A Dark Corridor

Fiction – Excerpt from Potential Novel

Deeper I delved into those corridors, and time was lost to me; it could have been hours or minutes and I wouldn’t have known the difference. The whispers seemed to grow stronger in my head, the sense overwhelming of an eye upon my back, or a man waiting just behind the next turn of a corner. My eyes darted here and there, scraping the barren walls for a taste of life. I turned the corner, saw a dead end, and a picture hanging on the wall. As I neared it, the obscurity that distance provides did not resolve into delineation of form and detail. Supported by a splintered wooden frame, the painting suggested the deck of a clipper ship in the distress of a storm. Broad strokes of variegated hues wove and clashed, simple gray and violent blue and an indistinct organic insinuation wrapped about the center, all swirling in direction here and confusion there, collecting and collapsing as I examined the scene from one side to the next. The mast leaned at an acute angle and divided the scene into unbalanced portions. The sail it supported was lost in the billowing roll that ravaged the hapless vessel. Intimations of wooden planks barely formed a level perspective onto the windswept deck.

I remember a time some early morning when I was at university. I went to a breakfast diner and purchased a bagel sandwich whose moderate quality was at least as consistent as the chatter of the televisions always quietly blathering just above my head. Being a college student in the throes of self-administered torment – education, I believe, is what they call it these days – my morale was rather low that day, and my mood a dark if not peculiar one. Chance it to occur that on that day, the screen flickered with the broadcast of the Twilight Zone; not just some episode, mind you, but one I was frightfully intimate with: “Hitch Hiker.”

In another episode of my life just 2 years previous, I found myself lost in a lonely and open road as the darkness descended around me. I didn’t have a smartphone, I didn’t have a GPS, I didn’t even have a map. In that moment was true terror I have not felt before or since. In this way, I knew the events unfolding on the screen, and the confused fear of Nan Adams as she tried to keep a hold of reality as it slipped slowly and completely away.

I tried to dismiss the fear when I left the diner, but like a briefcase handcuffed to my wrist I carried it with me all that day. The memory of that day was stamped indelibly on my mind, and an idea for a story began to form out of it. A story of a man lost on a long, dark road, who encounters a hotel at the point his fear threatens to overcome him. The story follows him throughout his exploration of the hotel, the strange crowd that arrives shortly after he does, and his fierce devotion to his daughter while certain events attempt to sweep her away from him.

The excerpt at the beginning is a moment inside the winding passages of the hotel: the protagonist discovers deep in the maze of poorly lit corridors a strange picture. The terrifying thing about the picture is not only that it appears to come to life, but appears again and again throughout the hotel’s rooms. And maybe, this picture tells him something about the reason why he found the hotel in the first place.