-What are you doing here?-
-I don’t know, you?-
-I don’t know.-
The most interesting conversation in the world continued so… Two men dressed in black, for some unknown reason, found themselves in the same place at the same time.
-You have a name?- asked the first man dressed in black.
-Yeah, you?- answered the second man dressed in black.
-Harr, harr.- the first man dressed in black exclaimed with little-to-no care.
-Peculiar name.- he was met with an equal amount of care. The first man of course. The one dressed in black.
Thunder. Rain. Two things that go together well, too bad the weather was the complete opposite that day. Dark it was, sure, but a pleasant, summer breeze filled the short silence between the two, the men dressed in black of course.
-Humorous… Any idea what this place is?- asked the first man dressed in black while scratching his arm.
-Didn’t you read the sign?-
-I did, it doesn’t explain a thing, if anything it poses even more questions.-
-Why even ask? You obviously know as much as I do... How did you get here?-
-I don’t know…-
The place they were referring to was a junkyard. Just a simple, rotten, rusty junkyard in the middle of nowhere. Even though it was a junkyard, there were no cars, trash or anything that would lead someone to believe as such, except for the sign on the outside of the gate that reads -Junkyard- and some old, rusted, and crumbled down buildings scattered throughout the enormous wasteland that it seemingly was… stretching further and further, wider and wider the more you distance yourself from the entrance.
The first man dressed in black removed his fedora, yes he had a fedora, revealing his short brown hair. He turned to his fellow bystander.
-Edmund Godfry- he introduced himself as he pushed the fedora gently to his chest, with a slight bow.
The other man, dressed in black as well, looked at Edmund with interest. What would a man of such stature be looking for in a place such as this?
-Godfry you say? I could swear I have heard that name before…- the second man in black pondered.
-I believe you must’ve. The Godfry Foundation?-
-Ah, yes, quite a curiosity it is to meet a man of such high regard in a strange place like this.- the second man in black went on- Daniel Ferguson, lawyer. Nothing too exciting I’m afraid. Nonetheless, a pleasure it is.-
-Lawyer? How intriguing.-
-I would imagine.-
Time passed. A lot of it. Filled with nothing but the aforementioned breeze going about. Daniel lit a -cigar. He pointed the pack at Edmund. The man aimed a quick look at it, after pondering a bit on it he politely declined.
Even though both of them were dressed in black, if I haven’t mentioned it before, there was an obvious difference in style. On one side there was the dignified mister Godfry who wore a black suit and tie over a white shirt, silk pants and expensive dark shoes, and of course the fedora. On the other there was Ferguson, dark, a bit stained coat over a cheap black shirt, black pants and a pair of common shoes.
Both grew impatient.
-Why don’t we just go back?-
-No sense of adventure mister Ferguson?-
-No sense of reason mister Godfry?-
-No sense of reason Edmund?-
-I guess you’re ri—
Just as Godfry, excuse me, Edmund was about to agree a sudden storm began. Out of nowhere a storm of immense proportion blew the dust everywhere, the wind almost knocked both of them off balance.
-Shit! We gotta go back!- yelled Edmund.
-Are you insane, we couldn’t drive under these conditions even If we made it to our vehicles!- Ferguson found it appropriate to yell in return. -What about that building over there?- he pointed at a run down building without half of a roof a few meters in front of them.
-Fuck… Good as place as any I guess, I just hope it can endure such hard conditions! Let’s go!-
And so the two men dressed in black ran through the storm of dust and metal shrapnel to the compound as fast as they could.
-The door won’t budge!- exclaimed Ferguson while struggling with the doorknob.
Edmund came to his aid, both of them pushed on the rusty door with all their might. They tried kicking, pushing, more kicking, pushing… and finally…
-Close it, close it!-
Edmund finally managed to close the door, but something felt strange.
-Ferguson? Ferguson! Daniel, are you ok?- as he turned to grab his newfound comrades shoulder, he understood why Daniel was silent. The roof was there, the building’s walls were not broken, destroyed, the door wasn’t the same as the ones on the outside were. Everything was in pristine shape, on top of which, the inside looked like a reception in an extremely expensive hotel, like one he would get used to staying at.
-What the fuck…?-
-I don’t understand….-
The two of them gasped and awed at what stood before them. It couldn’t be, I couldn’t be true. No law of reality could allow this.
-Edmund… Can you hear it?-
-What? I… it’s completely quiet.-
-Doesn’t it strike you as odd not to hear something after what we went through?-
-Holly shit! There is an insane storm outside, but after shutting the door you can’t even hear a dash of wind!-
The two men dressed in black began exploring the “lounge” of the abandoned building inside of an endless junkyard in the middle of nowhere.
-Anything there Ferguson?-
They even tried opening the door behind them, wouldn’t even budge, it seemed 10 times more heavier than the one on the outside.
-Probably the wind. Could be blocking it.- hypothesized Edmund.
There were two couches in the brightly lit room. They faced one another from opposite sides of the room. In a sense, besides the couches, the whole room was perfectly symmetrical. Two staircases on opposite sides leading to the second floor, reception desk “cut” perfectly In half, on the left, besides the first couch were two chairs turned slightly to the center of the room, same case on the right side. I could go more into details, but I shan’t, the point is, it was quite exemplary.
