Black Petals Issue #71 Spring, 2015

The Door
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Picture This-A Collaborative Column by A. M. Stickel and BP Authors
Catch of the Day-Fiction by Hal Kempka
Lust-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Pebbles-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Pioneer Justice on a Distant Planet-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
Sand-Fiction by Chris Hivner
The Big Apple Bites-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Big Picture-Fiction by Anne Stickel
The Door-Fiction by Mayjor E. Johnson
Washed Away-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Secret Entrances-Poems by Teresa Ann Frazee
Eleven Vampire Haiku-Poems by Denny E. Marshall


The Door


By MAYJOR Johnson

Curiosity is the key to nowhere.


     The door was never meant to be opened. Those words echoed in the mind of Cole Fox, the new janitor at Ashtrail University. A single door loomed at the end of a dark hallway for which no key was given, although one hung on a rusty nail by the door frame. The old key was as rusted as the door itself, an ancient artifact that contrasted with the digital clocks and card-operated pathways in the technological marvel of a building. Did the key even open the door, or any door for that matter? Cole didn’t know, nor did anyone else. It stood, a poisonous fruit upon a rusted tree, as forbidden as the door itself. A laid-back man in his 20’s, Cole had to, at least, poke about the issue to satisfy his curiosity.

     “What could be behind that door?” he asked one of his fellow, senior janitors. “A box of goblins? A shamed, failed magician dying to show his last trick?”

The older gentleman, who appeared seventy, debilitated as a frail crow with the hair of a wicked Einstein, failed to appreciate his humor. He quickly turned around, one of his eyes a deep abyss plumed with thick smoke. The foggy eye made Cole feel like maggots crawled under his skin; gloom tore at his soul, until the young man could no longer meet that gaze.

     “Youth should bite their tongues and open those holes on the sides of their heads. Scratch that itch too deep, boy, and you’ll dig into your throat until you choke on your own blood.” With that the old man left the new custodian to himself.

Cole’s mind wanted to ignore the warning, but his body knew better, the old man’s deportment abetting the young man’s instincts. He decided he’d heed his warning at least to keep him from his face. The old crow’s breath stank like a decaying furnace…or an open grave.


     His hand dared not touch the door, even graze the knob, yet his mind failed to let the matter rest, images of the rusty door turning gears in a machine, overclocked and overheated, its circuitry set to crack from the pressure. Every opportunity that arose, away from the watchful, baleful eyes of the old custodian, of course, he inquired about the door—its origin, creator, history, looks, weight, composition, type, years, contents, anything to satisfy his curiosity, to grant him the knowledge to say, “How boring it is; such a stupid door.” He received nothing about the door. All he got were the looks one would give to a crazed person, granted to a madman for running through streets, shouting, “Pickled Penis,” while his manhood flapped in the breeze. Why did he deserve such treatment, when he only asked about a stupid, broken door, probably just a forgotten janitor’s closet, older than Methuselah? His eyes widened.

     “That’s it!” he said aloud, nearly tripping over two sexy college girls, who both gave him that damn, mad-retard look he received all day, before they scurried away. Fuck ‘em; he had the answer! It was all a game, a silly joke crafted to torture the new custodian about a mysterious room that was actually a janitors’ closet. He gave a half-hearted chuckle, ashamed of his own stupidity. His mind at ease, he decided to leave the matter of the door alone and begin setting up a one-stop-recreational-drug shop in the shadow of the science building that night.


     The sun lay buried beneath the blackness. He carried a few samples in his pocket to chum the lake for the big catch, and proceeded out to the science building, when he heard a knock. The rapping could have been made by a child’s fist, yet the dead hallways made it echo like a hammer. Cole looked around, staring at the large windows. He saw no sign of anyone. The knock echoed again. He knew all the doors and always checked each room thoroughly before he locked each door...except one. The knock came again. He headed toward it, drawn, his legs propelled for some hint of truth, just a taste to rest his mind from the mystery. He reached it, and again came a knock so small, so tantalizing, a bullet in the distance, and a whisper in the ear. He reached to touch the knob, and his finger tips to his elbow froze. He felt nothing above his elbow, as if someone had dipped his forearm in liquid nitrogen, or severed it. His composure crumbled, palms soaked in sweat, icy nails erupting from his skin, air heavier than a ton, but his mind couldn’t stop him. He had to know, needed to satisfy his itch, even a little. He moved his head with the grace of a mason lifting a heavy brick, placed a sweaty ear upon the frame, and stopped the annoying breathing that impeded his auditory sense. He expected the knock of a hammer, hand, knife, tentacle, lip, foot…he knew not what. He heard the word, “Open.”


