Yeah, I posted that a bit ago, was considering posting a new thread for the finished draft, but meh...here she is
not totally complete. I think I'm going to do some corrections to the part before he gets home. Right now I don't feel like it translates the tension/horror from the stories beginning.
That Red Door (5000 works exactly btw)
Andy Thompson walked into the front entrance of his now new home. His family had just moved in last week. An old relative had amassed quite a large sum of money from his funeral home business. Even though in the end he had himself cremated. His parents had gained a large percentage of the old man's money. Instead of making the wise decision and saving it, Andy's once bankrupt family went down the wrong road once again. They spent it. New clothes, new shoes, new appliances, new cars, and now a new house. Within a month they had set themselves back in the same position they had been in before the death, teetering on the edge of ‘just making it.’
Andy shrugged his backpack off and let it flop to the ground, knowing the weight it contained held the rest of his night in homework. The shoe mat was empty. The only thing they hadn't changed with the inheritance was their jobs. They were going to be late again tonight; Andy knew the routine all to well. Andy walked into the kitchen to find a note hanging under the pig-face magnet on the front of their refrigerator. It read
“Won't be home till late, leftover pizza in the freezer downstairs. Leave in microwave for 1:40”
Martha P. Thompson
Head of Accounting, Supron Inc.
Formal signature. Like always.
Andy turned and looked at the basement door. When they had moved in, the door had been painted red. A bright, cheery kind of red that you find in some kid's show--Andy was 11 now, way too old for kid's shows. The rest of the doors in the house had been painted the plain white, but this door stood alone. That red door. And that’s what scared Andy. His father had been very angry at the painter's ignorance of their demands, that all the doors be white, but before his father could contact the painting company, the manager had died and the company had folded. His father, being tied up in work and bills, pushed it into his ‘To-Do’ list which really was his ‘I can’t be bothered until it actually makes money’ list.
The door...that red door...led to their unfinished basement. They had yet to lay down any wood flooring or dry wall or anything. They used it now as storage for all the junk that didn't have a place in the new house yet. Just stairs, then a damp cement floor, surrounded by four damp walls, and some beams seemingly placed randomly around. That's what lay behind that red door.
Andy, his belly rumbling, reached out and grasped the silver door handle. He twisted it, and as he did, the grinding metal-against-metal squeal seemed to echo and bounce around his head. He heard a click and suddenly felt like he was lifting the door from that small point. He swung it open with an unnatural ease, letting it float around and hit the wall. The door yelled out its usual ‘thud’ and started to slowly float back. The cedar wood steps now before him went down and down. There were eleven of them, and the last ended at the cold concrete floor. Andy, still standing somewhat outside the doorframe, reached around and flicked the light switch. The light bulb on the side wall flickered for a moment, then went out entirely.
Andy pulled his hand out of the doorway and letting the red door swing back, covering up the lion's maw that held his prize. The door peg hit the doorframe and bounced back slightly. Andy stared into the fist wide crack of darkness that remained there now. He was hungry, but there was something else pulling him down there. His head was buzzing, like putting a vibrating tuning fork just above your cheek and in front of your ear. You could feel it vibrating even though you weren't touching it. Andy opened the door all the way again, settling the door just before the wall so it wouldn't close behind him. The light from the hallway lit the first couple of steps, but beyond that was the awaiting black. He couldn't even see the bottom steps, or the floor that lay around them, but the damp air that came up to him told him they were there. And maybe something more.
Andy took the first step, flinching as the wood creaked beneath his sneakers. It was the strange kind of creak that erupted with the first touch then seemed to wind down as you put more weight onto it. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end. He clenched his teeth and moved down two more steps, always looking down at the step ahead, expecting the stairway to end at the some bottomless pit he would fall into unwittingly.
The light from the hall was on his back now; he could feel the subtle warmth there. Something seemed to explode in his mind; a sizzling sensation seemed to surround his brain. It was the same feeling one might have from standing on the edge of a skyscraper and looking down at the street below.
A single shiver went down his spine. All he could think about was what would meet him at the bottom, or what would reach out for him from the darkness. Andy knew these thoughts were his weakness, these thoughts were the reason he was afraid of the dark. Two more steps now. He had to get his mind off them, so he sung the first thing that came to mind,
“Don’t make it bad, take a sad song, and make it bette-”
He was cut off by a loud, hollow, metal clanging sound. He nearly darted back up the stairs, but griped the side railing harder. His knuckles, if Andy had been able to see them, went snow white.
