Derek finished planing the door. He blew off a few curly pieces of sawdust. They fluttered to the floor like oak snowflakes. Running his hands over the intricately carved plank, he felt no abrasions or rough patches. Standing it up in the corner, Derek walked through a doorway into the living quarters, as his father's shop was connected to the family's home.
His father was sitting before the fireplace, a fire roaring in the hearth and a warm mug of cider in his rough hands.
"Hey, dad, I finished a door," Derek said.
"That's good," his dad said.
"Do you want to see it?"
"Did you put it in the test frame?" his father asked, not taking his eyes from the fire.
"No," Derek said, shifting uncomfortably. "It doesn't look strange at all."
"Neither did the one that deposited six hundred pounds of fish on Lord Juttop's floor." His father stood up. "Come on, let's go give it a spin."
Derek went back into the workshop and retrieved the new door. He took it outside. It was the time of year where twilight could last for hours and so whatever happened would be easy to see. Derek fitted the door onto a frame that stood in the middle of the yard. After it had been attached to the hinges, Derek stood in front of the door. His palms were sweaty.
Derek's father stood a few yards away, that uncomfortable distance that spectators select which saps the confidence of the participant.
"Go ahead, open it up."
Derek took a deep breath. He opened the door. For a moment, nothing happened. Success swelled his chest until a great gout of flame erupted from the other side of the door and blasted Derek backwards and onto his rump.
His father dumped his mug of cider on an ember that glowed on Derek's shirt.
"It's a nice looking door," Derek's father said. "Go ahead and put it with the rest of your doors. I'm going to bed."
After his father had gone back inside, Derek took the door from the frame and carried it to a small shed nestled beneath a stumpy apple tree in the back of the yard. He put the door inside the shed with its dozens of brothers.
His first door hadn't been so bad. All that had happened was that he'd gotten a faceful of pie. His father, a master doormaker, had never seen anything like it, but as Derek tried harder and harder as his father's apprentice, it became more and more obvious that Derek would never inherit his father's shop. The doors became increasingly more hazardous, bizarre or downright annoying. The local taxman had to find homes for the six dozen cats that poured out of a door that Derek had made for his pantry, and the baker's wife had caused quite a scandal when a powerful gust of wind from her new door had blown off all of her clothes during a party.
Derek had made an entirely valid argument that it had broken the ice at the party, which it had, but the baker had made an equally valid argument that he should break Derek's nose if no extremely generous refund was provided.
Locking the door to the shed, Derek went to bed.
At dawn he was woken up by the sound of battle. He went to the window and saw that a forest of banners carried by the army of the Foul Lord Ulrich charged up the hill towards Lord Juttop's castle on the edge of town.
The battle was over without a drop of blood shed, for Lord Juttop had been away fighting a campaign in foreign lands and the mercenaries that he'd hired to defend his castle heard, among the sound of marching feet, the jingle of money.
That afternoon, the Foul Lord Ulrich visited the shops of the craftsmen of the town. Derek's father showed him around the shop. The Foul Lord Ulrich stomped around in his black, greasy armor. He touched spotless doors that hadn't yet been sealed and left disgusting, smelly fingerprints on them.
"I'd like some new doors," the Foul Lord Ulrich said, "all of the ones in the castle feature the seal of that fool, Lord Juttop."
"Then you shall have them," Derek's father, "and I'll give you a discount for a bulk order."
"You shall give me a one hundred percent discount!" laughed the Foul Lord Ulrich.
"But how shall I pay for my food?"
"It is not my concern. And I need my doors by tomorrow!"
"But that's an impossible task!"
"It is not my concern!"
The Foul Lord Ulrich stomped out to head down to the baker's shop.
Derek's father stood there, his face ashen. Then he sprang into action.
"You will be bringing me food and water as I need it."
"I can help-"
"This is no time for screwing around, Derek, if you give him one of your ridiculous doors he could take the shop! Just do what I say!"
They heard the sound of a scuffle, and then the booming voice of the baker making threats. They went to the door. The baker had been shackled and thrown into the back of a cart, which trundled towards the castle. The Foul Lord Ulrich walked behind, his nose streaming blood, nasally screaming."
"Ask about that party and my wife again and I'll give you a broken somethin' else!" the baker yelled.
"Throw hib ib duh dungeon amb dhrow duh key in duh cesspit!" the Foul Lord Ulrich said.
Derek's father worked through the day, the evening, and the night. He was a machine, crafting fine door after fine door. Each emblazoned with the foul symbol of the Foul Lord Ulrich. Finally, a stack of doors sat on a cart outside of the shop, the next day was dawning and Derek's father was fast asleep, his head resting on a pile of chisels.
"I can help, too," Derek said. He carefully and quietly made a door and replaced one of them on the cart with it. It was a perfect replica, nobody would notice a difference.
As Derek placed his door on the stack, the Foul Lord Ulrich appeared.
"Ah, my doors!"
"I'll go get my father," Derek said, starting for the shop.
"Bah, I don't have time. You'll come and install them."
One of the Foul Lord Ulrich's servants hooked the cart to a pair of enormous black warhorses and Derek trudged behind the cart.
Derek spent all day installing doors as quickly as he could and repairing doorjambs where Lord Juttop's doors had been pulled from the frames. At the end of the day he had only one door left. It was the door that he'd made, indistinguishable from the others except for the grain on the wood.
The door was destined for the study of the castle, from which Lord Juttop ruled and from which the Foul Lord Ulrich would plan further conquests.
Derek finished installing the door when the Foul Lord Ulrich came up behind him.
"Out of the way, worm!" he said, shoving Derek and admiring the door. "Now, I may formally begin my reign!"
The Foul Lord Ulrich whipped the door open with a broad, evil smile. Which melted into a look of total and complete terror as he beheld what was revealed. A mass of writhing tentacles as thin as cooked noodles whipped out from beyond the door and in a moment had flayed the Foul Lord Ulrich into a small pile of meat and grease, then the door swung shut with a thud that cracked the door straight out of the doorjamb. It fell out with a loud slam.
Derek threw up in the corner and was only roused out of his misery by the clash of steel and the shout of voices.
Lord Juttop and the baker came up the stairs, wielding swords and shields. They both looked from the pile of meat to Derek.
"I daresay that you've won yourself a knighthood," Lord Juttop said.
The Moral: bakers and doormakers should not be pissed off, because one handles your food and the other makes sure that your closet door opens where it should and not into a dimension of unimaginable horrors from beyond the bounds of sanity.