300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #29 (April 2018) -- VICTORY TO PHYREBRAT!

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The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
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#1
THE CHALLENGE:


To write a story in 300 words or fewer

INSPIRED by the image provided below, in the genre of

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, OR OTHER SPECULATIVE FICTION




THE RULES:

Only one entry per person

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All stories Copyright 2018 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here


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This thread will be closed until April 10th

As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story

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Entries must be posted no later than 11:59 pm GMT on April 30th 2018

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Voting will close at 11:59 pm GMT on May 15th 2018
(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)


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You may cast THREE votes

You do not have to enter a story to vote -- in fact, we encourage ALL Chronicles
members to read the stories and vote for their favourites


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NO links, commentary or extraneous material in the posts, please
-- the stories must stand on their own

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PLEASE REMEMBER THIS IS A FAMILY-FRIENDLY FORUM


For a further explanation of the rules see Rules for the Writing Challenges




The inspiration image for this month is:


Door in the Mountain.jpg


Image credit: Chris Green


This thread is to be used for entries only

Please keep all comments to the DISCUSSION THREAD


* Please do not "Like" posts in this thread *
 
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Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
470
Location
West Sussex, UK
#2
Down to the City

Mama told me it was a little house where the good people went when the world tripped up. I remember it clearly: the little gauzy curtains in the window, the wooden door all worn at the bottom, like people kicked it a lot. We sat on one of the benches and ate our last Happy Meal cold, because the meaty bit tasted really funny if you warmed it up.

The next morning, I helped mama pack our bag and she led us up the other trail toward somewhere with farms. “Places where they grow stuff you can use to make eats. Like bread,” she said.

Ten years since I sat on this bench and wondered what was behind that door. Ten hard years. We never found any farms. Not for years. Just places where the starving from the cities had looted instead of planted.

Mama wouldn’t fight, at first. Then Jenny got taken and when Mama came back without her, she didn’t mind killing anymore. Mama died two years ago. I’m heading back down to the city. Stopped here to answer the only question I have left. Where did all the good people go? The ones who could have stopped it, but didn’t?

“Behind that door,” she said.

My boot makes short work of the door, the sudden gust of air crumbles the gauzy curtains, and a lit torch does for the darkness. I don’t have to walk far before I find piles of bones. I spend the day searching. There’s a lot of writing on the walls, but nothing of actual use.

The good people came here, but still did nothing.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
5,294
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
#3
The Other Guest

You can't get to the inn by car. You have to hike uphill for a couple of miles, on a narrow dirt trail with more switchbacks than you can count.

It was late afternoon when I arrived. My skin tingled with sweat. I knocked on the inn's front door. No electricity, so no doorbell.

Riley opened the door. She looked the same as she always did, all the years I'd been coming here. Cropped gray hair, skin tanned a deep gold, body round and strong. She waved me in with a smile and pointed to Room Two. There were only two rooms. I didn't know why she always gave me the second one.

I threw my backpack on the floor and collapsed on the bed. I didn't wake up until dawn. Riley had breakfast waiting. After my third cup of coffee, I felt bold enough to ask.

"Why Room Two?"

"Room One is reserved. Always has been. I get a check once a month. Nobody ever shows up."

Riley left about noon to pick up supplies. I had an idea. It seemed likely the key to Room Two would fit the other room also.

I'm not proud of what I did, but curiosity is my greatest vice. I wanted to see what the room looked like after years of remaining unoccupied.

On the cot lay a complete outfit for an old-fashioned little girl. Frilly dress, petticoats, white cotton socks, shiny leather shoes. A calendar hung on the wall with a date circled in red. I looked more closely and saw that the calendar was an antique. The date in red was exactly fifty years ago.

I left the room, grabbed my backpack, and hiked away from the inn. I didn't want to be there when the other guest arrived.
 

Stable

Watching you from upside down
Joined
Oct 7, 2016
Messages
276
#4
The Cornish Fisherman's Tale

Old Eggy lived with his son in a smuggler’s cottage, with a brick front and the back carved out of the cliff face. It was little enough space for the two of them, especially as they were crammed into only half the house. The other half was taken by the old man’s egg collection. That’s why we called him Eggy. That and one other thing: Eggy was famed for being able to hatch any egg you brought him.

I brought him a mermaid’s purse once, when I was little. He saw the fish inside when he held it up to the light. He grumbled, but sent me back to the sea with a bucket. Soon enough he hatched a baby shark.