He could hear his heart, it echoed through his chest, up his neck, and into his ears. He looked down the left side of the stairs to where the sound had come from. A long metal poll was rolling along the concrete floor. It had been leaning against the stairs; its opened end sticking up until Andy's ankle had pushed it over.
To the right of the stairs were wooden beams that would someday become a wall. Then, directly in front of those, was the white humming box known as the Thompson Family Freezer. He was almost there, just six more steps to go.
Two steps later, his heart had slowed; he could no longer hear it inside his head. Andy looked over to the left. The pole was still and silent. Two more steps now, his eyes were finally adjusting to the darkness. He could see their old couch jammed into the corner; Andy's old bike lay discarded upon it. Andy reached out and grabbed the last wall board, jumped the last two steps, and swung around it, landing in front of the white box. He was safe. He had made it. He kept his focus completely on the white box that was his objective. He placed one hand on each side of the cover and slowly, he began to lift it, twitching slightly as the plastic sealing was loudly pulled apart.
The cold, white light flooded out of the freezer, illuminating Andy and everything nearby. He pushed aside a steak and pulled out a little frozen baggy. Between the spots of built-up moisture, he could see the slice of pizza that awaited him inside.
Then he heard it. Something that shouldn't have happened without human interference. Something scrapped against a cement wall, somewhere from Andy's left. He heard a chip of rock fall and hit the ground. His parents hadn't placed anything in that far right corner, Andy was positive. A water pipe had sprung a leak, flooding most of that corner. Andy's mind flared again, sizzling in the area above his ears. His heart was racing again. The subtle thump
thump was rising in his ears.
He couldn't seem to stop his head from moving. It was slowly turning, adjusting itself to draw his eyes toward that far left corner. At first, he couldn't make anything out. That area was far darker than the rest of the basement. Then something moved, and as if his eyes had suddenly woken up, he could see it there. It's long, thin arms were fully extended.
The sticks it had for fingers were scraping against the wall, ripping out tiny crumbs of concrete. It was in a squatted position, hunched over so its bony spine could be fully seen. Its head was covered in what seemed to be small stubs or spikes. It looked like one of the Jewish people from the photos of concentration camps Andy had seen in history class. But, the thing that squatted in the corner was the color of the darkness that it clenched to. Or was the darkness clenching to it? It was darker though, darker than the inky absence of light that it squatted in. And as it moved, the darkness seemed to move with it, as if every limb was somehow attached to it. And when the thing remained still, the darkness moved on its own, crawling and snaking its way up and down walls, moving this way and that across the ceiling and floor. This thing was the center of that darkness, it was the very thing emitting that blanket of shadows.
Andy didn't want to look anymore, but he did. He could not seem to tear his eyes away from it as it continued to pick and scratch at the damp wall. Its head jerked up suddenly, as if it heard something. The spikes on its head seemed to move as if underwater, pressing against the thing's head when it moved upwards, and floating back to their normal position when it stopped. It paused its scraping and began to slowly turn its head towards Andy.
Andy dropped the frozen bag he had in his hands. This thing was wrong, Andy could feel it. It was something not of this world. An interloper, an aberration, an invader. He could see its face now. It consisted of a single white orb. Nothing else. Only a blank, uncaring, all seeing white circle. The circle did not illuminate anything around it, but it gave off its own sort of light, a light that made Andy's gut twist and clench up.
Andy ran now. Ran as fast as he could. He dropped the wet bag with the frozen pizza slice inside, swung around the last wall beam, and jumped up the steps. He pumped his legs as hard as he could, jumping three steps at a time. When he reached the top, he turned and slammed the door shut. He stood for a moment, even now wondering, doubting even if he had seen anything at all. Not risking another moment near that red door, Andy ran down the hall and into his room, closing the door behind him.
Andy would go hungry that night.
Andy woke up extra early the next morning, 5:30 to be exact, to catch his father before he left for work. Andy found his father in the kitchen, eating toast and scanning over the stock market reports in the paper. Andy’s father, for most of his life, had been a wealthy man to the time just before Andy was born. Until two months ago, when they had gained the inheritance money, he had lived in almost a constant state of near welfare-poverty. And this had destroyed him from the inside out. Only recently had his father begun to recover from his food bank scrounging days. But Andy knew, ever since they had moved into this house, ever since his father had seen that red door, something had changed, something in his father’s mind had unscrewed itself, and it scared Andy.
