Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 25!

Judge This Week: Rin

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday (late afternoon).

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition.


"Don't open that door!"


  1. Bluebeard

    299 words


    Don’t open that door.” Simon’s voice was loud in the abandoned corridors of her old home. “Never open that door.”

    “Ok, Bluebeard,” said Ruby. “Now come on.”

    “Sure you want to go through with this?”

    “Positive,” she said. “I just need to face up to what happened and then I can move on.”

    Several doors lay ahead of them.

    “Split up?”

    Ruby looked at the blackened walls, the skeleton beams.

    “I’d rather we stayed together,” she said.

    “Until death do us part,” he said. “Poor taste,” he continued when he saw her face. “Sorry.”

    He needn’t have apologised. He was merely speaking the truth, although he didn’t know it yet.

    Down the hallway they went, Simon shining the torch ahead, opening doors. Her presence annoyed him, she knew. He had just been preparing to enjoy his inheritance as next of kin when she’d reappeared; apparently the one surviving member of her family.

    One room left.

    She prepared herself to remember. Pulled the gold key, still smeared with her father’s blood, from her pocket. When they found his body, he had been clutching it in his hand. The smoke had prevented him from finding the lock, from freeing his family. And in the end, the fire had claimed them all. She could still feel the pain, the never-ending agony.

    “You don’t need that,” said Simon. “Door’s unlocked.”

    “For the moment,” said Ruby, as Simon stepped into the darkness. She pulled the door shut behind him, turned the key.

    “Ruby, Ruby!” he yelled. “Open up.”

    “No. You started the fire, Simon, locked us in. I know you did. And I know you were going to try and kill me tonight. But you can’t kill what’s already dead, can you? Are you cold Simon? Perhaps a little fire will warm you up.”

  2. The Session

    “Don’t open that door.” Maxine states this with her practiced teeth-grinding emphasis, as she always does.

    It is not a new impasse for us. We both need to move on but I can’t let it go. This tenacity, or stubbornness, is a bad habit of mine.

    “Okay, Maxine. That door is still closed. Nobody is going to open it. Not me. Not them,” I say, pointing to Emily and Sam, the afternoon shift orderlies who represent mutual safety for both Maxine and me, “so let’s sit down at the table and figure out where we are.”

    To look at Maxine Walters, you would be hard pressed to be afraid of her. She is forty-five years old, attractively decked out in grey slacks, a white blouse, and sensible slippers. Provincial policy permitting inmates of all stripes access to their own clothes, their own personal possessions has done wonders to civilize, humanize even the dankest institutions.

    Yes, it is extra work.

    Yes, custodians, guards and their Unions occasionally express concern that safety and security are being compromised by the liberalization which has swept over the country after the tragic death of a teenage girl in cells some years ago.

    But the upside is the measure of self-respect detainees felt in just having a taste of their old lives.

    Maxine has that hunger.

    She craves her past.

    Ten years in custody has not diminished that desire for normality.

    “You control that door, Maxine. But…you need to be clear that you will never leave Chilliwack Psychiatric and be a free woman if we cannot understand why Cecile died, why her mother, you Maxine, killed your six year old child in her sleep.”

    I have betrayed her.

    Once again I have opened that door.

    Open, or closed, it means nothing.

    She will never leave us.

    300 therapeutic words

  3. Red Hair

    WC 292


    “Don't open that door!” The voice in my head screams out the words, but it’s too late, my hand has turned the knob. Inside I see a table stacked with what looks like piles of red wool. I walk over and pick up a handful, but it’s not wool — it’s hair. I drop it immediately, frantically wiping my hand down my jeans trying to get rid of every last remnant. I stand there staring at it until I finally come to my senses – I really should get out of there, in fact I should never have pried in to my neighbours business in the first place.
    I turn to leave but am shocked to see a wall of photographs. My eyes follow the line taped haphazardly to the flaking plaster. There’s me leaving for work, me coming home, putting out the trash and one of me in my kitchen. In all the photographs one thing stands out, my red hair. I glance back at the pile on the table and start trembling. I don’t want to discover any more, my suspicions are to horrific to contemplate. I hurry out of the room. One of the other doors is now open, spilling light out onto the landing. I see the shape of a man standing there, silhouetted against the light. We notice each other and both of us jump. At the same time the stair treads begin to creak. Words I don’t understand fly back and forth over my head. A woman appears on the stairs, heading my way. The couple sound like they’re having an argument, effectively trapping me on the landing with only one option open to me. I open the middle door. Big mistake because inside is a hairdressers chair.

