New flash fiction challenge

Following the good response to the initial challenge (and thankyou to all the willing participants), here is the new challenge. Write a story about a door. What it opens out onto. What it reveals. Who is coming in and why. Who is leaving. The door is opening..... around a 1000 words and you have til April 30th.

Having been remiss about submitting a story for the last challenge - I was in the process of moving country - here is my starter for ten.

The Blibby Blobby

The sun broke early that day, waking up the quartz fascia of the building and shooting great belts of light into its white rooms. They ricocheted off the metal fittings and lit up corners which would be in shadow at other times of the day. Ward One had four beds but only one was occupied. A man lay there. His face was grey; the skin mottled by years of abuse. Stubble sprouted from his cheeks and crown and a bubble of spit rose and fell with his uneven breathing. The crisp white linen and shiny bed rails held him in silent rebuke.

The door at the end of the ward opened suddenly and a nurse entered on a swoosh of air. She checked the man’s pulse, ticked the chart and straightened the covers. Her pale eyes swept over the man’s face without emotion. Satisfied that nothing else could be done for him, she waited.

Five minutes passed and the man’s breathing continued to rattle into the stillness. The door opened again and a doctor entered. He was young. His coat was white and a stethoscope sparkled at his chest. Arriving at the man’s bed, he picked up the chart and examined it.

‘Good morning doctor’

‘Good morning nurse. This man was brought in last night, I believe’

‘Yes doctor. He was on top of Claremont Towers; screaming and abusing the staff – drunk I suppose’ She sniffed and straightened her skirt. ‘Mr Claremont very kindly asked for him to be taken care of’

‘Thank you nurse’

‘If that is all, doctor, I will go and see to Ward II’

She left and the young doctor reached over to perform an examination. Six inches from the doctor’s face, the man’s eyes snapped open. The pupils were black holes in a sea of red. Startled, the doctor drew back. The man’s hand shot out of the bed covers and grabbed his hand.

‘ I've had it! It’s the only way out!’

The doctor smiled stiffly and attempted to take the pulse.

‘Good morning, I am Doctor xx and you are in the Claremont Clinic’

The man leaned forward and a grim smile lit his gaunt face.

‘No, I’m in hell, sonny. But I have won – I am getting away from it. It’s the only way to get away from it’

‘Away from what?’ muttered the doctor, craning his neck to see the watch on his trapped arm. The pulse was very rapid but so was his own. His heart beat was thudding in his ears. Where was that nurse?

‘The blibby blobby….’

The doctor suppressed a smile. Behind him, he heard a slight swoosh of air as the doors opened at the end of the ward. He patted the man’s hand reassuringly.

‘You are under the best possible care here – everything will be alright’.

‘No it won’t. It will never be alright again’. His eyes widened and, as the death rattle sounded in his throat, the light in them was extinguished and his head fell back on the pillow. The doctor was alone. He detached the man’s hand from his wrist and filled in the time of death on the chart. With a firm snap, he popped his pen top back and walked briskly from the room. Dust motes danced in the yellowing light.

The sun passed its midday high and began to sink behind the hills to the west of the city. Its flattening rays dazzled home-going travelers They fidgeted in their cars, adjusting their sun visors and fanning themselves with paperwork. The doctor was travelling home on the freeway. It was still early and the traffic was light. The evening air was cool and he drove carefully, his view of the world tinged the blue of his wraparound sunglasses.

Arriving at his apartment, he found the cat Sally sitting in the crumbs of his dawn toast. She winked at him lazily and didn't move. He picked her up and tickled her under her chin. Warm waves of static fanned up and prickled his face. They sat down together and he passed out. He dreamed he was on a beach; a bright tropical beach with blazing white sand. A slight breeze stroked his skin. Looking down, he saw a tarantula sitting on his knee. Its beady eyes waved gently then it buried its fangs into his leg. He awoke with a start. Sally was rigid, her back arched and fur perpendicular. Her claws were puncturing his leg.

‘Stupid cat! He flung her off and she hit the floor hissing, her lips drawn back and teeth exposed. Her gaze was riveted on the hallway door. The low evening sunlight had slid through the window and highlighted the woodwork. The hairs on the doctor’s neck prickled.

‘Come on sweetheart. What’s the matter?’ He bent to pick her up. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the light beam wobble. He glanced up. The shaft of sunlight was distorting, like a ripple over still water, and a shape emerging. Massively tall and lumbering, it passed through the light beam and towards them. Sally gave a terrible yell and raked the doctor’s arm. He dropped her and she shot out of the room with the doctor at her heels. He didn't stop until he had reached the end of the fire escape. He collapsed on the end step, his face covered in cold sweat and his head pounding. Sally had vanished. He staggered up and started walking. The lights on the traffic crossing were on red and he glanced back up at his apartment. All the lights were on – surely it had been day when he had fallen asleep – or was it just a trick of the setting sun? His heart had started beating erratically again and he could feel the blood rushing in his ears. Still looking back, he stepped on to the crossing. He didn't see the ambulance that hit him.

