I had plans for writing something new and specific here these past couple of weeks, but . . . then I spent some time hardcore preparing for a joint garage sale with some friends, then working the garage sale, and that didn’t happen. Yet.
Instead, have another story written for a flashfiction challenge (again, one of Chuck Wendig‘s), this one completed in early April of 2013. The challenge was The Secret Door (using this fun little door).
Summary: Caden discovers a new door in his master’s house.
Caden paused at the sight of the door.
It was thick, bound with three different kinds of metal, and had a very large magical warning sign posted on it.
What magic had his master been working last night in order to create this?
Caden heard some unidentifiable sorcerous chanting at the witching hour, but hadn’t dared to come out and see.
. . .Michel wasn’t around now, though.
Caden carefully put a hand to the door, and when it didn’t explode, shriek, cause his master to appear, or trap him in a magical cage, he let out a sigh of relief.
Then he pushed it open. There was . . . nothing?
Caden leaned forwards, poking his nose through the space, shaking a little, expecting at any moment to feel magical repercussions-
Caden shrieked as the yawning nothing snatched him up and tossed him around, instantly tearing his feet from the floor of his master’s home. There was a sickening swirl of colour and sensation and sound and then-
“Ouch.” Caden said faintly, taking in the full-body throb of being slammed into whatever it was beneath him. It took him a little while to drag his wits together and get to his feet.
He was still dizzy and a little sick when he managed it, but looking around him . . . did not help in the slightest.
Not only was he somewhere entirely alien, but there was no longer a door anywhere near him – it must have been a portal, his master had been talking of creating a portal, how had he forgotten that?
Caden whimpered quietly, taking in the grey-brown expanse, dotted with jagged rocks and spiky grey-green plants, which stretched out around him to the walls of this new world. It was. . .
Caden was trapped, very well indeed – he could see, if only distantly, every edge of his new environment, natural walls that met the odd sky above.
At least there was a sky above, but it was a dull grey-blue colour, and Caden couldn’t help but wonder what sort of dangerous magical creature would soon fly across it.
He whimpered again, but drew a deep breath and pulled for what little magic he had that could be called upon with no rituals.
It didn’t come.
Caden collapsed to the ground in a heap, trying again, then again. Eventually he had to give up, crying a little and falling to his back in the dirt. A spiky plant tangled with his shaggy hair, and he couldn’t quite gather the energy to care.
He opened his eyes again and saw- The portal!
In the next instant, Caden’s hopes were dashed. It was raised from the ground at least three or four times his own height, and without magic there was no way he could endeavour to reach it.
On the other hand. . .
“Michel! Master! Help!” Caden screamed. He was rather exposed here in the near-centre of this plane’s expanse anyway, and hopefully his master would hear, even . . . even if Michel was nowhere near the portal. “Master!”
His own voice echoed back to him, sounding not only unlike him – unlike anything human, now – but thin and easily dismissed. Caden ignored it and shouted repeatedly, though his cries went unanswered for a long time.
There was no sun above to judge the passing of time, even if Caden knew how, but his voice was steadily weakening, and his throat ached with dryness, as did his eyes.
“Please! Michel!” Caden cried, even so, desperate.
“Why do you never heed warnings?” Michel’s usually-rich voice was scratchy and strange, and echoed even more strangely through the portal, but Caden didn’t care. He nearly sobbed with relief as he saw his master’s power snaking through the portal above.
“Do stop that racket, it already feels like someone’s drilling inside my head.” Michel scolded, just as electric blue light wrapped around Caden.
He twitched but tried his best to be still and give no resistance to the magic, which curled about him and lifted him away, in a whirl.
Caden squinched his eyes closed and tried not to be sick, and didn’t see himself reach the portal, or, indeed, anything else, for long minutes.
When he opened his eyes, he saw Michel. At least, he assumed it was Michel. What he actually saw was ratty denims over slender legs, and long feet clad in fluffy blue socks.
He looked up, and noticed his master looked a little ashen. Or green. Or both, really.
Using the portal must be quite the power drain. Caden felt guilty. “Thank you, master! I’m sorry!”
“For disobeying the keep-away, or for being unable to get back through?” Michel asked crabbily. “And please let go. . .” he added.
Caden released Michel’s legs self-consciously. “Sorry. Where was I? Why did you create a portal to that plane? Why couldn’t I use magic there? How did you do it, and so quickly?” he babbled, frightened and fascinated.
He looked back at the door briefly and shuddered.
When he looked back at Michel, his master appeared . . . slightly confused.
“That plane? . . .Caden, you were in Arizona. . .” Michel said slowly. “I was practising opening a magical door, and . . . well, it wasn’t supposed to be so high off the ground, I didn’t account for the crater’s depth properly. . .” he said, with an embarrassed shrug.
“What?” Caden said blankly, shocked.
“It isn’t wise to play with inter-dimensional magics without a grounding in the sole-planar equivalents. Arizona’s Meteor Crater is fairly remote; I chose to open a door there. . .” Michel said slowly, rubbing his brow. “If you couldn’t use magic likely it was your own stress. Use the calming techniques I’ve taught you next time.”
Caden gaped. “No, no, wait! There- There won’t be a next time, I swear!” he cried, his master already walking – slowly and carefully – away.
“Yes there will.” Michel said over his shoulder, absently, from the door to his room. “If you wake me up again before lunch I will not be happy. I have a horrible hangover. Just . . . do your rote-work for now.”
My location from the ‘Secret Door’ was, of course, Meteor Crater, Arizona. I only barely slid this in under the wordcount limit (1,000 words), but this silly little story and silly little apprentice were quite fun to write.
Like the other results of my playing with the Terrible Minds flashfiction challenges, New Door was originally posted on my account at AO3, here.