This is a short story I wrote in 2011 that was first published in “Report,” an ezine. I polished it a little, but the story remains the same. I always intended to expand on it and never did. I hope you like it.
The rapping at the closet door started just after midnight, as it always did. Who – no, not who – what could it be, inside the closet?
Erika had been repeating the steps of jumping out of bed, grabbing a crayon from the nightstand, and running to the door to redraw the strange symbols around the door’s frame before they faded entirely. Then, quietly running back to the bed, pulling the covers up to eyes, and watching the door with fear. She did this every seven minutes, and each time, she was careful not to disturb the intricate design she had laid out so carefully on the wooden floor. It was made of lines of carefully poured, pure white sand, and she knew that stepping on it or severing one of the lines might unseal the lock.
Rap, rap, rap.
Not like someone beating on the door and not even a full, adult knock. It was just the whisper of a knock, barely audible but still there, then a pause of maybe twenty seconds, then coming again. Patient. Determined. Firm.
The magical cryptograms on the floor and door frame were the only things that kept – whatever – from entering her room.
Six minutes more passed of this, and she needed to decide on a new crayon color to use next. The Aquamarine worked well, but now just a nub. She could use Salmon or Bittersweet Orange, but she was afraid. She had never used colors in the red spectrum to lock the door, and they might not be effective.
Pulling a light blue one from the box of 64 colors, she read the name written on the side: Blizzard Blue – it was close to Aquamarine, but lighter and lighter colors seemed to work best. The Robin Egg Blue was great, sealing the door over eleven minutes at a time, but she had used it up the other night. Sky Blue was another good one, almost nine minutes for it. It might have lasted longer, but Erika was afraid to test it. When the seals started to fade, she couldn’t let them disappear entirely, or the lock would fail. The lock on the floor was the last defense, and she would have to stand in the center of it to be protected.
She got out of bed after seven minutes, tip-toed over the sand pattern on the floor, and began retracing the symbols on the door frame again. It was 6:53 AM, according to her clock, and sunrise was just minutes away. Then, she could sleep.
The Rapture had taken Mommy and Daddy, and she was alone. Now, the demons prowled the night hours, and it wasn’t safe after dusk. Her closet was the only entrance to this hemisphere, but she didn’t know that. She only knew she was keeping something inside from getting out, and in the daytime, there was nothing to worry about. She could open her closet and even play in it if she wanted.
She had already decided she would use violet next, that upcoming night, and see how that works. After the sun was up and she slept, she played with Barbies and went out to swing. She collected the manna that fell from the sky, and while it was bland, she could dip it in honey or pour sugar on it, and it tasted better. When the sun started to set, she took her bath and dressed for bed, violet crayon clutched tightly in her hand.
Erika’s father had read the bible to her before he was taken up. She knew the story of Job in the bible and how God allowed him to be tested by the Devil so that Job may demonstrate his faith. He also read to her of Lot and his family in Sodom and Gomorra. If only one faithful person was present, the destitute cities might be spared.
At only nine years old and still fancying Barbies, she didn’t know how she knew to make the lock or that she was The Guardian of Mankind still on earth. She did not know this was her test. Wherever she moved, whatever room she was in; that was where the portal would be, and she must guard it, or all of mankind would be forsaken. This was her tribulation; this was her cross to bear. She didn’t understand, but she had yet to curse God, so the rapping at the door would continue again tonight.
© 2011, 2021 Mitch Lavender