The Locked Door

Submitted into Contest #130 in response to: Write a story titled ‘The Locked Door.’... view prompt


Fiction Mystery

 The young woman heard the piercing sound of sea gulls screaming. She looked up; they were flying in droves to a destination of safety, for a reason known only to themselves. She scanned the horizon. Mountaintops loomed in the distance, fluffy clouds surrounding the summits. She was clammy, caused by the tropical heat, and her fear. Miles of hot sand was everywhere. Her bare feet hurt with each step on the sharp stones. Who am I, she thought? How did I get here? She held out her hands to examine them. They were small brown hands, scratches arrayed on her knuckles. She touched her hair; it was course, and shoulder length. She looked down at herself, and saw a dirty white cotton blouse, and a torn blue and brown plaid skirt. She trembled, and thought, did something happen to me? From afar, amid a hazy glow, she saw a small house. She put her hand across her eyes, to offset the pain from the glimmering sun. She wondered if it was a mirage. Where am I, she thought? She saw a path with pebble like stones everywhere amid the sand, and she hurried to reach it. The scent of the sweet grass and the yellow flowers on each side of the path assailed her senses. A feeling of hope fluttered in her chest. The cries of the sea gulls diminished, but there were other sounds; varied species of birds chattered in the high limbs of thick foliage. She started down the path. Soon she came to a chaotic splendor of beautiful wild orchids. The perfume assailed her nostrils. Suddenly, an aching thirst overcame her, forcing her to walk faster, despite the pain in her feet. At last, she came to the end of the thick foliage, and stopped. She gazed in shock, at the small house in the distance. It had a thatched roof, and brick façade. Her tormenting thirst urged her to move. Feeling faint, she fell, as hunger surged. She lay there as dizziness receded. She pushed herself up from the sharp stones. She breathed deeply and soon the dizziness passed. She trudged on, ignoring the pain in her feet. She heard a sound, like rumbling. She looked up and saw dark clouds. Droplets of rain fell on her face. Suddenly, lightening flashed and a torrent of rain fell upon her. The palm trees twisted and turned as the storm progressed, as she moved against it.

Drenched, the young woman fell into the mud; she pulled herself up. She continued to move up the narrow slippery path. Her steps hurried, the surcease of yielded to certainty, that what she saw was a real house. She moved up to the brick dwelling. She put her hand on its façade, feeling its roughness. Cautiously, she went around the house, and peered into the window. She saw a table and a refrigerator, but it seemed to be unoccupied. Feeling braver now, she went to the front. She pushed the screened door; it opened. Silence engulfed her. Her scant clothing dripping on the floor, she looked around her. Along the walls there were cooking utensils. Baskets of water were on the floor next to the walls. She saw a plain wooden table, where there were books and envelopes. She walked over to the table, and saw envelopes addressed to Nosy Be, Madagascar. Now I know where I am, she thought. She moved away, not wanting to damage the books and envelopes from the water dripping from her clothing. She walked into the room she had seen from the back of the house. She opened the refrigerator, and saw fruit, cheese, and bread. She took these out, sat down and devoured them. She noticed cups on a shelf, so she took one, and went back into the main room. She dipped the cup into the water in one of the baskets and drank greedily. Revived, she went out of the house, and explored. Nearby, she saw a smaller house. She walked over to the dwelling, and she rattled the doorknob, but it wouldn’t budge. She went back to the other building and searched for a key. She found nothing. She noticed that it was getting darker. The unknown whispered through her vacant memory, and fatigue seeped through her limbs. She went back to the house, and lay down on a mat in the corner, and she succumbed to merciful sleep. Outside, the storm raged.

The next morning, the young woman wasn’t clear of her surroundings at first. The room was brilliant with the sun’s rays exploding through the small window. She got up, rubbed her eyes, then went into the kitchen. She searched the cupboards and found crusted bread and peanut butter. She took these out, and with a knife she found in one of the drawers, spread the peanut butter on the bread, and devoured it. Her hunger satisfied, she went into the main room. She took the cup she had used the day before and drank from the barrel of water. Recovered and alert, she wondered what was in the small abode nearby. She went out to try to get in again.

The morning was sultry, but the young woman did not feel it, so intent was she to find a possible solution to her dilemma. She walked to the building and pushed the door with all her strength. It did not budge. She went to the back and saw a small window. She rubbed the grimy glass and peered. There were shadowy shapes in the room. She thought, maybe she would have to force the door open. She went back to the other house and found a hammer in the closet. Then, she went back and broke the window. Gingerly, she climbed through, taking care not to add to the cuts on her hands. At last, she squeezed into the room. She moved quietly through the darkness. Soon, her eyes became adjusted to the gloom. There was something in the corner, like a pile of blankets. She went over and touched it. She moved her hand feeling a thick mass. She gasped. It was a man. Was he alive? She carefully moved the blanket to see his face and leaned over him. He didn’t seem to be breathing. She said, “Bonjour. Can you hear me?” He did not answer. Perplexed, she sat down to pray that the man was alive, so he could help her. After a while, she wondered if she splashed him with water, if he’d revive. So, she got up and went over to open the door and tried to open it. It did not budge. She studied the mechanism and saw she could move the lock. She carefully pushed it; there was a “click.” She hurried out. When she came back, she sat next to the inert man, and poured the water on his face. While she waited, sitting in the gloom, and the locked door, with its shadows encircling her like a shroud, remnants of memory triggered in her mind. Like the creaking of a long-shut door, memory slowly opened upon a darkened room, and two shadowy figures looming over her. She began to scream; a heart piercing, lost, and vulnerable sound, like an abandoned soul in an unknown valley. She jumped up; her hands clenched in fists against her eyes. She ran, blinded and screaming, merciless memory assaulting her. She ran down the hot stoned beach, tears streaming down her face.

 Hands grabbed her. She looked up into an old dark grizzled face, with kind sable eyes.

 “What is wrong, petit dame?”

“The room wasn’t locked, and they got in, and then they locked it,” she cried.

“Who got in, petit dame,” he urged.

Through the clouds of pain and terror an image forced her memory back, and an inert man, lying under blankets in a room deep with shadows rose in her mind. And she let the image take over like a balm to her pain.

“S’il vous plait, there is a man.” she gulped. “I think that maybe he is dead. Maybe he has committed suicide!”

“Show me,” he said. He took her hand.

January 25, 2022 18:30

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06:03 Feb 03, 2022

Compliments Olivia for your nice mystery. I liked the suspenseful ending and the unpredictable premise. I personally believe that the story needs some polish in the middle part, where (to my taste) the narration struggles a bit to advance at a steady pace. Keep up the good work! :D


Olivia Snead
21:55 Feb 03, 2022

Thank you Gianluca Angelucci for your critique. You are right, I was struggling to advance it. I am pleased and honored that you found the story satisfying.


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