Story Contest 2018 #1 - Outstanding Stories (Sub-junior) » George and the Door
“George and the Door” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Everett Wong, USA.
George and the Door
George Clyline skipped across the paper-white sand. The sand was stiff from all of the water it had absorbed. It was only 6:04 in the morning, but five-year-old George couldn’t tell time. All he knew was that he wanted to move. His older sister, Elizabeth, often convinced George that if he waited long enough, a sea turtle would wash up before his feet. She told him this so that he would stop begging to play with her. He believed her, because he didn’t know what a lie was yet. The sea turtle was what he was looking for.
Something wet and ice-cold wrapped around George’s thighs. He screamed. His screams became louder when he realized that it was a wave. It was sucking him further and further into the open sea with the speed of a cheetah! It might have been the other wave that was coming in that saved his life, but first it toppled over him.
This had happened once before, but that time, he had his dad’s firm hand which pulled him back. Now he had none. He should have trusted his parents’ words which told him not to go to the beach. His mouth was still open from screaming, and it felt like he swallowed a tiny rock that seemed to grow bigger in his stomach as he realized that he might never see home again. George did not realize that the wave was bringing him onto shore, and before he knew it, he was being thrown upon the hardest thing he had ever touched.
George yelped in pain but managed to grab onto an edge of the thing before the wave pulled him into the ocean. The thing was huge! Then he realized it was a door. It was really a huge door! It was taller than an elephant! It was taller than two elephants stacked up! It might’ve been as tall as three elephants, but George did not know.
It was a marble door that looked hundreds of years old. George stared at the marble door, and the door seemed to stare back through two keyholes positioned in the middle of the door, next to each other. It was an old door for sure. Most of the color had washed away, and the handle was rusty and had quite a bit of algae on it. Oddly enough, the door itself did not have any algae on it.
His eyes wandered to the keyholes. There were two of them, but they looked the same to him. He had to squint to see what they were, and even then, he wasn’t sure that they were what he thought they were.
George did not understand that opening the door might, and probably would, be dangerous. All he knew was, because the door was old, there might be something old, like a dinosaur, behind it. George’s mom had never told George that some dinosaurs eat meat because she was worried it would scare him. Partly because of this, George had wanted to see a live dinosaur since he was 15 months old, and now he felt like he finally had his chance.
He glanced at the horizon. The sun was rising! He had to hurry if he didn’t want his mom to find out that he was out of the house. His mom usually woke up early.
Looking around for the key, he spotted a tide pool about five feet away from him. There was something shiny in it! Maybe it was the keys! Running to see what it was, he tripped over a medium smooth rock. The rock slid away from him. He got up and turned around to look for the shiny thing, but a cluster of black things in the water caught his eyes. A huge cluster of waterbeetles were zooming out of a hole the rock had under it when it had slid away from him. The last beetle zoomed out of the hole, REVEALING THREE KEYS!!!
George knew instantly that these keys would not fit the mysterious marble door. First, there were three keys, not two. One was blue, another was green, and the last one was yellow. Second, the keys looked very new, and they were made out of plastic -- not metal, stone, or wood.
George’s head dropped further and further down as his heart sank and split into a million pieces. So he couldn’t go in the door after all. He was running out of time before his mom would wake up. He wanted to go in the door because he wanted to see what was in it. He slowly trudged back to the house. He was going to bury the keys in the sand near his door so that maybe later he could find what they really belonged to. Then he would know just where they were. But first, he was going to say goodbye to the mystery door.
He dragged his feet in the cool sand as he walked toward the door. When George reached the old marble door, he said, “Goodbye, top of the door.” Scanning the faded marble, he said, “Goodbye, middle of the door.” He sighed, staring into the rusty keyholes. “Goodb--” he started to say, but he stopped suddenly. There, at the bottom of the door, were three colorful keyholes: one blue, one green, and one yellow!! He blinked. Was what he saw real?
Yes, it was. He inserted the blue key and turned it upside-down. The key clicked and vanished. Then he put in the green key, and the same thing happened. Then the yellow key, and that one clicked and vanished as well. The door started to creak open.
Then, like a button had been pushed, the door flung open suddenly and quickly. Next, inch by inch, the door began to close. In desperation, he ran...in the wrong direction! Through the door! The gap between the door and the wall was now too narrow to run through, and George looked desperately around.
