The Room Of Forking Paths, Chapter Five: Flattened Spheres Injected With Jam

The next room was empty except for two brown paper bags, one in front of each of the two possible exits. I walked over to the one on the right and picked it up. Inside were two large doughnuts. One appeared to be jam-filled, the other had some kind of toffee glaze on it. Looking at them made me realise how hungry I was, and it was tempting to just eat them right then, but I decided to hold off until I had figured out what the clue was.

I stepped over to the door on the left and picked up the second bag. Inside were three more doughnuts: one appeared to be cream-filled, one chocolate glazed, and the last one strawberry. I wanted more than ever to start eating, but I had to work out what the clue was first.

I sat down cross-legged on the floor facing the doors, the bags of doughnuts just in front of me. Could the clue be related to the doughnut flavours? I dismissed that idea outright. Every clue so far had been based specifically on my own memories and experiences, not on lateral thinking puzzles, so there was no reason why this would be any different. Whatever the clue was, it would be connected to something in my own past. I brightened up when I realised the implication there; if that was true then it meant it was okay to eat the doughnuts.

As I started on the chocolate one, I started casting my mind back,  trying to remember any significant events in my life that had involved doughnuts. There was nothing. but then again, none of the previous clues had been based on major events in my life either, they had all been small and banal, the kind of things that you usually wouldn’t bother talking about. Which made me wonder how the people responsible for all this had known about them. I shivered as I finished the first doughnut.

I was halfway through the third doughnut when something hit me. Unfortunately it was a wave of nausea. I hadn’t quite realised just how big these doughnuts were, and this third one was making me feel sick. That was when I remembered something. The doughnut stall at Camden Lock market. I had had a stall there every Saturday for a year, and at six o’clock when the market closed, the doughnut stall outside the main entrance started selling off the remaining doughnuts at 3 for a pound. I had bought doughnuts from that stall almost every week for the whole year, always getting a bag of three at the end of the day.

The correct door would be the one with the correct number of doughnuts in front of it. I smiled, then frowned as I tried to remember which door the bag of three doughnuts had been in front of. The first bag I had picked up had only had two doughnuts in it; one toffee and one that looked like a jam-filled. Which door had that been placed by? I looked down at the bags. When I had sat down I had placed them side by side, in the same order as they had been  at the door, the left one on the left, and the right one on the right. I looked into each bag. The one on the left had half a doughnut in it, the one that had defeated me. The one on the right had two untouched doughnuts- the toffee and the jam-filled. So if I had understood this clue correctly, the door I wanted was the one on the left.

I stood up, picking up both bags in my right hand. I still had the bottle of luminol from the first room, but by this point it seemed unlikely that I would need it again, so I left it on the floor. I stood still for a moment, looking at the room around me, then stepped forward and opened the door on the left.

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