[Today’s prompt from The Daily Post is about finding a key that provides access to a previously inaccessible place ]
“Where’d you find that?” Acne cysts erupted on Rune’s face as he glared at The Bird with incredulous accusation.
I don’t know what you mean, the slender girl replied. The two teens were standing in the frost-crusty grass outside the gymnasium entrance of Bark Bay High School. She heard her soft voice grow nearly shrill as she demanded to know why Rune was so agitated.
The boy pointed to her right hand. “Your key.” The Bird looked down at her hand, and yes, there was a key, golden and gleaming and absurdly long, looking like something she’d seen in a comic book. She wanted to ask how she had found the key, but heard herself asking Rune what door the key would open.
“It’s not for a door.” She looked up and Rune was gone, Coach Dan was looking down at her with his short curly hair and beard and they weren’t outside anymore but in the cafeteria, the tables were unfolded and people were eating even though it was time for fencing practice, Annie was on a table practicing her footwork (advance advance retreat double-advance, lunge) but kids kept eating like she wasn’t there.
Whose key is it, The Bird asked, but Coach Dan frowned and shook his head. “The key doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s not even real. See?” The Bird looked down and the key wasn’t there, her hand was gone too and in its place was a glove, the glove from the fencing team bag, the one she wore at practice. Was her hand in the glove? She sent a mental command to her hand, if you’re there make a fist, and then she saw the fingers in the glove curl up and the thumb close on them, and The Bird heard herself saying Yes.
“Anyone seen the key?” Rex’s long thin body was standing next to The Bird, so she looked up and fifty miles up she saw him holding a squirrel, who was eating an acorn, not noticing that Rex was eating its tail. The Bird raised her hand, showed Rex her glove, but he looked away and swallowed the squirrel, whole, uncomplaining.
“He said it wasn’t real.” The Bird recognized Double-J’s gruff voice the instant before he appeared before her. “For once, Coach knows what he’s talking about.”
So why is it in your pocket, The Bird asked. He looked at her in rage, then ripped his down jacket, the key falling to the cafeteria floor as he disappeared.
The Bird reached down to pick up the key, but her hand passed through it. A hologram, she said.
“No it isn’t.” Suddenly Annie was in front of her, key held in her outstretched palms, like she was offering it to The Bird. “Take it.”
But it’s not mine, said The Bird. Coach Dan grabbed the key from Annie, pointed it at The Bird as he crouched down into en garde position. He advanced on her, and The Bird retreated. “The mistake you keep making — ” advance advance — “is thinking you need to find the door that will be opened by this key.” He extended his arm, and the gleaming key of gold bore down on her chest, her arms could not move to stop it. “But it’s not for that kind of lock.”
The key struck her chest, exploding in sunshine as it penetrated painlessly, and after Coach Dan and his hand and all her friends on the fencing team and the cafeteria all faded into the black of her subconscious as she opened her eyes to wake, The Bird saw a final image from her dream, the key turning slowly in her chest.