PROMPT: “The story must involve some boots or shoes in the beginning.”
TITLE: Red Door
Shoes! There were hundreds of shoes lined up against the wall outside the red door. Shoes as far as the eye could see, where on earth did they come from? What were they doing here? Where was this place?
I was standing in the middle of a long street paved with white marble and gold gutters. There were only two buildings in sight, and hundreds of shoes. The building to my right was a short, square, black building. It wasn’t a very enticing or interesting building, very bleak. It had a red door. The building on my left was magnificent, grand even, at least 10 stories high, with marvellous arches and wide sweeping stairs, I don’t know what it was made of, but it gleamed, it shone. It’s door was golden.
As I looked at the buildings, I noticed that the there was only one pair of shoes outside the golden door. Whose were they? Why only one pair? It was the much nicer and more interesting looking building, surely it was the same inside. Why only one pair?
As I stood there looking at the buildings and the shoes, marvelling over their differences and wondering what was going on, a man walked slowly down the street. He was an average looking man, brown closely cropped hair, brown eyes, even brown clothes. There was nothing remarkable about him, yet he caught my attention. It may have been because we were the only two people in this street with only two buildings and lots of shoes.
“Good afternoon,” he said in a deep voice, “Welcome.”
“Hi,” I stammered, unsure of what to say. “Where am I? And what are all those shoes for?”
The man slowly looked first at the golden door, then at the red door. He shrugged his shoulders, “They are choices. Choices that you must make to find out your destiny.”
Confused, I asked, “What do you mean choices? What choices?”
Realising that this was going to take some time, the average man sat on the ground, crossed his legs and indicated that I should sit down too. I cast around, no chairs, no rocks, no logs, nothing to sit on but the ground. I sat too.
“Do you know where you are?” he asked. I shook my head, no, I had no idea. I don’t even know how I got here, let alone where I was.
He looked me square in the eye, sighed heavily, shook his head and said softly, “You are dead. There’s no easy way to say it. You are dead and this limbo.”
I sat there stunned, “Are you sure? I’m really dead?” I didn’t believe him, not a word. “That can’t be right,” I thought, “I can’t be dead. I don’t remember dying, I can feel my body, it’s here. I CAN’T BE DEAD!”
The man just sat and watched me, he said not a word while I worked through the information in my head. How could I be dead? What happened? Eventually, I calmed down, slowly took a deep breath and asked, “How?”
He shrugged and looked at me apologetically, “I’m sorry, I don’t know. That’s not my job. My job begins when you arrive here. Most people never find out how they died. I don’t know how I died, I’ve been here a long time, you get used to it… eventually…”
“So if you don’t know why or how I died, what is your job? What are you here for?” I asked him desperately.
“I am here to offer you two choices. I cannot influence them or give you advice, I can only inform you of your choices, you must make the decision yourself, and once made, it cannot be changed – not matter the consequences.”
I sat confused, “Choices? You said that before. What choices? What are you going on about?”
He pointed to the doors, then the shoes, “Those are your choices. To move on in this world, you must choice a door. The door you choose is the one you will go through, and there you will live out your eternal life.”
I contemplated this, looking from door to door, “So where do the doors go? Where do they lead?”
“Ah… all I can tell you that one leads to hell and the other to heaven, but I cannot tell you which one goes where. You must work that out for yourself.”
“Oh!” I replied stumped, “Surely you can tell me something about them. Some clues, perhaps?”
He shook his head, “No! I cannot tell you anymore about the doors or where they lead.”
“Surely…” I stopped, I looked, I thought some more, I asked, “What about the shoes? What are they for? Why are there shoes?”
He smiled, “Ah… The shoes… Yes, I was wondering when you would get to them. They are place holders. Once you choose a door, you must place your shoes in the line. When your turn comes up, you go through the door.”
I looked at him, I looked at the shoes, “But the golden door only has one pair of shoes, and the other door has hundreds. It must take a long time to get through the red door.”
He nodded, “It does.”
“And the people? Where are the people who are waiting to go through the doors?”
He stood, stretched his arms above his head, “That I cannot tell you. That you must work out yourself. Now I must go.”
“But… but…” I stammered, “But you’ve got to help me. I don’t know which door to choose!”
“I cannot help you anymore. It’s time for you to make your choice. I have given you all the help I can and now I must go. You alone must make the choice. I wish you luck.” With that, he walked down the street and vanished.
I stood, staring at where he had been, but he wasn’t coming back. I was all alone. Well, me, two doors, and hundreds of shoes. I looked about, hoping desperately to find someone else, anyone else who could help me. There was no one.
I sighed, breathed deeply, lifted my shoulders and walked towards the golden door. It shone brilliantly and brightly, I stepped closer. It seemed to draw me in. It seemed to say pick me. I looked closely at it, there were no handles, no visible hinges, I pushed on it lightly, it did not move. I could see no way to open it, it must only open from the inside.
I looked at the shoes, they were brown sandals. Normal, everyday brown sandals. There was nothing special about them. I picked them, they were heavy, they seemed old. I turned them over, felt them, they seemed familiar. I saw that there was some faint writing on the sole, it read ‘Property of Lucifer.’ Curious…
Putting the shoes back in place, I turned towards the other door, the red door. It was dark and heavy, the building was imposing and threatening. I did not want approach it, I shuddered. I walked to the door and touched it, it radiated with heat, it fairly vibrated under my hand. I did not like it at all.
I turned to the shoes… There were hundreds of them in a neat little row against the wall. I couldn’t even see the end of the lines. There were all sorts of shoes – work boots, stilettos, pretty little sandals, tennis shoes, sneakers, even thongs – shoes of every type. I was puzzled, why were there so many shoes here and only one pair at the golden door. Surely behind that beautiful door was heaven, paradise. This ugly red door must be the entrance to hell. Still, I had to choose.
I looked at my feet, there were no shoes on my feet. Where were my shoes? How could I choose if I had no shoes to place beside the door? What was I to do now? I fell to the ground, sobbing…
“Hush there now,” said a soft voice.
“What???” I said startled, looking around in bewilderment, “Who is there? Who said that?”
“It is I, God,” said the voice, “I have come to comfort you in your time of sadness.”
“Oh Lord,” I said, “I have no shoes, I cannot place them by the lovely golden door to heaven.”
“You have already made that choice,” replied God, “What is your name?”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember…” I said, my crying had eased and my mind began to clear, “I don’t know my name but you do, Lord. Please enlighten me.”
I shook my head, “No Lord, that cannot be so.” I did not believe, I could not believe. “But, Lord, if that is the case, then I have already chosen my door. My shoes are at the entrance to the golden door, the door to heaven.”
“Yes.” boomed the voice, “You have chosen, but because you tried to oust me and take over heaven, I cannot allow you to return. But because you did not choose the red door, neither can you go through it. You are in limbo, unable to progress further until you make another choice.”
“But, Lord, benevolent father,” I begged, “You can forgive me and allow me entrance to the golden door.”