“Welcome to the Andronis Hotel,” the man behind the counter said with a deep accent.
“Thank you,” Eric replied with a smile.
Eric was taken a little aback when the man behind the counter’s smile seemed to turn menacing for a moment before returning back to a pleasant one.
He decided not to read much into it and kept his own smile as he took the key from the man.
“You’re in room 2020,” he said, pointing to the elevator behind Eric.
“Thank you,” Eric said.
He grabbed his suitcase by the handle and dragged it away towards the elevator.
Eric hummed along to the elevator as it rose to the twentieth floor, his home for the next few nights.
As he walked down the hallway, he marveled at how beautiful the hotel was. The wooden molding that lined the walls looked like it must have cost a fortune. The carpet was red, brown and black in a mesmerizing repetition of cube shapes.
He found his room, let himself in, and fell exhausted onto his bed.
A couple of hours later, he woke up still dressed in what he was wearing when he arrived.
After a shower, he decided to get in a quick walk before it got too late outside.
When he pressed the down arrow button, nothing happened.
‘Not what I expect from such an expensive hotel,’ he thought.
Coming to the conclusion that the elevator wasn’t coming, he decided to take the stairs to the floor below. He didn’t want to walk all the way down twenty flights of stairs, so he hoped it was just his floor that the elevator buttons weren’t working.
“What the hell?” he said when he couldn’t open the door to the stairs. He was becoming very annoyed.
Frustrated that he couldn’t go for his walk, he went back to his room to call the front desk.
“Front desk,” answered the man with the deep accent. “How may I help you?”
“Yes,” Eric said, not hiding his annoyance. “Your elevator seems to be broken on my floor and the door to the stairs is locked. Can you send someone to fix them please?”
There was a long pause.
“Hello?” Eric asked.
“I’m afraid that is not possible,” the man replied.
Eric stood stunned for a moment.
“What do you mean, it’s not possible?” he asked.
“I’m afraid you cannot leave,” the man said flatly. “If you get hungry, you can order food whenever you like, but I’m afraid you will be our guest for the rest of your life.”
Eric had a hundred questions, starting with ‘What the hell?’, but before he could ask, the phone went dead.
He immediately picked the phone back up and dialed the front desk.
“Front desk,” the man answered the same as he did before. “How may I help you?”
“Listen you crazy son of a bitch! Let me out, or I’m going to call the police!” Eric shouted.
Click. The phone went dead.
Instead of dialing the front desk, he dialed 911.
“Front desk, how may I help you?” said the man on the other line.
“Let me out!” Eric yelled.
“That’s it,” Eric sputtered, slamming down the phone and storming out of the room.
He tried the button to the elevator one more time since he was passing it anyways. As expected, it didn’t work.
He continued toward the door to the stairs, and without hesitation, tried to kick it down.
It not only didn’t budge, but it felt like he had kicked a concrete wall. He fell backwards, landing hard on the ground.
“Dammit!” he yelled at no one in particular.
As his anger rose, he began going down the hallway, banging on all the doors.
No one answered, and to his disappointment, no one came to throw him out for being a disorderly guest.
He stormed back into his room, slammed the door behind him, and began tearing the room apart.
When he was done, he picked up the phone and dialed the front desk again.
“Front desk,” the deep accented man answered. “How may I help you?”
“Let me out of here, you son of a…”
Before he could finish, the line went dead.
Angry and unsure what to do next, he laid in his bed and stared at the ceiling.
After he laid there for a while, he stood up and walked out of the room.
‘Maybe I’m not alone,’ he thought.
He walked across the hall to the closest room and tried the door to see if it was locked.
It easily turned and the door slowly swung open.
Eric’s mouth dropped open at what he saw.
On the other side of the door, instead of another room was an entire forest.
He stood frozen at the entryway.
Feeling like he was losing his mind, he closed the door, waited a full minute and then opened the door once again. Inside it was still a forest.
Out of instinct, he closed the door again.
Fear and curiosity filled him as he decided to try another room.
‘Can’t be any weirder than what I just saw,’ he thought walking to the next door up the hallway.
“What the?” he said out loud as he opened the next door that opened up to a desert.
He peeked his head through the door to see if what he was seeing was real. To his surprise the air changed when he stuck his head through. The air around his head was very hot and dry, while the rest of his body that was in the hallway felt colder in comparison.
He was tempted to step all the way through, but if he was going to be stranded on the other side, he didn’t want to be in a dessert.
Curiosity took over as he now wanted to see what was behind every door.
