Friday, 12 March 2010

Fiction Friday #4

Here's my attempt for this week's Fiction Friday challenge on the Write Anything blog. Today's challenge is;

The keys opened every door in the house, except the small wooden door at the end of the hall…

[NOTE] I've actually edited this, following comments from the lovely Kathryn Jankowski! 

Beth flipped through the heavy iron keys one last time, but as before, not one of them fitted the narrow lock. She slapped the rough wood in irritation. The small door rattled in a frame speckled with woodworm.

"Problem?"

Dawes leaned against the wall behind her. Paint streaked his arms and peppered his thinning hair. He gnawed on a raw turnip.

"Yes, there's a problem. The master gave me these keys, and they're meant to open any door in the building," replied Beth. A shiver of disgust skated down her spine as he scraped at the vegetable with his few remaining teeth.

"But they don't open this one," said Dawes. He spoke as he ate, treating Beth to the sight of a mouthful of half-chewed turnip.

"No. Why not?"

"Maybe the master don't want you going in there."

"But I heard something in there. Like...scratching. And crying."

"Probably just the wind. It's an old house, it makes peculiar noises." Dawes picked at his gums with a ragged fingernail.

"All the same, I want to have a look and make sure." Beth shuddered. The noises beyond the door did not sound anything like the wind.
"Look, lovely. You're working for a magician. There are going to be things he's going to want to keep hidden. Secrets, stuff for his act. He'll probably give you the key when you've been working here long enough that he won't think you'll go straight to his competition," said Dawes.

Beth stared at Dawes for several moments, before concluding he had a point. After all, she only got the keys from Mrs Hooper yesterday, and she hadn't even met the elusive magician yet. She hauled herself to her feet, and brushed dust off her knees. She nodded at Dawes, walking as fast as she could away from the handyman without running.

Dawes watched her go. When he heard her hob-nailed boots on the stairs, he knelt beside the door.

"Are you there, my pretty? Don't worry, I'll be coming for you soon." He whispered through the narrow key hole, stroking the door.

The prisoner on the other side of the door whimpered.

13 comments:

ganymeder said...

So...had to read this twice. At first I thought the magician was hiding something but then I figured the handyman changed the lock. Wonder who the prisoner is? Maybe the magician's previous assistant? *scary*

Good story.

newtowritinggirl said...

Eew. I wasn't expecting that. I really like your description of Dawes, it's nicely creepy.

kathrynjankowski said...

I like this, but was curious as to why the prisoner made no noise when it was obvious someone besides her captor was trying to open the door.

Icy Sedgwick said...

@Kathryn - I should probably rewrite this...Beth wants to get in because she hears something inside. Wrote it on the fly this afternoon!

Emma Newman said...

Oooh, shivery. I like it :)

Carrie said...

Wow. This had a really good feeling in it. Well bad, but well done. I could almost hear the wind creaking the house. And that guy. Eww. You pushed buttons. Love it.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Thanks!! I'm really trying to push myself to 'paint' characters...it's way more fun writing baddies than goodies. The magician mentioned has actually cropped up in my work before - I really want to do something else with him!

afullnessinbrevity said...

Love the creepy factor. There is something unsettling about a character who has bad dental hygiene. Can't be a serial killer because they are too methodical, but the slightly unhinged character is wonderfully unpredictable. They can do the most mundane things in a way that makes people shiver.
Loved it.

Tony Noland said...

This was quite creepy. I can envision an outcome where Beth ends up trading places with whoever/whatever is behind the door.

Leah said...

Excellent first draft! I see a couple areas where you could spruce it up a bit but I enjoyed the story. And I love your characters - they really jumped off the screen for me. Thank you for sharing!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Glad you liked it!

@afullnessinbrevity - I have a weird obsession with teeth...

Cathy Olliffe said...

I love raw turnip! But will make sure I don't talk while eating it.
Cool story! Love the ending!
The guy with the turnip reminds me of the weird roommate in Notting Hill.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Ooooh, creepy, love it!
Turnip guy is terrifying.
The whimper at the end is the icing on the cake!

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