     He rushed home that night, driving like a madman, or like a little child frightened of the bogeyman under the bed or the monster in his closet. He laughed at himself, wondering how something as simple as a door and a word could drive him to such terrors. The more he thought, the funnier it seemed.


Knock, Knock.

Who’s there?

The Door.

The Door who?

The Door that says to open it.


     His laugh infected reality and moved into hysteria, until his eyes met himself in the rearview mirror. Was he becoming the lunatic those cute students saw? Was he choking on his own blood? “Nonsense,” he told himself. “Fuck ‘em. I’ve heard it speak. I’ll forget about it tonight.” A chuckle escaped his lips. The absurdity of it all! Then his eyes widened. “Damn.” He had forgotten his drug-selling plans. Then he saw the speedometer, and slowed down. He had been doing 70 in a 35-mile-per-hour zone.


     Cole got no sleep that night, his eyes pools of red and veins. Why couldn’t he stop thinking about that damn door? Something so small occupied his mind, drove his thoughts on an endless wheel, and he didn’t know why! Video games, porn, calling the girl with the huge tits he flirted with, reading his English Anthology of 18th Century Literature, stupid late-night shows, nothing stopped this seed from overgrowing his thoughts. That stupid, ancient, stinky-ass door strangely reminded him of the old codger who first informed him of it. Speak of the devil...

     “Good afternoon, Mr. Fox. Forget to comb your hair this morning?” He touched his head; he had forgotten. Damn door. “Careful, boy. As a man thinks, so he is.”

     “Listen, I mean no disrespect, but I don’t want anyone talking to me like they know me, especially when I just met them a few days ago. Let’s keep our relationship strictly professional.”

      The old man laughed so hard, Cole thought one of the few teeth he had left would fall out. “Fine, you fool. But everything’s connected—money, business, family, sex, death—EVER’THING!”

      The man’s rage startled Cole, skin and soul. That needless rage—this guy’s insane. “’re not my supervisor, man.”

     “And you ain’t my son, man. This new generation; I just don’t get you...” And yadda-yadda he went, talking to himself like all crazies do. All walking tombs talked like they knew everything. A failure who quit his life to clean toilets knew nothing of a poor, young man’s dream. But the reaction to his dream had as much to do with anything as a triangle in a square shop. He needed to pay rent, to sell some bags tonight, and to forget about that door.


     Cole rushed through his work, half cleaning everything, his thoughts a brick of ice, a rusted door at its center. Three hours before quitting time, he sat in a bathroom, rocking back and forth, his mind snared in a Rubik’s Cube of madness. The door, the door, THE DOOR! What did it keep in? Incomprehensible terror had seized him when he last faced it, yet his mind remained as tangled as a thief in barbed wire, grasping for knowledge he knew he should refuse, yet couldn’t help but acquire. An evil spirit must be there, ready to torture whatever fool wandered within, for eternity. Or maybe someone was trapped—a victim chained and beaten daily by the faculty for pure amusement, who remained as such because everyone lacked the courage to open a door? Or perhaps a monster crouched there, an unspeakable horror with claws, drooling fangs, and an appetite for the flesh of idiots.


     He jumped when he heard it, even though he heard the echo of an echo on the other side of the building. No! It contained gold—mountains of gold bars hidden by the custodians using this horror show shit.


     He stood, wiped the tears building in his eyes, tears blooming from his own disappointment in himself. “This shit is stupid. I’ve had it.” His arm smashed against the bathroom door, slamming the handle against the wall.


