The Key

The Key

By: Thornton Sterling

Harley knew that her grandmother had said never to go too deep into the old wood. She said to stay on this side of the creek. She had even made up anecdotal stories about her brother getting lost. The last statement Harley knew wasn’t true. She had been to Uncle Raymond’s funeral herself and seen his pale face. She knew that he hadn’t got lost, he had died of natural causes. Still, she knew that she shouldn’t be this far. Even if it was just past the creek. Even if she had a cellphone that still had plenty of service. Even if she could still see the steady stream of smoke from the chimney of her grandmother’s house.

She turned around and faced the overgrown path in front of her. It was early summer, so the forest was overgrown with stinging nettles and blackberry vines galore. She had thought about bringing a machete, but that would’ve resulted in too many questions. So, she had opted to hope she didn’t need one. She was now wishing she had brought one. The stinging nettles on the this side of the creek were so potent that they stung Harley through her clothes. The blackberry vines seemed to reach out and grab her when she wasn’t looking. She was determined to find out why her grandmother was so against her going across the creek! An icy wind blew, which is highly unusual at the start of summer. Harley shivered and hit a stinging nettle. She jumped back in surprise and got ensnared in blackberry vines. She groaned loudly, this wasn’t how she had planned this day to go. She just wanted to see what in the world her grandmother was hiding, that was all. Now, she wondered if it was worth getting stung and poked. She looked longingly in the direction of the house. Sitting next to the nightly fire would beat this peculiar form of punishment. However, if she turned back now, she would never make it out of the house again. So, she pressed on.

It began to get seriously dark, and Harley wondered why she was pressing on. It was less of a leisurely afternoon activity and more of a necessity. She could feel it deep down in her bones. Something was calling her, and she was willing to forge through nettles and blackberries to see what it was.

Eventually, she reached a clearing. Here the calling was stronger. She could feel that she was closer. Something was pulling her to the center of the clearing. As she walked, she noticed a shiny gold object in the exact center of the circular clearing. Soon, she was close enough to tell that it was a key. She bent down to pick it up. It was in the style that keys were made in eons ago, which meant that it could’ve been here for a very long time. However, if it had been there that long then it wouldn’t be so shiny and clean. Something strange was going on.

The key was heavier than she thought that it would be. And as she picked it up, a rather large old house appeared in front of her. It was nearly identical to her grandmother’s house, except it looked evil. The brightly painted window shutters were painted with peeling red paint. They were falling off their hinges against windows so dark that even at night, you couldn’t see in. The house was painted a very dark black and seemed to leech all of the light from everything around it.

Now she knew why her grandmother didn’t want her to come on this side of the wood. It was clearly an evil part of the world. She was glad her grandmother wasn’t there to see her direct disobedience.

Then the doorknob turned and began to open with the noise similar to that of an old coffin opening for the first time in a hundred years. Harley instantly wished for her grandmother to be there. She knew it was a bit strange to want an old lady to come to her rescue, but right now she really didn’t care.

The door opened wider and a lightning bolt came down from the clear sky, which is a bit strange to witness. The bright flash illuminated the person opening the door. Harley couldn’t believe her eyes. The woman standing in the doorway was her grandmother.

“Hello, Harley,” the woman in the doorway said. Her voice was different than usual. It chilled the air around it and made a shiver run down Harley’s spine. “I’ve been waiting for quite some time for you to come here.”

Harley’s jaw dropped. She never thought that her grandmother was so evil. Then, the woman standing in the doorway pointed her finger at Harley. Harley felt the need to drop to the ground. And for good reason. A split second later a bright bolt of lightning zapped over her head.

She heard the sound of an engine starting up. It sounded too small to be a car. It sounded more like that of a power tool. She turned around and saw her grandmother standing at the edge of the clearing, panting. She looked a lot like the woman who had nearly killed her except she looked like she had hiked a few miles through blackberries.

“Run back home, young lady, you are in big trouble,” she said while looking at Harley. Then, she turned and looked at the woman in the doorway and yelled, “Back off, Bathilda.”

Harley really didn’t understand grandmothers these days. First, they tell you to not cross the creek. Then, you do it and find them in a creepy old house claiming that they were waiting for you to cross. Followed by them sending a bolt of lightning at you. Then, you realize that that woman wasn’t your grandmother and find your real grandmother holding a chainsaw.

Harley did what she was told and ran home. Her grandmother followed with the chainsaw still running. The plus side of having a grandmother run into the woods with a chainsaw, is they blaze a pretty nice trail.

The moral of the story: A grandmother’s love is eternal. So, you should never disobey them because they know what they are talking about and don’t want you to get hurt.