Andy pulled out a chair next to his father and sat down. He craned his neck to look at exactly what his father was going over, but could only see a mess of letters and numbers. “Dad? Can I tell you something?” Andy asked. His father responded almost instantly, without looking up from the paper, “Yes what is it Andy?” Andy shivered. Not son, not sport, not tiger like before, but Andy. He referred to him as just Andy. The morning that light cascaded through the kitchen windows didn’t seem to illuminate his father, or warm him. His father’s furrowed brow didn’t let up for a second, and his eyes never moved from that one spot on the page. “I went down into the basement yesterday,” Andy finally said, “And I saw something down there. It had this white face and it was really dark. I ran upstairs before it could move towards me.”
George went over the number again in his mind. ‘463.4’. He had just lost half his bank account to some stupid soap company that had gone under overnight. How could this be? Then George heard his son’s voice. It sounded almost distant and seemed to echo through his head. “A thing in the basement you say? Like, a rat or something?” George asked. You know the truth, you can’t run. There it was again. That voice. That cold, menacing voice that had crawled out from under his basement door and grasped his mind with its numbing fingers. “No, like a person or something.” Andy responded. ‘A person with a white face? Mental note, call psychiatrist.’ George thought. For him, or for you? Mocked the presence in his mind. ‘Shut-up, just shut-up!’ George responded, not to his son, but to the voice. The voice cackled in his ear, All your money gone again George? Looks like you’ll be stealing extra bread from Old Slow Peter again huh? The thing continued to laugh. George summoned up the will to move his eyes off those numbers and glance at his son one last time. ‘Shut-up, what did we ever do to you? Just leave me alone!’ roared George into his mind. Oh, we can’t have that George, not yet anyway. George finally spoke, “Well son, you either have to face it, or be afraid of it forever.” George’s eyes fell back upon those numbers. The voice roared with laughter again. The laughter echoed through his head now, like a king’s laughter, in a king’s hallowed hall.
A week from that day, George Thompson would kill himself.
Andy got off the chair and headed towards his room. He slept for 2 more hours.
At 7:30, Andy’s alarm clock rang. His bus would arrive in 45 minutes. He crawled out of bed and proceeded with his daily routine. Shower, dress, eat breakfast, read cartoons, get books together, go to bus stop. His parents were already gone to work, which left Andy all by himself.
Leaving his room with his backpack held tightly in his grip, Andy’s eyes never left the red basement door as he headed down the hall towards it. He had to pass this door everyday since they had moved here, but as of yesterday, the door meant something else entirely. The door’s four square pattern seemed like two sets of eyes, opened wide, staring at him, reading his every thought and feeling. The silver door handle caught his eye and kept it there. His hand reached out for it, his fingertips first feeling over the sleek metal, then his entire palm pressing against its flower design front. It was in his hand. The door handle suddenly went cold, like Andy had last night when the thing had nearly looked at him. Using every bit of courage he had left, Andy twisted the door handle. Once again the door felt light as a feather, as if he was carrying all its weight from that single point, and doing it without any effort. He pulled back on the door, and peered into the darkness that lay hidden behind it. The entire stairway was slightly illuminated by the morning light that bounced through the hall.
It looked up at Andy from the bottom step. Its spotlight for a face pointed directly at him. It had moved since last night. Moved from that dark corner, all the way to his bottom step. It squatted there amongst the squirming darkness, eyeing him as a climber eyes the top of a mountain, eager and envious. The darkness moved behind it, and it was slowly wriggling its way up the wall, filling every crack and crevice like water poured onto some beach rock. It would come up the steps, that was for sure. But what it would do once it caught him, Andy was not entirely sure. Nor did he want to think of that. “Stay away!” Andy yelled before slamming the door. He ran down the hall, throwing open the front door, and sprinting outside to his bus stop, leaving his front door wide open. But he didn’t have to worry, because it closed itself.
