Urban Horror : Doors Short Story by Richard GK StarkRichard GK Stark / Horror / Science Fiction
Doors Horror Story by Richard Stark
Copyright © 2013 by Richard GK Stark
Website : http://www.richardstark.co.uk
“And so with a verdict of Not Guilty the defendant is free to leave the court.” The judge states at the end of a three week trial.
Moments later the defendant shakes his lawyer’s hand, a man in his early thirties who has been tipped as one of the high flyers of the future. As he turns to leave the court another man in his thirties calls out to him.
“Josh! You did it! You got him off! Brilliant! How do you do it? You always seem to get what you want. Let’s go celebrate.”
After the usual acknowledgements and handshakes with the defendant and even the opposition’s team of lawyers, they head off to a quaint little pub round the corner, where two more friends are already there.
This was Josh’s fifth case in a row he had managed to win and he was starting to make a name for himself. He took a moment to check his text messages, a mixed bag.
“Congratulations darling. I’ll be with you in an hour. xxx” That was from his latest girlfriend whom he met just over a week ago.
“Congratulations on a brilliant piece of work today. As we discussed earlier we are happy to offer you a junior partnership at Carbottle and Trevis.” A job offer from a rival firm of Solicitors, one of the largest not only in the City, but in the world.
“Just to let you know I’m having the locks changed, so if you could pop the keys round. Wishing you all the best.” From his ex-girlfriend who had tired of never seeing him and his philandering.
After reading the messages Josh looked up and said “Drinks on me, I’ve been offered a partnership at Carbs”, to which there were loud cheers. A lot of his peers looked up to him, were jealous of his tenacity and single-mindedness and his ability to always get what he wanted. Josh would tell them it was just his nature, but the truth was that he had seen the way his father had allowed himself to be swayed by the needs of others, living in a pokey little terraced house next to his invalid grandmother whilst his uncle had gone to University and made a name for himself in the Automotive Industry, travelling the world. His father had told him how Josh’s grandmother had been crippled with Polio when he was just 17 and so had to turn down a University place in order to look after her, but Josh had watched with envy as his uncle had grown from strength to strength whilst his own family remained static. Josh had vowed never to allow that to happen to him.
The following morning he awoke, as usual, at about 7am and made the trip to his office, a small but friendly, family run Solicitors Firm near the river. He was thinking how to tell his boss, a fair but tough man in his mid fifties, who was also the owner of the business his family had run for nearly 70 years, that he would be leaving when he received a phone call asking him to come into his boss’s office.
“Well, here goes.” Josh thought to himself as he made his way up.
As he entered the office his boss got up from his desk and went over to shake his hand. “Well done Josh, I knew you could do it. Brilliant. I’m so proud of you, you’ve come a long way since I offered that young lad his Articles ten years ago.”
“Thank you Sir.” Josh said, rather perfunctorily.
“This firm has been missing someone with your tenacity, intelligence and fire. I see a great future for you here. This firm has been under performing for years, but now with new blood like you we can really restore it to its former glory.”
Josh smiled but didn’t say anything.
“How would you like to be a junior partner?” Said his boss, staring intensely at Josh.
“Hmmm, wow.” Said Josh, trying not to laugh but show gratitude.
“I see great things for this Firm, and you could be a major part of it. I won’t be holding the reins forever and I’ll need someone like you to take over in a few years.” His glare intensified.
“Wow thank you.” Josh said, as he began to smile. “But there’s just one problem.”
His boss’s eyes froze and the cheeks on his face began to go red. He seemed to have an inkling what might be coming next, as if he’d been in this situation before.
“I’ve been offered a partnership at Carbottle and Trevis which I’ve already accepted.” This last part wasn’t quite true as he hadn’t formally accepted the offer yet.
Years of representing clients had taught his boss to know when someone is telling the truth, someone is telling complete lies and when it’s something in between, and sensing in Josh’s voice that there was still a chance to keep him he went on the offensive.
“I know Carbottle. They are an excellent Firm. I know several of their team, in fact one or two of them used to work for me. I know they are an International Firm and I can’t directly compete with that, but they are also ruthless, and if you slip up or let personal matters get in the way they won’t hesitate to pass you by. If you stay here you’ll be family. We’ll look after you.”
“I know but the trouble is I’ve already accepted the position.” Josh said, trying to look at him without flinching.
“How much have they offered to pay you?” Said his boss, with both intensity and a hint of desperation.
“I’ll match it, and I’ll include a bonus scheme for every client you manage to get, and even every case you win.”
“Ummm I don’t know.” Said Josh, though in his mind he had already decided to leave. He’d loved his time working here but he’d always wanted to work for one of the big firms like Carbottle. In fact he had plans to move to their office in either LA or New York.
Sensing that Josh had already made his mind up to leave but that the terms of his move hadn’t been agreed yet, his boss changed his tone.
“Come on Josh. I need you here. I’ll look after you as I’ve always done. Don’t let me down now.”
There was a long pause as Josh pondered what to say next. In fact it was the kind of pause in which you could have heard a pin drop, one of those moments in his life (we all have them) where he had reached a crossroads. If this was a film there would be dramatic, suspenseful music playing but being just real life there was nothing but the muffled sounds of traffic from the street three floors below. Trouble was Josh had already made up his mind. His problem was how to tell his boss without upsetting him. He was a passionate man (you always are when it’s your own business) and he didn’t want him to take it the wrong way. Trouble is, there’s no easy way to say no. After about forty seconds Josh shifted in his seat, looked up and said “I thank you for all you’ve done for me, I’ll always be grateful. But as I’ve said, I’ve already accepted the position and I can’t go back on my word now, you understand?”
His boss did understand. Like several (though not as talented) before him Josh thought that he’d learnt all he was going to here and he wanted to see the world and be part of the one of the biggest Law Firms, and not take his chances building up a slightly antiquated Firm like this one.
“I really did see you as the future Managing Director of this firm. Don’t throw it away.”
Josh was starting to feel embarrassed and began to get up and leave. He offered to shake his boss’s hand but was declined.
“This is your last chance. Stay and grow with us. If you walk out that door now I never want to see you again.”
This was the last throw of the dice, and it was also the final test of character, as his boss knew from past experience that once they left, even if things didn’t work out and they wanted to come back it was never the same.
Josh began to feel uncomfortable, and so made his exit.
“I mean it.” His boss said sternly.
“Sorry.” And on that note Josh left the office.
“Phew, that was tough.” Josh thought to himself as he got into the lift.
At the end of the day he packed up his belongings and said his goodbyes, and arranged to keep in touch with his drinking pals and a few other friends.
A short journey home and he was back in his apartment and could relax. An hour or two later he got up from the sofa where he had been watching TV and went to the kitchen. He wasn’t really thinking about what he was doing as when he’s at home he’s often on auto pilot, and as he walked through the door he banged his knee and fell forward, narrowly managing to avoid putting his hand in the toilet.
“Ouch that hurt. What am I doing in the toilet?” He thought to himself.
“I must have walked through the wrong door.” He thought, as he picked himself up off the toilet seat. He was about to leave when he thought. “Actually I do need the toilet, so now I’m here….” He thought no more about it and returned to the sofa afterwards and continued watching TV, a detective series set in South Africa.
After the programme had finished he got up and went to the kitchen to get himself a bedtime cup of herbal tea, then re-entered the lounge and walked through the door to the bathroom, only to find himself in the