-I must say this interior design looks magnificent.- awed and gasped Godfry, I mean Edmund.- The walls are covered in a shade of a gold-ish colour, the furniture is made of the finest leather and wood, the reception desk has quite the dignified design… Just magnificent.-
His voice reached Ferguson perfectly from the other side of the room, the acoustics were on point, thusly he threw a quick glance of astonishment mixed with a bit of ridicule.
-Wow, never would have taken you for an interior designer.-
-Surprisingly enough I get bored quickly, thus I look for entertainment in many things. One of which are interior design and architecture.- he scratched his arm.
-Anyway… It doesn’t matter, now does it? We need to get out of here.-
-Do we Daniel?-
Ferguson gave him a puzzled look.
-Well, look at it this way, there is a storm outside, whether we hear it or not, we have perfectly good shelter. Better yet, as weird as it may be, it looks well kept, and recently used. Somebody might be able to explain what’s going on if we just care enough to look past this room… Or, perhaps, ring this bell.-
-I still think we shouldn’t be here.-
-Oh please, I wouldn’t be my father’s son if I were to bail on such an undeniable call of intrigue.-
-I never knew Connor Godfry was such an adventurer.-
-Connor? You’re mistaken, my father’s name was Milford.-
-Really..? I could’ve sworn…-
Edmund rang the bell. Nothing happened. He decided to try again, again and again… The sound of steps.
-Do you hear somebody yelling?-
-Um, I’m not sure.-
A faint shouting could be heard.
-…Right thereeeee!- the mysterious voice became more clear.
The two men dressed in back stood at the center of the room, right on a strange logo, Edmund stood right of Ferguson, Ferguson stood left of Edmund. Each one of them looking at the staircase on the opposite side.
-I am so sorry gentlemen, I will accompany you shortly!- the voice, now clearer then ever, was followed up by a person emerging from the top of the left staircase. -There was an issue with one of the guests, do pardon my sluggishness.-
-It’s…. alright….- muttered Ferguson.
-We uuuuh…. We don’t mind.- not so quickly followed up Edmund. He looked down. -Huh…-
-What is it?-
-We are standing on a company logo. A hotel logo.-
-A snake eating it`s own tail surrounding an apple… Strange imagery.-
A short man with pitch black hair in a blue suit and black pants, wearing clean, polished shoes, of marvellous design, finally stepped of the staircase onto the masterfully crafted blue carpet with black lines forming interesting patterns and continued to the desk.
-Again, I apologize for not being there to greet you.- he checked his black pocket watch. It was decorated with a blue gem on the lid. You could see parts of the mechanism from the backside of the watch, and from that opening extended light blue lines forming similar patterns as the carpet, if not the same.
-Oh, beautiful piece. Company issue?- noticed Ferguson.
- Hmmm… fourteen thirty, a bit early. Ah, thank you, yes, most correct. Collector mayhaps?- the little man expanded on the subject.
-Mine says it’s fifteen o’clock.-
-Like I said, you’re a bit early. In any case, Daniel Ferguson I presume?-
-Yes, that would be me, but how— he got cut off mid sentence.
-And mister Edmund Godfry?-
The correctly named man gave a slightly curious nod.
-In that case, we didn’t expect you to drop by so soon.-
The two men dressed in black looked at one another, then at the receptionist. After a brief pause Ferguson took initiative.
-We were expected?-
-Why of course, why else would you have come here?-
-Strangely enough…. He does have a point Daniel.- Edmund found it right to enter the conversation.
-Well, yes… But I don remember making a reservation.-
-Well not anybody can sir.-
This didn’t help the two at all.
-Excuse me mister…- Edmund looked at the receptionist’s name tag. -Maalik? Am I pronouncing that right?-
-Most correct sir.-
-I don’t think I made a reservation either.-
-Why wold you have come here than sir?-
-I… I had to… I know I did.-
-Most correct sir, if not, we probably would have transferred it to somebody else in the meantime. Now, you will find the hotel’s program in your rooms, here are the keys- he hands them the keys.- and on the behalf of the hotel we hope you get along with the other guests and have a most pleasurable stay at -The Serpent-.
-One more thing Maalik.-Ferguson turned… no one was there.
-Um…- Edmund stuttered.
Ferguson gave him a stern look.- I don’t think that we need to worry about that NOW.-
He was right, they didn’t. The two men dressed in black took the stairs to the right.
-What room did you get?- asked Edmund.
-Don’t you think that we should be at least discussing a way out. Perhaps we should stay overnight, just until the storm might pass, but we need to be ready to escape.-
-He didn’t seem like the type to let us get away.-
-True, although I don’t mind staying here to explore for some time. I mean Ferguson, it’s a hotel that came out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere! We need to take this chance.-
-It’s good that you mentioned that. Where nowhere?-
-I’m afraid I don’t understand Daniel.-
-WHERE nowhere? What country? Near what city? By what river? In which desert? I believe that you understand my point.-
-Indeed… Where on the map could we actually be? It was a supposed junkyard , which mind you had no trash, or JUNK if you will. Just dust, earth, and a few abandoned storage areas it seems.-
-We entered one, didn’t we?-
-I could’ve sworn we did…-
-I don’t even remember seeing an end to the fence.-
-Now that’s just insane.-
A short silence insued. The two men dressed in black began walking through the corridor.