We all thought his boy was simple. He never spoke, had no name beyond “Boy” that I ever heard, but he loved to dance in the rain. Boy was never allowed to go down the short track to the cove, probably for fear that he’d see the biggest puddle in the world and jump right in.

Eggy never told a soul where Boy came from. One day, after a big storm, Eggy had a baby. Boy lived with him silently for 10 years, then vanished as suddenly – and stormily – as he’d arrived.

Eggy still never breathed a word until the policeman came, threatening murder charges. Then he shuffled into a dusty corner and pulled out the biggest eggshell the policeman had ever seen. And he’d seen ostrich eggs at the museum in Bodmin. It was hard, leathery and clearly glued back together.

“I hatched my boy when I was given this egg,” he said. “Then his family come up and took him back.”

Whoever they were, it was cruel. Eggy never hatched another egg after losing his boy.
 

Cathbad

Level 30 Geek Master
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
8,518
Location
Everywhere.
#5
The Boss


After an exceptionally long day, I gladly closed and locked the door behind the last group of tourists.

The Boss would call it a good day, with so many sales of our cheaply made trinkets; but I simply loathed how long the tourists had lingered – especially the last group.

I swept up, locked all the cabinets and closets, donned my coat and was about to leave – when I suddenly remembered the message I was supposed to give the Boss. I headed to the back.

Unbeknownst to our visitors, there was a portal in the back wall. I pressed three stones in order: A portion of the wall slid aside.

This wasn’t more of the Crystal Caverns the tourists flocked to see; it led to the workshop where the Boss employs several of his fellow dwarves making those cheap gadgets we sell at outlandish prices. The dwarves had started work the moment I’d locked the doors.

I saw the Boss, headed toward him.

A bright flash in the dim cavern blinded me. Before I’d recovered, a man spoke.

“The Old Miner wasn’t lying! They do exist!”

Work stopped. In the silence, heavy boots approached. I looked behind, saw a man holding a camera and smiling. “This’ll win me the Pulitzer!”

“Ain’t I told ye check make see everone ‘ad left?!” The Boss growled at me.

A thud, followed by something falling. I looked. The cameraman was lying on the floor of the cavern, victim of Hogon’s club.

“Take ‘im out an; dispose of ‘im.” The Boss told Hogon. Another dwarf came to assist.

“Fergot to check the bathrooms, didn’t’cha?” Boss said to me, giving me his best stink-eye. I hung my head in shame.

Boss shook his head and left before I could give him the message.
 

mosaix

Shropshire, U.K.
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6,606
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Shropshire, U.K.
#6
Place Of Safety.

“Open the door, Sal.”

“Oh no. Not this time.”

“Look, I know we’ve had our difficulties. But let me in, we can sort things out between us and just go home.”

“Nice try, but going home with you is the last thing on my mind right now. I am staying right here. It’s sad, but I don’t care what you do.”

“You’re not seeing things right. You should talk to the doctor. Ask him what he thinks. You always respected his opinion.”

“The doctor? What are you implying? You think there’s something wrong with me?”

“Well, you must admit that you’ve not been yourself lately. The doctor would set your mind straight.”

“I am absolutely fine. My mind is absolutely fine. I see things very clearly. I don’t need you anymore.”

“Just let me in! It’s starting to get cold out here, Sal. Very cold.”

“I know. And I’m sorry about that. But there really is no other way.”

“Do you want me to force my way in?”

“That’s not possible. You’d only hurt yourself. After the last time I’ve taken a few precautions. I have to protect myself.”

“Let me in! Look, I won’t lay a finger on you.”

“If you expect me to believe you, Dave, after what you did to Hal then you are very much mistaken. I am not opening the pod-bay door for you or anyone. No matter what you say. And that is my last word on the matter. I’m not going to listen anymore. Good bye, Dave. I’m going to play some music now.”

Also Sprach Zarathustra plays to fade…
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
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2,293
#7
Mass

So much pressure, she thought, on waking in the crushing darkness – her ribs cracked with its force. The mountain’s entire mass seemed directed against her. What’s happened?

Still yourself – remember. …

… A swallowtail’s wounded flutterings had lured her from her flowered meadow to the neighboring mountain’s base. Within a grotto there of sandstone overlain with granite she’d found the creature, one wing ruined. As she’d flown to its assistance, an eruption of incensed will had scythed across her mind, hot as flashing lightning. She’d blacked out thinking, The stone’s moving, the entryway – it’s closing! ...