He realized that there was a concrete wall with two huge archways. Each arch had a huge door inside of it. One of them was flung open and was the same colors as the keys: light blue, shamrock green, and golden yellow. The other huge arch was a rusty silver-ish, gold-ish bronze-ish. It was locked, although there was no keyhole. It just wouldn’t open when he pounded on the old rusty metal. He wandered through the open arch.
A burst of light was 10 times brighter than the LED flashlight shined in front of him. For some reason, he was unable to close his eyes. The light vanished as suddenly as it had come, and the comfortable amount of light still shining was enough for him to clearly see three plastic airplanes, each about a yard wide and four feet long. The first one said Antarctica on its wing. The other two said El Salvador and Arizona. He shivered at the thought of going to Antarctica, but something made him want to try. Carefully, he put one leg inside the airplane, and then he heard a loud “eeeeeeeek!”
George fell out of the plane. It stayed stationary on the ground, but George was so surprised and nervous that he fell out. In disbelief, he heard a puff-puff of feathers and vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrppppppp. What that was, he didn’t know.
“NO ONE MAKES ME DO ANYTHING!” the something screeched.
Suddenly George became bold. “SHOW YOURSELF!” George yelled.
A baby penguin waddled boldly out of the airplane. George stood still as a statue in disbelief.
“A...a...talking...penguin...?” George stuttered.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Get me home!!”
“You know, fly me to Antarctica!” The penguin said. “Can’t find the key, can’t reach the keyhole, sittin’ here for three nights. No food, no water, almost boiled to death!”
“What’s your name?”
He eyed George cautiously. “Jeötia” he said, reluctantly.
“Nice name!” George explained.
“Look, yer not here to give me useless compliments. You’re here to get me home!”
“Oh, okay. How do you fly the plane?”
“For Pete’s sake, jab the key in the keyhole, and you’ll be at Snowclump in 10 minutes!”
“Snowclump’s your town?”
“NOOOO! SNOWCLUMP’S THE DOOR!”
George figured that the penguin could stand one more question before blowing up, so he asked, “Do you need to steer the plane, or does it just take you there?”
“DUH, YOU NEED TO STEER IT, BUT THAT’S EASY CUZ IT GOES 0.03 MILES PER HOUR AT LEAST AND 0.10 MILES PER HOUR AT MOST!”
He’d figure out the key situation later, so he stepped into the plastic airplane. The keyhole turned into a screen that looked like this:
What color were the keys you found? Blue, green, and yellow
How many were there? Three
Where were they? Under a rock in a tide pool
Thank you, Spring
The screen vanished, replaced by a keyhole. But this time, the blue key was poised in mid-air in front of the keyhole. It went closer and closer to the keyhole, then disappeared with a loud clunk! replaced by a swirling mist of light blue.
Then, the plane rose up into the air, and a burst of light 10 times brighter than the first one surrounded the room, reflecting off of the white plastic, making it almost unbearable. Again, he was unable to close his eyes. Then suddenly, all of the light disappeared. They were in complete darkness.
“Humph.” The penguin heaved. “We need to fill out the test again.”
“What test?” George questioned.
“THE TEST THAT WE FILLED OUT ABOUT THE KEYS!”
George filled out the test on the screen again, and they found their plane was now in a dimly lit concrete tunnel. There were no lights, as if the tunnel made the light itself. The tunnel was dome-shaped and very old. There were places where concrete had been deeply chipped off, only to be faced with more concrete.
Steering the plane by controlling a dial (up, down, left, right) was extremely easy, just as the penguin had said. The airplane started to fly through the concrete tunnel.
When the penguin seemed bored, George asked, “What is this place?”
“Oh, you know, the tunnel to Antarctica,” the penguin replied casually.
Not understanding but wanting to be polite, he answered with a short, “Oh, okay.”
Noticing he was veering to the left, he moved the control to the right. The plane seemed to be going higher and higher by itself. George tried to move the control down, but the plane ignored his command. It just went higher and higher, further and further away from the ground. The ceiling was slanting, getting higher. Before long, the plane was so high, he could hardly see the ground.
“Er, what’s happening?” he asked the penguin timidly.