-You didn’t answer my question.-
-Five hundred and ninety two.-
-Holly shit, that’s a long way to go.-
-Is it, we haven’t even walked for five minutes and here is room seventy two.-
-Two hundred ninety four.-
-Who even designed this place? Ugh, I need a cigarette.- he said as he lit his cigarette.
The two men dressed in black continued walking through the brightly lit corridor with blue walls. For the time that they have walked, only have they seen seven rooms, the two found this peculiar enough as it is, but what gave them no peace was that the numbers didn’t make sense, the last door they saw had the number seventy four on them. Nonetheless they carried on, before stumbling upon a hall-wide door.
-What would be the point of such a door though?-
-I don’t know, what would be the point of this hotel?-
They pushed the door open…
-What the hell?!- cussed Edmund.
-It’s the junkyard… Impossible, and the storm!-
A most violent wind, the same as before blew before them onto the deserted wasteland of dirt and sand.
-We can’t do this again Daniel!-
-We must! It can’t be real! Look around you!-
And so he looked. In the middle of empty space stood doors, just there, doors. You could see past them, the buildings, wasteland a dead tree here and there, but there they were, doors.
-The numbers, the aren’t right, no pattern, just random numbers!-
-There! At the end of the “hall”!-
-Doors! Huge ones! Let’s go!-
The two men dressed in black ran. They barely saw anything besides a door reading one hundred forty eight. The wind even blew them away a couple of times. Ferguson’s cigarette flew away. It truly was a difficult task. But there they were, at the door, they pushed, kicked, then pushed again, and it suddenly opened… They were back at a normal hallway, the doors shutting themselves as soon as they entered the hallway.
-What the fuck man?!- screamed Daniel.
-Weren’t you just calm a moment ago?- asked Edmund with a puzzled look.
-Fuck no, I was scared shitless.-
-It’s exciting isn’t it?-
-No it’s dangerous and makes no sense.-
-And what did I say? You do understand we have no choice, right?-
Ferguson found it fitting to stay quiet.
They continued on. After walking for a while the two men dressed in black noticed something strange under the doors, some kind of black-ish, kind of mud or something was seeping out under the doors.
-Discussting.- said Ferguson.
-Not a fan of getting your hands dirty?-
-Oh I am no stranger to that, but more of in a figurative way.-
-So, tell me, any important cases you worked on?-
-Not really, no, just some murders, maybe break-ins, things as such.-
-Oh, I see, a man of the people.-
-You don’t mean…?-
-They do have the legal right.-
-Almost every single one.-
-Well what can I do, it payed well, my family was healthy and happy. I was one of those lawyers that the police would assign to you if you were to lack an attorney.-
-Did I say was? I meant I am. Lapsus.-
-It’s quite alright, although I wouldn’t say such for- -Edmund stepped in some of the “mud”.-What the hell is this shit?!-
Steps could be heard. A voice. A sleazy, yet kind of rough voice.
-You need not pay attention to that Sssir. We let each guessst do as they pleassse.- a man dressed in a blue suit, similar, yet a bit different from the desk clerk that they met when they entered -The Serpent- approached them.
-Who are you?-
-You must be Sir Daniel Ferguson, pleasure, how are you finding the hotel for the time being?-
-How am I finding it?! Well it seems I’m not because a second ago we were in the middle of nowhere!-
-Calm down Daniel. The man asked you a question.-
-It’ssss quite alright. The gentleman is probably quite tired.- the man’s face was, at first glance was really sweaty, and his mouth were pretty strange as well.
-That’s a peculiar speech impediment you go there.- Ferguson pointed out.
Edmund scratched his arm while looking at the man.
-I mussst apologizzze for not introducccing myssself to our new guessstsss. I am Ssser B. Russs, you may call me Ssserus. The porter of this sssection of the hotel.-
-Listen, we are all adults here, could you please just tell where we are and what’s going on?- plead Edmund.
-Why of courssse.-Serus said while moving his wide open, big eyes, while portraying his unnerving, awfully wide, crooked smile from Edmund to Ferguson.- Cccigarette?-
Ferguson looked at him with a bit of a scared face, he was just thinking of lighting one.
-… Yes.- he answered quickly.
-And as to where you are right now and what’s going on… You are at the grandest and most welcoming of all hotels in existence -The Serpent- on your way to the rooms you payed for.-
Ferguson couldn’t take all that in with that stupid grin on the man’s face, so he grabbed him by the neck ready to hit him.
-Stop playing games! I am in no mood for th-
And that’s when he noticed, the man wasn’t sweaty, his skin was covered with some kind of slime, and a form of dirt, his eyes were dead, empty, only seemingly alive from afar and his mouth were not just crooked, his teeth filled the whole thing. They were like blades, shoved into every possible part of the mouth, front and back, up and down. Needless to say, Ferguson was discussted.
He screamed. -What the fuck?!-
-Daniel, what’s wrong?-
-That guy! He’s a monster!-
The porter straightened his colour.
-Yesss, I am the monssster… You are the one who lunged at a man for no reassson. Psh, the nerve on sssome people. Nothel-
the porter turned to one of the doors. A sort of faint rumbling could be heard coming from them, some ruckus as well, but Serus’ eyes turned black as he approached the door menacingly.
