The Door

It wasn’t easy for me to leave the comfort of my own home. And don’t think that I didn’t want to bring more things with me than I did. I just never had enough time to prepare myself…

            The plane left for Georgia about an hour ago, but I was still tempted to rush past all the flight attendants, force open the door and get out of the air as soon as possible. I hated flying. It was one of the many luxuries of the 21st century that I still didn’t trust.

            “Are you ok, hun?” my wife had taken a nap when we boarded the plane and I guess my nervous shaking woke her up.

            “Oh, I’m fine babe!” I lied and gave her a huge smile to show the thick sarcasm.

She smirked and cuddled into my shoulder as best she could with the arm rest between us. That seemed to take away some of the tension.

            “You know, Richard, we’re safer up here than in a car.” She tried to calm me down, but that only made things worse. I drove the car. I was in control of the car. My life wasn’t in someone else’s hands when I was in the car.

            “Oh…” was all I could get out.

            I sat in the aisle seat for two reasons.

            One, because obviously I hate looking out of the window to see how high we are and what city we would plunge into if this tin-can decided to go down. And two, I was closer to the refreshments cart. I didn’t know what it was about airplane refreshments that I liked so much. Call it ironic, but I ask all my friends to smuggle some food of their flights for me when they travel. The only downside is, if you leave your elbows too exposed off the side of your arm rest… WHACK!!!

            The cart lady slammed into my funny bone.

            “GAHH!!” I yelped in pain, biting my lip and trying not to startle the other passengers.

            “Sweetheart!” my wife said,  “Why do you always choose that stupid seat.” She reached over and rubbed my elbow and tried to snuggle into me even more.

            “Linda, I hate flying. You know that.” I told her. I could see her eyes rolling preparing herself for my big speech. “Just let me get the one pleasure I can from this god-forsaken steal death trap!”

            Linda softened even more and giggled a little. I normally would have grown even madder to that type of reaction, but this time it calmed me down further. I don’t know how I did it but I closed my eyes and slept.

            Linda and I were on our way to Georgia to visit her family. This was my first time meeting them since we got married. It’s a lot of pressure to have on yourself, trying to be perfect for people you know despise you in some small way. It’s nerve racking! But hell, if Ben Stiller could win over his “in-laws” with all the destruction he caused, I might have a fighting chance. But then again, he didn’t visit these people.

            Linda’s parents were so right wing they had to create a bridge between the right and the left just so they could go all the way over to the right again. They even bought an old slave plantation so they could feel even higher above everyone else.

            I was from California, and as liberal as I could be without being like some of the nut jobs in San Francisco. And for the most part, so was Linda. She lived out that wonderfully famous cliché of rebelling against mommy and daddy because “their ideals didn’t fit my lifestyle.” But we all gain some of our parents whether we like it or not. That’s how life is.

            We arrived at their house from the airport late in the evening, and were just in time for dinner, but we refused and started unpacking.

            Their house was huge. Tall, lumbering white columns out front, and at least three floors, not including the attic or cellar. I could spend a whole day going through every room and probably not even scratch the surface of the history this building holds. The smells alone told you that this house was old and wise.

            Our room was on the second floor and had a large Queen sized bed. This actually surprised us because of how conservative her parents were. But I guess, because we were married, they decided not to fight it.

            Even more sleep was just too good to be true. But my night would be longer than any night I’ve ever had.

            Sometime around 2:30, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. So I went downstairs to the kitchen, which had been heavily remodeled into a high-tech Kitchen Aide and GE paradise. I poured myself a glass of milk and decided to snoop around the first floor.

            The house was one constant battle between the past and present. Peeling paint and wall paper one second, and the other you’re in a family room with a large HD television and Blu-ray player. It made me chuckle.

            Continuing on I decided to try the third floor. I have heard many old ghost stories about these large homes, but I never believed in that stuff anyway. Until tonight.

            As soon as I climbed the old wooden staircase to the third floor I could tell something was off. I could also hear faint noises from one of the rooms. I thought maybe it was Linda’s dad, watching TV because he couldn’t sleep. But this didn’t sound like any show I knew of. I heard the bouncing of a ball and what sounded like a child cursing to them selves.