School was the only place that was safe now. The entire situation was too surreal, to strange, like something from a bad horror flick. He didn’t know what to do, or who to talk to. And as he sat in math class, everything caught up with him. All the confusion, the surprise, the shock, the fear, the realization of what was happening. It all took hold of him between questions five and six. His home was no longer safe, his parents could not protect him, nothing could. Not a flight of stairs, or a red door, or miles in distance. It would keep coming, and in the end, either it would reach Andy, or Andy would reach it. That’s when he started to cry. The erupting tears blurred his vision until all the numbers and words were distorted. A tear dripped onto the page, creating a large wet spot over number six. He tried to fight them back, but couldn’t. He folded up his arms and rested his head in them. He didn’t want anyone to see him cry. He didn’t want them to come over and start asking questions, because how could he explain it? He couldn’t. “Andy?” Mrs. Heathersworth inquired, “Andy are you alright?” The entire class turned in their seats to see this break in routine. Andy lifted his head slightly so he wasn’t talking into his desk, “No, I’m not ok.” He lowered his head again. Mrs. Heathersworth had never had a student cry on her before, so she handed the problem off to someone else, “Why don’t you go see the councilor, or maybe the doctor even.” After a moment, she added, “You can go now if you like.” Those were the best words he had heard all day. He jumped out of his seat, turned swiftly, and headed out the nearest door.
The school’s perfectly pristine halls seemed to stretch out into forever. His footsteps echoed off the silent walls and closed doors. All the doors were painted red, as if the school knew his one true fear that remained, and was pushing it on him, mocking him. The guidance councilor’s door was the only one that was open. When Andy stopped and looked inside, he saw the lights in the room were off, and the councilor, Mr. Tim as he preferred to be called, was not in his chair. “Mr. Tim? Are you here?” Something squeaked, and Andy saw a glimmer of light move slightly. It was coming off Mr. Tim’s perfectly shined dress shoes. “Mr. Tim what are you doing?” Andy asked. “Andy, leave, I cannot help you.” Mr. Tim responded. “Mr. Tim, do you know-“ the councilor cut him off, “I know enough Andy. All I can say to you is the door is choice. An extension of choice. You, and only you, not anyone else, not some object, or some twist of fate, but you can and eventually will have to choose how this comes to an end. I can also say you are not a unique case, there have been many times when the use of the creature has been required, but it is rare.” Andy felt the tears again, “Mr. Tim…pl-please. I can’t do this! I can’t take it. I don’t understand! You have to help.” Mr. Tim might as well have been a disembodied voice, for he only said one last thing, “Leave me now Andy, and do what you feel you must do. In the end, I’m sure you’ll feel your decision will be the right one. It always is.” And with that, the shoe moved away from that single ray of light and disappeared into the darkness. Mr. Tim stood and approached the doorway. He wore his normal gray suit with red and green-stripped tie. His gray hair was a mess as always. But his eyes were black. Black like coal, black like space, black like the darkness he had sat in.
He closed the door on Andy.
Anger was all Andy felt as he stood in the hall the next morning staring eye to white orb with that thing. Although he was well beyond arm’s reach, even for the long, stick-like arm of this thing, he still felt as if any moment the thing would grab him and pull him into the darkness. He had woken up and gone through his normal routine, but when it came to head out to the bus stop, he found the red door wide open, and the thing squatting on the top step, possibly waiting for the moment when Andy would come. The squirming darkness around it was now clinging to the doorframe, and even leaking out onto the wall and floor at some spots. “What, do I not have a choice anymore! Can’t I choose what happens! Have you pushed my choices away! WHAT IS IT?” Andy roared out of frustration. Andy hoped that thing could read his mind, because at that moment, he was planning. Not planning to run or hide or stand there and take it, but to fight it back. He hurried back into his room and pulled open his window. He left his backpack in his room while he jumped out onto his back lawn. The shed was straight ahead. He ran to it, pulled his house eyes from his pocket, and unlocked the doors. The thing he wanted, that bright red gasoline tank, sat in the center of the shed next to the lawnmower, almost beckoning to him. He grabbed it and ran back to the house, throwing the tank through his window before climbing back in.
In the hall once again, he set the tank down and approached the creature of the basement. Its arm jerked, then started to come up. It was reaching for him. Andy ran passed it into the kitchen. He turned and saw the thing moving. It had its hand around the doorframe now also, and was trying to pull itself out of the basement stairway. Andy jumped up onto the stove and opened the cupboards that were above it. He rummaged through the thousands of useless tiny boxes, vouchers, and coupons until he found the matches box. He turned to look at the creature. It had one leg out and was slowly bringing the other out. Its movements were almost sloth-like, but Andy knew that if any one of its skinny little fingers latched onto a piece of his cloths, he’d be done. Andy jumped down and ran back into the hall, while the creature preoccupied itself with the task of going up that one last step.