-Gentlemen, you should continue your journey, it was a pleasure, but I have some business to attend to.-he twisted the doorknob, entered and closed the door behind him.
-You called?- could be heard from behind the door… and then…
-Wait we are not-
A scream so loud and agonizing silenced Ferguson. Only a scream of true pain and suffering could cause such a noise. Both men dressed in black agreed to leave this “section” of the hotel… neither of them wanted t stay and find out what business Serus attended to. The last door read-two hundred and twenty two. They opened the next hall-wide door and entered the next hallway. Well a hallway might be a strong word.
-I just can’t comprehend this…-
They found themselves on top of a hill, a wide door could be seen pretty far away in the distance, not so clear where exactly, but it was there. An eerie mist settled down, the sky turned dark, trees died out, all of this and more in a moments notice. Needless to say, the two men dressed in black didn’t find this comforting.
-Well fuck me…- exclaimed Daniel.
-This is getting more interesting, yet frightening each step we take.- Edmund replied.
-That is a steep hill.-
And a steep hill it was, one could not see the bottom from their point of view, but for some reason the doors were still noticeable, perhaps a sign of hope, they thought.
Edmund scratched his arm.
-Why are you doing that constantly?-
-Scratching your arm.-
-I’m not scratching my arm.-
-You were just now.-
-W-well why do you chain smoke cigars?-
-Because I feel like it.- said Ferguson while lighting up the next cigar.
Godfry, I mean Edmund, suddenly, got a strange, unnerving look on his face.
-Let’s just continue.- oh, so desperately, he tried changing the subject.
-You know about my dirt, it would only seem fair that I know yours. If anything, we might probably die here, so it’s probably your last chance of clearing your conscience.-
The first man dressed in black looked at the other man dressed in black with eyes full of regret.
-I…- he paused. -I never had my way with money.-
-Mhm.- Ferguson listened.
-I spent it left and right, which I never cared to admit. I was in denial.-
Ferguson stayed silent.
-It was my father’s money, so, obviously, he never approved.- he stuttered a bit.-The company never would’ve been mine if I weren’t an only child.-
-What about your arm?- Ferguson interrupted. -Drugs?-
-Indeed my friend.-
-Greed has poisoned my soul.-
-Ok, that might be a bit of an overreaction, I defended people like you before really.-
-Yeah?- Edmund looked at Ferguson. -On what ground?-
-Like I said, murder, accidents, robberies and such.-
-You were never bothered by that?-
-A first, but I figured it didn’t hurt me, nor my family, thus there was no issue.-
-That’s not the right mindset.-
-And what is?-
Silence. The two men dressed in black continued going down the hill as carefully as possible.
-Anything but that.-
-Piss off junky.-
For some reason the ground changed, it became less steep, and the two could actually walk with ease now.
-I don’t like this place Daniel.-
-Welcome to the club kiddo.-
-I mean this, whole, general are we are in. It’s too quiet, just a hill, with a dead tree here and there, sure its ominous… but…-
-I see what you mean.-
-Not like we have a choice though, we got to keep going.-
Ferguson stopped. Edmund followed up, and just pointed a confused look his way.
-Do we not have a choice Edmund?-
-Well yeah, the sto-
-What storm? The one that was “outside” for who knows how long? For all we know it lasted 5 minutes… But we still went up the stairs, in search for “our rooms” that we haven’t even reserved or paid for.-
-Well… I… We have to…-
-I don’t know!-
-See? That’s the issue, we keep going into he unknown instead of just going to our cars, driving back home and forgetting all of this!-
-I can’t go back! I have nothing there!-
-Oh please, if you just took responsibility for your actions you probably wouldn’t find yourself here!-
-What do you mean?-
-I don’t understand what you are talking about.-
-If I took responsibility I wouldn’t be here? You know why we are here?-
-I…. I don’t, it just slipped out…-
-Tell me! You know, don’t you?!-
Edmund leaped, pinning Ferguson to the ground.
-I don’t know you idiot!-
Ferguson punched Edmund right in the nose. Edmund gripped it, letting go of Ferguson and began violently and painfully rolling down the hill.
-Shit! Edmund, no!-
He disappeared from his vision. He was left alone.
Edmund continued rolling down, hitting rocks, broken branches, bleeding out while tearing his clothes to shreads. His black clothes. He screamed, he whimpered, he plead, nobody could hear him. Finally, he was reaching the bottom. He could see it, hoping for a swift, painless death, but he was met with a surprise. Three doors layed upon the ground, spanning from two hundred ninety two to two hundred and ninety six.
-Two hundred ninety four… The rooms, they weren’t there before... What the-
Unfortunately he got interrupted by the door of his room literally swallowing him, followed up by a screeching roar.
Edmund opened his eyes…
-Aaaaa!- he screamed. -What the shit!-
He looked around.
-My car… I’m in my car…-
Indeed he was, behind the car though was a forest. Edmund looked up.
-The road… I drove of the road. The dream, Jesus, no wonder it was so weird… At least I don’t have a concussion.-
He got out of the car to observe the damage. The car was in pretty good shape, nothing too threatning.
-If only there was somebody here to help me push it up this hill to the road.- he thought, and like magic…
-Oh hey friend!- a stranger saluted him.
