The Door in the Woods
Fred took in a deep breath of fresh air and looked off the cliff at the large hill he had ascended to reach this point. He enjoyed hiking, as was glad spring was finally peaking its head out.
He took off his pack and pulled out his lunch.
‘Wow, what a great view to have lunch to,’ he thought, wearing a broad smile.
Once he finished, he began his trek back down the wooded hill to where his car was parked.
When he was about halfway down the long hill, a strange sight caught his attention in his peripheral.
He let go of his walking stick, but quickly grabbed it again as he stood there paralyzed with astonishment.
To his side stood a door, unattached from any structure.
Fred quickly looked around, hoping to see another person who could reassure him that there was, in fact, a door standing upright in the woods, attached to nothing.
Unfortunately, he as alone, so he as forced to examine the door himself, and hope that he wasn’t losing his mind.
He started with a wide circle around it, expecting to find some kind of camouflage, but there wasn’t any. There was just the door, standing upright by itself.
Once he felt a little more acclimated, he closed his distance to it, cautiously searching the ground in front of him for any booby traps.
He wasn’t by any means a trapper, or a survivalist, but he was an intelligent, cautious man.
The wood felt real when he was finally within reach to touch it. Now that he had confirmed its existence and that he was not hallucinating, he quickly began to examine it.
To his surprise, the door was not mounted in the ground. There was no visible reason why it didn’t fall over when he pushed on it.
‘It must be mounted with spikes underneath,’ he thought, though it looked like it hovered above the ground, instead of resting on it.
Another oddity of the door was that the door knob was on the left side of the door, regardless of which side he stood on. He was able to reason that they weren’t functional, but were partially mounted to look like they were working door knobs.
He turned one of them and slowly pushed the door open away from him, as it only seemed to open one way. His legs almost gave out from underneath at the sight that awaited him when he opened the door.
Through the door was the woods as expected behind it, with one major difference. It was night.
He quickly looked behind the door to verify that it was still day around the door, and being satisfied, looked back through the door at the nightly reflection.
He closed the door and walked to the other side. Once again, he opened the door, which only opened away from him, and was greeted by the same view of the woods behind the door, but in the darkness of night.
‘Now don’t be crazy. Go get the authorities, and let them deal with it’, he thought, but something inside him told him the door would not be there when he returned.
Though cautious, he was a curious man, so he decided to venture through the door and take a peak.
Fred stuck his head through first to check what he could see from the door. He scanned the area, but saw nothing that seemed overly threatening.
With no immediate threat in sight, he slowly stepped through, turning to make sure the door was still there.
He let out a sigh of relief when he saw that it was.
He laid his pack down by the door. He wanted to have it in case of an emergency, but didn’t want to carry it with him. He also knew that if he had to make a quick getaway, he could easily grab the pack as he ran back through the door.
Fred felt a little off balance stepping from day to night. Looking back through the door where it was sunny didn’t help.
He walked in an ever-growing circle around the door until he felt sure enough to start investigating the area.
Except for it now being night, he didn’t see anything different on this side of the door.
He knew that it must be getting dark on the other side of the door he had come from, so he walked back to see.
He saw that it was indeed growing darker on the other side of the door, and instinctively he looked up to the sky where he was at expecting it to start giving away to its own morning, but instead it stayed dark, until it matched the darkness of night on other side of the door.
Fred was no botanist, but he was sure that plants needed sunlight to thrive, but minus the sun, the plants and trees on this side of the door seemed to mirror the ones on the other side.
Slightly confused, he decided to continue his investigation, when he heard a rustle.
He took cover by a tree, trying to locate where the sound had come from. It seemed to be coming from all around him, so he kept glancing at all directions, determined not to let anything sneak up on him.
All of a sudden, the tree he had been pressed against moved. It looked like it was trying to turn around to see who was touching it.
Fred stepped backwards slowly, when he tripped on a branch and fell backward. He lost his footing, and soon found himself rolling uncontrollably down a hill.
His roll ended with a splash, as he rolled into a shallow creek.
A part of him wanted to stay partially unconscious, but the survival instinct within him jolted him awake, and he quickly looked around expecting to see a tree standing over him.
Instead, he found himself alone, or so he thought until her heard a rustle coming from within the tree line.
He wrongly assumed it was the trees, and the proof came in the form of a child like being with pointy ears.
Fred stood frozen as the elfin creature approached him.
They stood there studying each other, when another, louder noise broke both their stares.
The elf began to quickly walk away, clearly frightened by the sound, but stopped and turned towards Fred.
It looked back and forth between where the sound had come from, and where Fred was still standing in the shallow creek. It was clearly deciding if it should help Fred or not.
Deciding to help, it motioned Fred to follow, which when the loud sound came again, he quickly began following the elf.
The elf lead Fred to a hole under a fallen log, and there, they shared a small confined space. He was able to see more details of the elf.
