Short Story: Crimson Door

Base photo by Frances Yeung, Art by Mark (me)

Author’s Note:

Continuing the challenge, here is my second short story.

Remember, these are 2k word limit, 2hr time limit with no editing or revisions. I got the prompt. I have the idea. I bang it out on the keyboard. Then I will move on to the next story prompt.

Word Count: 2076
Time Spent: 1hr 49m

Prompt
You reach a small clearing in the forest. You’ve been walking for a while after losing your way. It’s mostly bare and rocky. Almost in the dead center of the clearing is a crimson wooden door. You decide to check it out.


Crimson Door

He sits in a chair, in a corner, in an office of sterile brown shelves and cream walls. A contrast to his room’s white. Sheets, floor, wall, ceiling, and clothes. Except for the blanket. That is beige. A color so mundane that it is thought to subdue his mind, but it ravages with things they know nothing of. 

But she wants to know.

“Tell me,” she said, ”what happened when you found the door?”

“I’ve already told you and every doctor. Why must you make me relive this? I—”

“We’ve explained before, you’ve never finished your story.” She held the pen in her hand, flicking it back and forth. 

“… if I tell you, will you take me back? Will you take me back to the door?” He shifted in his seat, leaning forward. His eyes were searching her for the answer.

“You separated from your friends, is that right? You found a red door in the forest?”

“Crimson.”

“I’m sorry?”

“It was a crimson door. Not red.” Red is a mundane color. Not crimson. It is deep and filled with levels of pain that one could not imagine. Nature could sense it. It could tell that not all was right and that the door was not part of its world. 

The trees were the first to know. Their root dug deep into the earth, but stopped when God’s love felt distant. The roots told the shrubbery and the grass. The green blades whispered it to the soil, the worms, and the ants that built their tunnels. Only the rocks remained. Unshaken. Undeterred from what the door represented. If only I heeded their warning.

It stood there. Wanting nothing and all. Crimson against a backdrop of flush green. Standing upon a bed of grey. The rocks groaned under my foot as I stepped closer. A smile upon my face. It was a smile that was needed after my father’s passing. My best friends Rick and Josh took the place of my mother, who was incapable of feeling, and filled me with love. It was their idea we go camping. I refused at first, but they persisted. Tugging at every string I could until I went silent. Knowing me, that was my way of saying yes. And now I am stepping through these woods, gazing at the tall trees, and at the splendor of it all. 

I called out to Rick and Josh, who went exploring something that caught their eye. What could be better than what is before me? A crimson door, in a barren rocky space. I took out my phone camera, framed the picture, and snapped away. However weird it was, it was equally beautiful. If not more. 

I reached for the black Lund handle and pulled the door towards me. I glanced at the top of it, looking over the frame. It was remarkably stable. What could it be anchored to? “Rick! Josh! You gotta see this” I yelled to them, but no response.

Before I shut the door, I notice the back of the door is this same deep black as the door handle. A black door against grey and green. That would make an amazing shot, I thought. I step through, closing the door behind me and line up the shot.

“Abe! You gotta see this.” It took me a second to recognize Rick’s voice.

“No, you guys—”

“We found an underground cellar!”

I could show them later. Once they see the pics, they will want to see for themselves, I thought as I ran to the direction of their voice.

“And then what happened?” Dr. Carol said.

“I went in.”

The stairs were short and steep. You had to turn sideways when descending, careful to not hit your head. The narrow descent opened into a small area. The concrete exterior continued throughout with the walls and floor. There were old shelves. The room led to a hallway with a series of doors on each side and a door straight ahead. Josh was already in one room as you could hear him rustling about and watch his cell phone light bounce around. There was a damp smell to it mixed with something else. Rick ran into one of the other rooms. I pulled out my cellphone and made my way to the door straight ahead. 

“Why didn’t you follow them?”

“I thought I heard something… a humming, rumble sound…”

“What did this rumbling sound like?”

“Like a generator or—I don’t know”

“What was it then? Did you go inside?”

There was a long silence. I don’t recall how long. When I could finally see, I watched as the doctor held her hand up. I looked behind her and saw two men step back. Did she think I would harm her? 

“Is your hand ok?” She asked.

I looked down and could see my hand was glued to the chair. Squeezing hard against it. I strained as I release my hand. It ached as I spread out my fingers with care. Dried blood filled the lines formed from grasping the arm.

“I’m fine” I said. I pulled my arm close to my body, hugging myself. The memory of opening the door still haunts my dreams. As if I am standing there once again. Tracing the concrete walls as they fade away to rock in this empty dark room. The light on my phone creates shadows from nothing as the room held nothing of human value. No rotting books or shelves. Metal cans or deteriorating paper. No machines generating the humming sound. Just darkness. My light landed dead center as the room gave way to a cave.

It saw me.

What I could only describe as an eye opened, and it rested on me. The faint hum was deafening in my ear. It’s eye, shaped and shapeless, drank my soul. It filled the depth and width of the cave as if it was the cave itself. I tried to scream but only hoarse whispers escaped. Every nerve in my body was on fire. I. Backed away, desperate to breathe. 

