Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: The Open Door
By Misti Chancellor
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She froze at the bottom step. She distinctly remembered shutting and locking the apartment door when she left that morning, but now it was cracked open. She could see the entry light shining through the crack. Her breath caught in her throat as she tried desperately not to panic. An icy, cold drop of water landed on the top of her head, startling her out of her frozen panic and bringing her back to reality. Sucking in a deep breath and trying to act nonchalant, she walked beneath the landing and leaned against the wall. No! This could NOT be happening!
Setting her things on the ground, she dug her cell phone from her pocket, and called her parent’s house. She was shaking, not from the cold winter air, but from fear. Her brothers were busy and her younger sister thought she was overreacting. She did NOT want to go into the apartment alone. Who knew what might be waiting there? She tried calling the apartment managers, but the office was closed. They had already gone home for the day. Though torn between fear and embarrassment, with her mom’s encouragement, she reluctantly called 911.
Slipping out from beneath the landing, she took her things back to her car and set them in the back seat. She tried to ward off the chilly winter air by pacing the parking lot near her car as she waited for the cops to arrive. She was too jittery to sit still. A cop arrived and she walked with him to the apartment stairs. He walked carefully up the stairs, and gingerly pushed open the apartment door. She waited anxiously at the bottom of the stairs, biting her lip, hoping the cop would be okay. She turned as another, older cop walked up, and told him that the other cop was already upstairs. He took the stairs quickly, and reached the top just as the younger cop stepped outside. “Come on up and see if anything’s out of place.”
She hurried up the stairs and looked around. “No, everything’s where it should be.” She watched as the officers spent a few minutes looking at the door. “The lock hasn’t been tampered with. Did you lock the deadbolt when you left this morning?” She didn’t think she had. After admonishing her to do so in the future, the two policemen left. She overheard the older cop lecturing the younger as they walked down the stairs for going into the situation without appropriate backup.
Breathing a sigh of relief, she went back to her car and brought in her things. As she sat relaxing on the couch later in the evening, she could almost laugh about the situation. She felt so silly.
The heater came on. She froze as she heard the door creak open. She KNEW she had locked the door! Heart pounding, she leveraged herself off the couch as quietly as possible and crept toward the hallway. She peeked around the corner. There was no one there! She leaned against the wall and let out a huge sigh. Recovering her equilibrium, she hurried to the door, shut it again, and this time made sure that the deadbolt was turned.
The heater shut off. The apartment was quiet again. As her heart rate returned to normal, she laughed shakily at herself for being afraid. She stopped to thank the Lord for watching over the apartment while the door stood open all day long.
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