Original Fiction from the Cornwall and Regional Writer’s Society – The Iron Door by Stanley Brown – November 20, 2010 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – The Cornwall and Regional Writer’s Society meets on the third Monday of every month at the Cornwall Public Library.
Members of our group volunteer to chair the meeting for specific months and that chairperson presents a challenge to the members for their meeting. The challenge usually consists writing a story, poem, skit or even a song of a topic selected by the host. During the meeting we present our responses to the challenge and, for the first time, we have chosen one to be published here in the Cornwall Free News.
The challenge this month was to write a story inspired by the picture above. The following story that was generated by this picture was written by Stanley Brown.

The Locked Iron Door

About two miles into the countryside, there was an area unfrequented and far from easy road-access. As children we often used to walk there and my sister Libby remarked that it seemed a very lonely place, almost mysterious. But I think that it was a combination of afternoon light, reflecting from a small overgrown lake nearby and tinted light from overhead foliage, that made the place seem mysterious and eerie. It was also very still and that must have added to the effect. In this sombre wooded area was a building of stone surrounded by a high and apparently impregnable barbed wire fence. On occasion we had stopped near it for a snack during one of our rambles and I didn’t pay much attention to it.
One day in spring, however, Libby went over to the fence near the building and stood looking at it. After a while she came back and sat down, pensively.
“What were you looking at” I asked.
“Oh, nothing.” she replied. “It’s just that I’ve often wondered what that old building was and why it is so locked up.”
“Yes, it is strange, now that you mention it” I replied.
We both sat and gazed at the building for a while without saying anything.
“It’s the strangest thing. I always get the feeling that I know this building but of course I don’t.” said Libby as we started off to resume our ramble in the countryside on the way home. We have known this building all our lives and it was so familiar as to be almost invisible.
I didn’t say anything at the time but I also had a funny feeling that the building was very familiar to me. Quite impossible, of course.
Except that it’s been there forever we saw it only very rarely. I was probably responding to Libby’s suggestion.  It was sometime in the early Fall that Libby got very ill and had a high fever which lasted for quite a long time.  She was admitted into the local hospital under observation and at times became delirious. Of course I came to visit her at every opportunity.
It was during one of my visits in the evening that Libby, rambling on almost incoherently, related a ridiculous story. But I must tell it to you as I remember she told it to me.  This is the wild story that Libby told me. I’ll try to remember all the details.
She starts off: One day she and I were out walking as usual when we came upon the fenced-off building. This happened several years ago when we were children, apparently. It seems that the iron door was badly rusted and the area was not as well fenced. According to Libby, we both managed to enter the old building simply by pushing open the door which almost broke off at the hinges. She said we were both a bit nervous as it was quite dark inside. However, after exploring for a while we found several rooms, some of which were not properly locked. I’ll try to repeat what Libby said:
“….I was very scared all of a sudden and we went into a large room that was lined with metal racks along the walls. There were also columns of metal racks and we could walk between them. Stanley remained close by me as we walked slowly up and down between the racks. On these shelves were hundreds of long boxes, resembling coffins but a bit smaller. We went out and talked about it. After a while we went back in and decided to see what was in the boxes. There might be treasure of some sort. Inside the dark room Stanley managed to pry open one of the boxes and looked inside. He said he didn’t want to look any more. I pulled it down on to the floor and it really broke open. Inside was a perfect mannequin, like a model in a shop window. It had a one piece dress and long hair.
We looked more closely and before long, getting used to the dim light, I discerned other things. This model looked very real, almost alive. And it did not have hands like ours. It also did not have a face quite like ours. I thought it was obviously a prop for theatre. Stanley started to open another box and after a while brought to light another similar mannequin. The only difference was its hair colour.
Stanley probed at it and said that it looked like a girl alright but it had no tits. I told him not to be rude and to stop messing about. I was annoyed at him for that remark. We opened several more boxes and in each one was a similar mannequin. Stanley and I took off the ties for each one, they were all bound tightly within the boxes. Stanley moved another one about a bit and tried untying others.
He took off a sort of pendant that was round the neck of one of the mannequins and slipped it into his pocket. He said they were just like humans who were asleep. It appeared that the boxes contained only mannequins and so we left them and went out. As we left, Stanley hid the pendant under a big rock just outside the fence. At home we did not tell anyone about our find.
The next day Stanley and I both went out again to see the old building. I went in and Stanley went into another chamber to explore. I went to see the mannequins again. As I went over to where we had opened the boxes I saw that the two or three we had opened were now empty. I called frantically to Stanley and he came running. We could not believe our eyes. Empty boxes! We looked all round us and could see no sign of them. Stanley grabbed me and pulled me out of the building.
We did not go back for several days and foolishly told nobody about our find. One fine afternoon we again entered and cautiously approached the room with the boxes. We had not been inside the room very long before we could plainly see that many more boxes were empty. Whole rows of empty boxes were revealed, some of them half off the shelves.
But as we beat a hasty exit, we found our way blocked by a slim person who, in silhouette looked like a young girl. She stood quite still and we stopped. Behind her appeared some more figures, also mute. The one we had first seen finally beckoned for us to follow her while the others just seemed to fall in behind or to evaporate. We obeyed and she took us further into the building to a larger empty auditorium type of room. Empty indeed, except for several dozen figures. They all looked like long haired girls but after a while I could see that they were not. I did not think they were boys either. I remember we got very scared and Stanley started yelling at them but they paid no heed. I think I fainted. I remember coming to and the room was full of mist. There were soldiers. Stanley and I were taken out into an ambulance and driven away”.
After recounting this ridiculous fantasy, Libby dozed off to sleep and I waited for a little while before going home. The next day she was much better and after another two days of rest she was sent home.
I asked her about the dreams she had been having about the old building but she had no memory of having told me anything. It’s amazing what hallucinations one can experience in a fever. She simply thought I was exaggerating.
It was some months later that I visited her and, going for a walk, we found ourselves near the old fenced off building. There it stood, as solid as ever. No chance of getting through that door. But as we were returning home Libby said: “Remember you said that I was hallucinating ? I told you that you’d taken a pendant? Or rather that I said that you took a pendant and hid it? You told me that I had said it was under a rock near here. Let’s look, just for fun!”
Obviously there was no harm in checking. Anyway, it would help to convince Libby that she had been hallucinating. We poked about and looked at some of the rocks that were lying about. Then Libby, leaning over the biggest rock and poking about the base, suddenly stopped moving.
Slowly she lifted her hand. From her fingers dangled a brilliant chain with a strange pendant which glowed strangely in the sunlight.
Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved.
Stanley Brown

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3 Responses to "Original Fiction from the Cornwall and Regional Writer’s Society – The Iron Door by Stanley Brown – November 20, 2010 – Cornwall Ontario"

  1. John Lister   November 20, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    Very nicely told! One of these Tuesdays, I should come out to the Regional Writers Society meetings. My story also contains a pendant!

  2. Reg   November 21, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    Sorry John but I don’t know what I was thinking. The meetings are on every 3rd Monday. I fixed the text above but I didn’t want you to show up for the next meeting on the 21st of December when it is actually on the 20th.

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