Beyond the Door – Flash Fiction Challenge
Another flash-fiction piece for Chuck Wendig’s Friday flash-fic challenge. We were to click the following link and write about our destination. I have posted a picture of my destination at the end of this story. (http://www.safestyle-windows.co.uk/secret-door/)
Beyond the Door
I have a vague memory, one that is already fading fast. It’s dark, and I’ve just left the cinema with my friends. The movie, some action flick, was mediocre at best – a generic hero with generic muscles fought a generic enemy – and a hundred and fifty-eight minutes of my life had been wasted on stupidly large explosions and over-the-top CGI. Our Hero had saved the day and got the girl.
Real life isn’t like that, I remember thinking to myself. You don’t get a perfect ending in a hundred and fifty-eight minutes.
My friends wanted to go into town, to continue being social. I was starting to develop a headache, brought on by loud explosions booming from the cinema’s surround-sound with enough force to set off seismographs in New Zealand, and by the flashing lights on the big screen. Loud music and copious amounts of alcohol were the last things on my mind. I said goodbye to my friends.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
They returned my farewell, waving as they left.
It started to rain – it does that a lot, in England. The bus shelter, just across the road, was my one chance of salvation. Squinting, trying to shield my eyes from the water pattering against my face, I stepped off the pavement.
I found myself in an action movie. There was flashing light, something loud blaring at me, the scream of tyres on wet tarmac, echoed by the scream of some damsel in distress standing on the pavement behind me. But this movie had no Hero. I remember seeing one word; Volkswagen.
Then I wasn’t outside the cinema anymore. I wasn’t cold, getting wet by the falling rain. I was inside a room, and in front of me were two doors, one white and shining, above it engraved the image of an elephant, impressive tusks curled beneath its trunk. The other door was some shade of brown, and above it an image of a mountain goat with curved rams-horns was depicted in the stone.
I had been here before. As memories of the other place – the cinema, the movie, the Volkswagen – drifted from my mind, new memories entered, to replace what I had lost. This place… this place was not what it seemed. I had learnt my lesson long ago, and now I knew what I had to do.
I stepped towards the brown door, and it opened at the slightest touch of my hand. I smiled; the door had always done that, as if it sensed my desire to enter it. And as I stepped through, I already knew what would be waiting for me.
I found myself beneath a blue sky, not a single cloud marring that perfect expanse of azure. Beneath the sky, set into a small depression in the ground, was a model village. It was not the same model village I had seen last time, for it changed with each visit I made. This one was more intriguing than its last incarnation; right before me was a small information post, the words ‘Victorian Houses’ written at the top, a lengthier description of them beneath. Behind the houses was a green park, tiny bonsai trees planted here and there.
To the left of the Victorian houses were multi-storey rectangular buildings on straight streets which ran at right-angles to each other. I could not see the information post, but judging by the way they stood in perfectly neat blocks, I suspected they belonged somewhere in the United States. I had been there once, during the Great Depression, and recognised some of the architecture.
Off in the distance were some sky-scrapers; it could have been New York, or it could have been Tokyo. I was sure I had seen King Kong and Godzilla having their wicked way with some of these buildings… but that was part of my previous memory-set, and they weren’t important, now. I did, however, have fond memories of Tokyo; I had been there during Japan’s Edo period, when the great city had been nothing more than a fly-speck village. But it had been a nice fly-speck village.
As I was considering my next destination, the door opened behind me, and a man stepped through. He gave me a smile, and approached me with a spring in his step.
“Hey, first time visitor?” he asked.
“No, I’m a frequent flier,” I replied. “You?”
“Oh yeah, yeah. I love this place. Every time I come here I think, ‘this will be my last time, I’ve seen it all by now’, and then it throws me something new!” He squinted at the sky-scrapers. “Is that New York?”
“I think so,” I replied, not wanting to admit my lack of knowledge to this stranger. “Any idea where you’d like to go next?”
“Hmm… I don’t know… hmm, wait a minute!” His eyes lit up as they fell on the information post. “Victorian, eh? That sounds promising! I’ve never done Victorian England before. Have you?”
“No, but I was there for World War Two. You should really see St Paul’s Cathedral before it gets blitzed.”
“Oh, I will. Thanks for the tip.” He smiled, an eagerness in his eyes that I envied. My last experience had been rather unfulfilling, and I was in no rush to get back down there. Perhaps I would wait here for a while, until something piqued my interest.
“Well, I hope I’ll see you around again,” I said, not wanting to force him to leave, but not particularly in the mood for company right now. The word Volkswagen was still emblazoned across my mind, and refused to leave me alone.
“I certainly hope so too,” he said with a smile. “Who knows, maybe I’ll even meet you down there.”
“Yeah, maybe.” But we wouldn’t recognise each other.
I watched as he stepped into the model village, and he disappeared before my eyes. Down there, I knew, some Victorian woman had just gone into labour, and within hours her new son would be born. She would never know his true nature; nobody would. That was just the way things worked.