How long have I been walking…?
Coraline tried to shake her head clear, but it just hurt more. She swooned and had to catch herself on a bookshelf. She held herself up for a minute until the dizziness passed–mostly. She looked around, but the library was still ten times larger than it should have been. Do I have brain damage? Is everything going to look like this forever?
And the size wasn’t the only odd thing about the library: There were no books. Not a single one. No movies, or games, or whatever else libraries had these days, either.
There were doors. Rows and rows of doors.
The “bookshelves” stretched on and on–there must have been thirty doors lined in a row, each with about five shelves stacked. And not all the doors looked the same, either–some were thinner, or taller than others. Some were a solid color, and some had stripes or polka dots. Some were made of wood, and some looked like metal, or stone. Some had brass knobs and some had “Push” handles or big elaborate knockers or no handle at all, but just a barred grate in the middle. Some only looked like doors because they were roughly door-shaped rectangles, but she also saw one door that was perfectly round with a knob in the exact middle.
Am I in a door… factory? What is this place?
She walked along the row of doors, trying to piece together where she ended up. I was going to the library… I was being followed, but I made it inside. And… that’s it. I must have… tripped? Christ, what if that guy hit me with something? What if I didn’t make it all the way into the library before he pulled me out and…
No, this is definitely a library. Glossy wooden floors, shelves, ladders to the upper shelves… This must be a new display or a promotional thing for some dumb new fantasy series. I bet these doors are just made of cardboard…
She took a cautious step up onto the bottom shelf. She reached for a door that looked like a hatch for a rocket ship. It felt cold and metallic. She frowned and turned the hatch to the side. There was a hissing noise, like air escaping a soda bottle. The door was heavy, but Coraline managed to pull it all the way open.
She hit the side of the hatch door hard as she was yanked forward by an invisible force. Breath knocked out of her, she held onto the door as tight as she could, not enough air in her lungs to scream. She thought her vision was full of stars, but it was the doorway. Behind the door was nothing but blackness, and pinpricks of white stars. She was being sucked into outer space.
One arm grasped onto the hatch handle. Her hair whipped around her face. She planted her foot on the door frame–the wooden back of the shelf–and tried to hold on. She was screaming in her mind, but she couldn’t find the air to voice it.
Violently, she tiwsted her body so her shoulder pushed the door forward. It slammed shut so hard there was a noise like thunder echoing all throughout the library–or whatever this place was. Coraline fell to her knees, harshly sucking in lungfulls of air and coughing them out again. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. She swore again and again when she stopped coughing and sobbing. What kind of fucked up place was this? What was the library doing?
Just as she wondered where everyone was, she saw movement out of the corner of her watery eye. Someone walked past the space between aisles on the opposite end she was standing, appearing and disappearing. She couldn’t make out anything more than a human shape, but it was somebody.
“Hey!” she called in a hoarse voice. “Hey, wait!”
She ran as fast as her wobbly, bruised legs could carry her down the shelf, past door after door after door. When she got to the end of the row, she looked down the hallway between rows of book–or door–shelves. She paused, her jaw hanging open. There were hundreds of them. Thousands. She could not see the end of the shelves. They stretched until her vision could not see farther. And they were all lined with doors. The shelves must have been fifty feet tall. She could see ladders here and there stretching to the roof of this place. And the roof… there was a mural there, like a Renaissance painting, but it couldn’t have been. It depicted hundreds of thousands of people–some of them normal-looking, some of them knights in armor or aliens or monsters or cowboys. One of them stood out–it was difficult to see from so far down, but she recognized it. A boy with elfish features, clad all in green. An orb of light hovered over his shoulder. It was Peter Pan. No question. He, like all the others around him, were reaching for something, stretched out , arms pointing in the same direction, down the side hall in the direction she saw the person walking before. But she couldn’t see anyone, now. They must have went into one of the aisles, she reasoned. So she marched down the hallway, peering into each aisle as she went. So many doors, but no sign of life.
Aisle after aisle. There was no way he–she thought it was a he–could have gotten this far in such a short time. The doors. Did he go inside one? Was that even possible? The shelves weren’t thick enough to have room for a person to fit inside. And that one with the outer space… She shuddered. It had to have been a trick, some library stunt that was still being worked on. It had to be.
Just as she was considering turning around and looking down the aisles a second time, she saw someone. A man at the opposite end of the aisle. She wasn’t sure it was the same man as before though–this one had very curly, shaggy hair, but the silhouette before did not have such a big head. As far as she remembered. Not that my wits are one hundred percent, right now…
“Hey!” she called, waving furiously even though her arm hurt like hell from being slammed into that hatch.
“Stop that!” the man called back. “You’re not supposed to be here! You can’t be here! What are you?”
Coraline stopped waving. What am I? What is he talking about?
“Where did you come from?” the man pressed, beginning to march toward Coraline. “Which door? Tell me!”
Coraline backed away.
“No. No, stop. You have to tell me. You can’t–no! Don’t run! Hey! YOU CAN’T GET OUT! THERE’S NO OTHER WAY! WE’RE TRAPPED HERE TOGETHER!”
Insane. He was insane. Coraline sprinted past aisle after aisle, row after row of endless doors. There must be an end. There must be. It has to be mirrors, or, or…
“Stop running! You’ll get us both lost!” she heard from behind her.
She ducked into one of the aisles and ran down along it. She had to find somewhere to hide. But all she could find were shelves and doors and…
She stopped next to one of the doors. It was wooden, kind of warped, but otherwise normal. She reached for it slowly, but knew that if she was going to hide, she couldn’t take her time. She cracked it open only slightly to make sure she wouldn’t be sucked through again. Instead, she felt cool air blowing through the door. Fresh air. She couldn’t see much through the crack, but it looked like… a forest?
“Where are you?” she heard nearby. He would be in the aisle soon.
Quickly, she slipped through the door and shut it behind her. Then she found herself in another world.
Day 240’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Meta detective,” “Outer space,” and, “A chase scene.”
Another story idea I’d like to fully flesh out someday.