I've picked up another one from Chuck's Flash Fiction from 2013... I've chosen the same 5 words as I did in 'The Right Hand Man' but I've turned it around and made a different story out of it.
It was a labyrinth, as I turned the corner of yet another long, vanishing isle of books. I have no idea how I got to be inside this library, but it was a huge place I had gotten lost in within minutes.
I knew I was looking for something – something to get me out of here – but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. As I walked along this isle, I had to make sure I didn’t touch the books.
Don’t ask me why, it’s the rules of the game.
What game? I don’t know that either... I just know whatever this is, is a big horrible game of getting me lost; and all I want is to get the fuck outa here!
Panic welled in my guts for a moment. I take a breath, and calm down... then I keep moving for another few metres. Hey! An envelope! It’s sticking out between the darkened, spines of two books! Pulling on it, I find it hasn’t been here for long – it feels fresh and cool, not mouldy and wet.
Looking around I wonder who else has been around here long enough to plant this here and for me not to see them. If I don’t open this soon, my mind will begin to play tricks on me; so I pull it open and find it doesn’t tear and a skeleton key slides out and a slip of paper. Written on the paper is one word: Undertaker.
“Oh great... I have to get out of here and...” a grumble of thunder overhead signals the beginnings of a storm and – as the rain hammers down on the large glass dome overhead – my surroundings become darker, causing the tall shelves around me to look more like cliff faces than bookcases, “I have to get the fuck outa here.” I shove the key in my pocket with the envelope and run back up the isle the way I came in, finding my way back to the front counter where I started.
But once there, I found it was empty and the counter itself was covered the dust of never being used for over a decade – the type of dust which carves into timber and damages it when it’s not brushed away. Cobwebs infiltrated the bookshelves behind it, hiding the books on reserve to the point I couldn’t read the titles on the spines – not that they had any at the point they were published.
Turning to my left, I walked to the door, but found it locked from the outside; chains were wrapped around the handles like large rusty vines and the padlocks had rusted shut. Yes, there wasn’t any way for me to escape.
Lightning and thunder began to play a game of chase around the skies as the winds picked up, howling around the building, and the rain became heavier still.
Walking through to the study out the back behind the counter, I decided to wait until the storm was finished. I knew I had to go to the cemetery and find out where to go next. I made myself comfortable on the lounge and rested; it might be the last time I get any sleep for a while.
I wasn’t going anywhere until the storm was over.
The sunshine woke me as I lay under the broad branches of a sprawling Oak Tree outside. Sitting up, I wondered how I got to be outside and where the storm vanished to. A squirrel scampered near the tree, tail twitching nervously as it eyed me, wondering if I was a danger to it or not. It came closer, picking up an acorn and inspecting it closely – tail twitched as we watched each other. Shoving it in his mouth, he took off up the tree where I lost track of him.
Looking around, I slowly stood to hear the distant grumbles of the remains of the storm on the horizon where it was destroying another town (or was it the town I was just in?).
I had to find the cemetery, so I began to walk.
I was starving, but I’d get food on the way if I found any.
The nearest cemetery wasn’t far; strangely enough, only at the bottom of the hill I had been resting on. So, I looked through the locked gates, looked along its stone walls and thought of a way to get in, when I remembered the skeleton key, and dug it out of my pocket. Slotting it into the lock, I didn’t need to turn it as it clanged and the gates swung inward, crashing against the back of the walls.
As I stepped through, a man in old-fashioned Undertaker’s clothes stepped up to me, “You’ve won.”
“Won?” I asked.
He held out a cube, “Take this and all will be revealed.”
A lop-sided smile crawled up his face, “Don’t you get it? You’re part of a game and you’ve outplayed the others. You’ve won.”
“What have I won?”
“Take the cube and find out.”
I reached out for the cube and a bright light filled my vision. With my other hand, I shielded my eyes for a moment. When the light abated, I found I was in a dank, crap-smelling prison cell. There was a rattling at the door, as the bolt slammed across and iron door creaked open.
“Well... aren’t you a smart-ass.” He stood there in a suit glaring at me, clearly not pleased with me.
“Yeah, shithead, I put you into a game with a few of the other prisoners here and the prize was your soul back and trip up to the hot-shot place in the sky... guess who won?” he snorted.
“Oh. Thank you?”
He stepped to one side, “Come on. Your Angel is here to take you home.”
I looked beyond him into the hallway to find a person I’d never seen before, but I knew deep down inside I could trust, “You’re taking me home?”
She smiled, “Yes I am.”
“One question.” She looked at me as she took my hand, “Where is home?”
Tears filled her eyes, “You really have been here too long; and the horrible thing is that you don’t recognise me, do you?”
“I’ll take you home.”