ends the story by saying he plans to commit suicide to spare Earth from any more horrors as "there is a ring of twelve golden eyes now around my chest".

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