Flash Fiction Challenge: The Portal

Door in Hedgerow Photo by K.S. Brooks
Door in Hedgerow
Photo by K.S. Brooks

The portal appeared and once more, Davis knew he had a choice. He could either turn away from the door and face the looming difficulties in his life, or he could step through the doorway and skip over them.

In the past, he had always braved the adversity, whatever it had been. He truly believed he could not learn from that which he did not experience, even if that entailed suffering. But this – this might be too much to bear. He hesitated before the glimmering door, struggling with the choice…

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: The Portal”

  1. There it was, again, that blue door. It kept appearing out of nowhere in intervals of time. This time the door appeared to Douglas in his backyard. Dare he venture through the door? Should he tell Karen? What if he called her and the door disappeared? He feared if he didn’t walk through the door, the door would keep appearing. It was there for a reason. But what was the reason? Did its color signify any personal data required from a past experience? Douglas stood quiet, keeping his focus on the blue door, trying to remember. What was so blue in his life that this door represented? Doors don’t up and appear out of nowhere. Enough. He was going to do it. He felt compelled to go through the door. He made his way to the door, his stomach was beginning to flip flop. Douglas found himself standing at the blue door, his right hand clasped the handle, he turned the door knob slowly, fearing what could possibly be on the other side. A bright light filtered through the crack of the door; a brilliant white light. Heaven? Douglas stepped into the light, and just as he was being compelled by the light, Karen called to him. He turned to his wife’s voice and saw that Karen was stepping out through a red door, then poof, Karen vanished. Karen stood at her husband’s hospital bed looking down, the corners of Douglas’s mouth turned up into a warm smile.

  2. With a sense of foreboding, Davis headed inside. Silver light trickled as rain all around him, illuminating the cavern in uncanny detail. As he watched, the ceiling and walls shifted until they were but specks in the distance, leaving an endless space. Had he made the biggest mistake of his life?


    He gulped. Golden rays bounced off the rocky ground and a low hum filled the air, consuming all other sound, and like a song, it rose.

    “Why have you come?”

    Davis gazed upon the maiden, clad in nothing but her glittering, golden skin. It shone as brightly as her smile. “Did you get lost?” she asked sweetly.

    He hesitated. “I s-seek r-refuge.”



    Like a rush of ocean waves, the maiden’s laughter filled the cavern. “You cannot hide from life. You know it will only follow.”

    “I am old and fear Farmer Jack may send me to the Knacker’s Yard. I’ve heard stories.”

    “Davis, you are his dearest horse. You need not fear. I will open the door once and advise you return to the life you have.”

    A blanket of pitch fell and the portal blazed open, revealing the green fields of home. Flicking his mane, Davis trotted obediently to the threshold, paused once, and charged forth. Then fear froze his hooves. Up the hill strode three men bearing shotguns. Wide-eyed, Davis detected a gap in the closing portal door and galloped faster than he ever had before, except when he won the 2005 Grand National.

  3. In his twenty two years as a counselor, he encountered numerous people who had lost a parent. Several due to a violent accident. One because it was her fault.

    Davis stared into the hedgerow beside the door. In his mind he could still see the redness and puffiness in Erika’s eyes, the streaks of tears lining the teenager’s face. She had been with friends at a keg party. There was no designated driver, something she came to swear that she would forever be.

    Her father was in the driveway, key in the door lock, apparently heading out to find his daughter at 1:35 in the morning. No doubt, he was concerned. He always was. Mom had been asleep.

    Sobbing, she informed Davis that she’d never get the horrified look on her father’s face out of her mind, that moment when she lost control of her car, hopping the curb and slamming him into his pickup. And her mother’s screams would forever echo in her mind.

    Davis gripped the door handle and paused again. He had forgotten to inform his mother of her faltering brakes after he’d borrowed the car late that afternoon.

    I’ll check your brakes tomorrow morning, something’s not right.

    He wished he’d said that.

    But she left for the store, for the cranberry sauce she wanted to pick up for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner.

    There lies a great distance between sympathy and empathy. He knew that now.

    The portal shrunk to nothing behind him as he walked back.