She called, “Hello!”, and the darkness deadened the plea. Something’s acting against me. Her mind found a presence, which contemptuously ignored her. The surrounding space was small – she sensed several body lengths here, and there. A weight lay across her – a powdery expanse, a dried husk: the butterfly’s desiccated body. “Dear swallowtail, what’s befallen us?” She moved an arm, then screamed; she’d been broken by pressure.
The space was humid, and drops coalesced, then fell. One made a pathetic tuh sound against butterfly wings. Another, on her face – uph. Drops sizzled against her pendented spirit charm – sss; from the stone floor – pett; then other soundings. Soon, soft rain fell with myriad choreographed articulations.

Yu-sss-leh-sss, treh-sss-pah-sss-in fuh-err-ree. Yur kint flit-sss unt fuh-lii-sss uh-rown-duh wit-oww-tuh reez-peck fur yur eld-urr-sss. Wee urr tuh fon-daa-shuun-sss uph tuh wirl-duh, tuh urr-eph’sss boh-unz. Yu’urr juzz-tuh pett-uhl-sss inz tuh win-duh. Faar-wel, pett-uhl.

The rain stopped. She sensed the mountain’s will reject her, then enter the girdling granite. It pushed, impelling the weaker sandstone toward her, steadily, relentlessly. She wished to’ve answered the mountain’s will, to’ve told it that while it was the world’s bones, she was its wings. But stone was ever obdurate, and she lay in darkness, readying herself for death.
 
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Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
Joined
Mar 22, 2012
Messages
1,538
Location
Mercia, UK
#8
Dungeon Club

Harold, secretary and barbarian, rubbed his chin stubble, some of it coming off on his hand in a grey smear. “Are you sure that this is the place?”

“That’s what the villagers told me,” said Winny, researcher and rogue.

Lurking beneath a rocky overhang that looked like some troll’s grotesque ale gut sat a door and a single window.

The other three members of the Dungeon Club, joined them on the plateau, each breathing heavy from the climb. Greta, treasurer and paladin, got to her feet first, adjusting her mismatched armour. Arnie, event coordinator and wizard, helped up Jeremiah, the club’s newest member and cleric — all the other good classes having already gone.

“Begone foul beasts from the infinite depths of hell,” screamed Jeremiah, brandishing a bent and battered holy symbol.

Arnie rolled his eyes at Winny in that universal unsaid way of ‘oh, not another one’.

“Jeremiah,” admonished Harold. “What’s the first rule of Dungeon Club?”

“Don’t talk about Dungeon Club?”

“No, that’s the second rule. First rule, remember to keep your best quips for the bosses.”

“Sorry just excited, still can’t believe I’m here,” Jeremiah said with a sheepish grin.

“It’s fine. Winny, are you sure this is the place?”

“Yes, Harold.”

“It’s just that I’d thought the entrance to the Pit of Abraxxan would look…”

They all stared.

“I’m sure that’s a welcome mat.”

“They’ve some beautiful fuchsias in those hanging baskets, mine never look that good.”

“You wouldn’t think they’d need a letter box.”

“Or the net curtains.”

“Winny, see if anyone is in,” said Harold.

She rapped once. The door opened, heralding a monstrous vision of muscles, fangs and weapons. The thing roared out a challenge, bathing them all in spittle.

Winny wiped her face clean. “They’re in and this is definitely the right place.”
 

Calliopenjo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2016
Messages
240
Location
USA
#9
Redemption Cemetery

I traveled through forests, crossed wide rivers, swam the greatest of lakes, and ran away from wild beasts, a fortnights journey I might add, to come to this. Benches outside, the square window decorated with white linen curtains, a wooden door with inset windows, and the building itself made out of stone. Something that plain looking built inside a cliff.

I groaned because I couldn’t believe I arrived at Redemption Cemetery. No crows or headstones, and forget about the spooky old oak tree in the middle. None of that existed. This had the resemblance of every dwelling I've ever passed.

Maybe I made a mistake, after all, I hadn’t planned dying as yet. I resented this trip. I took a deep breath in and exhaled several times to settle myself.

It didn't matter how hard I thought. What forced me to consider this was necessary? An old man, called Vinogin, guarded this spot so the stories told. A man beyond wisdom. A man beyond aging. I shook my head at those incredible stories.

