It has been two hundred days since the door to my study began screaming. I was nodding over a volume of Edwin Corang’s collected prose when I first felt it; a curious ripple that moved through the
room, standing my hair on edge, followed by the sensation of coffee spilling into my lap as the screaming began…
The Screaming Door
by Hampus Flink
It has been two hundred days since the door to my study began
screaming. I was nodding over a volume of Edwin Corang’s collected
prose when I first felt it; a curious ripple that moved through the
room, standing my hair on edge, followed by the sensation of coffee
spilling into my lap as the screaming began.
Maggie twisted her neck around the corner. She was carrying an oval
tray of silverware, all rattling with the report of the door.
“Are you in pain, sir?” she asked.
“Just a coffee burn.”
My voice disappeared in the torrent of screams that flowed from the
door. I cleared my throat and stepped away from my writing desk. There
was no mistake; the door truly was the originator of the wails that
shook the house. The construction seemed to be experiencing an
unfathomable terror; it never stopped for breath, and the wood
quivered and bent at its hinges.
“Should we call for someone, sir?” Maggie asked.
“I suppose we should.”
We called professionals from different fields and requested their
presence at the house, but our first visitor was uninvited. We were
digesting our lunch in a remote corner of the house when a grey-eyed
policeman entered, kicking the mud off his boots against the
baseboard. We assured him that no murder was in progress, and Maggie
showed him to the study.
The policeman gave his verdict while pulling his hat down around his ears.
“Stop this ruckus,” he screamed, “or we will have you incarcerated. I
don’t care how you do it. People must be able to get on with their
“We have sent for professionals,” I shouted, “and I am confident that
at least one of them will find a solution.”
Unfortunately, my prediction was inaccurate. A string of useless
persons visited my house that afternoon. They were, in order:
– A burly decorator, who ensured me that the door was in good
shape and had been coated with a harmless paint mixture;
– A woodsman, who immediately retreated with tears streaming
onto his checkered collar;
– A priest, who proclaimed the door to be possessed and
recommended and exorcism;
– A paranormal investigator, who drew the same conclusion as the
priest but offered no solution (though he did demand payment);
– A physician, who declared that there was – as far as he could
tell – nothing wrong with the door, but said he would prescribe
something for my headache.
There were also several more visits from the police, who relayed the
complaints of my neighbors and threatened me and the door with
incarceration. I always asked for their advice and they always left
while muttering that my attitude needed adjusting. After a few days I
was issued a written notification that forbade me from leaving the
house until I put an end to the nuisance.
We made countless efforts to appease the door. Maggie used to place a
cushioned seat in the study every night and read the most soothing
works of Pinnacle, Weisberg and Plume with perfect enunciation.
Gradually, we replaced these tomes with fairy tales my wife had left
me. At our own discomfort we embraced the door each morning, and made
courteous small talk with it. Efforts to teach the door how to use
consonants and form words were unsuccessful. The screaming persisted –
a single, unrelenting note of pure terror.
“The ingratitude,” Maggie would say to the door, “if only you could
One desperate night, I carefully removed the door from its hinges and
strapped it to the roof of my car. I drove seven screaming miles into
the east and placed the door in the woods, hoping to reacquaint it
with some relatives. This seemed to make the problem even worse; the
noise stirred the local fauna from the moss, and I was escorted home
by a somber convoy of police cars.
The sky was turning a pale hue of blue as I arrived to find Maggie
sitting on the porch with her face buried in her hands. She dried her
eyes on her apron and ran down the steps to greet me.
“What are you doing out here?” I said.
“Oh, sir, please replace the door, things have been terrible without it.”
“You mean to say you’ve missed this wretched thing?”
“As hard as it may seem to believe, sir, the noise is even worse without it.”
“The screaming didn’t stop while I was away?”
“It was sustained in greater measure by the doorframe, sir.”
We concluded that it is difficult to determine where a door ceases to
be a door, and that the attempted destruction of the screaming door,
like that of the hydra, was likely to result in its replication.