A nurse was smiling down at him.

‘Good morning, doctor. You gave us all a nasty shock!’

With a start, he realised he was in the Clinic.

‘What time is it? How long have I been here?’

‘Its eight o’clock. You were brought in last night by Charlie G – you stepped out right in front of him. Very lucky that he was only taking some old folks home! The way he normally drives, we would have been scraping you off the tarmac’

Twelve hours – he must have been here at least twelve hours. A sudden thought seized him.

‘What floor am I on?’

‘The first, of course’

The doctor started to fumble with his sheets. ‘ I've got to, er, go nurse. I’m back on duty for, er, six o’clock and I need to go home and change'.

‘Oh no you don’t’ said the nurse firmly ‘you have got concussion and you’re not going anywhere for at least 48 hours’

‘You don’t understand’ he was shaking now ‘I must go!’

He started struggling. Panting, the nurse pressed the assistance button and spoke firmly into it. Two orderlies appeared and held him down.

‘You’re not quite yourself doctor. I’m just going to give you a little sedative and you can have a nice sleep. After all, you are under the best possible care’.

She smiled calmly. At the end of the ward, the doctor’s horrified ears registered the door's opening with a slight swish and, as the nurse’s finger depressed the plunger and the liquid dispersed into his vein, he began to scream.

thank you for your contribution Jim - I very much enjoyed finding out what was on the other side of your door!

The Tenth Muse

I spent a sleepless night debating the existence of a door that I saw for the first time a few short hours ago. It was behind some shelves I'd joyfully ripped out of the downstairs cloakroom. I've been in and out of there ...two hundred times since we moved here four years ago. That's why I now doubt the evidence of my own eyes. That, and its position behind fitted shelves. I wash and dress quickly, a man on a mission, keen to confront my D.I.Y. hallucination. I'm already berating myself for the sense of trepidation I feel.

I can't shake it though. I lunge through the cloakroom door and snap on the lights. It is real; as are the batons on which the shelves rested. It's an old four panelled, solid wood door. There is nothing strange about that. Except the fact that the house is a four year old newbuild. It must be a shallow cupboard. It's set in the outside wall. Then I feel that cold, dizzying, raising of goosebumps along my arms and behind my ears. There is a thin line of yellow light along the bottom edge of the door! A door that's slightly ajar. My fear makes me feel ridiculous; I'm angry with myself. I'm standing in broad daylight, under strong electric light, and I can hear the washing machine through the wall as it goes through its cycle. The hand I extend to push open the door, trembles with the effort of overcoming my reluctance.

White, feral faces snarl and stare. They are like hyenas, caught in strong headlights, over the remains of a lion's kill.

'Quick, shut the door and take a seat.'

The implication is that I am expected! I daren't speak at this point. I sit on the hard bench. This space must be at least fifty feet across and the same in depth. How can that be? There are nine of them, women all. Graceful and lissome, they are not so ugly as they first appeared. Fair of face, yet with the marks of age about the eyes and the mouth. They are variously dressed in jeans, or leggings, long loose T-shirts, smock-tops, tailored shorts, open sandals, flats and heels. For some reason, this dress appears incongruous on them. One of them smaller than the rest, raises herself, pirouettes on the move and alights beside me on the bench.

'Welcome, I'm Terpsichore,' she says, the entire length of her body pressing against mine. I recognise the name and a question begins to form, yet I cannot speak. She answers my unspoken question.

'Yes, yes, we're your muses.' She gently caresses my cheek. 'Poor boy,' she whispers.

'You're The Muses?' I manage to ask in an incredulous whisper.

'No, sweet boy, we're your Muses - only yours.'

She rises from the bench, places a hand on my shoulder, and balances delicately on the front of her feet. We look out over a scene that has changed completely.

By the strengthening green light I see a satyr perched on a rock in the furthest corner. The goat god Pan playing his triple-tiered pipes. The music floats fluid and sweet across this Arcadian grotto. Directly in front of me, the eight women are sitting at the feet of a strongly built, beautiful but effeminate boy. He is naked, wearing only a laurel wreath in his hair. He carries a lyre, cradled in one arm. And my Muses have changed. They now wear long white, diaphanous dresses. They are younger too. The wrinkles are gone, the pearly lustre of youth is on their skin. I glance at my dancing Muse. Through the film of her dress I can clearly see her long, slim legs. I understand instinctively, that the youth is the Olympian God Apollo. Terpsichore bends to my ear and whispers.

'You must speak with Calliope, there,' as she gestures toward one of the other Muses. 'Come Calliope, speak with this beautiful boy.'

Terpsichore moves lightly toward the group, meanwhile passing a tall, graceful girl whose hair is piled in profusion, high on top of her head. Calliope sits majestically alongside me and starts to speak It's the last I remember.

I'm now sitting in my kitchen in the late afternoon. I remember she said that they were always there. I've been to the cloakroom. The door is not there, but the shelf batons are. And on the table beside my typewriter is a beautifully crafted, one thousand word, short story .