Two men and a woman stepped out of the forest into the moonlight. None of them seemed human, their skin was ripped apart, some of their muscles and bones were visible, their hair seemed pulled out and cut. One of them began to speak.
-We were just camping closes by and heard a crash, need some help pushing that thing?-
-Ah… Yes, of course, what a coincidence. Please I would appreciate it.-
As if not noticing, Edmund accepted the help of the kind people he met at that ravine.
-And….. Push!- one of them exclaimed.
-Now Tina, turn he keys, start the engine!-
And so the four of them began pushing the car up the hill, but something was off. The more the y pushed, the taller the hill became, the heavier the car got, and the weaker they were.
-What the hell is wrong with us, it was so easy in the beginning!- Edmund struggled to say. But what he failed to notice that nobody was there, no driver, and no people helping him push the car. Just him. Alone. He looked at the rear window of the car and saw his reflection. A pale man with bloody eyes, degraded hands and a sick look.
He looked inside the car, there was a note. It read -Hotel program-.
-It’s real, it was all real!- he screamed as his eyes centered on the car’s registration plate.
-TS R294….- he read the plate.
-The room… no… I cant…. NO!-
But wait, he stopped pushing the car, it went backwards.
He gripped it to stop it from crushing him. He couldn’t die like that, that would be painful. He had so much to live for, he needed to get out of here. So he kept on pushing the car, he pushed it up the ever-expanding hill… he had no choice… He didn’t want to die… so he kept on pushing it…
Ferguson looked at his hands… Did he just kill a man? Threw him of such a high place, letting him stumble down to his doom… Who knows what could be waiting down there.
-Fuck… Fuck, fuck! Edmund…- he cried.- No matter what you did, you didn’t deserve such an end. This hotel… The staff… The wasteland… Why am I here…?-
He knew no answer would come to him, at least without any effort. So he made a decision.
-I’m going back. I can’t play their game… yes… it’s a game… I won’t dance to their tune, I’m going back!-
So the man dressed in black walked up the hill in hopes of returning to his normal life, in hopes of escaping this nightmare. Surprisingly enough, he reached the top very quickly, but to his misfortune… the door wasn’t there. Only darkness layed beyond the highest point of the unexplainable space, this prison…. This… “Hotel”. The mist lowered itself even more than the last time he was here, it gave him even more of an uneasy feeling, which he found impossible.
-Why..? Why me… Why this place? I don’t understand!- he cried, again. -Maybe I can just try killing myself? Perhaps just experience the same fate as him? To stumble down and leave my crumbled corpse to just lay there at the bottom of the ravine…-
Then our dear friend Ferguson remembered his daughters, his wife, his friends and family. He stood up on his feet, he made another choice. Thus the man dressed in black continued down the, dead grass covered, hill.
-Just a bit more… I think I can see the exit.- he thought.
Indeed he was nearing the bottom of the ravine, although one thing caught him off-guard.
-Edmund…? Where..?- Ferguson wondered. There was no body, just a door in front of him, a door connected to nothing… just standing there. A couple of doors were laying on the ground, the last one reading -two hundred and ninety six. He waited a while, or better said, mourned a while for his new yet quickly gone friend.
-Here we go again…- he muttered as the pushed the door open.
A rotting stench filed his nostrils.
-What the….?-Ferguson was baffled, strangely enough, more from what was front of him than anything else he had seen in this place before. A boat. A fairy boat.
-All aboaaaard!- yelled a rough voice from atop of the fairy. -Oi, you there! Quickly, we are about to depart!-
Seemingly without choice, Ferguson stepped onto the contraption afloat. This might be a pleasurable change of pace.
A bearded man stepped in front of Ferguson and extend his hand.
-Phil Aegys, you captain for today.-
They shook hands.
-Oh I am familiar with yourself Mr. Ferguson, please, follow me to your cabin.-
Thus the two climbed aboard the ship and “set sail”.
The river was muddy, kind of a brown-ish colour, with strange chunks of something spread around every now and then. A ruckus could be heard from the outside as well, maybe some of the other passengers got into an argument of sorts. Ferguson decided to investigate.
He exited his cabin. After closing the door he looked at the number.
-Three hundred seventy…- he mumbled. -Oh captain, my captain!- he decided to put on a confident façade.
-Up here!- a man could be heard from up high.
The man dressed black came out onto the deck, only to witness true horror. People beating, drowning each other in the water. Flesh flying left and right, blood spattering, mixing with the river, combining with the mud and dirt into the aforementioned shade of brown.
-Holly shit!- screamed Ferguson. -Phil, what the fuck is going on?!-
-Oh that? Nothing strange. Normal occurrence.-
-How is that a normal occurrence?! There are people in the water killing each other!-
-Oh, just don’t worry about that. It’s not your place anyway.-
-You ARE not going to your room, correct?-
-Yes… haha, can’t I just stay in the cabin, it looks pretty nice.- he chuckled.
The captain gave him a serious look and raised his voice.
-NO! THIS IS NOT YOUR PLACE!-
Ferguson froze, he was terrified, so terrified that he stumbled back from the captain, and tripped over the safety fence atop of the boat, plummeting into the river. He screamed. Some of the absolutely disfigured people in the water saw this and with improbable swiftness came his way.
He tried to speak while barely maintaining his balance on the surface.