  4. Jack woke up with a gasp, panting.
    A vast expanse of empty valleys filled the horizon in all directions. No trees. No birds. Just grass and the breeze that swayed it.
    But there was something else. Two doors emerging from the ground like tombstones one next to the other. Blue coated one door, and red coated the other.
    He remembered.
    The gunshots. The artillery. His comrades falling in battle. The bullets that ripped his stomach, pinning him to the ground, screaming, agonizing, dying.
    “Where am I?” whispered Jack.
    “You’re at the Crossroads.” He turned. A boy watched him with pupil-less white eyes. “And welcome. It’s not often someone visits me here. It can get lonely sometimes.”
    “The Crossroads?”
    “Some call it purgatory. You can call it how you wish. All you need to know is that you’ve been given a choice. Enter the red door and slumber forever in death or open the blue door to enter the living world again.”
    Jack rubbed his chin. “A second chance, you mean?”
    Jack remembered the war and its horrors. “No way I’m going back with the living.”
    “Are you sure?”
    He recalled the good times. The smile of Margaret. The bed they’d shared. The baby gestating in her belly.
    Jack stared at the blue door. “No, I still got people that depend on me.”
    Margaret lay, soaking in sweat, on a bed at St-Clement Hospital.
    The doctor held a baby in his arms and smiled warmly. “It’s a beautiful boy.”

  5. Forbidden

    Peeping through a forbidden door

    which I’d closed years before

    memories that exalt and destroy

    momentary joy

    then tears I cry

    It had ended in tragedy

    caused such misery

    gnawing feelings that haunt

    remembered passions that taunt

    there is no release

    Will I ever find peace?

  6. As I close the door behind me, everything goes dark. I take a careful step forward and…..nothing! I am falling, endlessly falling. I start to tumble, my fear turning into panic as I spin uncontrollably into the darkness.

    Suddenly I find myself standing on solid ground. The darkness surrounding me is so complete I am like a blind man. I dare not move again for fear of another fall.

    Somewhere in the distance a faint yellow glow appears. It gradually grows brighter as I continue to watch. Oddly, the glow does not illuminate anything. It was as if the glow itself has substance all its own. Soon it was all around me. Though it was light, I still could not make out any shapes or boundaries. It was a bit like being in an enormous block of lemon jello.

    After about ten minutes, the yellow glow slowly fades leaving an incredibly crisp vivid morning! Looking around I see a surreal paradise.

    And where was I? And did I care? I had gone through the door to avoid life’s difficulties. I sure looks like that’s what I did.

    I start to walk, looking for my Eve.

  7. The maggai told me I had only three opportunities to use the portal. He said each time the door appeared, I would have three hours to decide to use it or not. After that it would disappear. He also assured me it would know when I needed it most. However, the use of the door came with a warning of extreme physical change.

    This is my third and final time. The first time I used the door was ten years ago for my job search. That was a success, but it cost me most of my hair coming back through. The second time, was two years ago. Susan begged me not to use the door and she died within weeks. The doctors had promised us a cure was at hand. Now, Kayli has the same symptoms. Time is running out.

    This time it is my daughter’s life at risk. She is everything to me. She is all I have left and the doctors still don’t have a cure. Besides, I’m not sure Kayli has ever forgiven me for not using the portal to try and save her mother. I have one final opportunity to make it up to her. This is my last hope.

    Let’s see. The combination is: three to the left, four to the right, and finally two left again.

    The ventilator rose and fell with a woosh sound. The figure, bald and severely swollen, lay lifeless in the bed. A young girl stood by his side.

  8. Davis squinted. He hadn’t thought that things were quite that terrible – and it only ever seemed that the portal appeared when he was at his lowest. Was he not seeing things clearly?

    Sure, he’d had a nice run as Senior Vice President of Mortgage Investments. Uptown office, four cars, three homes, a yacht, and exotic vacations. Looking back now, he could see that he’d been living beyond his means, just like the people whose money he had “invested.” Then came the congressional hearings. His company needed a scapegoat. His dismissal had been quite public, making it impossible for him to find work elsewhere. The portal had appeared then. When his wife left him, that blue door materialized in his driveway. When the lawyer told him he had to pay for bankruptcy up front, and he didn’t have the funds, the portal showed up behind the big leather chair. It appeared again his first night living on the street. Each time, Davis had resisted the temptation.

    Being homeless had been harrowing at first. But Davis was an accomplished observer, and picked up on protocol pretty quickly. He shadowed those more experienced. They led him to shelters and soup kitchens. He was grateful for those.

    Davis studied the door quizzically before fanning a huge wad of hundred dollar bills. “Thanks, Jim,” he said to his former boss before soaking him with gasoline. Davis tossed a lit match, then casually strolled from the room. He stood in the street and watched with a smile as the mansion burned.

  9. Only in the dark, could a glimmer be so bright. Or so Davis thought, when the door swelled beneath his fingers then burst through the grass like a budding mushroom. It drew him to his feet. Beneath his aching hands, the cool metal pulsed with the promise of release.

    Over his shoulder loomed “the difficulty”. This is what he had titled it although, just yesterday, his wife had shrilled a more virulent description before she, and their 1979 Chevrolet Malibu, had rattled out of his life.

