The Locked Door

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

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Mystery Fiction

It is always cold in this world of ours. The sky is clear in the late hours of the night; and yet, somehow, the morning never ceases to bring snow. I do like the snow, I do. But there are times that I selfishly can not help myself from dreaming of summer. Heat, sun, sand–it seems like a fantasy, I know. But once, just once, I want to know what warmth is like.

There are other ways to know warmth besides daily temperatures, this I know, but I myself have only experienced this once. There is a lovely scotch that sits in the wooden cabinet above the stovetop, and I help myself to its warmth from time to time. It heats me from the inside, but it never quite seems to solve the problems that I have. I am not a sad man–I am, however, a lonely man. That I am not ashamed to admit. But this loneliness sturs in me and begs me to do things, things that I do not have the courage to do. That is where that lovely scotch comes in hand. You see, without it, I may not have the courage to leave my home and speak to others. I may not have the courage to know the beautiful woman who lives across from me in the tiny blue house, Miss Audrey Simon, with the fiery red hair and green eyes like an emerald diamond. I am in love with her. She is the summer I truly wish for. Of me, she only knows my name, and I hers, but from the wave of her hand and the kind smile of her lips, I am in love.

Tonight, the lovely scotch compels me to march to her door, profess my infatuation, and become hers to claim. But my desire for her was quickly replaced with overwhelming fear as soon as I stepped out into the cold. The yearning inside of me was nothing compared to the chilly bite of the wind, and so I wandered down the street instead.

This world of ours is small, but I much prefer it that way. I do not like change. Change is the bringer of complication, of hope and heartbreak. Things I do not need. I think it silly that many here complain of the unchanging world. If you are so displeased, why not settle somewhere else? I know that I speak as a hypocrite, I do. I talk about how much I yearn for warmth, how I want to feel it on my skin, in my heart. And yet I am unwilling to change. Maybe I should not judge them. But why shouldn’t I? They are the same as me, so in truth, I see no reason why I can not criticize them as they undoubtedly do to me.

As I think and walk, the scotch burning from within, I come to the end of my street. There are no more houses on this side of the road. The law states that we are forbidden to move any further than this road, but I am warm on the inside, and I feel a curiosity like no other. So I try to press onward. Something suddenly blocks my path, and I stumble. 

I try again. I am stopped.

What? How can this be?

I reach my hand out to touch the invisible force that keeps me from moving forward, and meet what feels to be a phantom wall, almost as if it were a giant wall of glass.

“You!” A distant voice from behind calls. A surprise that was as my legs gave way in shock and I stumbled to the ground, the snow soaking my legs and back.

I turn to see a figure in the distance, but they are so far, I can only tell it is a man.

Police, perhaps?

As he moves forward, I squint my eyes enough to see that he is not, in fact, an officer. As he grows closer, I recognize him as my neighbor two doors down, Old Man Neil.

“Good evening, Old Man…” I say. I notice my words slurring together.

“What are you doing all the way out here, young man? This is unusual, I don’t think I have ever seen you leave that house of yours.”

I do not answer, staring at the area where the invisible force is. His gaze follows mine as he says, “This is illegal, you know this, yes?”

“And why is that, Old Man?” I ask, turning to look at him. I must have been glaring, but I could not feel for sure what expression was truly displayed on my face. He stared down at me.

“The law is in place for a reason. Come now, let’s get you home.” He said, trying to link his arm with mine to pull me on my feet. I refused, yanking my arm away.

“There is a wall there.” I say.

Old Man Neil dismisses my words and says, “You’re drunk.”

“Yes,” I say, “And there is a wall there.”

Again, he ignores me, firmly linking my arm with his once more. “Home,” he demands.

I make no effort to get off of the ground. Old Man Neil grunts.

“If you tell me why the wall is invisible, I will return home.” I say, attempting to negotiate.

“There are things that we do not know for a reason, young man. And sometimes, ignorance truly is bliss.” He says, unlinking his arm and allowing mine to fall back to the snow. “Now, get your drunk ass home.”

I lay there for a moment. Is ignorance truly bliss? That is what I thought before, that change was the death of consistency, of comfort. But at that moment, I thought, summer is change. Leaving is change, growing is change–love, that is most certainly change.

Audrey Simon. Summer. I must have it.

I quickly stand, walking carefully until I find the wall.

“There you are,” I whisper.

“Boy! Get away from there!” Old Man Neil shouts, but does not seem to move.

“This is the answer! This is what I have been searching for all this time!” I say, unable to contain my utter joy and excitement.

“You are drunk! You are stumbling and slurring and you do not know what you say!” 

“I know that I love her! I know that if I can find the summer, she will love me!” I shout back, placing both hands on the cold, invisible wall that brings me hope. “There must… There must be a way out!” I exclaim.

“Young man, please, do not go searching for things you do not understand! You do not know what that wall protects us from! Step away!”

I look over my shoulder at him. He is frantic and red in the face, a duality of panic and the cold. He is afraid, so he will not move. “What could we possibly be protected from?”

He says nothing.

I turn back, feeling around for a moment until I suddenly touch what seems like a doorknob.

A door!

I frantically turn the handle, only to find that it is locked.

Old Man Neil gasps. “Stop this! You do not know what lies beyond!”

“It has to be a better world than this!”

I feel around once more to find the outline of the door. I aim, and begin to kick.

I kick once. Twice. Three times.

“Please!” Old Man Neil yells. I do not hear him.

Four times. Five times. Six times.

Suddenly, it cracks. My eyes go wide. The wall continues to crack upward, until eventually, it explodes. I am engulfed in a bright, warm light, and am now free.

Summer, I have found you.

A small woman steps out of her room in comfortable pajamas, followed by her husband, who enters the kitchen to prepare their morning coffee. As she walks into the living room to read, she notices something broken on the mantle above the fireplace.

“Darling, our favorite snow globe is broken.”

January 21, 2022 21:09

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1 comment

Philip Ebuluofor
18:51 Feb 03, 2022

Well crafted. Fine work.


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