05 Dec Et Cetera
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"Et Cetera"Written by
Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
I woke up and felt quite anxious about the dim light in the room. I always slept in complete darkness, so naturally, the now apparent luminescence proved to be considerably disturbing. I was still groggy from just having arisen and my eyes had to adjust from the haze of dream in order to better asses the situation. After calming down from the initial shock, I discovered that the light was coming from outside my hotel-room door.
“That’s strange…the hallway lights were turned off before I went to sleep.”
The hotel was old and not well furnished; it was cheap, but I still felt like staying the night was a mistake. I wasn’t sure how many nights I had remained there, but it didn’t really matter. I knew that I would be leaving soon. I deduced that there might be some maintenance going on and dismissed my anger of being woken up as just bad-luck. I didn’t feel very comfortable though and I knew my chances of going back to sleep were slim, especially with the outside hall lights still being on.
I decided to just lay down and think about nothing for a while, just until whoever had turned on the lights left. I thought about why I was there that night, but I couldn’t give myself an answer. The night was bathed in a surreal air that exuded a sense of dread and danger. I was sweating profusely even though the temperature in the room was at normal levels. My discomfort was rising by the second. I swore at the situation I was in, despite how childish it was.
It seemed as though I was waiting for an eternity; the agitation in my mind rising ever so slightly as the ticks from the clock on the wall continued. I got up from bed and walked towards the door. I figured that whoever had turned the lights on must have walked off and forgotten to turn them back off. I wasn’t too sore about it, but I had to get my rest. If that meant me getting up and fixing the problem myself, then so be it.
I rested my hand on the door knob and froze. A voice in my head told me to stay put where I was. I felt a slight static emitting from beyond the confines of the door. The ticking from the clock became submerged in an ethereal tone and increased in volume. The light shining from underneath the crack of the door became drenched in a reddish hue and I could feel my heart racing beyond comprehension.
I couldn’t explain the emotional response I had. Inquiry was more powerful than horror. I was paralyzed by my analytical nature, but the drive to discover overpowered my fear of danger. It was the stuff of nightmares; I was placed in a situation that everyone dreads to be in, but I had never stopped to think of how I would react in the face of terror. I turned the knob without any further hesitation and took my first steps into the hall.
Initially I was shocked to see my surroundings, but somehow I was slowly numbed to the irrational qualities of the hall I was now observing. The hall seemed to stretch as far as my eyes could see; and the modern electrical lights were replaced by torches. The torches grew dimmer down the hall until they eventually lead to a incomprehensible darkness; a black beyond black. The aforementioned lights also seemed to be emitting a subtle blood-red hue on top of the natural light they provided, but I discarded that harsh reality as a psychological addition my strained mind was creating. The walls were void of the doors that had spotted them before my departure into sleep. The paintings that had been hung from the walls were nonexistent. The ugly wallpaper that had colored the hall beforehand was now replaced with an even uglier bland style of basic brick and mortar.
I let out a deep sigh and felt the breath leaving my mouth to be inexplicably cold. I turned around to see if I had closed the door all the way only to find that the door was no longer there. I had no escape now; there was no turning back and that thought brought a new sense of disparity in my heart. I was utterly terrified, but I had no choice except to continue down the clandestine hallway. Each step echoed a thousand reverberations. Each stride brought more darkness and soon, I was bracing myself up against the wall as to ensure that I wouldn’t accidentally walk into something. The walls were moistened and they left a clammy sensation in my body. My core temperature was plummeting as I could now clearly see the condensation in my breath.
At first I heard the plea as a faint whisper. I ignored it, naturally, but my instincts told me that dismissing the words may not give the ideal result. Nevertheless, it would be pointless to feed my paranoia any further. I kept walking slowly toward the end of he hall, but for every step I made, the halls seemed to be morbidly stretching out to the same length. Suddenly, the walls began to ungulate whenever I pressed my hands against them for support. They felt as though they were made of some organic material, but I wasn’t going to let that hinder my progress.
“Come here. Now.”
This time, the demand was more rigid in nature. My spine became weak at the thought of turning around in the darkness of the hall, but once again, I found myself unable to disregard my curiosity. In the distance – almost back to where I had started my journey – I saw an elderly man. He looked extremely decrepit, almost to the point of a corpse. I thought maybe he had stumbled upon this unfathomable realm the same way I had and as I started to focus my sight towards him, I noticed that the door back to my room had now thrusted itself back into existence! I remembered back to my unfortunate decision to walk into the hall without concern for the door. I also remembered that, by extension, the door would vanish if I didn’t warn the old man.
I rushed over to him, screaming the whole way over for him not to take anymore steps outward. He looked at me and seemed terribly frightened. As I approached him, I noticed that he was almost naked and that he was covered in blood. His eyes were blank with fear and the wrinkles surrounding his face were made more apparent due to his contorted face. As I neared him, hands outstretched to maintain balance, he quickly latched himself onto the door. He frantically opened the threshold and managed to race inside before slamming the door in my face.
I was crestfallen. Hysteria was racing in my body as I could not fathom why the old man had doomed me in this hellish hall. The door faded from sight and I was once again trapped to endlessly wander the nightmarish corridor. I opened my eyes and noticed that they had begun to adjust to the darkness. Furthermore, noticed that the torches closer to the door had been extinguished. I thought to myself that the light must bring the door back to this plane of existence and I quickly looked around for any means of lighting them. There was nothing of course, but I had to at least try.
