Carol ran dirty fingers through her short hair. ‘The damn door is locked,’ she growled, slamming the heel of her hand against the splintering wood.
I tucked ragged strands behind my ears and moistened my lips. ‘Maybe, I, uh…maybe we could find a key? Or, or, bust through it? I dunno.’
She turned to look at me, contempt flashing in her dirt-brown eyes.
‘Shut up, Francine. You don’t know nuthin.’
Her voice was hard, hard like the hand slap she’d delivered to my cheek earlier that morning. I touched the side of my face with one finger, it still smarted from the blow.
‘We’d better get back,’ she said, tersely, grabbing my arm and shoving me back one pace, ‘move your ass.’
I shuffled out of her way as she pushed past me, striding back towards the rest of the group. I heard them talking in whispers, glancing at me and staring. Carol dominated them, she dominated everyone. My sister, the goddamn hero.
But, she wasn’t no hero. She was just plain mean.
I sighed and ran my fingers over the old wood. It was dark, like the antique chest Grandma had before she died. I rested my forehead against it, and a familiar smell rose up, musty and comforting, like old rot and camphor.
I felt a shiver in my spine, as my hot cheek pressed against the wood. It was that weird feeling again, like a storm was brewing up, and I was at the eye of it. The tickling came up my back and I felt a dull, pulsing ache in my temples.
Without knowing what I was doing, I spread out both hands, flat against the door.
‘Open,’ I muttered.
Heat coursed through me and my head pounded as I swayed on my feet. I heard the busted old padlock click and I stumbled forwards into the blackness beyond. As I fell, I heard shouts from behind me before the portal swallowed me up, and I was gone.
With this piece, I was trying to explore tricky family dynamics played out against a apocalyptic setting.