‘Twas late on a summer solstice night so dreary, whilst I pondered, weak and weary, over tomes of weird and forgotten lore, that there came a sudden tapping, as of something strongly rapping, followed then by a crashing and a bashing up against my subterranean shelter door.
It must be just imagination, was my initial rumination, just a simple flight of fancy as fatigue now made me antsy. That’s all it is, I told myself, whilst placing books back on the shelf. That’s all it is, and nothing more. Surely no one hammered on my shelter door.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! rang the sound.
“Who’s there?” I cried, now quickly spinning ‘round.
“Berry!” roared the strange reply.
“Berry who?” was my answering cry.
“Berry glad to be here!”
An odd response, there could be no doubt, from whoever, whatever stood without. What mad thing driven past all reason during this post-apocalyptic season, now full of lunatic, childish glee, had come ‘round now to torment me? More important yet, I now did wonder, while I stood listening to the night-time rumbling thunder, how sturdy is my iron-bound shelter door? Can it withstand the pounding more?
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Once more there came a bashing.
“Who’s there?” I cried, my teeth now loudly gnashing.
“Grape!” came an answering howl.
“Grape who?” I cried, with queasy bowel.
“Grape weather we’re having!”
Wild-eyed now, I turned once more to all my dusty books of forgotten lore, ancient knowledge now my sole recourse, to determine what was the unearthly source of this japing, jesting, joking jackanape, from what hell did it escape, and how to force its swift return to the fires that eternal burn, while ‘neath the constant pounding strokes oaken door timbers groaned in concert with knock-knock jokes.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Once more ‘gainst my shelter door.
“Who’s there?” I demanded in a final encore.
“Banana!” answered an angry growl.
“Banana who?” Fearful now I did implore.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! My door did reverberate.
“Who’s there?” I soundly cursed my ill-born fate.
“Banana!” returned the beastly howl.
“Banana who?” Faint hope revived, if somewhat late.
Now I perceived there might be cause, despite the scratch of adamantine claws, that I might yet escape with life and soul intact, avoiding need for unwholesome pact. For my unwelcome visitant’s curious way of inquiry could yet save the day. Dawn’s welcome light came on apace, its burning brilliance would soon give chase to any fell creature waiting at my door, and send it wailing off forevermore.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! One last time the echoing pound.
“Who’s there?” I demanded, with defiant sound.
“Orange!” came fast in answer.
“Orange who?” Worry now a returning cancer.
Silence at first, the quiet loud in my ears, giving new strength to my rising fears.
“Orange you sorry you’re alone?” growled back the Unknown.
I let drop the book I had in hand, and as I watched the splitting door, knew as one truly damned, I should see the dawn’s light…nevermore.
Gregg Chamberlain lives in rural Ontario, with his missus, Anne, and their cats who allow the humans to think that they are in charge. “Poetic Licence” is Gregg’s tongue-in-cheek tribute to Edgar Allan Poe, and other weird fiction writers.