Key of Bones (flash fiction)

Here’s a piece of fantasy flash fiction about an enchanted door and a magical key. It’s about 570 words and has an estimated reading time of 2 minutes. Let me know what you think!

“It’s locked,” Craith said, finagling with the doorknob.

Outside, it was as if the world was coming to an end. Fireballs rained from the sky, and the people of Farnworth ran for cover.

We stood, nervously, by the enchanted door in the cottage. Laena, the elf, had let us in on a secret: this doorway could transport us to a better world in times of dire need. But she didn’t tell us it would be locked. And she didn’t tell us how we’d be able to open the passageway.

“Let me try,” I told Craith. I tried to pick the lock, and then I banged my shoulder against it. It was a heavy door, and it wouldn’t budge.

The screaming from the villagers echoed into the night, and we began to panic. We had a way out; we just couldn’t find a way through.

“Hello, again.” It was Laena, the elf. She appeared, suddenly, inside the dark cottage, looking cheerful as always, despite what was happening.

“Laena!” Craith cried. “What shall we do? How do we open this?”

She smiled mischievously. “I’m afraid you won’t like the answer.”

“Tell us. Please!”

“I’ve spoken to you two for a reason,” she began. “One of you holds the key to this door. But, only one of you will make it through.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Your bones. One of you must fashion a key to the enchanted door by whittling it from your bones.”

In the corner of my eye, I saw the tools needed to do the whittling. Then, I gazed at Craith, who was also staring at the tools.

“This is madness!” I yelled.

“Be that as it may,” Laena replied. “But these are the rules.”

She vanished as quickly as she’d appeared, leaving Craith and I in the room alone again. Outside, we could tell it was getting worse. Our village was under siege, and it was only a matter of time before the barbarians would roam the streets and take their captives.

“What shall we do?” Craith asked, scared.

“If this is true, then one of us must die.”

“There’s another way,” he said. “What if one of us lopped off an arm? Then used the bones to fashion the key?”

“Perhaps. Are you volunteering?”

I saw him squirm. “Not necessarily.”

Before he could speak again, I wrestled him to the floor. Craith was quick and strong, but he wasn’t as fearless as me. I pulled out my dagger and sunk it into his chest. Craith gave a cry, then limped to the corner of the room.

I finished him off speedily and began the preparations to make the key. Craith was a dear friend, but I’m not noble enough to sacrifice my life for him. Call me a coward or what you will. It was either him or me.

Once I finished making the key, I quickly inserted it into the enchanted door. It fit perfectly. The heavy door was still challenging to open, but I tugged until it flew open wide.

I don’t know what I expected to see, but it wasn’t this. Instead of a passage to a better world, I saw dancing flames and demons. I went to run away, but a force sucked me inside and slammed the door shut.

Laena, the elf, had tricked us.

It was too late before I realized I opened a door into hell.

The End

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

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