    In the dim time between yesterday and today, Davis had decided to end it all. Had crept with gas and matches to the deep end of the garden. There, overseen by the “abomination”, he had searched for debris to start a fire. No success. The automatic groundskeeper had arrived on schedule, and the area was spotless. Bereft of choice, Davis had flung fuel at the feet of the “monstrosity” he had hewed. Then, without meeting the still eye, he had lit one match, only to follow it with a second, then a third. All. Strips of recycled cardboard and sulphur had rained sparks upon the “horror” that occupied the space where the last tree had stood.

    Davis wept. For the idol? His sanity? He wasn’t quite sure. The fire had been extinguished by the underground sprinkler system. There could be no erasure of his crime.

    Alive, the door waited with alien patience, while songs of trees trilled from the other side.

  10. The door is open. You see.

    Hedges for ears. Lamps for eyes. This is how I sense. I am whatever you need me to be. A portal to a better place. A shortcut. Means to an end. Depending on how you look at it, I am.

    I mean to end.

    The door opens, you enter. Do you know? I can never tell if at first they do or not. They find out eventually, though. As you will.

    A door for a mouth, wooden planks for teeth. And the door closes.


    The door is open.

  11. “’Til death do you part.” Excessively romantic? Or depressingly intense? Was this the line that was supposed to be the most important from the ceremony? Davis thought back over the last incredibly long year. ”What had happened to the love, honor, and cherish?”
    A whirlwind romance. They had met after one of his games… the Utah Jazz game. Sasha was gorgeous. Articulate. Radiant. At the time, she had seemed perfect. Three months later, they were married.
    He was a rookie: first year away from all those he held dear. From high school he could have played anywhere, but he chose to stay home and attend his father’s alma mater. It was a good choice. Principled, family roots had stayed entrenched and stable. He had excelled: a four year Collegiate Scholar and an All-American.
    Outsiders thought his world was easy, but that wasn’t true. He was ambitious. A self-starter. He was an overcomer: obstacles were opportunities. The world was his oyster.
    But suddenly he had found, not all oysters contain pearls. And even when they contained a pearl, not all pearls were equal.
    Never-ending demands from marriage… from Sasha. It wasn’t that she was being unreasonable. It’s just that in a single’s life, responsibilities were casual. In marriage, responsibilities became obligations: problems seemed to escalate.
    Another after-party… without Sasha. “Other commitments…,” she said… again.
    Looking around. So many untried opportunities. Glimmering possibilities.
    Another pearl was approaching.
    “Hello, my name is Davis.” He flirtatiously interjected.
    After all, the world is my oyster.

  12. Papa?”

    Davis looked at the child. Her pale face smiled as she lay in the hospital bed. Dark smudges surrounded her eyes, eyes bereft of lashes. Tubes and wires stretched from her to the bank of monitors that bleeped, dripped, and ticked. Each sound a symbol of what life had become. His baby girl, barely starting life only to have it cruelly yanked away.

    Eyes clamped shut; he sucked air through a constricted throat. He couldn’t watch anymore; couldn’t bear any more pain. The doorway shimmered behind him. He’d turned away from it during the war and when his wife died. Living through life’s adversities was the best teacher, but what was there to learn from watching a death like this? One step through the portal and this experience would be left behind. He could escape the grief. But if he passed it by again would it return?

    “Where’s that door go, Papa?”

    His eyes sprang open. If she could see it her life was at a brink, teetering; waiting for her choice. It meant she was like him in more ways than he thought.

    “It leads away, Ariel, around the pain. But it makes you forget who you were.”

    She pursed her lips a moment, thinking. “I think I’d rather stay here.”

    He stroked her skeletal hand. The taut, yellowed skin felt dry. So frail, so young. All he had left. He couldn’t leave her. Every second was worth the pain. Maybe this treatment would be the cure….

  13. Davis looked back at the bed. Cindi slept, if it could be called that. Tubes punctured her arms and dove deep through her nostrils. The steady ping of the monitors reminded him that she could go at any time.

    The choice like it had been so many times before should have been simple. He could step through the door and reappear in the world at a time when things had settled down. He never had go through times like this if he didn’t want to. Distasteful sensations like this were not part of the mission given to him by The Council.

    He glanced back at the door again. The bluish shimmer surrounding it, out of place in the stark white hospital room, belied the simplicity of the thing. It could have been a door to a home for all he knew. But here it sat, in the most unlikely of places.

    Davis turned back to his earth wife in the bed before he stepped over to the door. His hand rested above the service panel. It would be so easy to press the button and open it. Step through and this moment would be done, forever.

    He pressed the red button. With a flash of light the door blinked and then closed in upon itself. He gave the empty space a last look then resumed his place in the chair at Cindi’s side.

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