Each door was a different environment, from forest to deserts, beaches to mountains, and everything in between.
There seemed to be over a hundred rooms as he walked down the hallways, trying the different doors.
A rumble in his stomach brought him to the reality that he was going to starve to death if he didn’t find food.
Not looking forward to what he was about to do, he walked back to his room.
His room seemed to be the only room that didn’t lead to another place. At least he hoped that was still the case as he walked back in.
Even though his room was still just a hotel room, his mouth once again dropped as he saw that the room was in perfect condition. Somehow all the damage he had caused in his anger had returned back to a clean room once again.
The bed was made. Furniture was reassembled. It was as if he was entering the room for the first time.
Still in a state of disbelief, he walked to the phone and made the call he was hoping to avoid.
“Front desk,” answered the man from before.
Anger swelled back up in Eric, but he contained it. He was hungry and at this man’s mercy.
“I’d like to order some room service, please,” he asked, controlling his contempt.
“Of course, sir,” the man replied professionally. “What would you like to order?”
“Can I have a cheeseburger?” Eric asked, not sure what was even available.
“Of course,” the man said. “You can order anything your heart desires.”
He took the rest of Eric’s order and asked, “Will there be anything else, sir?”
“I’d like to leave,” Eric blurted, no longer able to hold back.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible, sir,” the man said, showing no emotion. “I’ll have your food sent up immediately.”
Before Eric could continue, the line went dead again.
Filled with renewed anger, he slammed the phone down several times.
When he turned around, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Sitting on the table in the room was a covered dish.
Cautiously, he walked over and lifted the lid. Inside was his burger, fries, and drink.
He spun around hoping to see who had brought it and not seeing anyone, he ran into the hallway hoping to catch a glimpse of someone. Of anyone.
His growling stomach reminded him that he needed to eat. He walked back into the room, defeated.
‘At least the food is good,’ he thought, tearing into his burger.
After his meal, he crawled into bed, hoping when he woke up, everything would return to normal and he could leave.
The next morning, he woke up to find that his situation hadn’t changed. The elevator still didn’t work, the door to the stairs still wouldn’t open, and the doors to the other rooms still led to different environments.
He decided to investigate some of the different rooms. His hope was that they led to different parts of the world and he could find his way home.
The easiest decision was to choose the ‘Beach’ room. As far as he could tell, it was a deserted island, but at least the weather was temperament and he figured the chances of running into a dangerous animal was less likely.
He was right on all accounts. As he walked the beaches, exploring the island, it was beautiful. It was a pretty good size island, but as he walked, he didn’t see any other signs of life.
He stayed on the island as long as his hunger would let him.
Starving, he found the door he had entered through, relieved that it was still there, and went back to his room.
“Front desk,” the man answered the phone. “How may I help you?”
The anger Eric felt toward the man and his situation didn’t change, but he decided for the time being, he would make the best of it.
He ordered and after he hung up the phone, he turned around to find the food sitting on the table.
He no longer felt there was someone who brought the food. As far as he was concerned, this place was magical and the food was just part of the magic, though he had no idea why he was being kept there.
Over the next few weeks, Eric explored room after room, hoping to find any way to reach the outside world. Each time he was disappointed.
When he opened his wardrobe one day, he found that it contained all the clothes he could ever want.
He dressed extra warm and explored the cold environments, but even there he was no closer to finding a way out.
As time went, he fell into a routine of exploring, eating, and sleeping.
Every few days, he would beg the man on the other end of the phone to let him go, but the answer was always the same.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible.”
It would have been easier to come to terms with his situation if it wasn’t for the fact that he could still look out the window of his room to see his old world outside. He had tried over and over to open the windows, but they never budged.
He had thrown furniture to break them, but they never even vibrated. He had even tried to jump out, but it felt like he had jumped into a wall and he just bounced back into the room.
One day, he closed the curtains and never looked outside again. It was too painful.
He had been stuck on that floor for years and had given up hope of ever escaping.
Even the sound of the man on the other side of the phone was somewhat comforting, though the man never said more than the few lines he repeated.
Eric would ask him who he was, where he was from, even how was his day, but the man only ever answered, “Will there be anything else?”
As Eric laid in bed, resigned to his existence, he began to cry as he did most days.
Down in the main lobby, the man smiled as he sensed Eric’s resignation. He knew that Eric would feed the hotel for years to come.
As another lone traveler approached the front desk, the man, with his deep accent said, “Welcome to the Andronis Hotel.”
Published on October 21, 2020 13:53
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