The Locked Door

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

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Science Fiction Thriller Suspense

The key glistened as the afternoon sun kissed it lightly. It seemed to taunt me, whispering that this was what I had been waiting for, refusing to go unnoticed any longer. My sister, Mary, sat next to me. Her eyes, too, were fixed on the golden object that offered so many answers. The air around us seemed to change as expectation hung in the air. Was today the day we’d finally get to go into Dad’s locked door?

For as long as I can remember, the door was forbidden. In fact, just a stare in the general direction of the room would be enough to make Dad flushed and furious, rambling on about how children needed to respect boundaries. We never questioned it when we were young, for the young simply trusted and accepted. However, as the years passed, Mary and I spent nights discussing the forbidden room in our home. He always carried the key on his person, as if it was painful just not to be near it. Today was an exception, a beautiful, welcome exception. He had stormed out the door so quickly that the key was left behind. The question that now arose was whether we would use it. 

Dad was well-known in our little neck of the woods, well-known, yes, but not liked. The phrase ‘mad scientist’ was frequently used to describe my father. Once, I also heard someone describing Dr. Gerhard Bucksman as evil. Eccentric, yes, cold, absolutely, irrational, agreed, but not evil, surely. That was a label that our father didn’t deserve, so I hoped. 

Mary’s gaze, like mine, remained uninterrupted, as if the key had cast a spell on us both. “Are we really going to do it?” I asked after more time had passed. My voice sounded small and weak. “Dad would be so mad if he knew,” Mary said, and then a big smile appeared on her face. She clapped her hands and shouted, “Let’s do it! Who knows if we’ll ever get this opportunity!” Oh, how I love my sister. “OK, grab it,” I said, matching her enthusiasm now. “No, you,” she replied. Although we were curious, we weren’t as brave as we’d like to think we were. It seemed childish for two teenage girls to play paper, scissors, stone, but we did what we had to reach an agreement. It was me who lost, and so, I leaned over and grabbed the key. It felt cold and small in my hand. 

The door seemed larger as we approached it as if it was trying to keep us out with its immense size. Our eyes met, and we stared at each other, wondering what we’d find behind the locked door. Mary gave me a slight nod, encouraging me to go ahead. The key slipped into the lock with ease making a slight click sound. I took a deep breath, turned the key, and opened the door. 

The room was dusty, smelly, and unwelcoming. The stench in the air consumed my nostrils, making my eyes water. I heard Mary cough, although she seemed far away. Other than the smell and dust, the room seemed rather ordinary. Stacks of paper lay on the desk to the side of the room, documents that contained scientific scribbles that only those who shared my father’s mind would understand. In the far corner stood jars of dark liquid with unknown membranes floating in them. I had seen those in the laboratory at school the year before. Mary had gotten detention after taking all the frogs outside and setting them free. “Someone had to save those poor unfortunate creatures,” she had told Mrs. Gluttenheim an hour later. The memory made me smile—Mary, sweet, goodhearted Mary. 

Machinery that was unfamiliar decorated the walls. I turned around to take in the entire room and let out a sigh. I was overcome with a mixture of relief and disappointment. At least now we knew what Dad had hidden in his precious locked room, a whole lot of nothing. I turned to find my way back to the door, best to lock up before Dad returned. I felt a hand on my shoulder and jumped. Relieved, I realized that Mary had reached out to me. I giggled. Mary didn’t respond; she merely stood staring ahead of her. There in the shadows, lay a hidden room. 

The light flickered on harshly, lighting up the room instantly while making a buzzing noise. There were machines here, too, each dedicated to its purpose, pumping, recording, extracting. A bright green liquid moved through long and curly tubes, which led to a hand, a beautiful, human hand. My eyes scanned over the image in front of me, trying to understand what I was seeing. We stood silently, wondering whether what they said about Dad was true. Here, on the table, in the small hidden room, behind his locked door, lay a woman. She was asleep, a kind release of her current reality, I supposed. 

“Why would he do this?” Mary’s question interrupted my thoughts. I thought to myself that men had reasons for being cruel when it came to women but remained silent. I reached out and touched her foot. She felt cold. A small piece of paper was stuck to the table. The words initium finis were written on it in red ink. Yet another scribble that made no sense. My eyes ran over the woman’s body once more, and I jumped when my eyes met hers. Her eyes were the only part of her that didn’t seem human, more prominent, rounder, and entirely black. My heart bled for this creature, tied to a steel table in a hidden room for who knows how long. I heard soft sobs, Mary. Bless her gentle heart.

“Why would he do this?” she said again softly through the sobs. I didn’t respond because I knew she wasn’t ready to hear what I thought. The cold truth was that our father was playing God, but he lacked empathy. Creating life was one thing, but containing it like this was a sin much worse in my mind. My fingers ran over the small piece of paper that lay at her feet once more, and then we did what we had to. We set her free. 

She moved quickly past us, and she was out of our lives, although I knew we’d never forget her. The machines had slowed down; some had stopped completely, lost in purpose. I’m not sure how long we stood there, taking it all in, trying to make sense of what we had seen. Then, finally, my father’s screams behind us dragged us back to our reality. “What have you done, you idiotic girls!” he shouted with his hands in his hair. He looked like he wanted to cry but left the room. We heard the wheels of his car spin in the driveway. My sister was still sobbing quietly. She, too, would never be the same again. 

With cups of warm tea in our hands, we sat in front of the laptop. Mary smiled, and I returned her smile and typed the words I so longed to know the meaning of. If we had known that would be the last smile we shared, we would have prolonged it, treasured it, held on to it. But, instead, on the screen, the words read the beginning of the end

January 26, 2022 01:18

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4 comments

Olivia Snead
22:10 Feb 03, 2022

Your story held my attention from the first line. I found it unique that your protagonists had set the lady free. You showed empathy to all your characters. Well done.

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06:21 Feb 03, 2022

Very thrilling! every paragraph seems purposeful and made with care. I enjoyed the relation between the sisters, even though it left me wanting for more, and I LOVE the open ended finale :D

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20:24 Jan 31, 2022

You get to the story immediately, grabbing the reader effectively. There is a nice pay-off at the end, and we see the effects of the POV's decisions. You might consider creating individual paragraphs for each speaker in your scenes to make for an easier reading experience. Great job, thanks for the read.

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Chloe Longstreet
13:53 Jan 30, 2022

This is thrilling. I wonder what that creature ran off to destroy...

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