Chelsea muttered profanities under her breath. She couldn’t believe that the door had failed to latch. Now, of all the possible times. That stupid door with its stupid finicky latch. She wondered what kind of intergalactic genius had decided that a shoddy dollar store latch was the right choice for an interstellar portal.
While most women her age were out with friends on a Saturday night, Chelsea’s activity of choice was touring the universe. She had discovered the portal by complete accident one night, opting to take a shortcut on her way home. Only she’d had one or two drinks too many and she went down the wrong side street and tried to cut through this tiny gated garden. She’d sobered up pretty quickly when she’d found herself plummeting through space and time. And when she’d found herself on the most amazing alien world, well, she was hooked.
Now, every Saturday night, Chelsea made the trek to the portal and spent hours exploring the universe. Up until tonight, her adventures had been pretty tame. She took in the sights and smells of each world, marvelled at the majestic landscapes, tasted exotic fruits, including one planet with these little apple-like things that tasted just like chocolate. Much better than the place with the pear-shaped things that tasted remarkably like chicken.
One of Chelsea’s favourite things to do was take pictures of the alien wildlife she encountered. She was careful to do it from a distance and generally remembered to turn her flash off. But tonight she’d stumbled across the cutest creature she’d ever seen. It was fluffy and the colour of warm caramel, and it was curled up in a cuddly little ball, sound asleep. Chelsea stifled an “aww” and reached for her phone, forgetting to check the flash.
The flash went off and the cute little furball exploded into a fluffy thing with way too many teeth and really sharp claws. Chelsea stumbled backwards and turned on her heel to run. She could hear the alien coming after her, snarling and spitting. Catching a glimpse of the portal on the horizon, she increased her pace. Chelsea was so intent on getting her butt back to the portal that she didn’t notice the hole in the ground ahead of her. Her left foot went into it and pain exploded in her leg. But she knew she couldn’t stop, so she kept running, adrenaline keeping her injured leg moving.
She’d dove through the portal, slamming the door behind her as she emerged into the garden on Earth. But of course, the damn gate that guarded the entrance to the portal hadn’t latched.
With another silent curse, Chelsea shifted her weight to alleviate the pain that was now shooting up her leg. She was pretty sure she’d broken or torn something, but it was too dark to see how bad the damage was and she had other, more pressing things to worry about at that particular moment. Like the demonic furball that had followed her through the gate.
As if on cue, something rustled in the bushes directly ahead of Chelsea. A spike of panic drove itself into her spine, knocking the wind right out of her. She held her breath as the bushes parted to reveal a raccoon.
Chelsea closed her eyes in relief as the raccoon scurried away. Maybe the alien creature hadn’t followed her after all. She made her way quietly over to the gate and pulled it firmly into place, double-checking to make sure the latch was secured. Then she hobbled out of the little garden and into the street, wondering if she should try to hail a cab to take her to the emergency room.
In the glow of the streetlights, Chelsea noticed paw prints in the road. At first, she thought they were from the raccoon, but then she realized there were too many footprints and their shape was all wrong for any Earth-bound, urban-dwelling creature. The tracks were clearly heading down the street, into the city.
“Oh, shit,” said Chelsea, and pulled out her phone to dial 9-1-1.
This is my submission for this week’s Speakeasy #127. Come and read all the other fantastic submissions, then come back and vote for your three favourites on Thursday.
We had to include the following line anywhere in our piece: The door had failed to latch. And we had to make some kind of reference to the song Maniac, by Michael Sembello: