Unedited short story I wrote today. I’m obsessed with this idea and want to develop it much more, perhaps next year. At the moment it’s just rough sketches of little spaces in time, it doesn’t have a main plot or storyline yet. The characters and setting have me intrigued though and I need to write. I need to get this out.
I really appreciate your taking the time to read this, and I would love very much to have any comments. Thank you. 🙂
I feel as if I am a dirty magnet to which millions of iron filings are flying, clinging to my skin. A gritty, prickly sensation shivers over my back, and I squeeze my hands together, slippery with sweat. I wipe them on my jeans. The air is buzzing with the silence and with the inner reverberations of the hotel. “Do you hear that?”
I speak aloud as if there’s someone there to hear me. I test out the reply. “No. No, there’s nothing.” What, are you crazy? Crazy to listen. Crazy to speak.
I feel like I’m suffocating. The room is small and claustrophobic. Since I walked in, there’s been something about it not quite right. I’m trapped in here. The walls are too close.
I look around for a window. There’s one with a curtain drawn across it at the end of the bed, that I hadn’t noticed before. I get up and pull it across, feeling a small relief to throw my gaze at the cold glass, though this soon evaporates as the grey service well of the hotel surges up into view. I push the window open on it’s catch, as far as it can go. A thin strip of cold air lazily flows up into the space, and I drop to my knees on the floor, pressing my face to the open window, trying to breathe.
The well goes up so far I can’t see the sky, and down so far I can’t see the ground, though surely it’s only concrete anyway. Little balconies rim the well, though why anyone would go out there I don’t have much idea, if they could just leave the hotel and walk the streets, maybe find a park.
I hang onto the edge of the window with one hand, my head swimming a little. I wonder if it’s just me, or if the hotel is actually moving. They have little earthquakes here all the time, don’t they? But aren’t they waiting for a big one that happens every three hundred years or something? I can’t remember where I read that. What if this is it?
I eye the curtain warily. Is it moving? Or is it just the breeze? The sixth floor is probably not a great place to be in a big earthquake. But I’m probably just being silly. I shiver again, feeling hot and cold at the same time, glancing back at the door, wanting to run, to get out of here. The air from the window doesn’t seem to help me any, so I shut it and rip the curtain back across, immediately feeling the claustrophobia rushing back.
The light is small and bare, with no shade, on the ceiling. It’s yellow light floods most of the shadows out of the room, illuminating exactly where I am in this small, lonely space. I want to get out of here.
Instead, I walk in the opposite direction of the door, into the bathroom. The small, cold, white tiles rimmed with grey grout give my feet some relief. There’s another little window in here. I splash my face with water from the basin. It’s not quite as cold as I expected, but seems to help calm me a little.
Rubbing my face dry with the towel provided, I survey the room. The bath has a grotty circle around the plug hole, and the same dark stuff creeps along the crack where the tub joins to the wall. The little details fix themselves into my head like there’s something I’m supposed to know, something I should be figuring out here, an analogy to draw, a conclusion to reach.
The hotel hums.
I shut the door and lean up against the bathroom wall. Breathe. Breathe. I flick the light off with a finger I try not to see is shaking – just a small bit. Not much. I’m not much of anything. I don’t know how I landed myself here.
The darkness stuns me and my eyes close with the brightness of it. I slide to the floor, slowly, curling my arms around my knees around my chest, as if trying to protect myself from something. My breaths are insignificant and my heartbeat rushes in my ears. When I was young the sound made me afraid. It was a creature of the night, never questioned, always there, the rhythmic beating like white noise, rushing footsteps in the dark.
The nightmares are something different, like a world I visit at night, memories I’ve not yet lived, confusing visions of fear that the daylight chases away.
I don’t know now quite whether I’m dreaming now or not. Shifting my toes on the tiles coldly reassures me I am still alive. It matters little now, though. The nightmares are bigger, projected into the blackness, moving shapes inside. The creaky lift quickens my breathing again, the sounds gripping me by the throat, the fear constricting my blood until I know I can’t move even if I try. No, breathe. Stop it. Don’t think of that, don’t imagine it. Breathe. I’m drowning.
This time, the nightmare is real.