            For maybe an hour I searched until I found the source of the noise. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There before me was this small child playing jacks! The point of the game was to bounce the ball and pick up as many of the pieces on the ground as you can before the ball bounces again. This kid was terrible at it. “OHH!!!!” they roared in frustration, “My hands are too small!” The child had a very thick southern accent.

            “You want to learn a trick?” I asked which nearly startled the child half to death. “I used to be amazing at that game when I was about your age… How old are you anyway?”

            The child didn’t speak. It just stared at me, mouth wide open, like I was the one who wasn’t supposed to be here. So I stared back. It was a young girl, about six years old, maybe more. She had a blue dress that looked like the ones old dolls used to wear. “Where did you come from?” I tried to sound as nice as possible. But the child just got up slowly and ran into the other room. I followed after her calling out that she had left the game behind, but when I rounded the corner to the other room she was gone. Just gone. I went back to the jacks and found the bag she must have carried them here in and cleaned up the game. I then went to look for her. “Hello? Hey, you forgot your game!” I kept going from room to room trying to find her.

            Then, something caught my eye. A door. I went to it wondering where it could possibly go because the room I was in was at the edge of the house. On the other side of the wall was the outside. As I examined it I found that there was no keyhole and the knob was still warm as if someone had just turned it. I took one last look into the hallway to see if I had woken anyone up, then my curiosity got the better of me and I opened the door.

            I blacked out.

            When I woke up I was back in the room, still in my pajamas and still holding the jacks, lying on the floor like something had knocked me out. It felt like someone did too. My head was throbbing. It was daylight though and that did not help my head much at all. I tentatively sat up and shielded my eyes. Something wasn’t right. I looked around at the room. Something about it looked younger, fresher. Many of the spots that had lost paint completely seemed to have a new coat on them. If someone came into the room and painted while I was passed out on the floor, which would have been mighty rude of them to at least not try and wake me up! Then I took an even better look around.

            The room had furniture that had not been there before, and I was lying on a rug that had only just before been hard-wood flooring. There is no way that people could have completely remodeled the entire room without waking me up.

            I got up, holding my head, and looked out into the hallway. There were people walking around that I didn’t know, wearing clothes I have only seen in books and movies. My mind was completely blank. I began to wander around the house with a wide stare like a zombie, taking it all in. Everyone was doing some sort of work. Then I noticed that all the people doing work were black.

            That was when it hit me. I ran to the nearest window to see if what I thought was true, and the sight that I saw only made me want to faint again. I was in the antebellum south.

            Everywhere I looked, there was either a black person cleaning, working the fields, getting whipped or just walking around. I think I slapped myself a few times which caused some of them to give me odd looks.

            I ran downstairs and found a familiar face, the child. She started shaking and ran away again. I followed her close this time, all the way to her mother. “What’s wrong Annabelle?” her mother asked sweetly, then the child pointed at me, “Who are you!?”

            I didn’t know what to answer, so I told her part of the truth, knowing I would sound certifiably insane if I told her everything. “I’m sorry miss, but your daughter dropped this game of jacks and I was just returning it to her.” I said with a slight, polite, smile on my face. I must have looked completely dumb, standing there in my pajamas. I had no clue how to explain those. “Oh, why thank you sir!” her mother said looking to her daughter, “He ain’t scary at all Annabelle. Go get your game and return it to your father’s desk. You know he don’t like you touching his stuff!” Annabelle quickly ran to the other room and returned the jacks to a huge hand made wood desk. When she returned, her mother introduced herself as Mary-Sue and I gave her my name as well. “Well Richard,” she seemed eager to meet me, “Hows ‘bout we get you out of them clothes?”

            We went upstairs and Mary-Sue found some old clothes of her husbands that fit me rather well, a vest, white shirt, and brown pants. After which I decided to do some investigating. “Excuse me, Mary,” I tried to sound as confused and innocent as possible, “for the life of me I can’t seem to remember the date. Would you mind telling me?” She paused. Thought for a second. Then told me, “The day is July 21, 1830. I always add the year so I don’t forget as well,” she gave a smirk and then motioned me to follow her through their home.