It was actually a she, and though she had the appearance of a child, certain minute details led him to believe that she was much older.
She glanced at him and seeing him staring at her, gestured for him to look out and see what was coming.
From the tree line emerged a tiger, the size of a giant boulder.
It walked past them, stopping only to sniff where Fred had landed in the creek, looked around, and then continued walking away.
Once the elfin girl was sure the giant tiger was far enough away, she squirmed out their hole, and began running back into the forest.
Fred was torn between going back to the door, and following her. He was afraid of being trapped in this alternate version of the woods, but he was also a very curious person, and he feared even more that he would not be able to return to this place once he had left.
He quickly made up his mind and ran after her.
While they ran through the woods, he noticed more of the trees moving on their own, and the ones that were facing him, had faces. Their looks seemed more of curiosity, than threatening.
After what felt like an hour of quickly walking through the woods, the elfin girl, dropped out of sight over a berm. Fred quickly followed her, but losing his footing, once again found himself falling down a steep ravine and having the air knocked out of him.
When he opened his eyes, he found himself surrounded by more elves looking down at him with curious eyes.
When he sat up, they all backed up, and then some of them began talking to each other. He didn’t recognize the language.
“Uh, hi,” he said.
When he spoke, they all went quiet, and then suddenly started laughing. Their laugh was infectious, and he began laughing to.
Before they could fully enjoy the moment, another little elf ran into the room and began creating a commotion.
A group conversed back and forth, and then they rushed outside a passageway.
Fred was unsure what to do next, when he felt something touch his hand. He looked and saw that the elfin girl who had led him there had taken his hand in hers and was looking at him with a pleading look.
He may not have been able to understand their language, but he knew when someone needed his help, so he gave her a reassuring smile, which was returned, and she lead him after the others.
When they arrived above ground, where the others had gone, he found himself facing a small group of dwarfs, who stood in taller than the elves, but shorter than Fred.
When Fred appeared, all the dwarfs stopped what they were doing and stared at him. The lead elf, turned to see what had their attention, smiled, and then turned back to the dwarfs.
He began telling them something Fred couldn’t understand. The dwarfs kept switching gazes from the elves to Fred, and then back again.
They seemed to be weighing their options. He got the impression that the dwarves where used to getting their way, but didn’t seem to know what to do with somebody taller than them.
Reluctantly, the lead dwarf gave out a grunt, and then he and his men slowly began to walk away.
Once they were out of sight, the elves began to jump up and down, celebrating. Fred looked down at the Elvin girl to see her smiling back up at him.
They led Fred back into the underground lair, where they continued their celebration by presenting Fred with a magnificent feast, apparently in his honor.
Though he had no idea what they were saying, he enjoyed watching them talk to each other, and from time to time, one of them would make eye contact with him and raise their glass, which he always returned.
Outside, came a loud sound of a horn being blown. All the elves looked at Fred, and seeing the elfin girl grab his hand and try to pull him away, they all began to argue.
Fred thought that the dwarfs had come back, and they wanted him to face them again, but if that was the case, Fred didn’t understand why they would be trying to keep her from leading him outside.
The elfin girl argued with the others, and seemed to convince them. Seeing them settle down, she turned back and once again grabbed Fred’s hand. She began to pull him with desperate strength.
Fred didn’t understand what was going on, but he had come to trust the elfin girl, and allowed her to lead him away.
She half dragged him out of their lair, and back through the woods from where he had originally come from. As they picked up the pace, Fred began to realize that she was taking him back to the door. He also surmised that because she was in such a hurry, that the horn being blown must have something to do with it.
They arrived at the door, and he began to panic when he saw that the door was becoming translucent. He was about to run through the door when the elfin girl held him back.
He looked at her to see what was wrong and saw that she was trying to give him something.
She opened her hand to reveal a glowing key. Seeing that he saw it, she nudged her head toward the door to inform him know what it was for.
She dropped the key in his hand, gave him a sad look of loss, and then ran back the way they had come.
The horn blowing again broke his trance, and grabbing his backpack as he went, he ran through the door.
Once he was safe on the other side, he turned to see that the door was almost completely invisible.
Through the door came a distant sound of the horn blowing a third time, and with that, the door disappeared.
He looked down at the key and saw it glowing. When the door was completely gone, the glow faded and it appeared an old, but normal key.
‘This key must be used to open the door again,’ Fred thought.
Every weekend, Fred returned to where the door had been, but found the place empty.
A year passed, and he was losing hope when he arrived once again to where he had first found the door, but found it still gone.
He was about to walk away when saw a light coming from his hand. The key was starting to glow. He looked up and saw the door reappear.
As before, he didn’t need a key to open it.
On the other side, in the darkness, stood a group of elves waiting for him, each holding a gift to give to their lost friend.
“Hello, my friends,” he said as he walked through the door in the woods once more.