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Keys to the Kingdom

Army of One


Keys to the Kingdom


He stood before it.

It stood before him.

The huge, black, polished wood door loomed high above. So intricate, so detailed. Not a single chip in the surface, hundreds of ornate carvings dominated the door. Faces, animals, mythical creatures. Torches lined the surrounding stone walls - burning strong, fierce, bright, illuminating the varnished, shiny frame of the door, and the lustrous, golden door handle. He approached the handle and gave it a pull. Nothing, like usual. He reached forwards with both hands, and with the combined might of his wrists, arms, shoulders and back, heaved with every ounce of raw strength he possessed.

Nothing, like usual.

Admitting defeat on that front, he stepped back from the door, rubbing his hands together and flicking his top teeth with his thumb - a nervous habit of his. Truth be told, he hadn't been expecting much success on that attempt. It had never worked, and would never work. He knew that, but it felt better to at least try - or maybe all men just enjoyed exerting physical strength on stuff. Knowing his next move, he pulled up the left sleeve of his green jacket and took what he had hiding there - the hairclip. He stepped back towards the handle, and glanced underneath the knob. He spotted the keyhole - that small, insignificant piece of empty space and blackness was all that stood between him and the gilded hinges of the door creaking open to admit him, like all who had gone before. Taking a deep breath, he very slowly, very gently, placed the hairclip in the lock.


The keyhole was a maze of tumblers that he could only visualise by feeling. Many gears, cogs, and other tiny metal pieces that held it so delicately together. Every time the hairclip moved, it changed something - it was so unfamiliar to its surroundings that without the utmost care, everything it did had an astronomical effect.

Every tumbler he successfully navigated gave a satisfying click. Every sound he heard, he knew that he was one step closer to his destination.

Another click. He could feel it now. Every second that passed, the anxiety doubled, the excitement tripled. He was as tense as an elastic band, pulled to the maximum of its potential energy. Which he knew he shouldn't let happen, but at this stage? Rational thought was out the window.

Another click. He was almost there. Manipulating the tumblers like a puppet-master, pulling the strings for total control of those attached. One more, and it was finally his.

A crack.


Not a click, or a clunk that meant the door was open.

A crack. He froze for a second, and closed his eyes. He felt every single tumbler roll back into place beneath his fingers. He felt them lock back into place, the door once again as solid and impenetrable as ever - in the physical realm, and in his mind.

Trembling, he opened his eyes. He glanced down at his fingers. He slowly withdrew his hand from the lock and shifted his gaze slightly, to the one half of the hairclip he had clenched between his middle and index fingers.

He started for a few seconds, wordlessly, without breathing; and bowed his head. He felt something fall to the floor in front of his foot. He then turned on his heel and walked away from the door - half of hairclip clenched in hand.


The next person who went to open the door, a few hours later, hesitated as he went to take his key from his jeans pocket. He looked down at the ground, in between the footprints that had been there. He then looked up at the ceiling, and wondered just what had been dripping.


-Daniel Tribble


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