Her Locked Door

Written in response to: Write a story titled ‘The Locked Door.’... view prompt

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Thriller Horror Fiction

A single dim light bulb illuminates the tiny room, dangling from a wire hanging from the ceiling. The light is not bright enough to uncover whatever secrets await in each corner.

She is laying in the center of the room, directly under the bulb. The floor is made of wood, and seems a bit moist. A rotting smell shares the air with a strong humidity.

A single open doorway serves as the sole exit - there are no windows. A table sits in the back of the room, opposite the doorway, with a lamp on it.

She rises, slowly, pushing herself up with her right hand and rubbing her forehead with her left. Her head is pounding as if someone hit her with a heavy object.

As her sense sharpen, a fear jolts through her. "Where am I? How did I get here? How do I get OUT?"

She moves toward the open doorway. Looking down the dimly-lit hallway, illuminated only by the bulb from her room, she first looks to her left and then to her right. She can not determine which direction was the one from which she came - nor could she determine which way would be her escape.

Her mind, foggy and adrift, struggles to focus on the task at hand. She knows she has been lost for a while, but for how long? 

She feels the heavy weight of being trapped. Her freedom, safety, and life depend on her finding the exit.

Gently touching the hallway wall opposite of the doorway in which she stands, she decides to go right. With her hand guiding her along the hallway's wall, she counts her steps out loud.

"One...two...three...four..."

She pauses for a moment, thinking she hears something coming from the other end of the hallway. She cannot tell for sure if it was real in her delirium. She continues forward.

"Eight...nine...ten...eleven...twelve..."

And there, suddenly, the faint light that is available to her illuminates the outline of a door standing guard at the end of the hallway.

With her left hand, palm open, now firmly holding on to the left wall of the hallway, she cautiously reaches her right hand out to grasp what appears to be a brass doorknob.  Gently turning it to the left, it makes a creaking sound.

And then, with nary a push from her, it opens.

A tremendous "WHOOOSSSHH" of wind blasts in her face, and a sudden and unmistakable HOOOWWWLLL lets out from the room.

Utterly terrified, shaking, she immediately turns and runs in the other direction without looking in the doorway to see what - or who - could have made such a horrendous screech.

In a sprint, she quickly reaches the other end of the hallway, where she finds another, similar door. Too frightened to consider that a similar fate may await her behind this door, she grasps the handle with both hands to turn it...and nothing. It is locked.

Again, a burst of wind blows from the other end of the hallway, a gust strong enough to blow her shoulder-length hair around the sides of her face. A chill instantly goes up the back of her neck to her skull...or was that there already, and she only now notices it?

Desperately pulling the doorknob left and right, trying to get it to budge, another howl yells out. A howl like she has never heard before. A moan so painful in its intensity that she could only assume it is someone suffering a most horrific fate.

Or, perhaps, something far more sinister.

A panic overcomes her. She stops yanking on the doorknob and stands staring at the middle of the door, frozen. Carefully, she turns to her left, knowing she has to face whatever it is she has to face. She feels as if she is a deer and whatever is in that room down the hallway is the impending car. Her eyes are transfixed on the direction of the open door, but the light is so dim that it does not come into view.

Her mind, hiding in the shadows of her overwhelming fright, finally comes to the fore. With the door locked behind her, and a horrific unknown in front of her, she understands there is only one escape: back to the original room from which she came.

Knowing from her earlier count that the other doorway is twelve steps away from the room, and assuming the door at which she currently stands is also twelve steps away from the room, she carefully places her right foot in front of her. Immediately, the wind comes at her again, almost taking her breath away.

Knowing from the previous two occurrences that the terrifying scream immediately follows the wind, she dashes toward the open door, letting go of any pretense of counting steps.

On cue, the howl begins, but now it's louder and closer than before. Whoever, or whatever, is doing it, it's now coming from what sounds like outside of the room on the opposite end of the hallway instead of inside it. Still, as she momentarily glances up in that direction during her sprint, she cannot make out anything as the shadows continue to obstruct the horror.

She grabs the right-hand side of the door with her right hand to stop her momentum and to pull herself through the open doorway. She runs to the back of the room in search of what small amount of security the fifteen or so feet distance from the doorway could provide.

She looks around to see if there is anything there with which she can protect herself. There is the lamp, the small table on which it sits, and...

"Wait, is that a key?!" Looking more closely at the table, she realizes she somehow missed when she awoke in this room that a key was sitting on the table in front of the lamp, plain as day.

Perhaps the key opens the locked door? She won't know until she tries, and if it does open the door who knows what awaits her on the other side. All she knows for certain is that, other than the locked door, she is trapped. There is no exit from this room other than the open door - no windows, no openings in the floor or ceiling, nothing. And the other room, well...she's not going that way.

She grasps the key from the table and holds on to it for dear life. While holding on to it with both hands, she musters all the courage she can dig from the deepest part of her soul and cautiously makes her way to the open doorway.

For the moment, there was nothing - no wind, no howl, nothing but near darkness.

Walking almost on her toes, her left hand carefully releases the key from her grip, still holding it with her right hand. She places her left hand on the left side of the door frame to steady herself. The momentary calm allowed a sliver of rational thought to rise to the surface. Taking an inventory of her current state, she recognizes that her skin has been shivering ever since she awoke in this strange room. The air is cool, yes, but she is shaking more from the bewilderment of the moment.

As she steadies herself, she peaks oh so carefully into the hallway in the direction of the door to her right. It's still open, and she still does not see anything inside the room or out of it. She then turns her head quickly to the left, momentarily panicking with the thought that the person howling could have moved to the other end of the hallway. The hallway is clear.

Still tiptoeing, she turns left toward the locked door.

"One...two...three...four..."

On cue, she reaches the locked door at step twelve. There is just enough light emanating from the original room for her to make out the color of the doorknob - silver, in this case, whereas the other door had a brass knob.

She reaches out her left hand, gently grasps the cold knob, and moves the key in her right hand toward the keyhole. She suddenly had a sense that she should look back over her shoulder. She does, and sees...nothing. Still no sound, and no presence.

Turning back to the locked door, she turns the key to the left...click.

It works.

The knob turns with ease. Pushing the door open, a tremendous wind blows at her, nearly knocking her back, and a frightening face comes at her from the dark. HOOOOOOOOWWWWWWLLLLLL!!!! It's directly in her face now, staring at her.

And it is...her. It's her face, mouth agape, screaming.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.

The morning alarm goes off, awakening her from her frightful slumber.

January 27, 2022 18:06

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