The bright red door opens slowly, alerting the clerks of the small shop with a bell’s ringing. However, no one is there when I step inside. Glancing around at all the shelves that line the shop, I quickly notice that I was now standing in a bookstore. I can smell the newly printed pages that haven’t been separated from each other yet. I breathe in deeply and close my eyes as I take in the wonderful smell. I wasn’t one to be thrilled with reading, so I never knew books could smell this nice. The ones at my school had only smelled faintly of muddy sneakers and the occasional wad of bubble gum.
I turn to the cash register, which sat on a small counter by the entryway. No one waited there for a purchase and it gave me the impression that people didn’t come here often. That makes sense, I think to myself as I glance out of the corner of my eye at the window of the front door. All that could be seen were the concrete walls boxing in the alley and a small section of the main street. Why would anyone squeeze between the bookstore and the ice cream shop just to get to another bookstore? The owners of this small establishment needed to rethink their business plan. Turning around and reaching for the doorknob of the red door, I get a strange sensation. It’s almost as if something is calling to me.
When I turn back to the bookcases, I find that they have multiplied in numbers. Now they stretched out farther than I could even see. My hand on the doorknob falls to my side as I stare over the sea of wooden shelving. I feel my heart pounding loudly in my ears as I think back to this morning when I took my pills. Did I actually take them, or was that yesterday? Looking again at the door, I discover that it had vanished. No, I tell myself. It’s just a hallucination, the door’s still there. But as I run my hands all over the smooth black wall in front of me, I find no signs of a door hidden behind my hallucination. I peek back at the bookcases, but they hadn’t changed. Trapped in a bookstore, what a nightmare. Sighing to myself and rolling my eyes, I let my hands fall off the wall and begin my search for an alternate exit.
As I wander the aisles in a zig-zag pattern, the scent of new paper fades away. It’s as if it no longer matters to me. Scanning the shelves and reading titles aloud, I search. I don’t know what it is that I’m looking for, but I won’t let myself admit that it’s not an exit. Suddenly, a new scent fills my nose and I look up from a shelf I was currently filtering through. I don’t even know why I was looking through the books, they were all too thick for me to ever complete. The new scent that filled my nose was like metal, almost rusty. I try to follow my nose, but dogs are always better at doing that.
Eventually, after searching almost every aisle in the store, I come across the last aisle. It feels like it took me days to reach the end. As I tiredly look around the corner into the final row of shelves, I see a pedestal that almost screams at me. I stand up straighter and walk towards the pedestal at the end of the aisle.
Now, standing in front of the pedestal, I smell that metal smell even more. It’s stronger and I can see the source of what’s filling my nose. On the pedestal sits a book the same shade of red as the farmhouse door that had disappeared oh-so-long ago. Or perhaps it was only a few minutes ago. Whatever the case, this book looked exactly like the door to the shop I was currently trapped in, the one that had disappeared. It even had the same golden lock on it, the kind that sat underneath the doorknob. The lock was a little rusty, but it was also the reason for the metal scent in my nose that led me to wander this shop for such a long time. I grab the cover and fiddle with it, hoping it wasn’t locked. But it was. After tugging on the cover a few more times, I gave up on the useless effort.
“Well,” I think aloud, feeling my temper begin to boil, “I’m already here, so why not buy the darn thing?” I reach out to pick up the book, but the thing feels heavier than an elephant! I grunt and let go, breathing heavily. I then try again, failing miserably. “Even Eric couldn’t lift this thing,” I mutter under my breath.
Eric was always bragging about the biceps he had built up over the summer. Whether it was in the locker room, on the football field, or at the public pool, he was always showing them off. He claimed he could lift 125 pounds. I didn’t buy it, though. Eric had always been one to “bend the truth a little”, as he usually put it. I reckon that he could only really lift 115, but he’s too cool of a friend for me to point that out in front of all his adoring fans.
I look back down at the door lock and fiddle with it again, pushing my finger in the little hole in a lame attempt to pick the lock. Wishing I had brought something with me to pick the lock correctly, I glare at the book in another lame attempt at opening it. With this one, I was hoping to open the book with my incredible superhero powers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have superhero powers.
I glance around the aisle, looking for an obvious key so I could open it and not have to buy the book after all. Of course, there’s no such item anywhere in sight. I sigh and look back at the strange book. I could feel something whenever I looked at it, but I couldn’t understand what it was that I felt.
I run my hand along the book’s cover. It was bumpy, yet smooth at the same time. The lock was cold to the touch and felt nice under my skin. Letting my hand linger on the cover, I try to think everything through. This had all happened so fast. First, my hallucinations began. Then, the weird feeling I get when I’m anywhere near this book. And finally, the fact that I now have to search for a key, which might not even exist, just to see what’s written on the pages of this strange bundle of paper. I sigh once more and let my arm fall to my side. Then I turn away to begin my search for the key that would hopefully unlock the answers to all my questions.
