by Lela Marie De La Garza
From the depths of his cave, Gak watched the girl with his all-seeing eyes. Would she be the one? The one who would bring him his dinner... who would be his dinner?
There were safeguards, true. But perhaps she could break through them. If she had determination enough.
And she did. She hadn’t a lot else. Lucy wasn’t pretty, smart or clean. She was no good in bed and not much good out of it. A few unparticular men had used her, but only once. She had no friends. What she had in abundance was determination. When she wanted something — which was rare, to be sure — she went after it and didn’t stop till she had it.
With this all-gripping determination she had gotten a little house, which she clung to fiercely. And the five-hundred dollar chess set, which was her pride and joy even though she was unable to learn the game. Then, by the barest chance, Lucy found the Door.
It was set back from a tiny side street in a high hedge. Weeds grew in front of it, and so did a tree. It was hidden as well as possible, but Lucy caught a glimpse of it and was curious enough to push her way through the weeds.
She turned the doorknob, but the Door was locked. This was nothing to Lucy, of course. She made up her mind in a matter of seconds to find out what was behind it.
She got a hammer and a screwdriver from a nearby hardware shop and went to work. Lucy knew nothing about locks, and she soon realized she would have to bludgeon her way through this one.
The Door was obviously old, but the lock was strong. First she tried to unscrew it, but the screws were too rusty or set too deep. Then she battered at it with the hammer for a while, but that didn’t work either. Nor did prying with a crowbar.
Finally she got a sledgehammer. Lucy was no more strong than she was pretty or smart, but, with a tremendous effort, she swung the hammer hard against the lock and felt it give. Another swing and another, and the Door sagged. Now she was able to use the crowbar to pry it open.
When Lucy stepped inside, the first thing that greeted her was utter blackness. It was like walking through ink. She held her hand in front of her face, almost touching her nose, and couldn’t see it. She walked a few steps into this void and looked back. The entrance was gone, swallowed by a curtain of darkness. Lucy kept walking. She was determined to find the end of this room... or cave... or whatever it was.
Then she heard the whispers. “She came through the Door... the Door... the Door... No one must come through the Door... It is forbidden to come through the Door... Turn around, it is not too late... The Door is forbidden... The Door... The Door...” Lucy kept going until she could no longer hear them. Whispers weren’t going to stop her.
Lucy did stop when she bumped into another door. She felt all over it with her fingers, but discovered no knob, no latch, no handle. She beat against it futilely. Well, it wouldn’t hold her back for long. If necessary, she could go back outside, get her sledgehammer and batter it down like the first door.
But she didn’t have to do that. As Lucy continued groping she found a space under the edge. It was too narrow even for her small body, but the surface beneath was loose dirt. She started digging. Soon she had a trench. Lucy lay flat and wriggled through.
She continued walking but had hardly taken two steps when she heard another voice. This was no whisper, but clear and sharp. “Foolish mortal! You have already come too far. But there is still time to turn around. Leave this place or forfeit your life!”
Most people would have heeded this warning and judged it time to turn back. Lucy never slowed. She was no braver than she was pretty, smart, etc. But determination pushed her forward. She would follow this path to the end, no matter what it cost.
The dirt beneath her feet was becoming sticky. It didn’t feel like mud, but something less palatable. There was a smell of rotting meat. The path became stickier; the odor was stronger.
Now and again Lucy’s foot came down on something slick with a wetness she couldn’t identify. Then there were small, hard objects that cracked underneath. The smell was so foul that she was choking on it.
She sensed the space narrowing on either side and started to put out her hand, then drew it back, realizing that if there was a wall she didn’t want to feel it. Her fingers might not touch solidness but something soft and warm and throbbing.
Gak eagerly watched her coming. He could tell she wasn’t pretty, but what was that to him? Such determination she had, to get through the barriers set up to protect mortals. She was bringing him his dinner... She would be his dinner.
There were sounds now, not voices but squeaks and grunts and snarls. Lucy ignored them all. A dim light ahead broke the darkness, and she knew the end of her path was near. As the light grew, Lucy’s footsteps became slower and slower. She sensed something ahead: it was very big and very powerful and not at all good. But determination carried her on.
Another door was in front of her, but this one opened wide. Lucy gasped. The thing coiled inside wasn’t just big, it was huge! Green, gold and black scales covered the snake-like body. But this was no snake, not with its teeth and claws.
Gak roared aloud with disappointment. His eyes might be all-seeing, but his nose was not all-smelling. Until now he had not perceived the unmistakable odor of one who could not bring him his dinner, who could not be his dinner.
Gak ate only virgins.
With a twitch of a mighty tail, Gak tossed Lucy to his minions. She screamed as one leg was torn from her body like a drumstick, an arm like a wing. Then her voice stopped and there was only the sound of munching. It didn’t last long; Lucy was small.
Gak settled back to wait for the next person who had determination enough to open the Door, not knowing that virgins, like dragons, are obsolete.
Copyright © 2014 by Lela Marie De La Garza