Short Story: BEYOND

Art by Mark (me)

Preamble

So, I wrote a short story.

I am challenging myself to publicly write one short story per week.

No edits. A max of 2k words and a time limit of 2hrs.

Why publicly? Why not? Why not learn in public and try to improve ones creative writing?

Author’s Note:

This is an unedited, first draft. I had the idea. I banged it out on the keyboard. Then I will move on to the next story prompt.

This story is from a reddit prompt – “While walking around Bed Bath & Beyond you notice a tiny door hidden in the corner. Thinking it’s a bathroom you head in – never seeing the sign that says “CAUTION: BEYOND””

So—Caution BEYOND

BEYOND

Lin took one last slurp of her large iced coffee before the curb attacked her foot. She stumbled forward in an awkward manner. The straw jerking from her mouth, she imagined that she looked every part of a drunk you’d see in those TV dramas. Face speckled with the contents of the cup she once held, and a purse swinging on her forearm as a child would at the playground. Regaining her composure, she glanced around for any leering eyes. In the clear, she scooped up her battered plastic cup, tossed it into the trash, and dashed inside Bed Bath and Beyond.

Thankful that her phone chose not to take a dive, she swiped through to her shopping list and made note of the cookware set she wanted to get her brother. Some sets she eyed looked expensive and were more professional looking than her cheap non-brand set. Considering all that her brother has done for her, Lin saved and saved to find him the perfect gift. Now that he was moving out of their parent’s house, she would get him a pleasant set of cookware so he could continue making his delicious meals. With a coupon giving her twenty percent off, there was no better time.

She had finally spotted the cookware she wanted and was immediately jealous. He will have to cook me a lot, she thought. Before she could grab the box, she felt the urgent call to nature. Poking her head out of the isle, Lin spotted the bathroom sign and darted after it. A couples cart breached from the storage container aisle, and Lin switched to the other side, waving to the couple as they apologized.

“Excuse me, Miss,”

Lin did a double take before spotting the employee.

“Do you need help to find anything?” The employee said.

“Oh, Where—Um, never mind”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I think I know where it’s at.”

The employee gave her a look of confusion. Lin smiled and darted down the aisle. 

A door.

She wanted to desperately look behind her to see if the employee was still giving her that bewildered look. Instead, she picked up pace until she found the doorknob, twisted, and slipped inside. The bathroom was dark and even colder than the rest of the store. The door shut behind her with sounds of latches and gears spinning. 

She was now in complete darkness. 

The darkness grew around her, consuming the sounds of shopping carts, music, and random conversations. For what seemed like an eternity staring into the darkness, Lin could feel it creep against her skin. Caressing it. Savoring it.

Then she heard it whisper.

Lin darted for the door, opening as much of it as she could before squeezing herself through it and slamming it shut behind her.

They were all staring at her.

Lin had no words for what she saw. Somehow, in her brief time in the bathroom, the employees had decorated the store and donned costumes. Some with painted skin, others with weird creatures that you’d see in a comic book. She wondered if the CBD in her coffee was to blame.

Then it spoke.

This child-like thing with big cartoon like eyes. It waved its arms and spoke again,

“What took you so long?”

Lin had no words. She stared and stared at the thing before her. How did it exist? Where was she? Before her spread a large table of maps and weapons. She took a step back and looked at the walls lined with computer screens. As she scanned the room, she came upon a large window. Beyond it, grey mountains loomed. Then the night’s sky shimmered. “I’m out of here,” she said. She whirled around and reached for the door before it swung open. Before her stood a woman. Almost human, but not quite. The being looked down at her. She said, “Good, she’s here.” Lin stumbled back and a pink creature stepped forward.

“I’m Kall, it’s nice to meet you,”

Its eyes blinked, but in the wrong way. Lin stood to her feet and noticed the oddness of the duo in the door. The woman was tall, as if she was a basketball player and this—Kall was too like a child. Lin stared at the pair and deemed Kall to be adorable, and the other to be intimidating.

“Commander, do you think we can win now that she’s here?” Kall said.

“I would hope so. Donte, have you updated her on our plans? And have you given her the sword?”

“No, Commander. She hasn’t spoken and—”

“Did she break transporting here? Does she have her memories?”

No one seemed to address Lin herself. She watched as they talked, waiting for this drug infused hallucination to end. What sword were they talking about?

“Excuse me,” Lin said, “where exactly am I?”

“That answers my question. Donte, hand her the sword.”

Donte reached for a metal box resting on the table. He pushed aside the maps and slide it across to Lin. Kall ran to the table beside her. Propped on it like a child waiting for a magic trick to be displayed. The case unlatched and slowly opened. The light was blinding it at first, but Lin hadn’t flinched. When the case fully opened, she could see the sword in its full beauty. The blade was milk white, as if carved from the moon itself. At the hilt, lines of silver metal interwove together as if the handle was melting into the blade but was forbidden to touch it. 

“Your sword.” Dante said.

“Wha—My sword? What are you talking about?”

“It belongs to you, you’re—“

“You are the wielder as we are forbidden. Please.” The Commander gestured to the weapon. Lin shook her head and stepped away. Her foot caught the edge of a chair. It rolled. And too did she sprawl over the counter, sending the screens about in alarms. “Not yet! Not Yet” a voice came over the intercom. Lin stood and watched as all congregated in one place. Before she could ask what was going on, a light sparked in the corner of her vision. She looked out the window and could see sections of a wall caving in. The sky shimmered again before disintegrating.