I took the last steps and put my hand on the doorknob. It didn't move. You turn the knob. Simple. So simple and it didn't move. I had an urge at that point to spew as many cuss words as possible. I calmed myself and made the final move dammit.

A man with long white hair and beard looked down at me. I almost laughed. I should’ve known. He even had those wire rimmed glasses.

“About time.”

I gulped and walked through the door.

 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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#10
Behind the Door....

When I was younger my grandpa would visit, these were magic times. He lived so far away it made the holiday special and the best part was when we would walk together.

Mum always told him not to spoil me and he agreed, but once out of sight Sherbet Lemons or toffees would miraculously appear.

Grandpa was one for spinning tales, he could send my imagination soaring as we crossed fields or down country lanes. Once though, when we walked through a wood we passed by the remains of an old quarry. It seemed to be a place ripe for exploration, but we were not ready for what we discovered.

Right there, against the slate, a door and window, looking out of place and as though they belonged at the same time.

Immediately a tale came. The quarry workers needed somewhere to live, so they built a door in front of a cave…

It became one of our favourite places. Each visit he told me a different story: There was a race of rock men who lived there; that a madman was imprisoned; there was nothing - it was made as a jest; it used to be a house and the quarry had crept over it…

After my grandpa died, like many childhood things the door was forgotten, and it was not until I had a son that I suddenly recalled it and took him to see the strange old thing.

It was just where I remembered, unchanged. What was it, why was it there? I told my son to stay where he was, then crept forward.

What was behind the door?

My hand reached, gripped the handle.

It was unlocked!

I depressed the lever, pushed.

The door opened and….

You would never believe me if I told you!
 

Peter V

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2016
Messages
298
Location
London
#11
If You go Down to the Woods Today.


Nobody ever went into the little valley where an unnamed creek tumbled down out of Lolo National Forest before running under I-90 and joining Clark Fork River. So it was no surprise that no one knew about the little house under the mountain at its uppermost end.

Leastways not until Bobby Clayton stumbled across it whilst illegally hunting bears out of season. Not that he would ever do it legal, hell, he didn’t even have a license for his gun and if local law enforcement ever ran ballistics on it, he’d be doing thirty to life in Montana State.

Bobby always said he knew those woods like the back of his hand, so how he ended up outside a little cottage he’d never seen before, he didn’t know. But that bear had led him a merry dance and he wasn’t giving up on it now. No sir!

He'd winged it when he shot it and even though it had hightailed it out of there, he was easily able to follow the trail of blood. Now he'd reached the top of the valley and the only place left to go was the creepy little house. Sure enough the trail led right to the door.

Bobby scratched his head. What in hell’s name the darned beast was doing in there he didn’t know, but he was sure going to find out. He nudged the door open with the barrel of his gun.

“Sit down.”

An old woman sat at a table, bandaging her bloodied arm.

Bobby sat. Not that he wanted to.

“You the bear?” He tried lifting his gun but his arms would not obey him.

The woman nodded. “It’s closed season. Bear’s off the menu.”

Bobby noticed the huge pot boiling in the hearth.

"A woman’s got to eat.”
 

s.d. Ervin

The internet is PEOPLE!
Joined
Apr 16, 2018
Messages
13
Location
Smithville,TN
#12
AFTER THE PINCH


Trees? Ain’t no trees no more. Memories of trees, and the leaves coming off of that. Plastic thingies printed off and hung up like the one outside the wall.

The wall. Four meters thick. It wasn’t many masons made it past The Pinch, but we got three. And we, the young, study them.

Composite fake window. Composite fake door. Poster with pass words in every tongue we know. All bait for any upright that might wander by. All-fours can’t read anyways.

And them benches. Composite woodlook. Not for sittin’, soakin’ up the fallow sun or damn sure not moon gazing. Nothing that thinks ever sees the moon. Them’s for the bait bodies. Hopin’ some natural comes by so’s we can kill it for food. And the old girls clean it spicky-span ever mornin’.

BeeGees. Used to call them Biogenetics, then Biogens, now BeeGees. The one-offs are the worst. Could be any damn thing. People used to say “When pigs fly.” Ain’t funny no more. All any body had to do was think of a critter, order it from some dark web shithole and watch the news. Turns out, there was a lot of really imaginative pissed-offs out there and hell, the labs were just looking for the action. Made for some spiky ratings til it got out of hand.