Then I felt my skin tingle from a touch.

I whipped around. “Whoa,” Josh said, “You ok?” I grabbed him by the shoulders and told him to run.

His voice trailed in the distance as I crawled up the stairs and launched myself onto the forest floor. I ran from the entrance of the cellar door and paced a tree. Where were they? Why didn’t they follow me? 

“I can’t go back in there.”

“You’re safe here.” Dr. Carol said

.“Are we?” She cocked her head to the side. Her eyes darted to my knee and back to me. I looked down and saw my leg was bouncing up and down. I pulled it up to my chest.

“This eye, what do you think it was?”

“The devil or some other monster,” a tear streamed down my eye, “whatever it was, I didn’t like the way it felt.”

“Can you tell me what happened next?”

“We made it back to camp. I apparently hit my head leaving the cave and was bleeding.”

She was silent. Her eyes were at tentative. Watching every move I made. If I shifted or bit my lip, her eyes would find it. If my lips parted to speak ,but I thought better of it, her eyes would catch it. And when I would watch her watch me, her pen would record it.

“And what exactly did you smoke to calm you?” She would ask. When I didn’t answer her question, her pen answered it for me, but her eyes never left me. They too wanted a drink.

We shared a three-person tent that night. I slept in the middle. Given the day, I had gone to bed early that night and was feeling much better. I had dreamed of my father that night. We were at the lake with my parents and cousins. I stood on the dock playing chicken. He would edge closer to the end of the dock ,balancing ourselves. I tethered on the edge, arms stretched and waving to keep me upright. A finger pushed against my shoulder and over I went. They all laughed until they realized I couldn’t swim. I swallowed the water and I could see my father. It looked like he was yelling ,but all I could hear was gasping sounds. They grew louder until they are a deep hum and rumble. Like a whale in a deep ocean. When I opened my eyes, our tent was cast in a great shadow. The full moon outlined the same of something moving above us. Directly above. Could this be a bear? No, I thought. The angle is wrong ,and the shape is wrong. I don’t know if it was the wind, or the trees, but the shadows moved. Then it grew closer until there was no more light. The stench was incomprehensible. Saliva built in my mouth. Faster than I could swallow. The warm liquid turned acidic. I clenched my jaw shut. The shadow drew back and the luminescence of the moon pierced through until it was no more. 

I darted from the tent to the nearest tree and vomited. My bare chest was drenched in sweat. It rippled down my back where it pulled and soaked into my underwear. Before I knew it, I was crying. The pain of the small rocks digging into my knee didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. That’s when Rick came for me. His touch was cool on my shoulders. Because I could feel him, I knew that I existed.

“Do you think the stress of your father’s death, and the drugs made you ill?”

“I didn’t take drugs.”

“In a deposition with Rick, he mentioned that you all took drugs. Josh had brought cannabis and psychedelics—“

“I didn’t take those.”

“Rick said that you smoked earlier before exploring the forest—“

“I don’t think taking one puff classifies as smoking or to be enough to impart my senses.”

She scribbled on the pad.

“Would you like to talk about Josh? Tell me what happened to Josh?” Dr. Carol said.

I raised my eyebrows at her, “What do you mean? Nothing happened to Josh, he slept through that.”

“And what of the next morning?”

“No one believe me, you know? It’s all on the camera.”

Right. If they only looked at my camera ,they could see the door. The crimson black door that repelled nature. Were they so averse to the truth when it stood bare in their face? Is this what we humans do to make sense of a world that makes little sense. The horrors that existed in that forest. In that sky. My face was hot with tears.

Thunder roared in the distance. A cool summer rain was upon us and there was nothing more that I liked to do than to watch the rain fall to earth. The sound was soothing to my soul. It quieted my pain and the smell afterwards was filling. When I was little ,my father would laugh as I sat at the window staring out. He sounded like rain.

“Do you want to look outside? I know you said you loved watching it rain?” 

How did she know? “Yes, please.”

She gestured to the man behind her. His face was stone. He moved across the room to the small window to twist and open the blinds. As he did that, I stood to shift my chair to face the window. The other man watched me as the doctor fiddled with her pen. When the man stepped away from the raised blinds, my throat snatched my heart. Fire spread throughout my body. I tried to stand, causing the chair to go off balance, tipping it over along with myself. Th two men moved closer to the doctor. Here yes were on me.

“What is it, Abraham? I thought you liked the rain?”

“You—you don’t see it!”

“See what Abraham. Can you describe it to me?’

“Just look. Oh God, look!”

I crawled to the corner, soiling myself. A legion of cries filled my ear to drown out the pulsing rumbles it made. If it drank anymore ,then God would not let me in. Their arms restrained me and the stinging where my eyes were grew dull as their drugs coursed through my veins. Though, its lone eye; ringed with crimson blades of fire would forever be the last image I see.


And fin. I hope you enjoyed it. It was a bit fun to write it and find that as I watch the clock, I need to stop what I am doing and finish the story, in some fashion.

On to the next one!

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