11 mar 2012

The Hidden Things

The black light in my hand told me things I should have never known, word by word over a month’s grim fascination.

It had been three days, and not a word from the man in room 304. Not a single cent for his stay, either. I made my way to his room that morning, intending to collect. When he hadn’t answered to my knocks and demands to open the door, I let myself in with the spare key. The lights were off, and…it was strange. The room was darker than it should have been on such a cloudless day. As I stepped through the door, I was met with a gasp of stale air, the stink of wet, rotten meat.

Then I saw the twisted thing in the corner, a thing that used to be the occupant of 304 before he died a clearly unclean, unnatural death. I won’t describe how it looked; I can’t even stomach the mental picture for long. But I will say that…the human body shouldn’t be able to…bend…like that.

The police taped off the doorway, and I wasn’t allowed in, of course. But as they escorted me away, I saw one last thing through the lit doorframe. The walls. They were covered in writing that I couldn’t quite make out. Not penned, but…painted. Painted in an all too familiar, tell-tale red.

It was a few days before I could force myself to return to the room, but it needed a turndown and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I’d told myself to just file it away in the old mental archives, out of sight out of mind. Just do your job, business as always, and keep out of other people’s affairs. That’s how you keep your sanity in this business. I’d been running that hotel for quite a few years, and that wasn’t the first crazy thing I’d seen. Though, admittedly…it was the most unsettling.

I tried to keep my head down, just focus on cleaning and getting out as quickly as I could, but my curiosity got the best of me on my way out. As I turned out the lights, in the pale mid-afternoon sunlight pouring through the door left ajar, I saw a slight residue where the writing used to be. Just a few words, and I could barely make them out.

The….hidden things…