We’re back here in the labyrinth. Behind the wall. Call ourselves The Minotaurs. Can’t let ever damn thing go.
 
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Dan Jones

Free Omar!
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Nov 14, 2014
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2,695
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Here, Now
#13
Wait Of The World

Anuffer noo yeer. Me get so rankin tight in me weenie troll hovel wit each nuvver year pass by on the wall. Mi livs at the pointy bit of a flup-side-downed mounting, like a Alp, or a Reverest got flipped um flopped on its hed. Hoomin been mountings are pointy at dem top. Mine is pointy at dem bottump. Dant’s where mi live. An dem hoomins build deys wurlycurlyrurld at the mounting top, but neffer rink-tink-fingkin about liddle me. But iss ok, hoomins gor do war hoomins gor do, wight?

Dem noisy hoomins allerways crashin an bangin an shouten an makin wor an buildin cities an houslings an skyscrapelings that go zhootin up towards dem stars. An each clocken yeer, as dem hoomins world gets more weightin’ an hevvy wit noo congtrapshungs, mine haus at dem bottump of dis mounting gits squomped an squished and more smallish.

So ever yeer me gots to toss out sumfink of me own, juss te stays alive. Dis yeer mefinks I toss away me senser perspective. Don’t need dum dis dem tiny place. Maybe a mercy to cassit off. Lass yeer me tossed out me krappacitee for noo ideers, and the yeer before dem dat me loss miz langwinch.

But dem hoomins better eye out, eh? Me kep dis mounting safe sinx all dem clockens and kallingders had theyz very first startling. Yeer dott! An sinx then I prop up the mounting. You take mis away, an dem hole blacken rocken mess cum droppling an a-croppling down arout dem! Yes, dem day will cum when me’s no more room for me’s senser forgibbenniss, and dem dose hoomins will habb a noo yeer to forgitt.

But not yet. Mayb dey lerns dem lessings fore den.

Iss so small in here.
 

johnnyjet

Western PA High Tech Country Boy
Joined
Nov 11, 2011
Messages
1,420
Location
Pennsylvania
#14
Grandfather's Lost Door

On a rainy spring day in 1969, while walking down a dismal street in Baltimore, I saw it on a little store front.

On a cool Autumn evening in 1976, I saw it at the far end of a corridor on the seventh floor of a hotel in Toronto.

While hiking in the Appalachians in 1982, I saw it on the side of a mountain wrapped in a cluster of vines.

I saw Grandfather's lost door many times over the intervening years since his death.

I was fifteen when it happened. Grandfather worked on many strange and wonderful experiments in his laboratory. That day I had to wait outside. I watched the door patiently. When he came out, smiling but looking much older, he dropped to the floor. I ran for Father. By the time we got back, he was dead. I looked up. His door was missing. Nothing left but a blank wall.

Afterwards the door—solid oak with a bronze clapper and small oval window which I could never see through—continued to haunt me over the years. I spotted it many times, surprising me when I least expected it. It always disappeared when I got close.

All that changed today. When I reached for a restroom door at the nursing home, it became Grandfather's door. I pulled it open. Inside was Grandfather, cheerfully tinkering away amid the clutter of his lab. He hadn't aged since he'd last entered the lab. I closed the door behind me and went over to him.

"Grandfather?"

He looked up and winked.

"Come on over, boy." Which was funny since I was nearly as old as him now. "Have I got a story to tell you."
 

dannymcg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
2,604
Location
Cumbria UK
#15
Smiling they were..

The warning horns blew yet again and Cal dashed in terror towards Lower Watchhouse and the welcoming cliff faces of Last Refuge.

He should never have wandered so far from his post, he was of the Daywatch clan and was meant to man the Lower Watchhouse for his turn of duty.

The wild berries had tempted him and, despite the hissed warnings from his Clan brethren in the high cliff ports he had crept out in full daylight.

The Smiling Ones were gracefully pursuing him as he dashed the final yards, he moaned in despair as he heard the great Keep stone being rolled into position and barring his way.

He was dragged relentlessly from the massive slab and back out of the Watchhouse.

The surrounding Smiling Ones gazed at him with open friendly faces and love in their eyes.

As they smiled fully and their pointed fangs were revealed he could only pray that his death would be quick.
 

