The Locked Door
The door was locked when Mr. Roberts the baker turned up outside the dilapidated building that looked so dirty the local chimney sweep might as well have wiped his brush all over it. He used the key for the new lock which the mayor had entrusted him with and went in.
Mr. Roberts wasted no time. He set to work restoring the bakery and before too long there was a constant stream of customers. One day a woman came in with her four children. The children stared hungrily at the selection of bakery items. The family was extremely thin and had obviously not eaten for days. The mother explained that she had lost her husband to the flu and he had been the main earner. Mr. Roberts hesitated, but then told her that she should pay what she could. Throughout the next months Mr. Roberts offered discounts to many other customers who he considered in need, such as the the homeless man who sat outside the church on Sunday mornings hoping for donations or the pharmacist constantly having to shut his shop to tend to his sick wife despite knowing that his competitor up the road would be rubbing his hands with glee. Everyone was content. Everyone got served and no one in Newtown went hungry.
One day however, one of Mr. Roberts‘ more wealthy customers Mr. Adams turned up red in the face and was visibly angry. „What’s wrong?“ asked Mr. Roberts. „Don’t pretend you don’t know!“ exclaimed Mr. Adams angrily „When the mayor decided to ask a different baker to come to town, I fought your corner and made sure the town got you as the baker. I am your biggest customer and today I heard you are handing out discounts left, right and centre to everyone but me.“ „That’s not true,” retorted Mr. Roberts „I am helping those in need.“ „Rubbish,“ Mr. Adams said dismissively, „and I have a good mind to tell the mayor to close your bakery down.“ He stormed off, slamming the door behind him.
Mr. Roberts knew these were empty threats. Nonetheless he decided to start pleasing the customers who were not in need as well, just to be on the safe side. He reduced the price of his loaves of bread to nine pence. He didn’t tell anyone he was doing this, except his customer Margaret who was getting very forgetful with old age.
The next day Mr. Roberts was woken up by loud voices outside. He went over to his window and saw a mob of agitated customers, half the town in fact. Sending the weakened customers away hungry, especially after the hardships of the Great War and during an outbreak of flu wasn’t an option. He opened the door to the bakery.
All hell broke loose. People swarmed into the bakery, getting angrier by the minute as they could not all be served at once. Mr. Roberts carried on serving the customers. He was concerned by the sick customers he usually served at home who feared there wouldn’t be any bread left and were coughing over the counter as they placed their orders. At the end of the day Mr. Roberts noticed that the box where he kept all the money was missing. He searched frantically, turning everything upside down, but couldn’t find it. He retired to bed.
The next day the baker woke up feeling weak. Coughing and spluttering he made his way through the dirty streets to the pharmacist. He had always helped the pharmacist and his sick wife by giving them discounts. The pharmacist would give him the medicine he needed even though he had no money. He explained the situation to the pharmacist. The pharmacist looked up unsympathetically and said, „So you want medicine? What’s in it for me?“. Mr. Roberts couldn’t believe his ears. After all he had done to help him, this was how the pharmacist had chosen to repay him. Instead of saying something he angrily made his way back to the bakery, locked the front door from inside and went to bed.
The next morning an angry mob of customers stood outside the locked door of the bakery hoping to be served and wondering why Mr. Roberts hadn’t been there the day before. Mr. Roberts however didn’t emerge to open up. After talking to the pharmacist the mayor concluded that the town’s baker must have died as he had had the flu. The mayor sent for the locksmith to open the locked door to the bakery, the doctor to write the death certificate and the undertaker to organise the funeral. However none of these people ever turned up. They knew the mayor couldn’t afford to pay them and after all: what was in it for them?
by Reuben Potts
The jury comments:
- What a dark vision of the future! It highlights how egoism and a lack of compassion can destroy a society. I was really hoping for a more pleasing outcome for the protagonist. Bat that’s (probably) life.
- A very well-written, bitter story which makes the reader think about the question whether the door to an anti-capitalist system is indeed locked, as suggested by the story.
- „The locked door“ is to me a story with great potential! You reveal the moral dilemma beneficial people have to undergo in existentially difficult situations. This story is an impressive example for that, very cleverly written!