A kid who doesn’t like to read, wandering the aisles of a bookstore in search of something to help him read the biggest book he’s ever seen. How ironic. I don’t linger on the thought, though. I needed to find that key.
I hastily sit up at the sound of something breaking. I scan the darkness around my room as my heart pounds in my chest. In the dark, it was hard to tell whether I had even opened my eyes or not. I reach over and fumble around on my nightstand as I search for the flashlight I kept by my bed. I’ll admit, I’ve seen way too many horror movies to trust the ominous darkness that surrounded me at night.
Instead of landing on the comfort of light, however, I brush across a painfully cold surface. I fail to keep myself from yelping at the presence of an unknown object as I yank my hand back to my side faster than lightning. I breath heavily, scooting away from the nightstand as quickly as possible. What was that? An ice cube or a corpse? I shiver at the thought of touching an undead human’s hand.
I wince and try desperately to get my breathing under control as I force myself out of the idea that a serial killer was inside my house. Finally, I landed on the thought that serial killers wouldn’t be so loud before they killed their victim. That helps a little and I gather up enough courage to open my eyes—which I hadn’t realized had closed—so I can see what it was that I had touched earlier.
I almost smack my forehead at how stupid I had been. With my eyes now adjusted to the lack of light, I could see the golden key I had left at my bedside. I had been so tired that I had fallen asleep immediately afterward, which was why I hadn’t remembered earlier. Another crash from downstairs forces me into action.
I climb out of bed and grab the flashlight, which was conveniently located right beside the key that had scared me silly. I flick the switch and illuminate my room. Blinking at the newfound light, I open my door. The light travels across the carpet in the hall as the door slowly makes room for it to light up the space. Once the door is open just enough for me to slip through, I stop moving it. My room was right on top of the staircase, so if I made too much noise or let out too much light I would easily be found by whatever—or whoever—was in the house. Luckily, light wouldn’t be a problem. The kitchen light was on, so my flashlight wouldn’t be needed. I turn off my light source, but I keep it by my side in case I happen to need a weapon. After a deep breath and a silent prayer, I step through the small space I had created and descend the steps into the dining room.
I rush up to the archway that separated the dining room from the kitchen and push my back against the pillar. I lean around the corner to see what horror awaited me in the kitchen. My eyes darted around, but from my angle I couldn’t see much. For a moment, I entertain the thought that I’d gone insane.
That idea is immediately ripped out of my head. I pull back and try desperately not to make too much noise. I hear murmuring coming from behind me and I cover my mouth to control the sound of my breathing. My heart pounds loudly in my chest as I do so, though, and I wonder if that would be the noise to give me away. I feel a drop of sweat trickle down my forehead as I listen intently, then I realize that, because of my loud heartbeat, I hadn’t heard the person in the kitchen make any noise in a while.
I slowly turn to peak around the corner. When I still see nothing, I stand up and step into the kitchen. Gripping the flashlight tightly with both hands as if it were a larger weapon, I cautiously walk through the kitchen, searching for the cause of my distress. Once at a better position for looking around, I see a girl around my age standing over a pile of pots and pans that had mysteriously clattered to the ground. She stood with her hands on her hips and she cursed under her breath as she looked over the stash she had collected. Suddenly, she stands up straighter and her head snaps around to look at me. I gasp and jump at the sudden eye contact. I briefly wonder if I should hide from her or if it was already too late for that. She then smiles at me. Not a creepy smile like I had expected from a serial killer, but a smile that said she was happy to see me.
“Y-you there!” I stutter, clumsily holding out my flashlight and pointing it towards her in the hope it looked somewhat similar to a gun. “Identify yourself!” I didn’t exactly want to know who she was, but it sounded better than “I’m calling the cops, weirdo!”
Her smile falls and she says, “You really shouldn’t have said that.”
“Huh?” was all I managed before someone grabbed me from behind. Pulling my arms behind my back and causing me to drop the flashlight, the person who now held me shoved a cloth into my face. I gasp reflexively, sucking in a sickly stench. The damp liquid on the cloth corrodes my senses and causes the world to start blacking out. I fight to remain conscious, kicking at whoever holds me and wrestling to get free. In the end, I lose the battle. I feel my strength fade away fast. The last thing I hear is the thud-thud noise the flashlight made as it rolled across the kitchen tile. The girl stepped closer to me and I could see guilt and sadness in her eyes. I was confused for a moment. Then my vision went blurry as a loud thud made my head explode in pain.
I awoke and hastily sat up in bed. Frantically looking around my bedroom, I noticed that there was no key beside my bed and that the flashlight I had grabbed last night was right where it always was. So it was all a dream? I shook my head angrily, swinging out of bed. It had been way too real. And the “it was just a dream” cliché was so lame.
I grab the door handle and freeze. The ending of the dream rushed back to me. My eyes scan the room again and this time land on my bed. More specifically, my pillow. A faded red blotch stained the sheet and I was positive it hadn’t been there before last night.
Author Notes: Just something I’ve been cooking for a while now. Hope you enjoyed!