-What the hell?! How are you even able to swim?! HELP! PHIL!-
The captain looked down from the boat.
-I see, so that’s how it is... A bit cruel one would say.-
-Why are you just starring?! HELP ME!-
But the captain just stood there, the fairy changed course and kept on furthering the distance between the two.
Poor Ferguson gathered all his strength in hopes of reaching the other side of the river, it wasn’t that far, he could make it.
-Oh God please help me, don’t let me die like this!- he prayed.
The bodies behind him began to laugh maniacally and shreek while spouting insults and curses at him.
-NO GOD CAN HELP YOU HERE!-
-COME TO US!-
-HAHA, LET US FEAST UPON YOUR FLESH!-
-No, no, no, no! Get away from me!-
They caught up to him, pulling his coat, his trousers and shirt. He kicked, punched them and even headbutted one.
-Let! Me! Go!- he screamed his battle cry. He managed to free himself, but he was bitten, scratched and wounded by a couple of them.
Finally, he reached shore.
As soon as he stepped foot onto the ground, the bodies or what seemingly were humans at some point, lost interest. Almost instinctively they began punching, biting and mutilating each other.
He just sat there, exhausted, on the shore of seemingly nothing… Just pure darkness, as the river turned red with blood, then do a dark purple, and finally black, reanimating the bodies to their former glory. They were people again… but… they just kept fighting, killing, drowning each other…
-Why?! Why are you doing this?!- Ferguson demanded an answer.
They did not respond, just continued as they were… reducing themselves to what had been chasing poor Ferguson.
-I… I can’t…. I have to get out of here!-
He ran. The door was close, it was carved into one of hundreds, maybe thousands of dead trees seen in this place.
-Finally!- he thought to himself. It was so close… He grabbed the knob and pushed with all of the collected momentum. It burst open to reveal…. A tanning salon? The man dressed in black just stood there, confused, as per usual. It was full of tanning beds, as far as the I can reach, quite literally because Ferguson saw the door at the end of the dark room filled with those contraptions. There was nothing there but the bed, all with numbers written on them and a sign that said -Tanning Salon- everything else seemed empty, like walking in the nothingness of space itself.
-I don’t think there is anything that can surprise me anymore…-he pushed on.
Upon stepping through the doorstep screams filled the room, echoing not only into his ears, but his soul. The sound of sizzling could be heard to an immense degree. And…
-GET ME OUT OF HERE!-
-NO, HELP ME, I HAVE A FAMILLY!-
The man dressed in black hurried to the closest one to him. There was no button, nor switch to shut it down or lower the temperature. He tried opening the lid.
-It won’t budge! I can’t… I can’t help you!- he yelled.
A voice came from the bed besides which he was. A woman with a Middle-eastern accents spoke.
-PLEASE, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! IT BURNS!-
-I… I can’t! I’m sorry!-he asked for forgiveness.
Many other voices, in many other languages screamed their hearts out.
-HELP ME THEN! I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE!-
-What the fuck is going on here?! I don’t understand!-whimpered the man dressed in black.
But his ears caught one voice among others. A British accent, one he heard a while ago. One he was familiar with… TV perhaps?
-Connor Godfry? Am I mistaken?-
The voice answered from the last tanning bed, one with the number four hundred and forty four on it, with desperation in his voice.- YES, YES THAT’S ME! NOW HELP ME!-
The man dressed in black thought for a second.
-Tell me the name of your son.-
-Do you want me to let you go?-
-EDWARD, IT’S EDWARD!-
-NO, THAT’S MY FATHER! NOW LET ME GO!-
-What… That can’t be right…-
-I’m sorry, I can’t help you… There is just no way I can do anything about your situation… And maybe I shouldn’t…-
-HOW DARE YOU?!-
Steps could be heard, moving away from Connor’s bed.
-YOU LIAR! MOTHERFUCKER! COME BACK HERE!-
The creek of a door.
The doors slammed shut.
-I don’t understand… None of this makes sense, none of it!-he thought to himself, having no one else to turn to. He looked around. A corridor, narrow.
-What… What’s the point of this corridor? I don’t…-
A faint rumbling could be heard. He sat down on the floor, hoping to gather his thoughts.
-How long have I even been here?- the man dressed in black pulled out his pocket watch. His eyes widen.
-F… fifteen o’clock… That can’t be right. Either I have looked at my clock exactly twenty four hours upon entering here, or something else is up.- he took another glance at his pocket watch.-It’s in pristine shape, recently bought… wait a second…-
-it’s ticking, but it’s not moving? Is there something wrong with the mechanism? No, it wouldn’t tick otherwise.- this went on for a while.
-The only answer is, time is irrelevant, this place is not affected by it. But wait, why did the receptionist check his piece, Maalik was it? He said we were early… The Golden Serpent, logo, snake surrounding an apple, I’m missing something…- the rumbling got louder and more intense this time. The man dressed in black got up.
-I guess a man can’t be left to his own devices. What is it this time?- he put his hand on the door handle.-I will figure this out. Don’t worry Edmund.- filled with determination he opened the door. The man dressed in black found himself in a library.
-Interesting.- he thought.
There was an endless amount of books surrounding him, most of them looked quite similar. He reached out to grab one.
-What a strange material.- he mumbled to himself while moving his hand across the cover. The man dressed in black began to read.
