The Threshold is a ten-part Weird Fiction story told in 1,000-word bites, give or take a few words. In the tale, Doug, a millennial everyman, finds himself exploring increasingly horrifying worlds trying to return home.
The Threshold is a ten-part Weird Fiction story told in 1,000-word bites, give or take a few words. In the tale, Doug, a millennial everyman, finds himself exploring increasingly horrifying worlds trying to return home. Visit The Threshold’s Installments Page for a list of all installments in this New Pulp Tale.
Part 2: Destruction
Doug reached the other side of the threshold. Normal sunlight glared through his front windows and welcomed him back to the world he knew. Outside, the decrepit structures and crimson clouds he’d seen after first crossing through the doorway were gone. The street looked like the same one he’d glimpsed every day since moving in. He took great gulps of air in quick succession as relief flooded his body. A sudden crash shattered his composure.
His eyes darted to his front door, looking for the thing that’d been trying to break it down when he’d crossed the threshold into the other world. The entrance remained standing, and the wood displayed no signs of distress. A slopping sound wormed its way through the room. Doug could practically feel the noise like a physical presence approaching him. Adrenaline coursed through his veins as his body navigated between fighting something he couldn’t see or fleeing. With his senses heightened to their peak, he was able to better identify where the horrid sound came from. Behind him.
He turned to look through the open doorway. Inside, red light cast a grotesque shadow across his living room floor. The shape consisted of hundreds of spindly appendages squirming in different directions and reaching out from a huge singular mass. Doug looked up from the floor to see a piece of the worm-like arms slithering into view. With it came a smell like rotting fish. The thing was trying to cross the threshold.
Doug broke free from his frightened paralysis. He slammed the door shut. The noise and smell of the creature’s approach ceased immediately.
Sweat poured down his forehead as he took in quick breaths. Doug feared moving to see past the thin wooden door. He trembled at the thought of glimpsing the thing’s shadow still splayed across his living room floor.
The doorbell rang.
He closed his eyes and took another deep breath. Doug slowly leaned over to look behind the free-standing door. The horrific shadow was gone.
Doug turned to look at his front door. Someone was leaning over to look inside his front window. The radiant sunlight caused him a moment of blindness. His eyes adjusted, and the clear blue sky behind the figure came into view, followed by the person’s facial features.
It was his best friend, Josh. He dressed in a casual hoodie and jeans. Stubble covered his jaw. He must’ve recently gotten a buzz cut. Doug shook his head in relief and walked to the front door to let his pal in.
“Where the hell have you been, man?” asked Josh, stepping inside.
“Ah,” Doug struggled to find his words.
Josh walked into the living room. “What the—”
He’d seen the threshold. Doug turned to stand behind him. The two stared at the free-standing doorway in silence for a moment.
“Odd decorating decision,” said Josh, taking a seat on the couch. “Hey, the Resident Evil 2 remake has been out for three weeks, and we haven’t started our podcast about it yet. We’ve got a hungry audience of twenty-five people who’ve been harassing me about it on twitter.”
Doug ignored his friend and rushed to the bathroom off his kitchen. Inside, he turned on the light. The eyes that stared back at him were their normal blue-green color.
“Thank God,” he said, aloud.
“Dude? You even listening to me?” yelled Josh from the living room.
Ignoring his friend, Doug exited his apartment via the backdoor in the kitchen. Outside, the brisk air sent a shiver through his body. He made his way to the fence and hopped over it into his neighbors’ yard. An ax with a yellow fiberglass handle stood embedded in a block of wood. Doug wedged it out and returned to his apartment. He grasped the ax with both hands and raised it over his head. When he saw the doorway, he charged forward.
The ax went straight through the sea-green door’s cheap wood.
“What the fuck?” shouted Josh.
Doug saw his friend’s mouth hanging open. He leaned over to look past the door, to the spot Josh stared at. The ax Doug held wasn’t sticking out of the backside of the door. He still gripped the end of the ax handle, but the rest of it wasn’t visible.
Doug pulled the ax back. The sharpened head reappeared in their reality. He swung the weapon again, but instead of hearing wood splinter he heard the sickening squish of flesh being punctured.
“Stop,” cried Josh. “Tell me what the hell’s going on.”
He ignored his pal’s protestations and sent another strike at the door. Then another, and another. A sticky red substance oozed out from the damaged areas. It started to coat the ax. Out of the corner of his eye, Doug saw Josh scrambling toward the front door of the apartment. Doug kept chopping, and when he swung at the frame, the sound of breaking bone echoed in the room. He didn’t stop until all that remained of the threshold were splinters of wood, or what looked like wood, lying in a crimson stain on his carpet.
“Had to destroy the door – couldn’t let that thing get out. No idea why it sounded like I was chopping up a living thing instead of a door,” said Doug, through exhausted breaths.
He looked up to see that Josh had left the room. Doug didn’t know when he’d gone, but he’d worry about it later. Now he needed to clean up the wooden remains in his apartment.