  4. Hi, please could you add the apostrophe that's escaped from hairdresser's chair for me (penultimate word). Many thanks x

  5. Housebound
    300 words

    Carly dropped the hammer. Her vision swam, blurring the room so that edges and shapes disappeared in a moving kaleidoscope. Then tunnels formed, twin dark channels which made the blurred room look further and further away. She collapsed to the floor.
    Later, when sunlight burns her face, she returns to consciousness. Opening her mouth hurts, her lips part like the leaves of an ancient manuscript, dry and crackling. The hot air hurts her throat.
    It is a thought, she fears saying the word aloud. She fears saying anything, so prevalent is the pain in her mouth.
    Her toe catches on the hammer as she pushes up from the floor. Eyebrows arched in confusion, she reaches for it. The rubber handle is warm from the sun. She inspects it, seeking a reason for it being on the floor beside her. Nothing comes.
    There is nothing but the dreadful thirst, the desperate desire to drink.
    The next room is a kitchen and she rushes for the tap. Turning it produces a heavy thudding noise from somewhere else in the building, but no water. A groan rises unbidden, forcing its way from deep inside her.
    As she feared, the act of making sound hurts. Razor blades flutter their way up her throat, and across her cheeks. She tries to swallow, but there is nothing to draw on and the effort makes her body jerk - as if her saliva glands have seized up like the faucet she just tried.
    While her primary focus has remained on seeking fluids a small part of her mind has been reassembling the details of who she is, and where, and why.
    She clutches the hammer and looks down the corridor that leads from the kitchen to a main door. She walks towards it. Surely they’re gone now.


  6. No Illumination

    291 words


    “Don’t open that door,” said the wife. She sat up in bed and pushed the purple duvet down. “We need to discuss this.”

    The husband’s hand slipped from the brass lever handle, his feet cold on the wooden floor. “Can’t we do this another time?”

    “When? You’re in the city Monday to Friday. This isn’t something to discuss over Skype in five minutes stolen from the trading floor.”

    The husband stared at the way her black hair knelt on her shoulders. He smiled at how her nose wrinkled when she was annoyed and smelt the perfume she wore in bed. He loved her. However, this wasn’t a discussable issue. It was black or white. There was no gray area in having a baby. “You know how I feel. My job is all-consuming and with the economy on the slip again, we’ll be busy. This house isn’t big enough, plus you’re alone all week one. It’s just not right.”

    “My mother will help, and the baby will be fine in our room at first. You make good money,” the wife said. “In fact, I don’t know where it all goes”.

    “I work hard, damn hard. I deserve to spend a little money how I want,” said the husband, nostrils flaring. “I give you enough to buy food, run the house and yoga lessons. Don’t I? Well don’t I?”

    “I was just saying we can afford a baby.”

    She was right. They could afford it. At least, they could if he didn’t have another family. Another wife. Children.

    “I said another time.”

    The wife lay down and pulled the duvet up to her chin. “Turn the light off.”

    The husband flicked the light switch. In the darkness, he reached for the brass handle.

  7. Corridor of Doors
    by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)
    Word Count = 297

    “Don't open that door.”
    I did it anyway. A corridor of doors and a staircase down the middle was my reward. The shouter stood at the top, an odd looking fellow in a green velvet coat. Too nice for a man with his reputation. I was glad for the cold metal against my ribs.
    “What do you want?”
    “The children,” I replied.
    “They're mine by fairy law.”.
    “I don't follow your law and neither does this.” I took out my gun.
    His laughter echoed off the walls. A sound that would make dead men shiver. Whimpering told me the effect it had one the living children behind each door. I squeezed the trigger anyway. Nothing happened. I wasn't surprised. I knew the rules of fairy law. Time for plan B.
    “Can't harm me. All these children are debts paid by their parents.” He hopped with glee.
    I replaced my gun with a gold coin. “A wager then. If I can leave a mark on your body the children go free. If I don't you get all the gold I own.”
    “All of it?”
    I nodded. He jumped down the stairs and snatched the coin out of my hand. A bit later he agreed. “Deal.”
    “Shake on it?”
    The odd looking man lets his left hand flop into mine, his eyes still on my coin. I gripped his small fingers tight making sure my silver ring pressed hard against his skin. A scream of pain won me the bet. I made sure before I let go. A short strip of scabbing red marked his palm.
    “That looks like a mark. Give me the children.”
    “Have them.” His snarl lasted longer than his presence. He disappeared with the corridor of doors, leaving behind a school's worth of children.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Departure
    by Valerie Polichar
    300 words

