Writing ChallengesHi there blog readers from the web. You've come back for another taste of madness I see. This was written in response to a challenge prompt that a friend of mine put out this week. You can check her blog out here. The prompt was do not enter, and the only requirement was that the work be centered around that theme. I hope you enjoy!
DO NOT ENTER
The four friends sat and stared at each other, unsure what their next step would be. They had expected immediate freedom when they'd been released from the cell they'd been trapped in for what seemed like forever. Now they sat in a circle trying to decide their next move.
Florence tossed her long blonde hair over her shoulder, she was glad she'd had it up in ponytail. “I think we should go for it.”
“What if it's a trap?” Stanley, the cautious one of the group, asked with fear evident in his voice. The experience had been the hardest on him.
“It can't be. Why would they do that? Release us just to recapture us?” Helen countered his argument with her usual sensible logic.
“We all just need to be calm.” The final member, the quietest one, added his opinion. “Either it's a trap or it's not. We have to decide and then stand behind our decision.” He stood and walked away from the group recalling the events of the past week in his mind and trying to make sense of them.
They had been walking home from their usual Friday night pizza when it had started to rain.
“That's odd. There's no rain in the forecast.” Helen was looking at the sky in wonder.
“We could take the shortcut through the forest. It would get us home in half the time.” Doug watched his friends knowing that Stan would be the holdout.
“They say you should stay away from the forest on the night of a full-moon.” Stan's voice was shaking and frightened.
“That's just an old wives tale!” Florence laughed at him. “Besides the trees are thick and will keep us from getting too wet if we hurry.” She ran into the forest leaving the others no choice but to follow.
That had been the beginning. They'd walked through the forest for less than five minutes when they'd been surrounded by a circle of shadows that slowly closed in on them. Doug watched as Stanley fell to his knees with a cry and then collapsed, unconscious on the ground. Flo was next, she cried a little in fear. Helen followed her to her knees with an unbelieving look on her face and the words “Run Doug!” before she passed out. The last thing Doug remembered was watching the ground rush up to meet him before he woke.
He opened his eyes and noted that Flo was the only other conscious one amongst them.
“Where are we?” He looked at her grimly.
“In some sort of cell I think.” She looked around them. “I've only been awake a few minutes longer than you.”
“I see.” He looked around the dimly lit area noting the hardened dirt floor under them. It appeared to be some sort of cave with bars at the front. “Have you called out?”
“No. I was afraid of making whoever caught us angry.” She glanced down in embarrassment.
Doug rose, steadying himself against the head rush it brought on. Standing at the bars he hollered loudly, “Is anyone there? Let us out!” The echo of his voice was his only answer.
“Stop making such a racket. My head hurts.” Helen held her head as she moved to stand.
“Yeah. Let's not attract any attention if we don't have to.” Stan cowered on the ground.
“Obviously someone put us in here, and we need to get them to let us out.” Doug gave his friend an annoyed look.
“I agree.” Helen joined him at the bars and yelled as well. “Hey! You won't get away with this! Let us out!”
They had spent the next few hours arguing amongst themselves as to whether they should attract the attention of their captors or not. Doug and Helen had both felt it was their best chance, Flo agreed with them but was afraid, and Stan was completely terrified of the idea.
“What if they want us to demand our release?” Helen argued with the two hold outs. They had agreed to be quiet until they'd reached a group decision.
“What if they want us to be quiet?” Stan had countered.
It was true, they didn't know their captors reason for trapping them and so they didn't have any idea what the terms of release would be. They all sat and stared at each other wavering in their resolve and how to escape.
“Look Stan.” Doug tried to calm his childhood friend. “If they were going to harm us they'd have done it by now. We've been in here for hours. We have to try and get their attention so we can get out.”
“I agree.” Flo nodded her blonde head, pony tail bobbing up and down behind her.
“I don't know.” Fear danced across Stan's face as he looked into the shadows beyond the bars. “What's out there might be scarier than what's in here.”
“True.” Doug nodded. “But you'll never know if you don't try.” He smiled reassuringly at the redhead. “It's like life. You have to keep taking risks. You have to trust yourself and your strength.”
Stan looked up at his friends as they stood around him. “If you say so.” He stood shakily to his feet and approached the bars with them.
All in unison they hollered. “Let us out!”
As if that had been the key to the cell the door drifted open. They all looked at each other in amazement and walked through it, wonder filling their eyes at how easily it had opened. They squinted in the dark and found a corridor leading off the open room their cell had been in. Now they were at the end of that corridor facing a door with an ominous sign on it.
DO NOT ENTER
And in smaller letters under it.
Entry offered only to the one who can see what is around them and not be ruled by it.
“I say we open it.” Doug ran his hand through his short black hair. “So far we haven't been hurt for acting on our own.” He rose from the group, striding over to the door.
“What do you think it means?” Helen joined him at the door, squinting at the enigmatic message.
“I'm sure I don't care.” Doug shook his head and reached for the handle.
“NO!” Stan stood and ran to him. “It's a trap.”
“I don't think so.” Flo joined them. “I think it's a riddle and whoever solves the riddle can open the door for us.”
“Whatever.” Doug shrugged and twisted the handle. Click, click, but the door didn't open.
“How can you be ruled by what is around you?” Flo scowled at the sign. “What's around us? Darkness, I'm not afraid of the dark.”
Helen looked at her and smiled. “How can you see what's around you when it's dark?”
Stan looked at the words, light dawning in his eyes. “It's me.” He smiled at his friends.
“I'm the one that can open the door.” He reached for the knob with a new strength in his hand and confidence in his eyes. “I can see the world around me and not allow their lousy opinions of me to keep me trapped any longer because I have friends to lean on and keep me strong when I need them to.”
Doug, Flo and Helen gasped in unison. “Stan!”
“It’s like you've been telling me for years,” he looked Doug in the eye, “don't let the idiot's get you down.” He grinned broadly. “I see it all so clearly now. I can see the idiots that make fun of me and cut me down but I don't have to let them decide who I am anymore. I can let my friends do that with me.” He chuckled. “I should have seen it so much sooner.” Reaching for the door he paused at Doug's inquiry.
“Why should you have seen it so much sooner?” Doug held him back with his hand on his forearm.
“Because it's been staring me in the face since our cell opened.” He smiled confidently up at his lifetime friend. “When we worked as a team our prison opened. When I stop looking to the world for who I am and instead look to my friends the cell opened, I trusted you to be there with me when things went wrong. It's time for me to stop being ruled by the bullies and start living.” He crowed like a rooster. “Here I come world, watch out!” He gripped the handle of the door and twisted it.
Light poured in and washed over them as they tumbled through the doorway into Flo's backyard.
“I don't get it. This is where the shortcut through the woods brings us.” Flo looked around them in surprise. “Hey, where's the door?” She was looking behind them in disbelief.
Stan put his arm around her shoulder and shook his head gently. “It's all in my mind, Flo, all in my mind.”