“What is your status?” Donte asked.

There was silence.

“What is your— “

“We’re fine. Repeat, we are ok. We made it out just in time.”

Eyes turned to Lin, but it is the Commander that demands her attention, “If you will stammer and stutter, do it elsewhere.” Lin steals to the door and runs into the hallway. Her senses tell her where she is. That she is in fact experiencing these moments. That she again causes damage and almost killing someone. Yet some part of her cannot process it. She yearns to deny whatever she is experiencing. 

“Are you okay?” Kall asks.

“No. I’m—I don’t know what I’m doing here. I was shopping one minute and now I’m here”

“Scary, huh?”

“You do not understand. And worst of all, it seems familiar. Like some video game I’ve played before.” 

“That’s one way to think of it.” Kall said. 

Lin wipes her eyes. “How old are you?” Kall pauses, cocks her head, and replies “I’m 852.” Lin’s mouth drops. Kall looks like a little girl, all the age of 8 or 9. “Look, I think you should come back in and touch the sword, it will all make sense then.” Lin looks at Kall. She seems so trusting. “Ok, I will but… can you point me to the restroom? I had a lot to drink.”

The door squeaks open. Lin stands on the outside, carefully eyeing what’s inside. To her comfort, there is a bathroom. To her dismay, not home. Looking in the mirror, Lin sees the fear in her eyes. Searching for an answer. In the depths of her memory, her great grandmother speaks to her. Afoot is the hunt child, she would say, care for what you feel, not what they think. The words were always lost to her, but somehow surfaced in times of need. 

The mirror shattered.

An explosion rocked the building, and the mirror splintered and crashed against the counter. Shards cut against her skin and sent her sprawling back. Reeling, the sound of gunfire grew. Lin unmoving listened to the shouts, screams, and rattle of weapons. Static noise blared across the intercom, “The enemy is here. Prepare protocol siphon. I repeat protocol siphon—”

All of her being was excited and terrified. 

When things seemed quiet, she strode into the hallway, back to the room she had stormed out of like a child. As she stepped through the cracked door, she could see the Commander crawling on the floor. Lin turned to see what she was crawling to. Kall! Her pink skin grew red as the hands about her neck squeezed tighter and tighter. “Ka—”, the name was strained from the Commander’s throat, “Sw—Sword” she said. Lin looked at the table and the sword pulsated with life. The man left Kall coughing and sputtering on the floor and rushed to Lin. 

He was too late.

Dust fell from the hilt as Lin lifted the sword to his chest. Piercing him. A blinding white light radiated the room. A flood of images ravaged her mind. It was as if pieces of her were being put back together. And she understood what needed to be done. She understood who she was.

The room grew dark and before her, the man, who’d tried to snuff the life out of Kall, stood, slouching on the sword, as a blouse upon a hanger. Smoke billowing from his where his eye’s had been. She pulled the sword and watched as he collapsed onto himself.

“Kall!” She called.

With her back against the wall, she held her throat and grasped Lin’s hand. The commander sat, slouched, holding her side, smiling. 

Help had arrived, and thereafter medics. Lin looked at the sword as the light pulsated. “Are you back?” The commander asked.

“I think so.” Lin replied. Eyes affixed to the sword. “If this weapon was so powerful, why don’t you wield it?” The commander pulled up a chair and sat, “the last person to touch that sword is all over your hand.” Lin looked at the grey dust mixed with blood and sweat. “Right,” she said.

Donte limped through the door. “Commander,” he said, “siphon is ready.”

“Then lets go.”

“What is siphon?” Lin asked. Even if memories were coming back to her. She didn’t know everything. 

“It’s our secondary command center equipped with its own protections should we have ever lost our main shields. There are underground tunnels, hence the added security there.”

“Thank you,” Kall said, “if you hadn’t come back, I would be… thank you.”

The crew hustled around destroying equipment, yanking out drives, and packing what they could. Still hurt, the commander continued to give orders. With their location secured, they all slipped out the building and in the night’s cover, made their way to the second base.

Foggy memories, granted by the moon sword, became clearer still. Bouncing around in the transport, Lin pushed through the bristle of bush to see what memories she could uncover. Her brother ran past. The rays of light playing with his hair and her mother’s laughter filled her ear. 

The sound of gunfire pulled her from thought as the vehicle slid to a stop.

The crew hopped out of their vehicles, returning fire. Donte grabbed Lin’s arm pulling her from the vehicle, “My lady, please, through there.” He pointed with his gun and returned to shouting orders. Lin filed behind the commander and Kall as they ran through the doorway and into the darkness.

Metal gears ground against another. Lin felt the darkness on her skin once more. 

This time, she could hear the whispers.

“No!” The commander yelled. She rushed to the door, pulling it open and stepped through. Lin and Kall were at her heels.

“It can’t be.” Kall said.

“I’m home? What does this mean?”

“It means they’ve found their way to your world. My brother is here.” Commander Athena said.


Oh, you’ve made it to the end. Well… thank you for reading it, or scrolling to the end. I’ll just go hide in a corner now. Cheers!

Leave a Reply