    The light slanting through the half-open shutters had already changed from white to gold and was beginning to go blue-grey. She could feel the cold, January making its way up the back of her neck. “Martin,” she tried, gentling her voice. “Please, please come out.”

    Silence. She held her breath, afraid of what she might not hear; after a moment she could make out a slight clink, like a watch knocking against the sink.

    She had run through anger, frustration, guilt trips, panic. There was only fear and longing left, and she was bottling the fear as best she could, keeping it in her back pocket, not wanting to allow it agency; but it kept sneaking out. “Please,” she said again. “I don’t have anything left. Just — please let me in, Martin.”

    There was a rough sound within; she could not decide whether it was a guttural grunt or the sound of something being moved. Then Martin’s voice, decisive: "Don't open that door!”

    The door was locked, anyway. She had tried it, surreptitiously, about an hour after he’d bolted himself inside. Her eyes went to the clock, then back to the door. She gathered herself up, stood. Cold, emptied; even the fear was starting to drain from her pocket. She pressed a palm against the wood of the door, knowing he could not hear her, could not feel it.

    “I’m going, then,” she said, finally. Her suitcase was already in the front hall. If she didn’t leave now, even the late train would be gone. She picked her jacket up and put it on, zipping it up loudly, so he would hear. No response, even as her footsteps echoed down the long hallway.

    Behind the locked door, heard by no one outside it, came the sound of something being sharpened.

  10. Amberlee Dawn
    300 words

    “Don’t open that door!” A vase teetered as Tanya stormed past.

    “What?” I frowned, my hand still on the knob. The vase cascaded to the floor in a glazed torrent.

    “Crap. Another thing for Mom to be pissed about.” She glared at me.

    “What?” I shrugged. “I was over here.”

    “Don’t you ‘what’ me!” Her eyes tried stabbing me. “I did not come in here at 3 am to help you with your stupid invitations just so you could traipse off and leave me here to do your work for you.”

    “What?” It seemed to be my word for the moment. “I’m hungry. I’ve been working on these for hours. You could have postponed your desperate heart-to-Skype about the ways America has failed you. Perhaps flashed your fiction a little earlier in the evening? Or would that have damaged your writer’s psyche?” I turned to grab some paper so I could scoop the shards off the floor.

    “I’m sorry. Did I hear the barbs of the soon-to-be-desperate-housewife-who-waited-until-the-last-minute-yet-again? Because I can just go to bed and leave you to write your own poor excuse for poetry on 200 invitations while I snuggle in my apple-scented pillow top sipping my freshly squeezed mimosa!”

    I sighed. “You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s just…” I lost the battle to the tears I’d been fighting for hours. “What if I’m wrong? What if…?”

    Tanya grabbed my shoulders. “I’m not doing this tonight. If you want me to help, you need to be emotionally stable.”

    “But…” The traitorous tears started down my cheeks again. She opened the door.

    “No. I’m going to bed. Waiting until morning won’t hurt you, and if you go there tonight, I might.”

    The closed door behind her, leaving the sparkle of my tears to mingle with the glass shards in my hand.

  11. Relief
    By Kim Pemberton
    Words: 299
    Twitter: Kimmi_Pem_Pem

    “Don’t open the door,” I told Clair.
    “Why?” She asked.
    “I don’t want to see Sammy tonight.”
    “Well he’s here and he sees the lights on in the house. If you want to break it off, tell him and be honest with him.” She went into her room and closed the door. I went to door and stood for a minute. What am I going to say to him?

