"The Door in the Wall"
Elizabeth opened her eyes and lay in the darkness and immediately knew that something was wrong. After a few moments, she could make out the familiar shapes of her room -- scattered toys, puzzle boxes, and odd pieces of old furniture. Outside, the trees, naked of leaves, stood guard by her window. For a few moments she held onto the hope that she would fall back asleep. Then, she sighed, pulled aside her blankets, and stepped onto the cold wooden floor. Silently, she padded across her room and walked out into the dimly lit hallway. At the top of the stairs she saw a pale light cast upon the carpet just outside of her mother's open bedroom door.
She stepped into the light and looked in. There, dressed in a nightgown and sitting on the corner of the bed, was her mother. She was leaning toward the window, gazing intently at something outside. Elizabeth spoke softly. "Mom?" She stepped into the room and approached the bed. "Mom?"
It was as if her mother hadn't heard her. Elizabeth crept up beside her and the breath caught in her throat. Her mother's eyes were wide open, searching but focused on nothing. Her body was rigid and still. Elizabeth held her hand in front of her mother's face and waved it back and forth. No response.
Walking slowly backward away from the bed, as if fearful that her mom would rise and grab her, Elizabeth exited the room. She ran to the other end of the hall and pushed open the door to her brother's room. "Timothy! Timothy! Wake up! Something's wrong with Mom!" She rushed to the bed and shook her brother, a lump growing in her throat. But Timothy didn't move. "Timothy? What's wrong? Wake up!" She shook him again. "Hey! Wake up!" But he did not wake up. Elizabeth's arms dropped to her sides, and she stood there, helpless, eyes glazed with tears. She turned and ran.
She ran down the stairs to the large living room below. Elizabeth stopped in the middle of the room, cold moonlight spilling through the tall, narrow windows. Uncertain of what to do, she stood, fixed to the floor. Upstairs her brother and mother were unresponsive, in some kind of trance. She needed help. Her heart raced as she thought frantically about what she could do. Then, she froze, and her eyes opened wide with shock.
The room was silent and still as it usually was in this old, nearly empty house. But tonight, there was one thing different. The blank wall across from her mother's piano was not blank anymore. Next to the old armchair that her grandmother used to sit in was a wide, black door made of wood. Elizabeth remained still, filled with horror. For, as she watched, the door shook and then began to swing open.