The Open Door by La-DuqueI was going to post this all in one go, but people seemed to really like the serialization I did throughout this past October with my Halloween horror story, so I thought it’d be fun to do it again.

When I started writing this, I had something very different in mind than where the story actually went, which is something new and scary for me since I like to know exactly what it is I’m writing as I write it. But this one took on a life of its own, and I just went where it led me. I’ll be posting new entries irregularly, so check back often.

I hope you enjoy it.


The Click-Clack Man

“I like your shoes.”

“Thank you,” replied The Click-Clack Man. He crossed one of his long, thin legs over his lap and pointed to the shiny black dress shoe on his right foot. “Do you have any like these?”

The boy paused for a moment, nibbling his bottom lip as he thought. “Yes,” he said, his eyes wide with recognition. “For Sunday mornings when we go to church sometimes.”

The Click-Clack man tilted his head to the side, his thin lips parting into a wide grin. “Only sometimes?” he asked the boy.

“Yeah. For, like, Christmas and Easter and stuff. We don’t go much other times.”

“Pity,” said The Click-Clack Man. “Church is good for you.”

“Do you go to church a lot?”

“Oh, yes,” said The Click-Clack Man. “Every Sunday. You can come with me,” he said. His lips stretched thinner as his grin grew wider. He leaned closer to the boy and whispered, “if you want.”

The boy pushed back a little in his bed until his back touched the wall of his bedroom. It was covered in comic books his dad had made into wallpaper the year before, and his shoulder smooshed into Superman’s face.

“I don’t think my mom would let me,” he said, trailing the sentence off as he spoke. He was nibbling his bottom lip again. “Do you know my mom?” he asked.

The Click-Clack Man nodded. “I know everyone,” he said.

The boy relaxed a little. “Then I can ask her, if you want.”

“That’s okay,” replied The Click-Clack Man. “She wouldn’t like that.”

“Why not?”

The Click-Clack Man uncrossed his legs and stood up, the fabric of his thin black suit letting out a gentle whoosh of air as he rose. He took a few steps away from the boy’s bed, nodded, then turned toward the door. As his hand reached out to open it, he turned his wide grin back to the boy and said, “She doesn’t know I’m here.”

The door closed behind him, and the hallway light switched off.

click-clack, click clack

The boy listened to The Click-Clack Man’s shiny black shoes fade into the distance, then went to sleep.

************

He came like that at first, when the boy was young; brief visits in the nighttime. The Click-Clack Man was always friendly, always smiling. The pair talked about random things, while The Click-Clack Man made the boy laugh with a well-placed joke or a funny face. The boy would answer his questions.

“Do you remember the first time I met you?” The Click-Clack Man asked the boy.

“No,” he replied. “I don’t think so.” He nibbled his bottom lip again as he always did, making little sucking noises as he thought. “Haven’t you just always been here?”

The Click-Clack man smiled. “It seems that way, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah,” said the boy. “It does.”

And it really did.

************

“Are you ready to go?” asked The Click-Clack Man.

The boy looked at the superhero clock by his bed, noted the time, then grabbed the handle of his backpack and pulled its straps over his shoulder. “Yes,” he replied. “I’m ready.”

The Click-Clack Man smiled, the smooth, thin skin of his face wrinkling only slightly around the edge of his cheeks. “Good,” he said. “Let’s go.”

He reached out his long right arm to the boy and extended his hand. The boy reached out and grabbed it. The Click-Clack Man turned and walked toward the boy’s closet door, which had been propped open by a little toy firetruck. The light inside had been left on.

As they got closer, the bulb in the top of the closet flickered slightly, then switched off. The Click-Clack Man extended one long, thin leg and gently nudged the firetruck aside as they walked through the door.

It closed shut behind them.

************

On the other side of the closet door, The Click-Clack Man led the boy into a large, green field with waves of soft grass rippling as far away into the distance as he could see.

“Wow,” said the boy. “Where are we?”

“This is my home,” said The Click-Clack Man.

“Where’s your house?”

The Click-Clack Man pointed to a gnarled oak tree on the other side of a small, quiet lake. Its water reflected the sky.

“You live in a tree?” asked the boy.

“No,” said The Click-Clack Man. “The tree lives in me.”

The boy furrowed his brow and shook his head. “I don’t understand,” he said.

“Come,” said The Click-Clack Man. “I’ll show you.”

They walked up to the edge of the quiet lake, until the perfectly still water just barely touched the tip of The Click-Clack Man’s shiny black shoes. The water crackled and popped as ice crystals began to form, first from the edge of the lake, then shooting out in a straight line across to the other side.

