Fandango hosts this challenge: https://fivedotoh.com/2021/09/13/fandangos-flash-fiction-challenge-135/
As he stood before the doors he pondered his options. There were more doors than usual and given his last trip through he wanted to make sure he chose the right one this time. His mind went back to the last door…
I remember opening the green door. I chose green on that particular day because the trees were full of new grown leaves, the grass was freshly cut giving it a greenish glow, and the world around me seemed alive. I didn’t know at that time that green wasn’t the door for living and thriving, it was the door for rotting and spoiled, for mold upon the top of the leftovers from last week. But I had gone not knowing this. I had gone thinking of positive things and life and love. I thank God I had that positive energy, otherwise I could have been stuck there forever.
When I opened the green door last time I was greeted with an odor, an indistinct odor that I couldn’t place right away. I let the door close softly behind me as I looked down the path that was waiting for me. It was a long path and there wasn’t much around it, not like the blue door, not like the purple door either. But it was the door I chose so I would move forward.
As I walked along I could hear the soft mewing of a cat wanting to be fed and I could hear the sucking sound of a baby nursing a bottle full of warm milk. Those were pleasant sounds, I had nothing to worry about. But as I rounded the corner, unable to see more than a few steps ahead of me, I noticed the figure, the woman in a dark green cloak, her back to me.
She was a petite woman, much shorter than I. She was facing a counter, a sort of kitchen counter, where bottles were lined up ready for filling. As I walked closer I could hear her crying, softly sobbing, and wondered why. I didn’t want to startle the woman so I cleared my throat to alert her of my presence. She lifted her head slightly but did not turn around. Instead she continued to cry softly.
When I finally reached the woman I could smell the sourness of milk, the rotting smell of old food, and then strangely mixed in, the soft smell of baby powder, tenderly spread upon a clean babys’ bottom. I wanted to turn away in disgust but instead I stepped closer, looking over her shoulder. It was there that I saw where the smell was coming from…
The woman was holding a large carafe. In it was a large green growth, closely resembling lichen on an old dead tree. Below the carafe, in the sink she stood against, were more baby bottles, all filled with a green liquid.
“I can’t feed my baby this poison, this filth, but I have nothing else and he is almost done with my milk.”
That must have been the suckling sound I had heard.
“My baby will die here if I cannot feed him.”
“Why is the milk so spoiled?” I asked.
“Because I can’t find any fresh milk and this is all I have”, she replied.
Taking the carafe from her hand I tried pouring out the milk from below the mossy growth. The milk poured slowly, but with a pure white color, a miracle considering the top of the bowl.
“Here is the fresh milk”, I said.
The woman turned to me, her crying had subsided. What I saw was horror. This woman, this mother, she was a monster! The flesh on her face was as hard and green as the moss on a mountain stone. Her teeth were black and her lips were cracked with dry blood.
I turned and ran as fast as I could, pounding my feet on the path, not wanting to look back, not knowing if she was following me or not. As I came closer to the green door I felt some peace and my fear turned to sadness. I came to a stop at the opening and heard a soft song being sung. It was her. She was singing a sweet song to her baby, telling the baby he would always be okay. The singing continued, softly, gently. I breathed a sigh of relief. I would be able to get out of this horrible place but I also knew I had saved that little life. I don’t know what happened before I got there and I surely didn’t want to know what would happen once I left but I knew I had done the right thing.
Reaching for the knob he hesitated. Why was he picking this orange door? What did orange make him think of? What horror would orange be connected to? He took this moment to think, think hard about his uncertainty. Orange was a pumpkin in fall, waiting to be carved and lit by a candle. Orange was fresh fruit and vegetables on a summer morning. He couldn’t think of anything that could go wrong with this door. He guessed he would have to take his chances.
He grabbed the knob and turned it, slowly pushing the door open.
©2021 CBialczak Fiction