    Sammy and I had our ups and downs for the past couple of months. We were dating for 2 years and I didn’t feel we good for each other. He had too many needs and it was too much for me. Deep Breathe. Okay, here goes. I’m going to break up with him.

    “Hi, Sammy,” I said. “Come on in.”
    “Am I interrupting something?” He asked.
    “No, I was doing some paper work. Have a seat.” He was shaking and nervous. He didn’t turn his head to my direction. Why did he come over? I hope he’s not staying over. I got too much to do and not to be annoyed.

    Sammy speaks, “I have to tell you something.”
    “What’s is it?”
    He picks his head and look at me, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I met someone.”
    “Okay,” I wasn’t stunned. I was relief.
    “But, there’s more.”
    “More? What are you trying to tell me?”
    “We been seeing each other for 8 months. We were intimate and she told me she’s pregnant.”
    “Are you the father?”
    “Yes, I am.”
    “Wow, I’m shocked. I don’t know what to say?”
    “I’m sorry that I hurt you.”
    “Well, things happen and I’m glad you told me. Thank you for telling me and send me photos of your baby.” I let him out and open a bottle of champagne.

  12. Stella Turner
    300 words

    Don’t mess with the Muse

    She should have heeded the warning ‘Don’t open that door’ written in Jim’s spidery handwriting on pink notepaper left on the hall table but she didn’t. She could imagine him thinking the same. He normally left her notes on old bills, newspapers, shopping receipts. Telling her what he wanted cleaning, what shopping he needed, how much he missed her. Now that was a laugh. He painted her in so many ways, her image hung in the National Portrait Gallery, The Tate Modern, The Louvre, The Metropolitan, all over the world.

    Looking around the room this wasn’t how she remembered it. She used to lie on the settee under the window and watch the shadows the light made on the ceiling. The painting was now at eye level. She studied it closely. The men, smoking cigars and drinking port; she often wondered what they were doing, it was obvious now, after dinner drinks and a chinwag, no women allowed. Napkins discarded on the floor. The book shelves that seemed to go up to the sky needed a dust. She could almost read the book titles on the top shelf. She felt like a giant in a doll’s house.

    He lay on the settee, with an empty bottle of pills and a half litre of whisky at his side. She could imagine the headlines in the tabloids in a week or two. World renowned artist found dead with his muse. The door had automatically locked behind her. She’d left her bag on the hall table. It contained her emergency supplies, mobile phone, nail file and a packet of Wotsits. She’d not die here with him as he’d planned. She’d find a way out, she’d get her fifteen minutes of fame and make a fortune not the few paltry pounds her paid her.

  13. ((Mars: Late to posting it here, but it was included in the judging round))

    Below is my story. Thank you.

    Carlos @goldzco21
    300 words
    The room.

    “Don’t open that door,” the mechanical voice coming from the speaker said. Jovan pulled his hand back and looked at the brass doorknob, and then at the speaker. He waited and then reached for the doorknob again. Again the mechanical voice instructed him to stop.

    Jovan looked at the speaker. “Why can’t I open the door?”

    “You won’t like what’s on the other side,” the voice said.

    “What do I do then?” Jovan asked. He waited for a response, but none came. He sat down on the concrete and took in the room. It was a small, empty room, with a single bulb in the center of the high ceiling. The bulbs dullness allowed the corners of the room to be covered in heavy shadows.

    “Hello?” Jovan said. “Are you there?”

    He walked toward the speaker. As he reached up to touch it, the voice said, “Have a seat.”
    Jovan pivoted and saw a high-backed, wooden chair in the center of the room. Jovan didn’t know what it was about the chair, but he felt it had a malevolent ambiance.

    “Where’d this chair come from?” Jovan asked. No answer. “I’m not going to sit down.” Jovan walked to each of the corners, hoping to find someone hiding in the shadows. Hoping this was all a joke. In the third corner he found a thick leather belt, with a silver buckle.

    “This—this isn’t funny.” His voice trembled. Jovan’s mind raced, wondering what he should do. After a short deliberation, he walked toward the door. The speaker cracked and said something, but Jovan had already opened it.

    On the other side, he saw an identical room. In the center was the same chair. And slumped on the floor—behind the chair—he saw himself, with the leather belt around his neck.