What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?

What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?

Pictonaut short story effort for February 2014.

What’s behind the door in the forest? You ask.

Grandmother doesn’t answer your question. She frowns and mutters something under her breath. Grandmother doesn’t like it when you wander off so deep into the woods; so, so far away from the village.

It’s dangerous out there, she thinks. Grandmother is afraid and oh so worried about you.

Grandfather, though. Grandfather is a different story. Grandfather does not worry and does not scare. Grandfather is the bravest and wisest man you know.

What’s behind the door in the forest?

A mischievous glint shines in his eye and the crack of a smile grows on his face. Grandfather beckons you close and speaks in a voice that sounds like chanting. Ah, the door in the forest… the door in the forest… ah, the door in the forest…

Grandfather glances out of the window to the great green world outside, cloaked in the mist of early spring. It’s dangerous out there? It certainly looks like it, Grandmother, but Grandfather looks at it with different eyes.

Those eyes turn to you and a wry grin make you feel something warm inside. Ah, the door in the forest…

Grandfather leans in even closer; so, so near now and he raises a long forefinger as if ready to teach you a lesson. Grandfather begins to speak in what is almost a whisper and you feel that he is sharing one of his special secrets.

Listen well, my child. I’ll tell you about the door in the forest…

You can sense Grandmother’s disapproval. You can hear her disapproving sighs. Just out of the corner of your vision you see a shape shrug and turn away.

But Grandfather has got your attention and Grandfather sits before you now, ever so close; his sparkling eyes and lively spirit holding you captive.

You ask the question, ‘What’s behind the door in the forest?’ It is always good to ask questions, my child. The curious go far. Never stop asking questions. Never stop searching into the unknown…

You smile, encouraged, and ask the question again.

What’s behind the door in the forest?

Grandfather laughs a little and beams in return.

Ah, the door in the forest. Well, child, few have seen the door in the forest. But you have, and you are braver than many around here who fear to venture so, so far away from the village. Even so, though not many have seen the door in the forest, it is well known. Everybody around here has heard of the door in the forest…

But that doesn’t answer the question.

But what’s behind the door in the forest?

Grandfather laughs a little louder and widens his open-mouthed smile so you can see every single one of his old yellow teeth.

Child, you are a wonder! Well, I can see now that there will be no rest until I provide you with some answers…

Grandfather leans in even closer and you hold to every single word with rapt attention and glowing eagerness.

Everyone knows of the door in the forest, but not everybody agrees on what’s behind it. No one is brave enough to open it, of course. Maybe you could be the first of the villagers to do so, my child…

Excitement surges inside you. Grandfather’s eyes twinkle and he winks before he starts to speak again.

The door in the forest, so deep, deep in the forest. Well, some say that there is nothing behind it at all. They say it is a false door that, when opened, leads to nothing more than a bare wall of mud.

You frown but Grandfather reassures you with a heavy huff to show just what he thinks of the idea.

But we do not listen to such people, for they are dull-witted and fearful. Every door leads to something, my child. Every door opens up to a secret…

You’re desperate to know. What secret, Grandfather?

Grandfather opens up and tells you what secrets may lie behind the door in the forest.

Well, my child. Ah, the door in the forest. Some say that it’s the home of a witch, old as the trees and dark as the midnight hour. She dwells in the shadows and practises her magic, whispering with the spirits and pleading that they may comfort her in her misery and loneliness. Her long, long life has been a painful one of guilt for she suffers having eaten her own children alive centuries ago…

Others say that behind the door you will find the boar who was once a handsome and powerful prince, turned into a pig by a sorcerer for his cruelty and selfishness. He snuffles around in the gloom, ashamed and alone with only his remorse and dirt for company…

Then again, there are many that believe the door in the forest to be the home of Copper Peter, the little and mischievous sprite man no bigger than your hand but with sharp teeth of bronze and brazen needle legs that will slice off your fingers.

It may be that those who reckon it to be a passageway to the lost troll treasure horde are correct. But be wary, my child, for the tunnel behind the door in the forest is riddled with hidden dangers, traps and snares that will take your life before you can claim the jewels and gold of the monsters chased from this land in ancient times.

Of course, they may be mistaken, and many disagree with that tall tale. Perhaps it is true what some reckon and, in fact, the door in the forest leads deep down into an icy cavern in which the remains of the last ice titan rest in the cold frozen chasms beneath the earth.

And then there are those who talk of the slumbering Great Bear, sleeping for hundreds and hundreds of years, one day to wake up and realise that his winter rest has gone on for so many winters too many.

It may be that those who tell terrible legends of a passageway to the burning pits of the underworld are not so unbelievable after all. It could indeed be that behind the door in the forest is a route frequented by devils, delving right down into the depths of Hell…

Others tell of the brave Princess Miria who was locked in a dungeon by the dark elves of the grim mountains far beyond. She tore and scraped at her cell walls, pulling at the earth and digging and digging her escape route, eventually finding herself safe in the mists of our woodland nearby. The door in the forest she built to block off the tunnel and prevent her enemies from following her into the wider world.

Some believe that the door in the forest opens at dawn and lets in the first rays of morning sunlight. Upon crossing the threshold the door shuts again but the light inside the chamber grows and glows and spreads its magic through the roots and soil, bringing all the plants of the forest to life for each fresh new day.

It’s a pleasant thought and a nicer story than some of the more scary explanations as to what lies behind the door in the forest. You wonder, but Grandfather has no finished yet.

Ah, the door in the forest. It may hide many things and everybody has a different idea as to what lies behind the mysterious wooden door that sits still in the misty depths amidst the trees. There are so many different stories and ideas. You know, my child, I’ve even heard some who wonder if the door in the forest keeps safe the very secret of life itself…

You gasp at Grandfather but his glinting eyes give you no hint of truth and falsehood. You want to know the truth.

But what’s truly behind the door in the forest, Grandfather? Does anybody really, truly know?

Grandfather smiles that wry, wise, mischievous grin

Ah, somebody knows…

He winks and you understand.

Tell me, Grandfather! What’s behind the door in the forest?

Grandfather’s eyes burn with blazing spirit as he looks back at you and answers your constant question.

Ah, my child, that is for you to find out for yourself. One day you will know. Be bold, be curious. When you’ve found out what’s behind the door in the forest, come back home to your Grandfather and we will share the secret together.

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  1. Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?’… | ENTER... JAMES CLAYTON

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