Be careful with the things you find... it may lead somewhere dark and sinister.
I’d found the key within the boxes and bins hiding unbidden in my grandparents attic. Turning it over in my hand I felt the weight of it. It was cool to the touch. Its brass surface tarnished, but preserved in a strength of time. I pocketed the key and went about sorting the boxes and bins. Later I would look into its source... though my mind kept tripping back to it and I found myself fingering it more than once as the afternoon drew on.
At dinner I asked my grandmother about the key as I held it out to her. She took it in weathered hands as her brown plucked in thought.
“This key opens the door at the end of the attic...” she said when dawning relaxed her face and she smiled up at me.
“The door at the end of the attic?” I asked trying to remember having seen a door.
“It is tiny. Almost the size of a rabbit hole. I used to call it my Alice In Wonderland Door.” She mused with a wistful smile touching her lips with grace. "Such a happy place..."
I took the key back from her. It was a large key. A rabbit sized door. I shook my head at the nonsense of that. “Oh Gramzie.... are you sure you aren’t pulling my leg?” I laughed.
She shook her head gently. “It’s there. You can fit. I haven’t been there for years. Wish I could go, but these old bones aren’t what they used to be.”
I slid the key back into my pocket still shaking my head at her odd words. But late into the night something dragged me from my sleep and I crawled from the warmth of my covers.
Standing in the hall, I looked up to the attic’s pull handle and wondered if a bit of exploration was in store. I moved back to find the key I had lain on the dresser beside my bed. I slipped it into my nightgown pocket. Taking up the flashlight, I went back to open the attic’s drop down stairs.
The flashlight’s beam pooled the light before me and I followed it dipping it up along the wall’s edge in search of the door. I was about to give up when I noticed a tarnished bit of metal along the edge at the back of the attic. Moving forward I reached in for the key to pull it out. Kneeling in front of the door I wondered about the comments my grandmother had said. “You can fit.” Echoed in my head and I nibbled at my lower lip nervously.
Fingering the key I turned it over in hand staring at it as I wondered what could possibly be behind the little door. Gramzie had been there and returned. She seemed fine...what harm could happen.
Decision made I slipped the key into the lock and held my breath. The door swung wide and I tipped forward to look into the tiny entryway. My face felt a tingling sensation. I reached up to touch my cheeks and felt a lightheadedness envelop me. I felt sucked forward, like I was free falling. Swinging my arms wide, my body rolled in zero gravity that sent my stomach rolling.
I pitched forward head over heals floating as the room expanded and swelled. I closed my eyes tight hoping the spinning would stop, but it only made me feel worse. I forced my eyes open and tried to find a spot I could concentrate on; latching on to the light at the far end of the room. Concentrating seems to lessen the spinning and it slowed, then stopped abruptly dropping me with a thud to the floor... or what I thought was the floor. I reach out my hand and grasped what appeared to be an upturned chandelier with all the crystals defying gravity. Black seemed to bleach in from the bottom coating it in a dull matte finish that dimmed its lights.
Not wanting to be coated I crab walked over a few feet and tried to make out my surroundings.
From another doorway a black rabbit appeared. It turned blood red eyes on me and a chill ran up my spine. It lopped in my direction, its eyes not blinking. My heart began to race as panic edged its way up my body holding me fixed and vulnerable.
Inches from my face he stopped and his lips twisted into a grin that showed teeth sharp and fang-like.
“You’re late.” He hissed at me grabbing at my arm and yanking me with him towards a door that seemed to grow as we made our way towards it. “His majesty will not be pleased... not pleased at all.”
“Where are you taking me?” I asked in a voice that seemed to squeak with terror.
“You’re late... only His majesty knows what he will do with you.” The rabbit hissed back at me over his shoulder.
“I only just arrived.... I think.” I squeaked.
“Doesn’t matter... you’re here now and you’re late... so very late.”
I let myself be dragged into the next room where darkness seemed to drip from all the limb-like trees about me. Cold black jelly fell and landed on my head. With my free hand I swiped at my eyes to clear the muck just before stepping into a puddle of black slop that sunk me to my knees. I am sure, if the rabbit had not been dragging me forward I would have sunk in fully. I gave a tremble at that thought.
“What’s this your draggin’, Rabbit?” asked a slimy looking snake that slithered into our path stopping the rabbit abruptly and causing me to slide into him.
Before answering he turned and glared at me as I sputtered an apology.
“She’s late, you best let us pass.” The rabbit said with puffed up authority.
The snake smiled his slimey scowl and slide further down to twine himself about my shoulders. I felt his coldness creep into my skin. I kept my eyes on the rabbit, refusing to look at this hideous snake.
“Let us pass... She is late, I tell you and his Majesty will be very upset.”
“Upset... you say, well then I will let you pass... but remember I will be waiting.”
The words were like daggers, full of threat and intent. I trembled again as we moved forward. The snake seemed to slither off and disappear into the finger like branches that oozed black pus.
I was glad when we passed into the next chamber. It was cleaner here, only dust bunnies gathered in the center of the room. When we approached they gave off a massive poof of grey soot and scattered into the corners or the room.
“Silly things those dust bunnies.” The rabbit hissed and pulled me onward as I waved the soot from my vision and sneezed uncontrollably causing the rabbit to stop and stare at me with his awful eyes.
When I had regained my senses, the rabbit pulled me on and we emerged into a larger room with a grotesque looking castle. Gargoyles hung down and seemed to stare. The rabbit dragged me up the stairs and into the castle when the temperature dipped low. It was not long before I was shivering uncontrollably.
When we arrived at the biggest door, the rabbit released me to pull the great thing open. I wrapped my arms around myself and gazed up to the hall around me. Before I knew it I was shoved forward into the great room and the door shut firmly behind me. I staggered but managed not to fall.
“Who dares enter my domain.” A voice thundered from up on a dais. The beast leaned forward and looked down at me.
“I am sorry, your Majesty. But the rabbit...”
“That damn rabbit... got away did he?”
“He shoved me in.”
“Then you’ll have to do.”
“Do for what?” I asked as two armed guards approached and seized my arms.
“For my Alice Cooper Stew of course....”
I screamed and twisted in their grasp, but there was no release. I was to be his Majesty’s stew. Boiled and basted.
“But I don’t belong here.” I screamed out to him.
The great King leaned down at me grinning a wicked grin he said, “You little girl did twist the key... to twist it twice to the right... that is very nice and into a land of happy you’ll go... but if you twist the key to the left you’ll go into the Fates... and death, you’ll know.
“But I did not know....” I screamed, but all I could hear was his echoing laugh as I was lead off to the slaughter.
Word Count = 1458.
Open Prompt for Round 3 of the "Night & Day Poetic Prose Contest" . I actually used the picture prompt from Round 2 as I found it intriguing, but was not able to write or submit for that round.