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Behind the Locked Door – Horror Short Fiction

February 27, 2016

“The locked door”
Prompt suggestion from Michael @ Morpethroad


Behind the Locked Door

Sam stood in front of the large wooden door and tried to open it. It was locked. The door was partially hidden just off of the Grand Library. A horrible smell oozed from the cracks.

“What’s behind here?” he asked the estate manager, Mr. Rutledge.

Mr. Rutledge scratched his head and looked down at a piece of paper he was holding. “I don’t know, Mr. Bartholomew. It isn’t on the floor plan.”

Sam walked over and snatched the floor plan out of the estate manager’s hand. “What do you mean it’s not on here?”

“As you can see, sir, it’s not there.”

“Maybe Aunt Gertie has a key to it somewhere upstairs, but I don’t have the time to look for it. Can you get a locksmith up here?”

“Sure, sure,” Mr. Rutledge said in a meek voice.

Sam and Mr. Rutledge completed the tour of the mansion and the grounds. Sam’s aunt had recently passed away and left the place to him. He was her American nephew and was taken completely by surprise when she’d named him as her heir. He’d only met her a couple of times in his youth and he had three English cousins. He’d waited six months before coming to England in case one of those three filed a claim against his inheritance. None of them did. He couldn’t understand why they didn’t. The mansion was in great shape for a Gothic-style mansion. The grounds were immaculate with flower gardens, a small pond, and a modest farm with sheep and chickens. Not to mention the two million pounds that came with it.

Sam spent his first few days sorting through his Aunt’s papers in her study. She kept well-organized records and a day diary. He had tossed the day diary aside, planning to read it later, but as the days passed, it kept haunting him. Finally, one evening, he poured himself a scotch, settled into one of the large leather chairs in the Grand Library. The smell still lingered in there and that door kept taunting him. What the hell was back there? And what the hell was that smell? Some dead animal? Rats, he decided as he shrugged it off and began reading his aunt’s diary.

“They are at it again. The damn vultures. They think just because I am seventy that I don’t still have all of my faculties about me. Charles tried to swindle me out of money again. Another one of his grand schemes. Stock market, he claimed. Does he think me a fool? Clarisse wants to put me in one of those senility homes. So what if I called her by her mother’s name a few times. She does look like her and she acts like her too. And Stephen. Dear sweet Stephen. He stays drunk these days. Always getting into trouble with the law and expecting me to bail him out. Well, I have plans for those three. Big plans. Barnard will help me.”

That was her last entry. Sam closed the diary and sat there contemplating his aunt’s words. He got up and called the estate manager.

“Hello, Mr. Rutledge. Do you by chance know who Barnard is?”

“The groundskeeper, Mr. Bartholomew. I am afraid he has gone missing though, sir.”


“Yes, sir. About two weeks before your aunt passed on. She was very worried about him. Fretted over it day and night.”

“Have you heard from my three cousins?”

“No sir. They have not contacted me.”

“Thank you, Mr. Rutledge. Oh? Any word about that locksmith?”

“Yes. He should be there first thing in the morning.”

Sam thanked the man and hung up. He settled into one of the bedrooms and retired for the night. His aunt’s words still plagued his mind. He couldn’t get the smell out of his clothes or his nostrils. And that damn door. He couldn’t stop thinking about it. Finally, after several hours of persistent thoughts, Sam drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, the locksmith arrived just as Mr. Rutledge said. He worked on the door for nearly an hour. Complained endlessly about the smell.

“They don’t make door locks like this anymore,” he told Sam while he worked away at it. It seemed to be an endless process. He worked on the lock. Stopped, held his nose a while. Then went back to work.

Finally, he was able to get it unlocked. Sam thanked the man and paid him. After the locksmith left, Sam returned to the door and opened it. The intensified smell hit him first. A horrid stench. He covered his mouth and searched for a light, running his hand along the walls on either side of the door. He finally found a switch. The room appeared to be some sort of bunker, probably built during one of the wars, Sam surmised. He noticed an air vent, but it was closed. The room was almost as large as the Grand Library. He moved through it. The walls were lined with crates, scattered furniture and old paintings. It was like a maze in there. He finally made it to the back of the room and stopped dead in his tracks. He gasped and turned his head away from the scene.

Two decayed male bodies sat at a table, a chest board between them. On a sofa nearby sat another decayed body. Female, by the remaining long blond hair. And in a corner, slumped over on the floor, was another decayed body. A male.

Sam left the room and called the police. Within an hour, a detective and a forensic team had arrived. Sam stood outside while they conducted their investigation. The bodies were dragged out in black bags. And finally the detective came to talk to Sam.

“We will know more in a few days,” he said to Sam as he was leaving the mansion with his team.

Three days later, Sam received a call from the detective.

“We’ve identified all of the bodies, Mr. Bartholomew. Charles, Clarisse and Stephen. Your three cousins.”

“And the last body?” Sam asked.

“Barnard, the groundskeeper. The two male cousins had their throats cut. Clarisse and Barnard were poisoned. Cyanide.”

Β©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.

(1032 words)

  1. I thought your story very inventive. I enjoyed it.

  2. But why kill poor Barnard?
    I enjoyed this, quite spooky! πŸ™‚

    • Oh I think she didn’t want him to tell what had happened, since he was in on it πŸ˜‰ Thanks Oscar πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks hun πŸ™‚

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