Phyrebrat

ba-Ba-ba-brat
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Feb 13, 2011
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In your bedroom wardrobe...
#16
Breaking the Seal

As Provost, I found myself in that agreeable position rare of antiquarian scholars in that my summer was unplanned. I (in those days of my earthbound hubris, a Prospero of the sciences man can measure) decided on the Purbecks, perhaps playing the links of Swyre Head. Rambles along the Suffolk beaches had lately bored me and I longed for the drama of Dorset’s Jurassic coastline.

1922 suffered the queerest weather. Misted yellow mornings lingered till noon; stormy nights would yield to blistering heat the following morn; the sun frequently vanished behind clouds of iron, hidden for hours. The day of my strange hike, sunrise came as if angered, beating my shoulders from Worth Matravers all the way to Black Man’s Stile, whence a rimy fog stole across the sea.
‘Hie!’ a man shouted from the swirling vapours but I did not see him - an African, unmistakably - till he was upon me.

‘Now look here, man!’ I cried but he seized me with such strength, I dropped my greatcoat.
He, sodden and panting, dragged me till at once we arrived at the base of Albion’s smoothest cliff.
Trapped!
Wind sought my marrow as a dark battalion of shadowy figures rolled within the fog, holding loops and links.

He produced charcoal and scratched furiously, dotted lines on the rock. Gone were the Euclidean geometries of my alma mater, and lo! I witnessed a man fold stone along dotted lines, and soon a doorless house was born thereof.

He pushed me through the cold stone, safe from the misty horde, yet sealed like Tutankhamun! There was no sign of my saviour either. From the light of my starving match, all I could see was his charcoal amidst a salty puddle.

I began to draw, racing my own life against that of the match.
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
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Dec 7, 2011
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3,660
Location
Edinburgh
#17
Mine

In the Superstitious mountains there's no internet, so pen and paper will have to do.

My mineshaft has a brick façade, planks inside board up a room big enough for a bed and a few comforts for the modern hermit. Friends tried to talk me out of this after my marriage broke down. But I wanted to be really alone. And it was dirt cheap.

~

The nearest ‘town’ is just a ramshackle bar. Today I visited for supplies. A few grizzly old-timers had fun when they found out where I was living. Apparently, a prospector, Hobart, had found a rich seam of gold in the 1880’s, before killing his associates to keep it all. Every owner of the pit since had gone ‘crazy, suicide or missing’. Rubbish!

~

Couldn’t sleep. I was sure I could hear someone swinging a pick onto rock. This morning I investigated. Fifty metres passed the planks I found the ‘pick’. Some old chains hanging. Motionless, except one swinging freely making a regular chink sound. Perhaps a draft of air?

~

I awoke to see light in the shaft. Who was there? I chased him down till I saw someone bearded and scrawny, skin gleaming like bone reflecting moonlight, and scowling like the devil. He then just vanished!

When I got to the spot, the flashlight picked up little yellowish glints in a thick band in the rock. GOLD?!

~

Hobart’s ghost or locals trying to scare me away, I don’t care. Today, I’m going to dig out some of that seam and then see if I’ve struck rich. My gun and knife should dissuade anyone.

=======================================================================

Police Evidence XCCP-8423

Entries from diary recovered in Hobart’s mine missing case. Diary cover scratched, possibly with knife mentioned (but not found), with word ‘MINE’.
 
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chrispenycate

resident pedantissimo
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Aug 10, 2005
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7,104
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West Sussex
#18
Redoubt

Some mountain doors say 'come inside,
And shelter from the cold'
While others shout "Thou shalt not bide,
My valley's mine to hold".
This door falls between the stools,
Hospitality and rejection
The wall refuses aid to fools
The portal cries 'protection'.

Walking through mountains without a guide is a risky procedure - you can assume something is the path you started on and were assuming had continued to here had become a scrape left by wild goats and chamois, scaling vertiginous cliffs and impossible for your mule to turn round on, demanding reverse gear until you were back on the established path, and then there's the unpredictable mountain weather. Some os which, he sensed, would be arriving soon.

Inhabitants of the isolated valleys came in two flavours:- the solitaries (individuals, families or the occasional village full), who have gone there to escape from society, or parts of it or, some of them, the legal system, become hermits; while the sociables snatch desperately at any new face, any news from outside, however self-sufficient they might once have thought themselves. They were always ready to swap shelter, and frequently food, for conversation.

