Written by Bobartles
Peter took the steps three at a time, bounding towards the top floor at a speed a good deal greater than his wizened frame and long brown robes would seem to allow. He pushed through a small choir of residents on the landing, sending at least one priceless lyre crashing to the ground and knocking a small cherub over the banister, where it vanished into the gloom with a muffled curse.
“Sorry!” he called back, without stopping or turning to meet the indignant glares of the residents. Sandals slipping on the polished marble tiles, he turned the last corner and saw his quarry pacing back and forth outside a pair of very bright, very intricate and very heavy-looking golden doors.
“Gabe. What’s wrong?”
The man by the doorway winced a little and turned to face him. At nearly seven feet tall, he loomed over Peter like a strikingly blonde and particularly well-dressed oak. As he turned, his hand fell away from the slight bulge in his immaculate white suit jacket; the only indication of the concealed holster Peter knew lay beneath.
“Peter,” the man’s voice was deep and calm, but trembled slightly with hidden concern, “We’ve got a problem. He’s locked himself in again.”
“Again?” Peter glanced up at the ominous double doors. He raised an eyebrow and turned to his friend.
“Before you ask, I’ve tried knocking,” the white-clad man murmured, “I’ve called through, too. Hell,” he winced again, “I’ve even tried leaving him a message the old-fashioned way. That’s why I called you. It didn’t work. Not from me, and not from anyone else.”
“You mean…” Peter’s voice trailed off as he saw the panicked expression on the suited man’s face.
“Your kind were always his preferred children,” Gabe whispered, “Above us, above any others. He once said he’d do anything for you. And now he’s ignoring them.”
Peter muttered something foul under his breath. Gabe twitched.
“How long?” he asked. The man in white shrugged.
“I don’t come up here very often anymore. Nobody does. Could be hours, could be decades. But you just have to look down to see that something’s wrong. He’s lost interest.”
“Well…” Peter looked up at the doors, “Have you tried forcing your way in? Surely he’d understand that you were worried…” His voice trailed off as he saw the look on Gabe’s face.
“No. The last time that happened…” he closed his eyes and grimaced for a moment, before his expression changed suddenly to one of hope. “Wait. We can’t open it; trust me, you don’t want to know what he’s like when he’s angry. But…” he glanced up at the doors, to a slight bend in the upper right corner, “… there’s someone who’s done it before.”
Gabe flipped a slim mobile phone from his pocket; opened it with a snick of steel.
“John. It’s Gabriel. Get me the Morningstar.”
The burly man in rags was busy when the phone rang. He was busy being on fire. Thankfully, after this long he was used to it.
The ringtone was Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.’
“Fuck’s sake,” the man cursed, picking it up.
“Congratulations,” the ragged man’s voice was rough and angry, “You’ve reached me. Well done, years of the dark arts have finally paid off. Now put away your fucking pentagrams and give me some goddamn peace, or I’ll…”
“Lu. It’s me.”
“Gabby?” The big man stopped mid-rant and stared at the phone.
“… please don’t call me that. Look, it’s important.”
“It had better bloody well be!” Lu roared, standing up amid the burning coals all around and backhanding one of the creatures approaching him with a pointy stick, “You fucking cowards leave me to raise your bloody complaints, let me be the bloody scapegoat…”
“Lu, it’s about Dad. There’s something wrong. Badly wrong.”
The big man fell silent for a moment.
“Lu?” The tinny voice on the phone somehow managed to cut through the crackling of flames and distant screaming.
“I’ll need a hand up,” Lu murmured.
The doors were heavy, but Lu, it seemed, was heavier. After only three pushes, the leftmost portal collapsed under his shoulder.
“Oh, Father…” Gabe clapped his hands to his nose, turning away from the open doorway, “what is that smell?”
Peter gulped, and pointed towards the centre of the small, spartan living quarters beyond the archway. There was a single figure there, its features difficult to make out even in the glow from Gabe’s perfect suit. It appeared to be calmly facing the door, but a careful observer might have noticed that its hands were hanging rather limp, and its feet were a few inches above the spotless tiles.
A particularly careful observer might have noticed the rough hemp noose around its neck.
“Oh, shit,” said Lucifer.
The Locked Room was submitted as an entry to the October Half Hour Challenge under the theme, “Where Angels Fear To Tread”. It is also the fourth published piece by Bobartles here on Inkblots. His most notable pieces include the poem “Harplands” and short story “35.1”.