❝The key around uncle’s neck is black with age. He says the door it unlocks is hiding.
“From what?” I ask. He sighs.
I examine the key with curiosity. It’s on a very long chain, the links so thin I have to peer closely at it to even make them out. It must be quite strong, despite its apparent delicacy, to bear the key which is so heavy.
The key itself is a strange thing. The head is rounded, with a hole in the middle for the chain to go through. The blade is long and rounded too, and there are unsettling engravings on it, hardly legible, that shift and waver when I try and study them. And the teeth of the key…the teeth all curve into points, so that they look a little like horns or fangs.
“What do you think the door it belongs to is like?” I ask my uncle.
He hums, gently pulling the key from my hands and tucking it beneath his shirt to hang on its quicksilver chain, out of sight, but not out of mind.
“Well,” he says slowly. “Make a key, and its door will be called into existence. Make it wrong, and you might just summon a black door. Or worse, no door at all. I don’t think this is the case of the latter, but the former…”
I stare wide-eyed at my uncle. I can still feel the ghost impression of the key in my hand, and it tingles. “A black door?” I ask in a whisper, and wonder how he can bear to keep the key so close to his person, knowing that such a door might appear at any moment, called by it.
My uncle nods solemnly, staring into the fire. As though he knows exactly what I’m thinking, he says, “You must understand. As a Locksmith, I have a responsibility for the keys that come my way. To bear them to the locks, and thus the doors, they belong to…or to keep them separate always, in case whatever is behind those doors and locks gets out. Black doors have the reputation they have for a reason. To open them is to invite calamity.”
“But you said the door is avoiding you,” I say, confused.
My uncle smiles, but it’s a grim smile. “The door doesn't want to be opened,” he explains. “It avoids me to avoid the key, because to be so near is to be unable to resist the pull of it...”
"Why don't you destroy the key then?" I ask.
My uncle flinches, hand flying to the key beneath his shirt. "Don't say that," he hisses. "It can hear you."
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