-What is this? French? I can’t read this.- he tried another one.
-German, or Swedish, I don’t know.- another one.
-Ah, English, here we go.- he finally found the right one.-What is this material, Jesus… so weird, yet familiar to the touch.-
He froze on the spot.
-Skin… Human skin… The books are made of skin…-his eyes widen, his lips shiver, and his face filled with terror.
-What… Who wrote this..? Johnson, Marry.- his fear only being outclassed by his interest led him to read the book. It was a fairly thin one. He coughed.
-Dear diary, today, first of December, year nineteen fifty two, I was born.- he skips a few pages.-Dear diary, my father dropped me today, I hit my head and it really hurt…- he skips a few pages.-Dear diary, nothing changed, I’m six now and I still can’t move, probably from the brain damage I received when my father dropped me on the head when I was one year old.- he skips to the end.-Dear diary, ever since my mother killed herself when I was five, my father struggled with affording my unique kind of lifestyle that I need, that’s why he probably killed me today.- the man dressed in black suddenly closed the book. He couldn’t take it anymore.
-What the fuck..?- he muttered. After processing what he had just seen, he quickly read parts of some of the books he found that were written in English. Each one by a different person, each one written in first person, each beginning with a birth, and ending with a death.
-These are peoples lives. Books made of skin… These are people… Were people.- he said to himself for no one else spared an ear. While indulging in his interpretation and attempts at finding reasoning this place, he analysed his surroundings. The library wasn’t a big, open room filled with bookcases, it was a strangely curved hallway, that had several bookcases hugging the walls. The “hallway” extended far beyond his field of vision, it extended in such a way that it made an actual curve.
The man dressed in black stayed silent. He decided to explore since there were no present doors. Time passed.
-How long have I been walking? Does this hallway even end?- he thought to himself, while, strangely enough expecting it not have an end.
-Ok, I have had enough of th-he coughed.
Suddenly the man dressed in black noticed a door, they read -Five hundred and seventeen-.
-I honestly think that these numbers have been thrown around here randomly…-
He opened the door. His eyes shut themselves.
-Ah, so hot!-
The man dressed in black slowly opened his eyes. The image burnt into his brain.
What came before him was a river… lake… an enormous sea of molten lava, radiating vicious heat his way. The air was so hot that he felt his body burn without even touching what surrounded him. What’s even worse, in all of that…
Nothing new to this place, probably something to be witnessed many times more, but this was either way horrifying imagery. People drowning in the lava… so many people… So many people unable to burn, their skin untouched, only begging for mercy and a helping hand. The man dressed in black looked, looked in horror, as he was unable to help anybody… So he just stood there for a while… taking it all in… coming to terms with his and their helplessness at the moment. The only thing he can do being…
-I’m sorry.- as he entered the “library” once more.
-There is no explanation that can fit this place, it’s pure madness. Pure absurdity!- he exclaimed as he continued along the path he had started before the detour.
The man dressed in black was exhausted. He decided to rest.
-Wait a minute.- he looked around.
What he has seen was the same books he has read through scattered along the floor, just as he had left them.
-A circle?- he said.
-Of course! It’s a GOD DAMN CIRCLE! SHIT!- he coughed while kicking some of the books.
-How am I supposed to get out of here now?! The only way I have left is a fucking sea of lava! And the people can’t even die in it, so I guess I can’t kill myself!-
There was a sound. Thousands of small legs swiftly becoming louder and louder.
Around the corner of the curved hall began emerging thousands and thousands off army ants, obviously attracted to tons of human flesh scattered on the floor and bookcases. And one piece standing in the middle of the room. The man dressed in black began to run. The ants gained speed as they chased him, but at the same time some stayed to ravage the books, he could see them bleeding out.
-Books that bleed, holly shit. They ARE people!-he thought to himself.
The man dressed in black ran, ran as fast as he could, but the ants were too fast, some off them made it to his feet and began eating through his shoes and flesh.
He let out a screech of pain, but he manage to either squash them or shake them off.
-What am I supposed to do? Just run in circles until I die of exhaustion? No, I have to go, there mu-
He saw another door. Ones that weren’t there before.
-Five hundred and eighteen.- he mumbled.-My only chance!-
The man dressed in black crashed through the door with the last of his strength, breaking them and plummeting door-first onto a wide field of sand burning with gold fire. Something like that didn’t even faze him now. The man dressed in black ran through it all. His clothes caught on fire, his face burned, the pain was immeasurable… but he ran… In the sand he could see people buried to the height of their heads in this burning sand, some of them even climbing out, only to be sucked in again after a couple of steps. They looked nothing like humans, they were just empty, mutilated shells seeking a way out.
-Almost there! Aaah!- The pain was lingering, it was too much to handle, but he was almost there, a few more steps and he’s out.
The door opens. The man dressed in black collapses beyond the threshold.
He opened his eyes, slowly, the pain had gone. Completely gone.
-Ugh, am I dead yet?-he asked reluctantly.
-Seems not, I’m not even wounded ahahah, because why the fuck not!-
The man dressed in black looked around him, sick of everything. Nothing but an empty shell seeking a way out.
There was a corridor, the same one at the beginning, when they climbed the stairs, now that time seems so far, who knows how much time has already past, not our man dressed in black at least.
