Locked Door - A Short Story

So this is something that I might do, might not. I'm going to try using this blog-website-whatever as a platform to practice writing, not just to promote or discuss it. I'll be putting some short (thinking less than 1,000 words) stories on here and whatever other little things I might do to try and keep the creativity flowing. I've been neglecting my writing a lot in this new year so far, but I figure this is as good a place as any to stop that.

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The handle turned and the door shoved open, propelled by a force from beyond. One rough, calloused hand gripped the handle, its right-sided mate pushing against the dark wood just above it, so that both of them worked together, trying to keep the door from sliding out any further. But the motion was inexorable, pushing back against both hands and the arms attached to them.

“I can't stop them.” Peter groaned. He tried to dig his shoes into the floor, but their rubber soles could not provide much more traction against the slick surface than they had already given him. "The door-"

“Try and jam it closed!” Marjorie insisted, “I'm almost done!”

Peter strained, from his teeth down to his toes, straining to force the door back into place. It halted, just for a moment, and he glanced over his shoulder at the room behind him for something, anything to help him brace the door.

Marjorie did not turn back to look at him. She was focused, utterly focused on her task. If she failed or got distracted, then all of this, everything that they had done, would be for nothing. Her fingers flew, eyes scanning the computer monitor for the information that they needed.

"Marj!" Peter called, "Hurry up!"

"Just a minute more!" She typed again, sending a different command into the computer and out to the internet beyond. A bead of sweat ran down her face, it trickled into the corner of her eye and she had to blink hard to get it out. She did not dare take her hands off of the keyboard.

Peter felt the door surge again against his hands, and he slid back again even further. Peter gritted his teeth, pushing with all of his might. He could hear shouts from the other side of the door, shouts of triumph at their progress. A thin, pale hand slid through the gap in the doorframe and grabbed for his fingers. He slapped them back, and the hand withdrew, an indignant voice screeching at him from the gap.

"Marj!" He looked over his shoulder again. "This isn't working!"

"It is working!" She insisted, "I just- there!" She shouted in triumph, smashing her hand against the keys. "Got it! I've got it, we're done."

Peter looked from her to the door. He was panting, breath coming in hard gasps. "We're done?"

She turned to him and nodded. With one hand she wiped her brow. With the other, she gripped the top of the monitor, showing him what she had done.

Peter looked, he grinned, and then he laughed. Then he stood up and released the door handle. The door swung open, almost an explosion of violent motion, and three small figures tumbled through, two of them tripping over each other and winding up on the floor. Four others stood together in the hallway outside, watching to see what was going on.

"Too late!" He announced, "We're all done."

The collected little ones all groaned and moaned in an almost perfect chorus of voices.

"I know, I know." Peter started to usher them out of the room. "Maybe next time, all right?"

Marjorie came over to join him, scooping one of the two off of the floor where they had fallen and helping the other to their feet. "You did better this time than you did last week." She encouraged them all, "You almost had us."

"Yeah, sure did. I think I'm going to need to start weight training again just to make sure that you don't win next week."

As the crowd started to disperse through the hallway, Peter leading most of them away in a separate direction while Marjorie followed with a few of the smallest ones, the one she was holding leaned down to whisper in her ear. Its sibilant tones were almost musical in their patterns and gentle rhythm. She smiled and held it a bit closer.

"I know you could have." She said to it in a whisper. "And I'm glad you didn't. Just remember, we do all of this to teach you, right? So try to learn everything you can."

The little one rested its head deep into the space between her head and her shoulder. She could hear the soft whirring and clicking of the workings inside of it, matching up with her own heartbeat as the adrenaline of the moment drained away.

"Did you ever think," She called forward, "That one day this would be our lives? The caretakers of nearly a dozen little ones?"

"Never," Peter answered without turning around to face her, "Not in the last million years. But now that we're here, I don't think that I'd ever want to do anything else."

Marjorie looked down at the little one in her arms. White and perfectly smooth skin, teardrop-shaped face and piercing blue eyes that shone with an inner light, eyes that should never have been more than just diodes in a metal housing. Yet, when they flicked up to meet her eyes, she could see the tenderness of a young, growing intelligence there. Something so raw, so beautiful, it reminded her of the rise of a sun over a distant horizon.

"Maybe next time, instead of the chase, we play a different game." She said. "Something without so many doors between us."

The little one made a pleased sound. And it smiled.

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