|By Cyberjunkie (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons|
As always I would like to thank everyone who entered and if you didn't win then there's next month's contest which has started. Thanks also to the readers and the sharers because stories only exist to be read and shared with others - so please continue to share. Also remember that if you have submitted a story then you're now free to use it as you will, although I do ask that you link back to my blog.
And now for the winners:
- First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Nav Logan for his story 'The Gatekeeper'
- Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to David J Wing for his story 'The Thinker'
- Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to G E Smith for the story 'Living Exhibit'
Congratulations to the winners and here are their stories:
The Gatekeeper by Nav Logan
When I was a boy, I lived with my father in a very strange house.
Our house was a huge gothic mansion, filled of white marble and black ebony sculptures. A magnificent spiral staircase dominated the centre of the house. It spiralled upward as far as the eye could see, and downward; deep into the bowels of the earth.
My father warned me regularly never to step upon the staircase. “It’s only to be used by our guests,” he warned.
We had a lot of guests. They arrived at all times of the day and night.
My father’s job was to open the front door and direct them to the staircase. I never saw any of the guests leave, so they must still be up there, or hiding in the cellar.
We lived only on the ground floor, but it was such a large mansion that there was plenty of room for the two of us.
One day, while I was at school, the teacher asked the class what our parents did for a living. The pupils took turns revealing their parents’ careers. Some were postmen, nurses; there was even an author. Finally, it was my turn.
I stood before the blackboard and spoke, “I don’t know much about my mother,” I explained. “She died when I was a baby, but my daddy has a very important job. He’s the Gatekeeper.”
“A gatekeeper,” my teacher corrected.
“No. He’s quite adamant about that. He assures me that he’s ... The Gatekeeper.”
“So, he opens gates? That doesn’t sound too important,” teased Edmund, the class joker. The class all laughed, but I frowned.
“We don’t actually have any gates,” I admitted.
“Then how is he a gatekeeper?”
“The Gatekeeper,” I corrected absently. “I don’t really know. I’ll have to ask him.”
Arriving home, I accosted my father. “Why are you called The Gatekeeper, Daddy, if we don’t have any gates?”
He took me by the hand and led me around to the front of the house where the great black double doors stood firmly shut. In his spare time, my father polished them until they shone brightly in the sun. They were filled with demonic figures, carved into the black ebony. I’d always felt a little queasy whenever I looked at them.
We weren’t allowed to use these doors. They were only for our guests. My father and I only ever used the tradesmen’s entrance, around the side of the house.
“These are ‘The Gates’,” he explained. “Everyone comes to them eventually. It’s my job to open them, and one day it’ll be yours, too.”
Emboldened, I asked, “Where do our guests go?”
“That all depends, son. Some go up the stairs and find Heaven, while others descend into whatever Hell awaits them.”
Confused, I asked, “Isn’t there only one Hell?”
“Hell is filled with a man’s fears, so everyone has a different Hell.”
“Do you guide them on their journey?”
“No, son, I don’t. Each man must find his own path.”
The Thinker by David J Wing
It sat there, like an ancient monolith, daring him to touch it. Its world-ending stare, coupled with a weight beyond measure. How it wound-up in the yard, he could only imagine; a vestige from a by-gone era, a dynasty long forgotten, save for a tomb and a door? Whatever it was, it was imposing. No, more than that, it was scary. It was heavy and bronzed, like a Titan of old, a remnant, lingering; a twenty foot giant looming large.
No handle. No lock.
Carl stood and stared. Minutes, hours, what did it matter? His gaze never faltered. His lids never blinked. Transfixed he followed the figures crawling across the door’s bodice, inviting him in, luring, and leering. The naked forms writhed. His teenage mind played. All the while the Thinker sat above and watched.
He no longer felt the breeze from the trees. He no longer saw the light from the sky.
Men and woman crawled and silently screamed for him; for his help, for his love? Then he crawled. His skin, his very soul undulated, rippled, ripped. Their fingers broke through his chest, tore through his skin and pulled at his mind. His mouth opened and his eyes screamed. They pled for salvation. All the while the Thinker watched.
He fell forward, he flew forth. His feet scraped the granite floor, leaving trainered skid marks behind. The structure ached and groaned, weighted by generations of loss. His face slapped then slid inside. Their arms opened wide, grabbed and held fast and welcomed him in. The metallic embrace tasted in his mouth and shortly after in his bones.
The sea waved around him as he fought to the surface. Gasping for breath that would never come, gasping for light that would only tease, he floundered. His finger tips pushed against the molten world, a dull spoon cutting.
Never free, never more. Never rescued, never saw.
He clung, he watched, he waited and he bore.
Living Exhibit by G E Smith
Professor Greg Mecum, head of archeological studies at California State, stepped out of the helicopter and headed toward the cave entrance.
Leonard Cole met him, ignoring the professor’s outstretched hand. “We’ve broken one chain and two cables wrestling with that thing you call a door. And the crane nearly toppled over on one attempt.”
“Of course. The Institute will cover any expenses.”
Cole shifted the unlit cigar stub in his mouth. “We had to widen the cave entrance to get the equipment in here with high-level explosives. Another seventy grand should cover it.”
The professor forced a smile. “You’ll be properly compensated, Mr. Cole. Show me the door.”
“This way.” Professor Mecum followed Cole into the main room of the cave. Steam rose from the surface of several pools. The brown-, orange-, and rose-colored walls glistened.
Mecum stopped, wide-eyed. “I never imagined…”
Cole removed his cigar stub. “Yeah, a door in the cave floor. And I don’t know what’s holding it from below, but it’s damn strong.”
The professor knelt. “The carvings are stunning. And the wood looks to be a seamless mix of oak and mahogany.” He ran his hand over tree and vine images. His eyes moved to a knight on a steed, and then to a woman in a bell-shaped dress holding a parasol. “Remarkable how different centuries are represented. And the size...” Mecum walked off twenty-two paces along the doors vertical frame, fifteen at its base.
“There’s three-quarter inch military-grade steel in a lattice pattern under the door for support. Don’t wanna loose what progress we’ve made.” Cole gave the professor a hard hat with a light attached. “We’ve hand-dug a hole at the top.”
Mecum followed Cole, then lay on his stomach.
“What do you make of it?” Cole said.
Cole walked away from the door and spoke to several men.
Mecum smiled, moved to the top of the door, and gazed at two child-like figures. “This is beyond belief. A living piece of perpetual art.”
A new carving began to form.
Mecum cocked his head. “That looks like…me?”
The professor started at the sound of chainsaws. No sooner did he turn his head and three men were cutting at what roots they could reach. “Stop! You’ll kill it.” He looked back at the door. His image was gone. Smaller carvings of vines began to fade.
The door began to creak. The steel started to bow.
“Cole! Call your men off. The roots are the reason for this door’s existence. Keep cutting and we’ll end up with nothing but a huge slab of plain wood.”
Hours later, all the workers and equipment were gone. Only Cole lingered. “Lot of cash for no take-home prize,” he said. Cole walked out to the waiting helicopter.
Professor Mecum stayed, hoping the roots would heal, eager to see if the door would somehow forgive what happened and begin to carve his likeness once again.