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Literature / Locksmith's Closet

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Lachlan Smith is still grieving the loss of his father and adjusting to a new home in a new town. When he investigates a strange noise in his room, he discovers a portal to… no, not Narnia — the future.

And there’s nobody there.

So Locksmith and his friend Gary Thalberg set out to discover what happened and whether it can be prevented. Meanwhile, his family has an enemy who will go to any lengths to take their new house — and the portal — for himself.

Locksmith’s Closet, by Paul Briggs (a.k.a. lockswriter) is the first book in the planned Locksmith Trilogy:

1. Locksmith’s Closet (2013)

2. Locksmith’s Journeys (forthcoming)

3. Locksmith’s War (forthcoming)


This story provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Subverted. The truth is closer to “Adults Aren’t Given a Chance.”
  • After the End: Much of the story takes place here.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Becomes something of a recurring theme in the wilderness of the future.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Lock’s mother is six feet tall, quite strong, and, at about forty, is good-looking enough that Gary develops a raging crush on her.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Lock’s mother tries this with Gary at one point, but he sees through it almost instantly.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 3 (whether 3a or 3b is not yet known).
  • Bad Future
  • Bad Liar: Justified. Lock isn’t too talkative, Gary is normally pretty well-behaved, and the best liar on Earth would have had a hard time explaining being caught walking around with $320 worth of quarters.
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  • Butterfly of Doom: At first, the portal went to a better future — but not a perfect one. When Mr. Kemp tried to improve it for them, the unintended consequences of his actions turned the future into a Crapsack World. Then he tried to put that right, and, well
  • Canis Major: The apex predators in the future are packs of feral dogs descended from the largest breeds — St. Bernards, Great Danes and so on. The adults are three feet high at the shoulder, at minimum. Do not mistake them for Big Friendly Dogs.
  • Chekhov’s Pepper Spray
  • Chekhov's Skill: Lock is a sprinter.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When they must fight (or think they must), neither Lock nor Gary fights fair.
  • The Constant: Lock and Gary confirm that this is the future they’re traveling to by burying a geode in the present and digging it up again in the future.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Downplayed. Lock’s father died heroically a few months before the action of the story, but his mother is still around.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Averted. The empty world has an powerful emotional impact on Lock and Gary that gets worse as they spend more time there.
  • Cowardly Lion: Downplayed. Lock has all the instincts of a hero, but thinks of himself as naturally cautious.
  • Don't Tell Mama: At first, Lock refrains from telling his mother about the portal because he’s mad at her. Then he does it because he’s hoping to discover the secret of what happened himself. And then he does it because he knows if she finds out, she’ll be angry at him for not having told her sooner, and so on… (Meanwhile, Gary is thinking that if the portal had appeared in his closet, showing it to his parents would have been the first thing he did.)
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: Lock’s mother lifts him into the air “for the first time since he was eight.” At this point, he weighs about 115 pounds.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Lock and Gary encounter a… surprising number of dangerous animals in the future.
  • Evil Virtues: Lock has to acknowledge Hance’s determination.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Lock overhears the story that explains Mr. Hance’s connection to the portal while in the next room, babysitting a small child.
  • Fatal Flaw: Lock’s is excessive self-reliance, in the form of secretiveness. Lucy calls him on it at the end.
  • Fiery Redhead: Tara.
  • Futureshadowing: In the future, Lock finds a photo of Brandon with a scar on his face. Not long aftore or befer or whatever, Brandon falls down and gets a bad cut on his face.
  • Heroic BSoD: This happens to Lock when he hears about the death of Troy. He has to spend a few chapters in his tent before he can get back to saving the world.
  • Hope Spot: Two of them.
    • Lock comes back from the edge of the Despair Event Horizon, he and Gary come up with a promising new mission plan… and then those damn quarters trip them up.
    • The next day, Lock turns to Mr. Hance for help. After providing him with an exhaustive Info Dump on the history of the portal and its use, he offers to help Lock uncover Roger Kemp’s last secrets. Just one problem…
  • I Have Nothing to Say to That: Lock’s reaction to the statement “We’re just going by what we saw on the Internet.”
  • Ineffectual Loner: Lock lapses into this at times.
  • Mama Bear: Lock’s mother will fight anyone or anything to protect him.
  • Mood Whiplash: At the end: “Hey, great! We found you!” “Wait, who’s he and why is he dead?” “Oh my god what are those things…”
  • My Beloved Smother: What Lock thinks of his mother. (Averted in that she feels comfortable leaving him alone all Saturday when necessary.)
  • My Greatest Failure: Roger Kemp had two of them, poor man.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Too Tall muttered something about how at least he hadn’t been beaten by any hopping incestuous copulater.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Everybody Lachlan Smith meets for the first time has the same reaction to his name.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: And don’t step on the back of an alligator. Unless you have no other options. And you can run very fast.
  • No Social Skills: In addition to being highly introverted, Lock sometimes badly misreads the people around him. (For example, he sees the way Gary reacts to his mother and thinks his friend must be afraid of her.)
  • Not So Harmless: At first, Mr. Hance seems like an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. His attempts to get Lock and his family to give him the house and go away range from annoying to pathetic. Even his attempt to kidnap Lock gets nowhere. And then Lock has to go and invite him over…
  • Ontological Inertia: After Lock and Gary recover the geode, they go back to the present, bringing it with them… and then dig it up again to see if the one from the future disappears. It doesn’t.
  • Portal to the Past: Inverted.
  • Posthumous Character: Roger Kemp, former owner of the house and the portal.
  • The Quiet One: Lock. It’s something of a personal triumph when he can get the words out.
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: During the geode experiment, Lock expresses mild concern that they might be about to cause one of these.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age
  • Screw Destiny
  • Swarm of Rats: One of many things to avoid in the future.
  • Take Your Time: Lock and Gary learn that the end is coming in fifteen years. (Although who knows how long it will take to stop it?)
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Lock has a perfectly good therapist.
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit: The trick Lock and Gary pulled with the “duplicate” geode also works on coins. They start with five quarters, then get ten, twenty, forty…
  • The Unchosen One: Lock.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Lock, Bill, their mother and Lucy all get put through the wringer near the end.
  • Tsundere: Tara is a Type A. (Considering her medical condition, this is more than justified.)
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Lock has a strong phobic reaction to other people’s blood. He especially does not want to come into contact with it. Guess what happens in the last fight.
  • World of Silence
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Mr. Hance wants the portal because he thinks he’s destined to save the world. That’s what makes him dangerous.

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