     He walked down the hallway, his legs pumped with lava, his chest heaving, arms wrecking balls.


     It was so loud now…too loud. Curiosity became fear, and fear became anger...


     Anger became hate. He’d knock back at that door all right, knock the fucker down. This door was nothing, absolutely nothing—a speck of grass, a dumb baby, a rotten twig—so he was going to chop the fucker down, make this nothing bleed.


     He faced the Door. It was still as rusted and old as before. The fluorescent lights above dimmed, and the only warmth he felt remained in his heart, yet he gave no notice.

      “Knock, knock, knock!” he screamed. His voice echoed through dead hallways, like the knocks.


     “Who’s there, motherfucker?”


     “Who’s there, motherfucker?!”

     He hated it with everything in him. He kicked the metal door several times until he heard something crack. Was it the door, or his foot? Who cared? It must come down, or open. He snatched the key from the rusty nail, breaking the ring, cutting his hand. Red filled the white meat, flooded down his arm as the key entered the hole, turned, and clicked. One final kick, and then he saw it.

      Dear God. He heard nothing but silence, felt nothing—no breathing, no heartbeat, no more warmth, no more hope—a room blacker than the deepest trench, with...that staring at him. His care for the world, for all his little dreams, left. He just wanted to run, to intimidate it, to scream for his life…or to pray. But he couldn’t. It was absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything. Go figure.

     “I told you everything’s connected, didn’t I?” said that old janitor’s voice from behind. He wanted to reflect and react, but had lost the ability. His thoughts simply ceased.


     A new day awoke Ashtrail University. The eighth bell of the day rang in the science building. The old janitor sat in the office where all the custodians congregated, alone, scanning a newspaper with his legs crossed, the headline reading, “New Drug Circulated around High Schools and Universities. Police Chief Armando Addresses Concerns.” Another custodian in a green jumpsuit, slightly younger than his coworker, entered.

     “Anything new, Aker?” said the man standing. Aker folded his paper.

     “Some new, some not. That kid who came in this week’s gone.”

     “Gone? Where’d he go?”

     “Where all the young-guns we hired go: through the Door.”

     “Why does this damn generation think they got nine lives like a cat? They all turn eighteen and still wanna play cowboys and Indians with the world. But you know it wasn’t all his fault, Aker; someone needs to get in there and get that evil thing outta that room. I’ve been saying for years—”

     “Aw, shut up, Mike. No one in their right mind’s taking that mirror out of there, not since that crazy-ass teacher killed his class before killing himself. Some say his ghost still haunts the mirror, and will drag your soul to hell before it’s time. Others say the only thing hauntin’ the mirror is coincidences of crazy. Either one’s fine with me, ‘cause I ain’t never cleaned that room, and ain’t never gunna.”

      Mike slammed himself into a seat. “Well, next time the police come snoopin’ around here, I’m gunna tell ‘em your black-ass did it.”

     “You ain’t gunna say shit.”

     “Yeah, yeah. Hey, what do you think they see in it, anyway?”

     “Now don’t you start, Mike. Don’t you go looking in that damn thing. Leave that ‘poking-your-hands-in-the-cookie-jar’ shit to the young and dumb.” Aker resumed reading the paper. Mike stood.

     “Well, guess I’ll go tell Bernard. We’ll need someone new to replace that kid sooner or later, and with the work we’ll have to do without him, I’d prefer sooner.”

     “Tell him to hire someone with some sense this time. Kids these days...” Mike left the room, and left a smiling Aker savoring the obituaries. If he had stayed a moment longer, he might have heard a young man’s scream behind the newspaper, and if he dared to look over it, seen Cole’s twisted face cringing behind the old janitor’s misty eye.


The End


Mayjor E. Johnson,, of Cape Charles, VA , who wrote BP #71’s “The Door” (+ BP #68’s “The Shadow Boxing Club” and BP #61’s “Snail Mail”) formerly studied English, with a secondary focus on teaching. He’s currently seeking an Associate’s in information systems technology. Hobbies include reading horror and military novels, writing short stories and poetry, and playing video games. He enjoys hanging with his tough, older sister and genius, younger brother.

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