            This house was bigger than I thought. It was wonderful seeing it during its glory days, though the word “glory” is used loosely. I’m not one to glorify slavery.

            As we walked through the rooms I noticed many things that aren’t in the house back in 2010. I felt like a little kid running in a museum! Only I wouldn’t get in trouble for running, and everything was fresh and new. But, the more time I spent here made me want to go back to my own time and explore the house there more. I wanted to find every detail.

            Just then I had a brilliant idea.

            I tore off one of the buttons on the vest I was wearing and excused myself to the bathroom. Luckily it was still in the same room it was in my time. I searched frantically for a loose floorboard or a little nook I could stash the button. I reasoned that the house would eventually get new plumbing and floorboards so I decided to go back up to the third floor, which wasn’t ever remodeled and found the perfect spot.

            Knowing I couldn’t come up with a good enough excuse for me to go upstairs and randomly disappear on these people, I just left. I went to the room with the door, waited for the coast to be clear and then just as I was about to turn the knob… “Who, sir, are you?”

            I froze. I didn’t know what to do. I turned around slowly and met a tall, somewhat chubby man with graying black hair and a thick moustache. This must have been the man of the house. “Um… uhh… I’m sorry sir,” I was stammering and must have been shaking a little. The man began to let out a deep booming laughter, that was probably very infectious at parties, but right now it made me want to wet myself. “Don’t worry son!” he laughed, “I know where you come from. I have gone through that door as well. Gave me a right good scare the first time I saw the shape my house was in!”

            I was becoming more confused by the second.

            “Oh, pardon me, I forgot my manners!” He coughed and straightened up a bit, “My name is Rowland Bakersfield,” he shoved a hand towards me which I shook. “Welcome to the Bakersfield Plantation!”

            “Thank you sir, my name is Richard, but I must be getting on my way.”

            “Oh yes! Yes yes, don’t let me keep you son.” He gave a smirk and made a motion like he was shooing me away, “If you have any questions, please come to me. The door is always open!” He winked and then walked to the door, and opened it for me.

            I blacked out again.

            When I awoke I was in my bed. I jumped out of it, ran up to the third floor and found the loose floorboard where I stashed the button. I shoved my arm inside and began searching, until… Aha! I found it! I brought it up into the light and looked at it more carefully than I did before. I decided to keep it in my pocket.

            I was on the verge of something big. I didn’t know how to contain myself! But my excitement was short lived.

            Shortly after I found the button, I heard the sound of a body collapse in the room with the door. I sprinted to it and found a slave, beaten and bloody unconscious on the floor. He was thin and probably weak from starvation and beatings. I was able to pick him up easily, and took him into a guest room where I washed up his cuts. I went to the bathroom and got some antiseptic and was about to apply it to his cuts when he sprang to life and jumped off the bed into a defensive stance. “Wh—whh-wuh—where’m I?” his voice was shaky and weak. “Who’re you? Why’m I here?” He began to look around frantically and was about to faint again but I ran to him and caught him before he hit the ground.

            I carried him back to the bed and put a washcloth on his forehead. “It’s ok, I’m not going to hurt you,” I tried to say this in an almost maternal tone. “You’re safe from whoever attacked you. Who did this anyway?”

            He looked at me like I was crazy. He was probably not used to my accent, and he probably thought I should know how this happened to him. “It was Marse Bakersfiel’.” He closed his eyes and soon went to sleep.

            I began to panic. I was holding a slave! I wouldn’t get in trouble with the law or anything, but he was from another time! And if this is what he got for not working or disobeying, imagine what I would get if I was the one who returned him! I decided to do something drastic.

            A plan began to formulate in my head. I had never liked slavery. I hated it. The thought of it normally made me dry heave. So I was going to help these slaves escape that plantation.

            I had technology on my side. I had computers, with maps and detailed descriptions of how the land was back in the 1800’s. I was in the perfect position to help these people.

            I was going to help them plan out and create the Underground Railroad.

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2 Responses to “The Door”

  1. I like this story a lot because it is very creative and well written. It was a great idea for a short story and you used good details to tell the story in a way that made me want to read more.

  2. Interesting. Very well written and it definitely ended on a cliff hanger like you said haha.

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