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 1: The Doorway
Doug returned from work, removed his shoes, set his keys on their hook, and entered his living room to find a free-standing door where his coffee table should’ve been.
He surveyed the room carefully, looking for any other differences. His lumpy couch remained against the back wall with his Game of Thrones pillows tucked into opposite sides. His entertainment system resided opposite the large piece of furniture. The darkened television reflected the couch. Behind the door, he saw his kitchen. Nothing looked out of place.
“Josh? Is this some kind of weird joke? I don’t get it,” said Doug, aloud to his apartment.
He lived alone, but his best friend Josh was good at pulling off stunts like this. In college, Josh had successfully wrapped their toilet in plastic. Then he’d taken Doug out drinking. When they got home, Doug had to pee so bad he thought his bladder would burst. He didn’t notice the plastic until it was too late.
Doug circled the doorway. The back side was the same as the front – a single hinged door in a frame. The wood looked like cheap plywood, and someone had covered it in a sea green paint. A single silver doorknob stuck out of the left side on both the front and the back.
A smile crossed Doug’s face. “It can’t even be opened.”
He reached out and grasped the handle on the side facing his front door. To his surprise, he was able to push the door open. His stomach felt queasy like he was about to plunge down the steep tracks of a roller coaster drop.
“Josh, if you’re hiding somewhere around here, you really outdid yourself.”
Doug stepped over the threshold, closing the door behind him. He proceeded to the bathroom attached to his kitchen. The queasy feeling in his stomach remained. The coffee he’d had close to the end of his shift at work left his body, and he watched it cascade into the bowl. He flushed and began to wash up. As he scrubbed his hands in the sink, he stared at his face in the mirror above. Something about his reflection was wrong.
His goatee remained unchanged. He’d shaved it to make himself resemble one of those evil doppelgangers in Star Trek. The single freckle on his cheek looked the same. His hair still parted down the middle, splitting it into two, nearly even sections. But something in his mind still told him his reflection was wrong. The queasy feeling in his stomach grew worse when he looked directly into his own eyes. The bluish-green iris’s he’d been born with twenty-four years ago were gone, and two black pupils stared back at him.
A loud pounding came from the front door.
Doug turned away from his reflection in confusion. When he looked back, the black pupils had grown larger; they’d nearly expelled any trace of white in his eyeball.
“Josh, how the fuck did you do this?!”
His stomach now roiled with discomfort and nervous tension. It told him what he didn’t want to express verbally. Josh wasn’t responsible for whatever was happening.
The pounding on the door came again. And again. It intensified to rapid strikes. Someone wanted to break the door down.
Doug returned to the living room. The closed-door remained where his coffee table had been. He could see his front entrance shaking with the continued impacts from whoever stood outside. Next to the entry, he saw the street through his living room window. His jaw dropped open.
Instead of a clear blue sky and a suburban street, he saw glowing crimson clouds blocking out a black ocean of night. The cloud light was so intense it made the decrepit structures outside cast shadows across the street. And as the clouds moved, the light caught whoever, whatever, attacked his door. Its shadow loomed large, with multiple slithering appendages.
He slapped his own face to shock himself awake. Doug knew he must be dreaming. This was a nightmare. The worst he’d had since childhood. A hinge flew off his front door and landed by his feet. The aroma of old fish wafted in through the spot where the entrance was being forced in.
Doug dashed forward, grabbed the handle of the free-standing door in his living room, and re-crossed the threshold.