The boy’s jaw went loose and he chin dangled in the soft breeze. “Woah,” he sighed.

The Click-Clack Man took a step forward, onto the ice. Water lapped around the edges of the little frozen bridge. “Follow me,” he said.

The boy stayed where he stood, jaw still agape as he listened to The Click-Clack Man cross to the other side.

click-clack, click-clack

The Click-Clack Man stepped off the bridge, turned, and smiled at the boy. He raised one long, thin arm and waved him over, his wrist bending and twisting as his long, thin fingers curled out, then in.

The boy stepped on the ice, but it cracked under his weight and startled him.

“Don’t worry,” shouted The Click-Clack Man from the other side. “It won’t melt until I tell it to.”

He took another step. Another crack. A pop. Another step. Inch by inch and foot by foot, the boy crossed to the other side. As he stepped onto the grass, he heard a gentle plop behind him. When he turned around, the bridge was gone.

“Melted,” said The Click-Clack Man. “Just like I said.”

“Wow,” sighed the boy. Again. “That’s cool.”

The Click-Clack Man smiled. Again. “Thank you.”

He led the boy up to the gnarled oak tree, then reached out his arm and placed his hand on the trunk. “Watch this,” he said.

The oak groaned a deep, throaty creak from somewhere far inside the wood. The boy could feel it more than he could hear the sound. The ground rumbled, and his feet tickled from the vibration.

“What’s happening?” asked the boy.

The Click-Clack Man said nothing, and closed his eyes. The thin, pale skin of his eyelids were almost see-through, which the boy had never noticed before, back in the darkness of his bedroom.

The rumble grew stronger as the groans and creaks of the tree grew louder. The long, twisting branches began to sway, and then to move. They bent and curled, and wrapped themselves around the boy and The Click-Clack Man, who still had his eyes closed and was still smiling.

“Stop it,” the boy pleaded. “I’m scared.”

The Click-Clack Man opened his thin lips and laughed.

“Please? I want to go home!” cried the boy.

The branches fully enclosed them now, and the world went dark.

The Click-Clack Man opened his eyes.

************

The darkness vanished in the brightest light the boy had ever seen, which hurt his eyes. He shut them, and started to cry.

“Wait,” said The Click-Clack Man. “Wait.”

The boy fell to his knees and sobbed, his face buried in his hands. “I just want to go home.”

The Click-Clack Man reached out and touched the boy’s head. “Open your eyes.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Please?” asked The Click-Clack Man.

The boy cautiously opened one eye, slowly. The light wasn’t as bright now, and it no longer hurt his eyes. He opened the other one and blinked.

“Woah,” he said, once more.

“See?” said The Click-Clack Man. “Nothing to worry about.”

The boy looked out into a massive room, the entrance hall of a grand mansion. The walls were thick and dark, like the gnarled bark of the tree. The floor was polished marble so shiny it reflected everything around it. In the middle of the room, a grand staircase went straight back and up, then branched off in two directions, each leading to an opposite side of the second floor. There were candles everywhere.

“Are we inside the tree?” asked the boy.

“Yes,” said The Click-Clack Man. “And no.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t have to,” replied The Click-Clack Man. “Come this way. I want to show you something”

The boy followed as The Click-Clack Man led the way upstairs, to a small door in a small corner of a small room.

The little door opened as they approached, with the tiniest of creaks. The Click-Clack Man stopped short of walking inside, and stood beside the door. He motioned for the boy to walk on through.

“What’s in there?” he asked.

“Home,” said The Click-Clack Man.

The boy walked through the door and into more darkness. He felt something soft brush his face, then heard a slight buzz from somewhere over his head. A little light flickered, and another door opened.

He was back in his room, walking through his closet. He turned to see where he’d come from, but all he found were clothes and toys, and that thing in the corner that his mother had told him to throw away but he hadn’t.

The Click-Clack Man was gone, along with the little door he’d just walked through. It was nighttime again, and the boy was back in his bedroom. The superhero clock next to his bed showed the same time as when he’d left, which was half past bedtime, and his mother would be coming to check on him soon.

The boy crawled into bed, pulled the covers up over his chest, then closed his eyes and listened.

The Click-Clack Man was walking away, somewhere beyond his closet, in his mansion inside a tree by a quiet lake in a green field of soft grass that went on forever.

click-clack, click-clack

************

 To be continued…

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© 2016, Kristian Bland. All rights reserved.