Who’s Out There?

~ a short story


Kid wakes up. He’s in a strange room. Where am I? He is seated in a chair in the center of a room made mostly of concrete. It’s silent but then his own motion sets about a flurry of sound and movement about.

First he hears the sound of small, impish crying. There’s a young girl in the corner, clutching a teddy bear. She’s afraid, alone. He turns her way and notices another person. A man, he is standing upright, chains encircle his torso, arms, legs. He is up against the wall, restrained by all this. This man is awake and by the look of his eyes — panicked, maybe even afraid. There is also a door. Next to it, a screen. The image on it is grainy and shifting but another man appears in it. On the screen, he sits comfortably in a chair. He makes steady eye contact with the camera bringing the picture to the screen. He talks and sound emits from its speakers.

“Can someone open this door? I am unable to.”

Where the hell am I? the kid ponders.

Is this… like Saw?

The kid begins to walk around the room to make sense of what is happening. The man behind the screen continues to speak.

“Young man, please try to open this door. I am stuck in here. I can’t move from this chair. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure where we are. But if you let me out, then we can figure a way out of this place, I promise. Please help me out.”

The kid tries to speak with the young girl, but she’s afraid and shy anyway. She clutches her bear tighter and turns away further into the corner. The chained man inspects his trappings, pushing against them to no avail. The kid circles back to the door and the screen. But there’s a sound and it is loud.


“Let me in!” sounds from outside a large door at the head of the room. The bangs resound throughout.

The kid almost falls down in surprise, almost wets himself. The small room houses a large steel door. There is no window, there’s nothing he can see outside. Apparently leading out, the banging seizes when someone on the other side lets it be known:

“Let me in! Hurry! It’s coming for me!”

The kid hesitates but the others don’t.

The man on the screen, “Let them in, son. They are in great distress.”

The man on the wall, “No! Whatever is coming after them would be able to get to us. We’re safe in here, don’t risk it.”

The kid listens to them. On instinct, he continues to move towards the door and its great handle. The little girl whimpers, enthralled in the situation at hand.

BANG! again.

The voice from outside, “Please, I am going to die unless you let me in!” It sounded like a young woman.

Screen-man: “A life is at stake. Open the door and secure their life. It’s the right thing to do and we all know it. On moral grounds you will be committing murder with your inaction. Moreover, you are the only one capable of doing it, of conscious mind and physically able to at the moment.”

The kid moves closer to the door.

Wall-man: “You are making a mistake. You aren’t factoring in the girl, yourself, or us. You’ll be putting us all in unnecessary danger by opening that door. What’s more valuable, one random unseen person or all of us in here, even a little girl? You have no idea what’s out there, what is chasing them, what’s in the air, who this person is. They could be lying. They could even mean us harm.”

The kid, immobilized in consternation, ponders the dilemma presented. The little girl starts to cry once again.



Wall-man, straining against the chain, raising his voice in real anger, “Listen to her. She’s scared. You mustn’t open that door. You’ll kill us all.”

Screen-man, speaking with logo-infused candor, “Son, please consider the consequences of your actions, or rather, inactions. One way or the other, you will be putting a life at risk. Make the right choice, save a life. You can close the door as soon as you get them safely inside. There is no real risk to us, as long as you act with conviction.”

BANG! BANG! bang.

Screaming commences outside. The crying inside continues. The rationalizing and yelling continues throughout. The room becomes cacophonous but the kid does not appear to be panicked anymore as the banging on the door dies away.

He thinks:

Am I too late? Oh no…

Wait… I don’t think it matters.

The kid inspects the shape of the room, its space and the positions and the … archetypes. It’s perfect. It’s bullshit.

This game is over. The kid, believing himself to have ‘figured it,’ moves to the door with carefree resolve.

“No!” Wall-man is screaming, girl is crying, screen is silent, kid proceeds uninhibited.

The door swings wide. A woman falls into the kid’s arms. He catches her and lays her down at his feet as carefully as he can. She is unconscious, yet unharmed. A bright light streams in from outside. For the moment, he is blinded and can’t see what’s out there.

Holding the new girl, the one from outside, the kid stares out and waits for his eyes to adjust. The light crosses a zenith and he is soon staring out into a countryside. Three bright suns embark over a blue field of breezy plant-like balloons rising from the ground. Continuing to scan the horizon in confusion, the kid takes note of the silence of the room he still stands mostly within.

The kid turns around to find all four of them standing at attention in the center of the room. The wall man is unshackled from his restraints, the screen man out of his closet and standing, the little girl wielding her teddy bear like a sword, even the unconscious woman, now fully conscious, stands and looks upon him in an apparent calm. They each stare with glowing eyes of a color the kid can’t quite make out. In unison, they proclaim, “Bias Introduced. Inconclusive Finding. End Sequence Initiate.”

A roar resounds over the countryside and the grounds shake from its descent. When the kid turns back, it’s sunsets. A new shadow emerges from the horizon. ~