[Disclaimer: The story that is about to unfold is completely fictional – any resemblance to actual or existing fictional people, places and/or events is purely coincidental.]
Writing Prompt #8: Gateway
Roderick Fenshaw arrived at the Golden Dagger Inn at nine o’clock sharp, even though he was not due to clock in for work for another hour. Punctuality was a virtue drummed into his head at an early age – those who arrived on time would be handsomely rewarded, and those who were late would be harshly punished. By that logic, he always strove to arrive early or least on time for every appointment be it personal or professional, and expected respect and admiration. Instead, this particular character trait earned him disdain from his peers and a level of distrust from his superiors, which puzzled him.
As it was his first day on the job as night concierge, Roderick loitered about the lobby, observing the bustle of people and luggage, picking up snatches of conversation in passing. Out from the corner of his eye, he noticed a figure enter the stairwell leading to the basement, a place out-of-bounds for anyone save hotel staff. Despite hotel protocol dictating that such matters were to be left to hotel security to handle, curiosity got the better of him as he stealthily made his way toward the stairwell, careful to avoid arousing unwanted attention. The intruder’s footfalls echoed within the narrow staircase, heavy and resolute, and Roderick was mindful to tread softly behind so as not to reveal his presence. At the foot of the stairs, he paused to ascertain where the intruder had gone, but only heard the hum of the electric generators.
This is a bad idea, a gentle, masculine voice inside his head, reminiscent of his father, warned. You should let Security handle this. Roderick turned to head back up the stairs, with the intention of finding George Hastings, head of security. Fortune favors the bold, intoned another voice – a strong, distinctly feminine voice, reminding him of his domineering mother, you must take control of your own destiny. Roderick shook his head to be free of the conflicting voices buzzing in his head, when he heard a sharp, insistent patter resonating in the distance from his left. He strode down the hallway wondering why anyone would venture in that direction – it was a dead-end. It was then a surprise when he saw the outline of a large figure disappear into the wall.
“What the hell…?” Roderick exclaimed to no one in particular. He blinked several times, as he stared the blank wall. According to the hotel floor plan (which he obtained and studied in great detail once he secured the job) there were no rooms on this side of the basement, nor were there any exits of any kind. There had been whispers of ghost sightings and other strange happenings, but he paid no heed to such codswallop – he believed in logic and in concrete facts.
And yet he could not dismiss or even explain what he had seen. Perhaps against his better judgment, he approached the end of the hallway with some trepidation – despite his rational mindset, he was now hesitant to discount what he had just seen. He tentatively touched the wall through which the figure had passed, confirming it to be what it should be – a solid stone wall, a quaint remnant from the building’s original foundation. Feeling more confident, he tapped lightly on the wall, startled to hear a faint echo – the seemingly solid wall was not what it seemed.
Emboldened by the prospect of discovering the truth behind those ghost stories, Roderick resumed tapping against the wall, though this time with more vigor. His boldness was rewarded when he heard a faint click and a low rumble; he checked his watch – only twenty minutes had elapsed since he entered the hotel. He returned his glance back to the wall and found himself looking at an old-fashioned elevator compartment. I have a bad feeling about this, the vigilant part of his subconscious reasserting itself, only to have the audacious side counter with, follow your instincts and find out the truth.
Once again disregarding his timid side in favor of the bold, he stepped into the elevator compartment, unaware that he was crossing a threshold that would result in his being late to report to work, and would face a consequence beyond his imagination.