“Alright then,” said Sir John, “here goes nothing.”
He wasn’t, he had to admit, feeling very confident in this endeavour. Nevertheless, he moved towards the massive facade doors of Hotel Raoul. His hand gripped the imaginary key they had all spent the last evening making, if gripped was the right word. Or even making. He was having trouble focusing on pretending it was there. He felt a little foolish for a start.
He scanned the door to find where the key might go, but the door didn’t seem to be designed to accommodate any kind of key, imaginary or not. This was an unforeseen setback.
“I can’t see a keyhole,” said Sir John to the others across the road. “Can you see from over there?”
“Where do you think it should be?” called Miss Henderson after a pause. It seemed a strange question to ask under the circumstances.
“Well, I imagine it would be about here,” said Sir John indicating an area of the door just above waist height on the right. From a great height a penny started falling.
“Oh!” he said as it achieved terminal velocity.
For if this was an imaginary key then it followed that it may have an imaginary keyhole too. And that keyhole was most certainly likely to be where he imagined it would be. Sir John pushed the key into the space he had indicated. It fitted perfectly.
“I think I may have found it. I’ll turn the key,” he said, feeling rather pleased he had solved the puzzle.
There was an audible click and Sir John stood back. The door was now ajar. Sir John squinted into the dark corridor that lay behind.
“Good Lord!” he said. A six foot lizard stood on two legs, a lopsided crown stuck at a jaunty angle and its arms held out to the side. Sir John couldn’t tell if it was intended as a welcome or not, it looked more like the lizard was mimicking a crucifix stance.
“Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name,” said the lizard.
“Well, hello to you too,” said Sir John. “I’m not sure I feel the same way, but it’s nice to meet you nevertheless.”
“I am the lizard king,” said the creature, “and I can do anything.”
“I see,” said Sir John. “Well, to answer your question I’m Sir John Jennings and I’m hoping to take the challenge. I assume you’re who I think you are?”
“The gate is straight, deep and wide,” said the Lizard King. “Break on through to the other side.”
“Yes, I’m ready to… break through?” said Sir John. “Is that what you said?”
The Lizard King pointed behind himself down the corridor. It was a wood paneled affair, with paintings on both sides. Sir John could just make out images of pyramids and circus acts. It looked like a gentlemen’s club or stately home. In something of a strange daze, Sir John walked forward and slipped into the house.