At the end of the corridor there wasn’t a door, jus a curtain, same colour as the walls. Finally some of the doors actually made sense, there were a bunch of them on each side. This gave the man dressed in black something to chuckle about. He needed it.
He decided to plummet deeper into madness, thus he took the firs step toward the curtain. Nothing special happened after passing through them, the only thing he could hear were faint screams, yelling and banging on the doors, but that didn’t bother him, not anymore, nothing bothered him anymore.
After that were another pair of curtains, nothing special there either, until…
-Maybe I should just go back, passed through, like, eight, maybe it’s endless, maybe those ants were the right choice.-as he turned he was met with a surprise, there were no curtains, it was a wall. He turned back, the way he faced, same thing. He had nowhere to go. Nowhere except the room on his right.
-Room number five hundred and ninety four.- the man dressed in black took out his keys.- Huh, home sweet home…- his gaze slipped onto his arm, then his clothes in general. There was no destroyed shoes, no ripped coat. -Huh, like my wounds. Well I gue-
He froze, his face took a mortified expression.
-My coat… is brown…- he whimpered.-I never owned a black coat, nor a black shirt. I hate black…-
His mind began racing.
-He wore black as well, Edmund. Edmund Godfry, father of Connor Godfry. Connor died a while ago in a train accident, his son Edward inherited the company, which means… Connor’s father should be dead!-
The man dressed IN BLACK gripped his lungs and coughed out blood. His pocket watch stumbled out of his coat. His lungs were pierced with pain, such immense pain. More blood came out. In an attempt to speak he made a gurgling sound.
-Gluurgh! No! It can’t be!-
Ferguson’s mind filled itself with images.
The logo, snake, apple….- he coughed.- The garden of Eden, the golden apple, The Serpent!-
The staff, the “sections”…
-Maalik- he coughed, he gurgled.-Ser B. Russ hahaha!-
Ferguson’s lungs were destroying him inside, it hurt.
-Fucking Cerberus! Hahahglurghhaha!-
His mouth flooded with blood. He could hear footsteps behind him.
-The divine comedy… How didn’t I notice before… The lobby, first hall is limbo, the wasteland, second ring- lust, third gluttony which the worm-monster Cerberus guards, fourth greed and so on…- desperation filled his eyes.
-I can’t die… I’m already dead…-
Finally the footsteps stopped. Before Daniel Ferguson stood a muscly beast with a pair of wings and three faces, dressed in a porters uniform, just like Cerberus from the third circle.
-Let me guess… Geryon… guardian of the fraudulent?-
The beast gave no answer, it just stood there, looking at him.
-The numbers.. everything, each circle ended on the every seventy fourth number, there was the first one, then the second one, then the fedora, can’t be a coincidence, my room is the last room here, meaning the next section is the ninth, leading to the eventual… Six hundred and sixty six.-
The beast chuckled.
-You people are so full of yourselves, especially the fuck who designed this place. My watch is set at the time of my death, right? That’s why Maalik, the guardian of the doors to Hell said that I was early… not we…-
-Why bother explaining it? You are but a sinful soul among millions.-
-Why make me go through all of that? Why not just give me my punishment..?-
-You mean have mercy?-
-… I see…-
The beast was silent.
-By the way, the captain, he is the guy that took Dante over Styx? That was Styx?-
The beast nodded.
-Well that’s it from me, there is only one thing left to do.- said Daniel, as he launched at the beast, trying to pull it’s eyes out, punching it, trying anything really. Geryon grabbed his waist and threw him across the room, Daniel threw up a large amount of blood.
-You won’t regenerate in a while human… But you will feel the pain.-
-No, please!- plead Daniel.-I’m not dead! I can’t die! I have a family, a life, it’s a mistake! I didn’t even smoke that much, my lungs are fine!-he cried and whimpered.
The beast Geryon took his hand and dragged him across the floor, heading for the room number five hundred and ninety two.
-NO! PLEASE! I’LL DO ANYTHING! I SAW WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE HERE! PLEASE! I CAN’T TAKE THE SCREAMS!-
The beast stayed silent as he opened the door.
-NOOO!- Daniel tried pulling his hand out of the monster’s grasp. It was furile.-I’M NOT A FRAUD, I NEVER CHEATED IN COURT, ANYWHERE! YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME!-
The “monster” didn’t care, the door opened and it threw Daniel inside.
-YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!- he banged on the door.-I WILL KILL YOU! LET ME GO!-
Screams turned into cries.
-Let… me…. go…- there was a piece of paper on the ground.
And it read -STAY-.
-HahHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH!- his laughter was lost in hundreds of thousands others, his screams only echo with hundreds of thousands of others… And he became nothing but an empty shell seeking a way out… Among the hundreds… of thousands of others.
Two men dressed in black stood in front of the reception table, one of them ringing a bell as a small man in a blue suit comes down the stairs.
-Ah excuse me, we were having trouble with some of the guests.- he glanced at his clock.-Ah, right on time.-
-You were expecting us?-
-Ah, most correct.-
-But we didn’t even make a reservation.-
-Oh not many are able to. But don’t worry, any and all are always welcome! We hope you get along with your fellow guests and have a great stay at… The Serpent.
Jan. 12, 2018, 11:42 p.m.