All that was available to me were two small rocks, I surmised that my best bet of escape was to see if I could cause sparks to ignite the torches. After much tribulation and frustration, I managed get one of the fixtures aflame. I used it to pass the fire onto the other torches, but no matter how long I held the flame to the unlit torches farther from the “entrance,” they never seemed to be a bright as the ones closer to where the old man had fled to. I waited what seemed like hours hoping and praying that the door would reappear, but my suffering was to no avail. I had no choice but to continue further down the hall and my sorrowful apathy for the predicament I now faced seemed beyond comprehension.
I managed to make my way down the hall further than I had before. In the blackness of the shadows that was now my home, I could sense the hallway getting narrower. I started to cry at my misfortune and I could feel breath on the back of my neck, despite knowing that I was all alone. I dared not look behind me; I could feel the grip of death slowly closing on me. The walls became more globulous and it wasn’t before long that each press of my hand caused a splatter of some unknown liquid upon my face and clothes.
I was no longer in a hallway, I was in a secret catacomb that defied the laws of reality. Spiked protrusions were scattered throughout the walls now and although I could not see them, I felt them scraping against my skin and clothes. The hall became so narrow that the spikes from the opposite side started to rip into my clothes and flesh. The pain was indescribably horrific, almost to the point that I considered just laying down to die rather than face this dilemma any further.
Eventually I could feel a small draft coming from ahead of me. I carefully positioned my body in-between the protrusions as to avoid any more bodily harm, but at the cost of moving at a snails pace. It wasn’t before long that I reached a dead-end and my fear turned to rage. I pounded my fist against the wall and was shocked at the feebleness of the material. I moved my hand slowly over the surface and noticed how unbelievably smooth it felt compared to the rest of the hall. Patiently, I slid my hand further down the side if the obstacle and found a handle. The pure relief that surrounded my being was overwhelming.
“Finally,” I mumbled. “I’ve found an escape.”
I wasted no time revealing the new room, but as soon as I entered – I discovered my situation was equally as bleak as before. The room that I had found myself in was identical to the room I had awoken in, except it was entirely upside-down. The bed, the furniture, and the paintings were all fastened to the ceiling by some unknown force. The tears were continuing to stream down my face and I closed my eyes in contempt for the implication that I would never rid myself of this hell. In the darkness of my being I heard the wild panting of a rabid beast accompanied with the scraping of talons against stone. Whether it was an actual threat to my safety or just a figment of my imagination, I cared not. I just wanted my distress to end, regardless of how that end would be brought about. I opened my eyes to face the beast, but just as my sight returned to me – the noises ceased. Across the room, however, I noticed another door.
At this point, I was unsure if I wanted to leave the general safety of this room for the possible dangers outside. The only viable solution was to open the door and keep my hand on the handle until I was aware of my surroundings. I slowly turned the handle and veered my body out into the space I had exposed. Not to my surprise, I was staring out into the same hall I had just broken free of and my willingness to venture further was as empty as the dark void I was staring into. I started to realize how my body felt weak and worn. I had persevered through this trial, but at the consequence to my health. My lifeblood was slowly exiting my cognizance and I knew I didn’t have much time left.
In the distance, I could hear footsteps. I tried to squint my eyes to see if there was anyone out there that could help me, but I knew that I would have to pursue the sounds and leave the door behind in order to see more clearly. I realized that the only way I would be able to make myself known was if I yelled. It seemed risky, but I had no choice; I wasn’t going to survive if I didn’t get help soon. I discerned that if the other entity was a threat, or if it was in worse shape than me – that retreating back into the room behind me was always an option. I mustered up as much strength as I could, but my voice was so weak.
“Come here!” I tried to yell, but it was barely even audible by my own ears. I took a deep breath, realizing that I was already tired from that one utterance.
“Come here! Now!” I screamed with all my strength and noticed that the scraping of feet against the stone on the ground ceased.
Whatever was out there heard me and was now turning around. I waited at the door frightened in apprehension of what was to occur. I readied myself for any possibility, but I knew that I was clinging to a false hope of survival. The cold sweat that I was producing increased in severity; it hadn’t dawned on me before, but I looked down to see that my clothes had been mostly ripped off and I was very bloodied from my aforementioned struggles. The torches flickered and I was feeling extremely fatigued. I had to stay awake though, I had to see what was coming.
It was hideous. A swirling fleshy mass of ripped-faces and severed limbs was now racing towards me. I clasped the door handle, but I found myself paralyzed with unbelief. It had eyes that glowed in the dark, so that it could see more clearly in the encompassment of blackness that it lived in. It filled the entire volume of the hall and was screeching some indistinguishable roar. A mixture of terrible deafening static was emitting from is gaping mouth and its presence caused the walls of the hall to bleed. The torches were loosing there brightness and I had to react quickly, for my haltering response had lessened the window of time for escape. I wedged myself behind the door and slammed it just as the creature approached in its wild abandon. I could feel the entirety of its terror as the last image of its eyes flashed across my mind. I locked the door and looked behind me.
I was back inside my hotel room, it was no longer inverted and the bed looked unbelievably inviting. It was waiting for me, calling me to rest my eyes. The light underneath the doorway from the torches outside no longer haunted me. I felt safe and at ease as I forgot all my troubles form the night’s crisis. I laid down and thought of how I could erase myself from this realm. Sleep seemed like the only option.
“Maybe when I wake up, this will all be over,” I thought. I slowly closed my eyes to the sound of stone scraping against stone, but my mind wouldn’t let me remain conscious any longer…
…I woke up and felt quite anxious about the dim light in the room. I always slept in complete darkness, so naturally, the now apparent luminescence proved to be considerably disturbing. I was still groggy from just having woken up and my eyes had to adjust from the haze of dream in order to better asses the situation. After calming down from the initial shock of being woken up, I discovered that the light was coming from outside my hotel-room door.
Credit To – Taylor Lanson