Today we’re featuring a sample from The Key to Everything by Alex Kimmell. Alex has been dropping some fun stuff on you here for the last couple of weeks. Check out his book.
Cracked and weathered binding, hiding mysteries on pages tied closed by a bloodstained string. A happy young family enchanted by dreams and possibilities. A barren, empty room. A boy with no friends obsessively drawing angles, edges and diagrams.
In his debut novel, Alex Kimmell captures a vivid and startling tale of fear transporting you into a prison that cannot be breached, a place that can only be unlocked with a very special key.
In The Key to Everything, fear is explored and heightened through jarring imagery and terrifying, unique menace, ratcheting up tension until the gripping climax.
Other Boy sits in his room criss-cross applesauce playing with a small plastic toy on the floor.
Two voices come up through the crack at the bottom of his closed door.
Hard Voice snaps a whip through the air sharp with violence.
Soft Voice wraps around the room a warm down blanket sewn with loving hands.
Other Boy looks down at the plastic toy.
Hard Voice shoots off again followed by stomping feet cracking gunshots across the hardwood floor.
Soft Voice reaches out with long dulcet vowels.
Other Boy stands up and reaches for the doorknob.
Hard Voice barks
a caged dog prodded with a stick.
Softer and gentler than ever Soft Voice reaches out to hug Hard Voice.
Other Boy wraps his fingers around but does not turn the frozen doorknob. He pushes his small ear against the flat and unforgiving wood.
Other Boy listens to the voices rising.
Other Boy doesn’t comprehend, but he hears ANGER, BLAME
Goose pimples rise on Other Boy’s arms.
Other Boy squeezes the plastic toy key
Hushed melodic whispers reach through the thick oak entering Other Boy’s ear.
Other Boy lifts the plastic toy to his mouth.
Quiet melodies sing on and on pleading through the door into Other Boy’s ear.
Other Boy chews on the edge of the plastic toy.
Other Boy pushes with his index finger at the toy too large for his small mouth.
Other Boy pushes too far.
The ragged chewed on edges of plastic scratch at the back of Other Boy’s throat.
Other Boy hears a clicking noise from the door.
Other Boy looks up from the floor and watches the doorknob slowly turn.
So slowly it might not be moving at all.
Other Boy is on the floor.
The doorknob moves too slow.
Whiteness searches around the edges of Other Boy’s green eyes.
Whiteness finds Other Boy
The door opens. Soft Voice is screaming. Two gentle hands slide under and lift Other Boy.
Fingers slip and tug at the toy.
Hard Voice shouts out in unrestrained shards of broken glass.
The unsteady hands shake and fumble with the toy letting it fall to the floor covered in drool
A click and then the brief yearning whine of dial tone interrupted by three short staccato notes.
One thin plastic sounding ring…
A harsh click.
“Emergency. How may I assist you?”
People are in the house. Strange people all wearing dark clothes. Lots of them are crying. They smile at him and rub his head when he passes by. Some try to hug him but he wiggles away. Auntie This and Uncle That drove here from far away. Papaw and Gram won’t come. They never come anymore. Not in a really long time.
Mommy won’t get up from the couch. He brings her some chocolate chip cookies but she probably won’t eat them. A lady he doesn’t know is sitting next to her. She smells funny. Like Gram’s closet used to smell at the old house.
Daddy’s smoking. Smoking is bad for you. Hurts your breathing. Daddy keeps filling his glass from the brown bottle he keeps in high cabinet above the fridgerator. Daddy shouts at him when he goes out to the backyard to swing.
He is bored. No one will play with him. That stinky lady on the couch tells him no TV too. He already played with the toys in his room. He looks at the door across the hall. That’s where the good stuff is.
He moves silent tiptoe.
He twists at the doorknob. It turns easily in his tiny hand. He tries to stay quiet remembering Soft Voice say, “This room is a no-no.” He sees the plastic toy on the floor in the center of the empty room. Dark stains look black in the shadows from the curtained windows. The boy picks it up and rubs some of the red smudges off on his shirt. Small fingers wrap around the toy and stuff it into his front pants pocket.
“Come on out of there, Brammy.” Soft Voice calls from the open door.
The boy turns and smiles for Soft Voice. He runs out of the room and wraps his arms around her leg.
The boy skips down the hallway his hand still in his pants holding the toy
alex kimmell is a former session musician from Los Angeles with a uniquely skewed view on the dark side of the world. His short fiction has appeared in publications by Black Lantern Press, Front Row Lit, and The Wordcount Podcast among other places on the www. In 2012, Booktrope released his debut novel “the Key to everything”. You can find more information about his writing and undiagnosed psychosis at www.alexkimmell.weebly.com