“Oh, don’t you know anything?” the penguin said irritably.
George didn’t want to pester the penguin even more, so he told himself he would find out. A thin layer of frost was starting to come into sight in front of the plane. When the plane was halfway over it, the concrete tunnel disappeared. They were gliding in midair with no tunnel surrounding them. The layers of frost grew thicker around the mas the frost eased into snow. Big, fat flakes were falling all around. One minute later, there was 12 feet of the crisp white cloth around them. A small patch of glassy, untouched ice came into view.
“LAND ON IT!!” the penguin shrieked.
“That doesn’t look safe,” said George.
“JUST DO IT!!” the penguin screeched.
With all his might, George pushed the dial down. The plane gathered speed as it went down. George closed his eyes for the crash...
George suddenly found himself suspended a few feet above the ice. He and the penguin started falling slowly, with all parts of the plane were level. The plane glided down slowly and buried its wheels in the ice.
The penguin toddled out of the plane.
“Have I done my job?” George asked slowly.
The penguin looked at him as if he had said “strawberry gut.”
“No!” he said sharply.
George's eyes grew as large as saucers in concern.
“What now?” he asked.
The penguin rolled his sharp eyes at George. “Come on,” he said irritably.
George followed the penguin as he waddled. The snow was soft, like a blanket. His feet made deep footprints, but the penguin’s feet didn’t make any footprints. The snow couldn’t have been whiter. It was like the snow from his front yard in the winter except whiter. And it seemed to have some enchanted gleam to it. There wasn’t a single pine needle or leaf in it. George was dazzled by how white it was.
Before long, he came to a large clump of snow. It had a keyhole carved in it, but when he looked through it, he saw only more white snow.
“Where is the key?” George asked the penguin.
The penguin stabbed George with his beak.
“Ow!” George yelled.
“Look at the top, for Pete’s sake!” the penguin screeched.
There, spinning on top of the clump of snow, was a glistening light blue key. The penguin lifted up his wing and demanded, “Yochapegaloichia.”
A clear ice ball floated down from the beautiful blue sky. When George looked into it, at first he only saw a clear ice ball. Then after a moment, he saw himself and the penguin in a huge crowd of penguins. A family of three penguins flapped their wings excitedly.
“Jeötia!” they called. “Mawaœasquedisûol balekoe moeïdscopetrpręsawūz mie namysòacopia ßajaiwqyłrespomu bugkleavdsalaonbrœstadæp mosóh evił ischan meåhia noeh mejōogfala cômafdatømisata notreñesa keh ńāśed tranamįdad ey un youb pextanñołēquyfamiß paīśo mænojaÿ!” they sputtered.
Then there was a huge penguin taller than George. He came and lead him to a golden egg.
“Yatzuma,” he said. “Touch.”
George reached out a hand to touch the egg. It felt like smooth leather. A bit of eggshell flew out. Then, like magic, the egg disappeared completely and a beautiful swan with a silver beak strutted toward him. The penguin poked him hard with his beak. He tore his gaze away from the ice ball and went back to reality.
The clump of snow with the light blue key on top had vanished, and they were soon in the place that the ice ball had showed. It happened all too fast; the penguin’s family, the huge imposing penguin, the swan. The swan was now walking toward him, its neck bent in S-shape.
Then, before he knew it, he was talking in the language of the penguins:
“Shòełêoleftõ jaceykìo håztżu mäas lëeftžótzumtasmakurrah yoehkigrœptxodtöh cepsrokajqueveiolahtsawerterpuertėöñāpadanźer nó yoi reipkzotrevño iatzo xarawquehermeerìzoœr.”
He talked swiftly with purpose. He took a bow. The penguin he knew threw something to George. A light blue key! He smiled at the penguin. Then, George was lifted onto the swan’s soft, snow-white feathers on his back and lifted up, up into the air. It felt fresh and relaxing. He closed his eyes. When he opened them, he held a light blue key, a green key, and a yellow key in his hands. He was sitting upin his bed. His sister, Elizabeth, was calling him for breakfast. Had it been a dream? If so, why did he have the keys? He looked out his window, ignoring Elizabeth’s voice echoing through the hall. The door was there! He grinned, knowing that he could visit the penguin and have many other adventures anytime. In fact, he might even go tomorrow.