The Hotel

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
It's a weird thought, a strange feeling, cold and unsettling, like a dank wet basement illuminated by a single 40 watt light bulb swinging from an unknown force.
Your hands and palms sweat.
Thick. Wet.
Salty drops of sweat bead up on your brow. You feel them run down your temple, screaming for sanctuary.
It makes your teeth chatter like the echo of a prom queen at a school reunion. Your stomach drops from the roller coaster racing downhill at 90 miles per hour. And your heart! Racing! Faster! FASTER! You’re ready to bolt, ready to run, adrenaline pumping and coursing through your veins. Goosebumps invade your skin. A chill runs down your spine with enough momentum to rustle your hair as though moved by a late-autumn wind.
You hear it again.
You listen.
Your sense of sound is attuned and acute. You’d be able to hear a pin drop from 8 miles away. You freeze. Your breathing under a facade of control. Slow, calculated breaths.
Again you hear it.
A knock.
Onetwothree: quick succession. Who is it? Who’s at the door?
(A gulp of courage: you know what needs to be done.)
You feel your feet move despite the voice screaming in your head to remain where you are. Your foot lifting so slowly it may not be moving at all. Lift up. Move forward. Place down.
The floorboard creaks.
Again. Lift up. Move forward. Place down. The feeling is excruciating. Moving slower than amber decays. You continue until you’re there, at the source of the sound. Everything is shaking. A brief fleeting thought considers the earth may be trembling too.
A hand.
Your hand. It reaches out to the hole in the door allowing you to see the source of the noise. You raise up to your toes to see through it. Ankles quivering, stomach lurching, everything shaking. You bring your face closer.
And closer.
There’s nothing.
Could you have imagined it?
You blink in surprise and are met with the same troubling reality. An empty hallway.
The awful rug you noticed on your way into this place.
The poor choice of wall color.
The yellow lighting.
But nothing else.
Puzzled, you sigh. You lower down back to your feet and return your hands back to the sides of your body. The shaking has subsided. You turn around and
it is standing in your room.
Panic. You panic. You screamandyouscreamandyouscream.
The silhouette of a man. He glows in dark light.
Your heart is pounding. It goes faster: faster than the speed of sound.
A hum of energy haunts your hearing. The image flickers in and out of sight. It’s accompanied by an inhuman scream piercing your eardrums. The room smells of burnt hair. It buzzes around you as if you’d stuck a fork in an electrical socket. The dull lights in the room brighten to a blinding white. The tracks of the rollercoaster are gone leaving you in free fall. And suddenly
it’s gone.
As quickly as everything started
everything’s gone.