I wrote and posted half this story last week and promised the second half this week. I meant what I said and I said what I meant, right?
But first, some doors from around Corydon:
And what is that I see in the background?
Not just a crane. Not just a flag. A CRANE HOLDING A FLAG, DAN! A CRANE HOLDING A FLAG!
Okay, time for the rest of the story:
Steffie Makes the Sale Part 2
Steffie reconnoitered the area. Flat, with nothing but dirt, a few rocks, and the skeleton limbs of trees needlessly sacrificed on the altar of commerce. And a bright blue door, just standing there, attached to nothing visible. She got closer and felt the air to either side of the door. Nothing invisible, either.
She went back to the car and said, “Which side of the door do I knock on?”
“Doesn’t seem to matter. The person opens it from either side.”
“How do you know it’s the same person?”
“Whoever and whatever they are, they don’t seem to bathe. There’s the same smear of Cheeto dust in the same spot on their chest.”
She reached into the back seat and rummaged through her purse. Pete didn’t ask what she was doing. Sometimes it was better not to know.
Steffie stuffed what she had pulled out of her purse into a pocket and, on the way to the bright blue door, picked up a stone the size of a football. She carried it to the door and put it down at the edge of the side with the doorknob on it.
She retrieved the item from her pocket and knocked.
The door opened just far enough for the edge of a rounded white head to peek out.
“Don’t want,” the person said, and tried to slam the door.
But doors don’t slam when a rock the size of a football has been nudged halfway through it.
The person made an irritated click and shoved harder.
Steffie presented the peanut butter energy bar she’d taken from her purse.
The person’s large black eyes turned from almond-shaped to circles and they took the bar. Without unwrapping it, they snapped it up in two bites. Their tiny mouth widened, and they swung the door open.
Steffie stepped through, thinking, It can’t be this easy.
She pointed to herself. “Steffie,” she said.
The being pointed to themselves, a little to the right of the Cheeto smear. “Ja-ja.” Then, very slowly: “Do you speak English?”
“I, too. Some awkwardness, but I make my wishes known. You are from American government?”
“Yes.” Well, she was.
“Good. Come on down. We make a deal.”
Steffie took a swift look around. She seemed to be in a 12 by 12 room, floored with black and white tiles and decorated fresh from the 60s. Bewitched? I Dream of Jeannie?
Interesting. “If you don’t mind my asking, where are you from?”
“Alternate universe.” The person held their hands close together. “Parallel.”
Sometimes a little honesty was called for. “I didn’t know our government had access to parallel universes.”
“You don’t. I do. What’s in your hand? Is it edible?”
“It’s … uh … It’s a flame-thrower. Not generally considered edible, no.”
“It’s a cooking utensil?”
“In a way. You could call it that.”
“Interesting. I’m glad you finally came. I thought it would be sooner.”
Trying very hard not to sound judgey, Steffie pointed out, “We came. You slammed the door.”
“Nobody brought me a greeting gift. Rude. You did. I thank you. I need your help.”
“The government of the United States of America would be delighted to help. Let me tell my superior, and we’ll have the proper authorities here – with greeting gifts – in a matter of hours.”
“Excellent! You see, I invented this portal, and greedy, evil people want to take it and use it for their own purposes.”
“Imagine that,” said Steffie.
“Soon or late, they’ll discover my secret lab and come for me.”
The words were no sooner spoken than a heretofore invisible door burst open and two slim, white beings with large, black eyes hustled through, pointing what were possibly ray guns at Steffie and her new friend.
The new friend shrieked and hid behind Steffie, who took the opportunity to demonstrate the tactical use of a flame-thrower.
When the two smoldering piles of ashes weren’t followed by anybody, Steffie stuck her head out the door and signaled for Pete.
After explaining the situation, she sent Ja-Ja with Pete, instructing her boss how to disarm her purse and get another energy bar as a greeting gift.
“I’ll hold down the fort here,” she said. “Get Ja-Ja to safety, and send the Marines. I’m going to persuade some creatures from another dimension to stay on their side of the fence.”
“Right,” said Pete. “When we want them, we’ll go and fetch them.”
That sounded vaguely ominous for the other dimension, but that was above Steffie’s paygrade. She was a fixer.
She hefted the flame-thrower and returned to the tiled room. For a given value of “fix”.
Thursday doors is under the direction of Dan Antion, photographer extraordinaire and critter daddy. Visit his site, enjoy his wonderful photographs, follow his directions, and enter a world of doors.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about a food stain.