The locked door
Look there’s another door!“ said Sehun. He moved over to the steel door and tried to open it :“It’s locked!“ he soberly said.
Sehun was one of five contestants in a korean gameshow called „Murderer“. Sehun was a young handsome looking guy. He also could sing very well and was a member of the most popular kpop-group.
There even was Kyusung. He was the eldest of all participants. Kyusung was a comedian and well known for his dark humor.
„What’s with all these thick trunks!?“ Kyusung wondered.“They look like a big wheel.“ Mina excitedly showed with her finger on the floor:“ There are bowls!“
She was the youngest in the group and was a trainee in one of the biggest entertainment- companies in Korea. She wanted to be as popular as Sehun was at the time.
„The key!“ Ahri happily shouted. „But how can we get it?“ she asked
Ahri was a little bit older than Mina but different to Mina she was a really famous actress in Korea at her age.
Jessi noticed an aquarium tank. „Urgh! The water looks dirty!“ said Jessi disgusted.
Jessi was a Korean who raised in America and didn’t care what others think about the plastic surgery which she got. Jessi was as old as Sehun.
The contestants were called detectives because they hunted the murderer of the host of the show who was shot in front of their eyes. They couldn’t see the incident because the murderer turned off the lights and shot the host.
The room was normal sized. The door to the next room was opposite the door where they entered the room.
The trunks were in the middle of the room. They were arranged on top of each other and they were so long that the contestants barely had enough space to move around them. Some of the trunks were near to the ground but between the low trunks were other trunks which were higher.
At first nobody saw the bowls when they entered the room because the floor was fully covered with fog almost up to the participants knees. Mina picked up one of the bowls. She noticed a rubberband which kept the bowl together with the ground. There were five metal bowls and they were under the trunks.
The key was in a transparent pipe which was next to the wheel of trunks. Ahri tried to reach the key with her hand but she couldn’t get it because there wasen’t enough water in the pipe.
Ahri examined the pipe and the fully watered tank. „I think we have to fill the pipe with water from the tank.“ Ahri thought out loud. „That’s a good idea.“ Jessi was immediately excited. “ How do we do it?“. Mina exclaimed:“The bowls! We have to fill the bowls with water from the tank and move the water to the pipe. Then we get the key!“
Everybody went to the bowls and took one and started Mina who was the nearest to the water tank filled her bowl. It wasn’t easy because the rubberband was almost too short. She filled Kyusungs bowl with water. And he gave the water to Jessi. Then Ahri and after her was the last one Sehun. During that filling they spilled a lot of water. It wasn’t easy for them because of the rubberbands and the trunks.
After one minute the trunks suddenly began to move in circle. Mina almost got hit by one of them but instinctly layed down on the floor. All others noticed in time that the trunks began to move and went out of the moving-zone. Sehun shouted to Mina:“ Stay where you are! I
save you!“ Both Mina and Sehun were laughing hardly. When Mina sat up the next trunk came and almost hit her. A few seconds later Sehun took her hand and she fastly got out. The others tried to move on but couldn’t do anything.
The trunks immediatly stopped moving after one minute. „It stopped! Let’s move on!“ Ahri said. Jessi and the others urgently took the bowls and moved on.
15 minutes later all of them were breathing heavily. The trunks were standing still. Sehun filled one bowl with sand which was on the floor. He tried to reach the pipe. Then out of nowhere the rubberband teared off and snapped almost to his face. „It’s off! It’s damaged!“ Sehun joyfully said. The others were also happy and helped him to fill the pipe. Ahri reached the key and opened the door. They rushed through the door.
That wasn’t the end of the gameshow but it’s the end of this story.
If you ask who the murderer was. He was among themselves all the time.
by Stefanie Zimmer
The jury comments:
- A wonderfully described escape room situation – vivid and rich in detail. It allows the reader some peaks into motives and characters of the protagonists. I especially enjoyed the solidarity of the contestants instead of them being competitors.The cliffhanger in the last sentence really worked: Please write a sequel!
- A very imaginative story that proves that you cannot only write English stories but might also create game shows. The two storylines double the reader‘s suspense and the last comment forces the reader to reread the story – well done!
