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A Message

By: Phoebe Shi

Lily sat alone in the corner of her bookstore, skimming through the pages of Circuit Analysis and Design, a textbook solely written to torture everyone who picked it up.

The night was eerily silent. Usually, you would hear cars, machines, or the local cinema playing trailers, but tonight, it was just quiet.

She shut her book and began dusting off the pictures of her aunt Hilda’s wide assortment of animals.

Ms. Hilda, the bookstore’s past owner, passed it on to Lily when she moved away. She also passed on her creepy bearded dragon, Ivory, who liked to sit on Lily’s head and stare at shoppers.

“No beetles for you.” She lifted Ivory off of her long, black braid, and let her rest on top of the globe.

Ding. Her phone lit up. One notification. “Unknown sent a text.” Tap.

“Don’t open the door.” Sent at 9:43. Typing bubbles appeared.

Ding. One photo of the parking lot. Except different. It was completely empty, the atmosphere swirling with black mist.

After debating what to do, Lily scrolled through her list of contacts and tapped on Celina Willows.

One second…two seconds…three seconds. Lily grew more apprehensive as each second passed.

“What do you want?” Celie’s groggy voice blasted through the phone’s speaker.

“Can you look outside for me? At the parking lot?”

“Do it yourself.” Lily could almost hear Celie rolling her eyes.

“My windows are around the corner; I can’t see over there.”

“Ugh, fine.” Knock. Knock. Knock. Three distant knocks sounded. “Hold on, I got to get the door.” Lily could hear the door creak open. Silence.

“Celie?” Lily said, “still there?” Celie already hung up. Rude, she thought. Ivory inched over and bit her hand.

“Ow!” she yelped, clutching her hand. “That was mean. How would you like it if I bit you?”

KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK. The door rattled from the force of the [choose your own word here]. Don’t open the door. Don’t open the door. The words echoed in her brain, so she didn’t. She didn’t open the door to what could lead to her imminent death.

“Come on Ivory, let’s go see Celie.” She said, putting on her hat and gloves. Ivory glared her in the eye.

Once the heavy footsteps marched away, Lily rushed outside and around the corner to Celie’s tea shop. The air smelled burnt and nauseating, as if someone was waving around a burning torch.

A mist of black powdery ashes crept out of the cracked door, circling around her boots, slowly creeping up to her face.

White light flooded her vision. She was in a white room, wearing white clothes, with a white chair, and a white table. Lily struggled to keep her eyes open.

The little speaker in the corner of the room started ringing.

“I’m sorry, but I told her to not open the door,” someone whispered. There was a loud “shhhhhhhhhh.”

“Hi, you’ve been banned from existence.”

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