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Daily Archives: August 23rd, 2011

Here it is, boys and girls! I’m ahead of schedule with this one, and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. That’s right, it’s time for the August Writing Challenge entry! Thanks to Sonia over at Doing the Write Thing for this month’s challenge prompt. This month, Sonia asked us to write a 500 word short story about doorways. It’s a little bit “Adjustment Bureau” and a little bit “Monsters Inc.”, and was a blast to write. Maybe I’ll tie it in to my May entry, “Fiction or Non?” just for kicks. Anyway, here goes. Bonus points to anyone who knows where the title comes from without googling it. 😀

“A Ball of Light in One’s Hand”

Damien gasped for breath as he ran across the temple’s cool, slick marble floor. He didn’t know where he was, or when, but he knew he was being pursued. He knew why. When he saw the tall woman, he sensed maliciousness, and he had fled through the nearest door. She followed.

Where had this all started? The bookshop, he thought to himself, careening around a corner through a stone door into a dimly lit log cabin. The snow outside the window hinted at a northern climate, far from his home, far from the room he’d just exited. He paused for a moment while the rest of his body caught up to his racing heartbeat before he moved to the nearest door. His raven hair surged behind him as a gust of wind greeted him, and he rushed through the portal into the unknown beyond.

He blinked. Bright desert sun shone down on him, and the smells of the marketplace he’d stepped into surrounded him, overwhelming and discomforting at the same time, for there was something familiar behind the smells. Paper. Paper and ink. Paper and ink and death. The bookseller was near. Damien’s nostrils flared as he tracked the tall woman’s scent.

She’d had the gift first. The book describing the techniques of door travel had been in her possession longer than she even knew, he suspected. There had been others before. Now Damien had learned, and she would pursue him until she killed him, as she killed all who attempted to use the door portals as she did. He’d heard the tales.

He turned and saw her, tall, thin, grey, cold, seeming to grow and blot out the light that surrounded them. Damien held up the book, knowing he had one desperate chance.

“Give me the book, boy, and I’ll kill you quickly.”

“‘The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand,’” he replied, quoting the book, remembering the day he’d first made his way into her bookshop. It had smelled of paper. Paper and ink. Paper and ink and death. Just like the woman who stood before him now. He’d not known the scent of death at the time, but as he had journeyed through the doors, he had learned many things. She had pursued him as soon as she realized he’d taken that book.

He had read it, learned the ways of the doors. They let him go anywhere, anytime, but he could not control it well. Not yet. Now he had little time to make a choice, and the tall woman who smelled of paper and ink and death stood before him. She had learned of his deception and tracked him through every door he’d ever used. Now she was here. Damien’s body tensed. The book began to shine. He opened to a picture of a great oaken door, open, waiting for him, threw it to the ground. Damien leapt, vanishing through the door, the book snapping shut behind him before vanishing as well.