One morning I was able to discern a doorbell amid the screams, and I
answered it with enthusiasm. A grave group of sallow-faced community
members stood at the porch. Their leader, Mrs. Francis, who had once
been a close friend of the family, held out a letter using both hands.
I read it quickly and glanced back up at her.
“It is a petition,” said Mrs. Francis drily, “for your eviction. We
have decided that your presence here is detrimental to the
Mrs. Francis smiled apologetically.
“Mrs. Francis,” I said, “as I have already explained to the police, my
presence on or off these premises has no effect on the noise.
Moreover, I have no place to go. Perhaps you would like to discuss the
matter over a cup of tea? Maggie! Prepare some tea for our guests!”
“We cannot force you to leave,” said an older man in the back of the
group, “but we’ve made this petition as a formal assertion of our
“You went through all this trouble just to insult me?” I said.
“It pales in comparison to the insult you’ve caused us!” said Mrs.
Francis, breaking into tears. The old man put his hands on her
shoulders and guided her toward the gate.
I returned inside. Maggie was on her knees, carefully collecting the
blue-rimmed shards of a teacup that had danced off her tray.
“You may as well break them all,” I called to her, “for we will have
no more guests in this house.”
As the weeks went on, a forest of cardboard signs spread over the
neighboring lawns. Property values plummeted, and I watched the
caravans of former neighbors crawl over the hills until every house
except mine was empty.
I was sitting in front of the fireplace, stirring the embers from the
coals and contemplating my own demise when Maggie ceremoniously struck
a ladle against her tray like a gong.
“There is a gentleman from out-of-town here, sir.”
“What does he want?”
“He wishes to see the door, sir.”
“Send him away.”
“He says he will pay for his admittance, sir.”
In an instant, my contempt for mankind was replaced with the desire
for its exploitation. As the emigrants from the neighborhood had
settled elsewhere, their stories had aroused the interest of the
country folk. Presently, these unwitting peasants began traveling from
near and far to experience first-hand the terror of The Screaming Door
on Hill Crescent.
I made a spectacle of both the door and myself. Maggie maintained a
concession stand with souvenirs (rectangular coasters and novelty
greeting cards) and I assumed the role of emcee, swinging an iron
poker around my head and spinning tales about lost souls trapped in
Sadly, my new business fell apart within weeks, and the joy of
exploitation gave way to contempt. A reviewer accused me of
maintaining “an elaborate ventriloquist act” and visitors agreed that
the price of admission was not worth the spectacle. I enjoyed a brief
period of printed mockery and prank calls before the world forgot
about me and my screaming door.
The blinding stare of the bedroom window woke me up. The bedside table
lamp was still lit, rattling from the screams. I checked my watch and
made my way toward the stairs while securing the belt of my robe.
“Maggie?” I called. Trying to best the door in a shouting contest
would be futile; I had to call again in closer proximity to my target.
As my feet touched the cold planks of the ground floor I cursed having
forgotten my slippers in the bathroom – Maggie normally placed them by
my bed every morning. I called for Maggie again to reprimand her for
this oversight. There was no response. I felt guilty about being mad
at Maggie and called for her again to apologize.
Like a child searching for his snowman in the rain I surveyed and
resurveyed every corner of the house. I took offense to every empty
chair, every slanted picture frame and every conspicuous carpet stain,
all scored by the monotonous composition of the door. As I read
Maggie’s resignation, which was appropriately concise, I could have
sworn that the door was laughing at me.
I have thought of destroying the door, of course. The only thing that
stayed my hand in the past was the possibility of inspiring new terror
in the other doors of the house as I smashed their brother with my
hatchet. But tonight, the destruction will be done.
Why should this curse be visited only on my head? After the generosity
the world has shown me, the very least I can do is to share with it my
loudest possession. The fireplace is roaring. In a moment, I will
release the screaming door into our atmosphere. From this day forth,
may silence be but a legend passed onto our children.