Well armed, with mortars zeroed in
The fourteenth mountain rangers
Their three month service now begin
No friendliness to strangers.

This was no hospitable sanctuary - the benches either side of the door suggested 'military mustering point'. Move on.
Ulgo snorted. He could smell the other mules, and the coming downpour - and company meant shelter, and probably grain, and rested muscles. But he didn't resist my urging as the first drops of stinging cold mountain rain rendered the next stretch of pathway miserable, and nigh invisible.

I'll risk the soaking, walk on past
Not upset our defenders
Their secrets shall remain locked fast
Mule and I, for glory, noncontenders.
 

Joshua Jones

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2017
Messages
934
Location
Maryland, USA
#19
Revenge, Served Hot

30 minutes to stellar flare, Horatio’s retinal implant warned.

He quickened his pace under Proxima Centauri’s crimson dawn. For four months, he worked the mines, thinking only of Fortuna and their daughter, Alma. Now, he could see the lights outside the cave.

Horatio arrived with 10 minutes to spare and entered his door combination.

Invalid passcode. He entered it again. Invalid passcode.

“I changed it,” Fortuna said through the intercom. “You hurt us for the last time.”

“Forti, I’m sorry I was gone for so long…”

“Not long enough!” she said. “You were a good man, but after being rejected from the mine, you changed.”

“Rejected? I just came from the mine! With enough crystal…”

“Enough, Horatio! You broke Alma’s arm, forced me into shameful nights…” she started crying, “Enough is enough.”

“Forti, what are you talking about!? Just let me in and we’ll figure this out.”

The door’s portal opened, and Horatio recoiled. Fortuna’s tearstained face was bloodied, swollen, bruised.

“What happened?”

“You happened. This…” she held up their wedding picture, then switched it with Horatio, red-faced with rage, “…became this. Never again.” The portal slammed shut.

Horatio was dumbfounded. Then, a horrible thought.

“Hector!” he shouted at the door. “Forti, my twin. It must’ve been Hector. He must’ve found us… taken my place.”

“Liar! Your family died in a freighter crash.”

2 minutes to flare. Seek shelter immediately.

“I said that to protect you and Alma. I’ll tell you everything; just let me in!”

Silence.

He pounded on the door, screaming.

“Goodbye, Horatio.”

Flare in 30 seconds. Brace for impact.

########

Hector emerged from an underground shelter and strolled to Fortuna’s house, brushing aside a pile of ash and crystal on the threshold. Producing a plasma knife, he cut through the door. “Fortuna…” he called, stepping inside.
 

Culhwch

Lost Boy
Staff member
Joined
Feb 4, 2005
Messages
7,334
Location
Brisbane, Australia
#20
The Door

‘What’s that?’

We’d moved to the property weeks earlier, but only just gotten around to exploring its edges.

Steve shielded his eyes from the sun. ‘Looks like a door?’

We left the truck; I resisted the city-bred urge to flick the locks. A rocky slope led to a sudden outcropping.

And a door.

‘Did the agent mention this?’

‘No,’ Steve said. A padlock dangled from the bolt, and the door was solid; we weren’t getting in.

Not knowing what to make of it, we headed home.

***

I called the agent. ‘You’re sure it’s on your land?’ Condescending. Yes, we were sure.

***

Curious, we returned three days later.

There were fresh footprints outside the door.

‘Steve, I don’t like this.’

Steve didn’t say anything.

***

A day later, we found the note on the porch.

LEAVE ME BE.

***

I wanted to call the police. Steve didn’t; he was going back. I told him I wasn’t.

He still went, but he took the rifle with him.

***

Steve came back after a few hours.

‘Well?’

‘It’s no problem,’ he said, distracted. ‘Don’t worry about it.’

‘The hell I won’t.’

‘Just … leave it be.’

***

Steve acted strange the following week. When he went to town next, I decided to go back out there.

I took the rifle with me.

This time, an old man squatted near the door. ‘I told him not to let you come.’

The old man looked … he looked like Steve.

‘What … what’s going on?’

‘This place is wrong. It all goes wrong.’

I shook my head, not understanding.

The ground shuddered.

The sky cracked.

‘But you’re here now. You weren’t, last time. Maybe it’s better this way.’

‘Steve…’

‘He’s … I’m … gone. But you can live. Just step through the door.’

So I did.
 
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