- Your story is very popular nowadays, especially after the success of „Squid Game“ which I am strongly reminded of, but you manage to describe both the situation and the characters quite well and leave an impression of the suspense behind while reading! So well done!
The Locked Door
I don’t know whether you believe me this story or not. Nevertheless, it’s a win-win to tell you. I get it off my chest and you have entertainment.
I actually don’t know where to start. Don’t mind my writing by the way, my hands are starting to shake as soon as I even think about it. You might think it’s cliché. And I can’t judge your for doing
so. I would have thought the same if someone else had told me that and tried to convince me it was true. You probably know the usual fear of the basement or the attic? At least the basement should be pretty common. And now you know why I said you could think it’s cliché.Right, you’re right. I should cut to the case.
It was not long ago that I visited my parents in their house again. It’s not far from the city. Quite peaceful and quiet, compared to the noisy and rushing city. I really loved going there just to take a break from time to time. I guess it’s also because I grew up there and have more or less good memories in that house. Everywhere except the basement. I never wanted to go down there, the door alone almost scared me to death. I always, even as a child, made sure the door was closed.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t lock it because the key…. I don’t remember that we ever had one for the cellar door. But I was already relieved when I closed it. At least it wasn’t open. It didn’t give a view of the stairs that led into the darkness.You probably think that what happened to me was because I was afraid of the cellar before, don’t you? … You’re wrong. So so wrong. … But who am I to tell you that? For the record, I was never
afraid of horror stories or anything like that. Because to me, that’s exactly what they were. Stories. I was wrong. And naive. Just like you right now. We don’t even have the slightest idea of what is lurking in the world. None. What I experienced… it probably was only a minimal part.…
I was alone that day. At my parents‘ house, I mean. They went shopping, I think, or to their friends. Either way, I didn’t feel like tagging along. I felt younger, like I was in my teens again. The parents are gone and you can do anything you want. Maybe you remember that feeling. You do, don’t you?
You’re not too… I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply anything. The door was open once again. I really don’t know how it always opened. Especially, in that moment. You have to know, I closed it before my parents left. And yet, it was open again. It made me uncomfortable and insecure.
Did I close it? Well, maybe I didn’t. I quickly told myself that, just to avoid any thought of something else. At that time the cellar made me uncomfortable, yes, but didn’t scare me as much as in my childhood. So, I just closed it. As I turned around it opened again. Slowly. I sighed. Probably the door was broken. As I saw the black cat of my parents, my former pet, run down. I couldn’t just close it now. I stepped closer to the door. “Milo!” I said in a not really yelling kind of way. As if I was scared to wake something else. “Milo, come back up here!” I almost hissed it. Milo didn’t react. I had no other choice than go inside and get him. That’s what I did. As I walked down the stairs I again called him. Suddenly, the door closed shut. I shrugged together. It was that moment, I noticed that I never had a cat. I always wanted one but never got one. I felt fear creeping in my body and quickly ran up the stairs to the door. It was locked. I don’t know how. I was alone. Yet, I
wasn’t. Not in the basement. The only light I had was coming through the little window, that was slightly blocked. Other than that, there was only darkness. And something moved. I held my breath. Light got blocked and it was only darkness. That wasn’t just my fear. Out of a sudden I was pulled down. I hurt my shoulder and a lot more. But I couldn’t focus. The darkness surrounded me and came closer. Pressing me together like a lemon you want the juice from. Breath. Just breath. Panic. I
couldn’t breath. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t see. Just the darkness that trapped me. Make of my story what you want. Believe me or not. I’m just done with it.
by Kimberly Sommer
The jury comments:
- I was reminded of E.A. Poe. The setting is convincing, so is the style that clearly conveys the panic of the narrator.
However, since it is told from a distance, I’d have hoped for some more explanation – Why do they get confused about having a cat? How do they get out of the basement? So many questions remain unanswered.
- A creepy story with an open ending that engages the readers and allows them to share the narrator‘s nightmarish experience!
- Your story plays with typical elements of mystery and gothic and your intensive use of an I-narrator who starts an inner dialogue with the reader is quite a good way to create atmosphere and to identify with the narrator. By the overuse of the mentioned devices, it may also work as a kind of humourous text based on irony. Nonetheless, a good read