Box of matches in one hand, quarter-full gasoline tank in the other. The thing saw what was coming now for sure, but it still seemed to find that one last step more of a concern. Andy held his breath and ran. Not away, but towards the creature. He sprinted right passed it, and down the steps. He was not in that soupy darkness. He couldn’t see anything. When he looked down he couldn’t see his arms or legs. The darkness was reaching out to him, literally pinching his cheeks and pulled at the back of his shirt. Andy stopped when he felt the stairs end. The darkness wouldn’t stop probing at him, running through his hairs and squirming up his nostrils. He ripped the cap off the gasoline and spun it around, covering everything he could. Then, Andy hurriedly pulled opened the box of matches, using only his sense of feeling to do it, pulled out a match, and swiped the side of the box. For a brief second, Andy saw the flame before him, and watched the darkness recoil back before it. But then it came back upon it, putting it out.
Andy felt for another match, and pulled that out. He could feel the coldness of this living thing crawling up farther into his body and head through every pore of his body. It felt like his nose was stuffed up, but it wasn’t. He hunched over the box and the match, and struck the match. He nearly laughed, nearly, before letting the match drop to the ground the second the darkness fell back. The bright flash of light that erupted from the flames and the sudden receding of darkness blinded him. Andy stumbled back, feeling the intense heat on his face. He turned and felt the stairs before him, and ran back up. The creature was at the top, but Andy ran passed it once again. He ran out the front door, this time closing it behind him, and just made it to his bus stop.
Andy couldn’t stop smiling. He had fought it, covered it in oil and burned it. It wasn’t until after school did he really know, and understand, the truth.
Andy walked around the last stop sign on his road and stopped. His house was still down the street three or four houses down, but he could see from here what was left of it.
Two fire trucks sat outside his house as the firefighters walked through the smoldering rubble of what had once been his home. Andy came up to his driveway and dropped his backpack. Where there was once a home there was now air and ash. The tallest thing left standing was a large beam from the left side of the house, blackened by the flames that had been raging here not but one hour ago. But even that was promptly kicked down by a passing firefighter. Had he done this? Then Andy thought of his parents. They’ll come home, or at least come to what was home, and what would they do then? What would they say? Always, when Andy got in trouble, he knew what his parent’s reactions would be, but here today, his mind was blank. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t calculate, he couldn’t grasp the situation.
Then it was there, standing amongst the ruin. Death waited at the top of the untouched staircase. The doorframe that had once housed the red door was still standing, and there Death waited ever so patiently for Andy to come home from school. The firefighters moved through the rubble and didn’t even see the thing, standing in the middle of it all. But then again, neither did any of the firefighters move towards the doorframe, they all seemed to be weary of it, and they gave it a wide birth when searching through the destruction. There would be no running today. Andy walked up to where his front door step had been. He crawled up onto the base of the house that was now covered in his past.
No one stopped him. No one even seemed to notice him. It was like he was already dead to them, and Andy felt likewise towards them. He approached the thing as it lifted its arms towards him. This was it. Face your fear, or it will chase you to the end of your days. Andy stood before it now. He could feel the cold streaming from it, running up and down his skin. The darkness came up from behind it also, crawling out of the hole that led to the basement. It was like black fire, reaching up to the sky. The thing set its narrow palms onto his shoulders and un-squatted its legs to bring itself to face level with Andy. The white orb did not scare Andy any longer. It was not the end, but merely his beginning into something new. When the white finally burned his eyes, he shut them tight, not wanting to open them until whatever the thing wanted was over with.
He opened them and found himself at the end of his driveway again. The house was there, not smoldering but standing. There were no fire trucks and no firefighters, just his house, exactly the way he liked it. And the thing, the thing was gone. The cold was gone, the darkness, all of it.
Andy, in his amazement and relief, never noticed his mother barreling down the road in the family SUV.
It hit hand like a moving brick wall. His right arm shattered into a million pieces on contact. The SUV’s bumper crashed into the side of his knee, shattering that too. Andy fell back, but the vehicle kept coming. The bumper collided with Andy’s ribs in midair, breaking them. It moved up his body until it hit his chin. Andy’s head lurked back, snapping the spinal cord. He was pushed three meters away, off the road and onto their front lawn. He was on his back, looking upwards. The darkness was covering his vision now. He heard the screaming, “Andy? ANDY!” but it didn’t matter, nothing did at this final moment. And then the thing was there, standing over him, its white orb omnipresent in his vision. Its bony fingers pressed against his eyelids and closed him.
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