Jim is Tired

March 18, 2008
By Niko Allende, Minot, ND

Jim is tired. He has been driving all day and it is getting dark fast. He is hesitant to stop, but he finally decides he needs some rest. Jim is on his way to St. Louis for a job interview, his first in a month. Jim knows that he needs this job, he’s out of money and homeless and jobs that pay well and don’t call for a degree are hard to come by. As he scans the dark horizon for a place to stay, he notices a deer heading for the road on his right. His foot hovers over the brake, but the deer sees the headlights and freezes just right of the road. Jim sees a sign on the side of the road that says Red’s Inn – nest left and sighs in relief; he’s close to falling asleep at the wheel. As he pulls up to the inn he thinks it looks more like a house than an inn. It is a small building with only two floors and one car in front of it. As he gets closer he notices a sort of junk yard in the back with at least twenty cars lined up in neat rows, although some deteriorated from rust and weather damage.

Jim parks his car and walks up to the inn. Almost as soon as he enters the building Jim is hit by a strange odor, the smell of an old building. The building isn’t dirty, but the decoration and architecture look like they’re from the 30’s. There is a large ornate staircase to Jim’s left and a small check-in desk directly in front of the doorway. A man walks out of a room that Jim assumes is the office and stands at the front desk. He is about average height and looks to be his early fifties. He has graying brown hair and a clean shaven face; his dark brown eyes seem wise and mysterious. He moves to shake Jims’ hand. “Hello sir, my name is Red; would you like a room for the night?” Jim was unnerved, this man was strange. There was something not right about the way he smiled at Jim, almost as if he was about to eat a steak. “Yes, I’ll be staying for the night, do you have any rooms available?”, says Jim. It was a stupid question and Jim knew the answer. There was only one care outside when he got here and he assumed that is Red’s, besides, Red wouldn’t have asked him if he was staying if they didn’t have rooms. “Yes sir, in fact all of our rooms are available, Tuesday is not a popular night.”, says Red, “Do you have a preference on which floor you would like to stay?” There’s that smile again, why is he looking at me like that? thinks Jim. “No, I don’t care what floor, how much is it for the night?” asks Jim. “For one night it’s fifty dollars, due up front.” Replies Red. “Up front? Why?” asked Jim.
“We have our reasons.” Red says. This time the smile is different, wicked even.

Jim is seriously considering leaving but he knows there isn’t another place for miles and he needs the rest for his interview. He regrettably pays Red and asks for a wake up call at seven. Red digs around in the back and comes out with a key labeled with the number four. He hands the key to Jim and says “It’s the fourth door to your left and up the stairs. Have a great night.” As Jim climbs the stairs he can’t help but look back, the same smile. Red’s eyes seem hungry, his smile wicked. Jim hurries up the stairs and to his room. He opens the door, walks inside, then turns around and locks it. Jim is too tired to even take off his shoes; he just falls onto the bed trying not to think about Red. He lays there for a few minutes thinking about his interview and then falls deeply asleep.

Jim awakens on a cold, hard floor. He quickly gets to his feet, and tries to look around, but it’s too dark to see much farther than a few feet in front of him. From what he can see, the ground is dirty, but seems to be made of concrete. The room feels small to Jim, but it could be much larger, he can’t tell because of the darkness. The small amount of light is emanating from a weak bulb a few feet above his head. Jim can’t believe his situation, it feels like a sick dream, but yet he knows it’s real. He feels sick from fear and hunger, he didn’t eat yesterday. Jim wants to explore, to see if there is a way out of this prison, or if it is even a prison, but fear grips him and will not allow him to move. Just as he thinks he finally has the courage to explore he hears a soft, padding noise in the distance. Footsteps! His fear is doubled and he is suddenly frozen again, unable to call out, though he desperately wants to. As the footsteps draw nearer, Jim’s heart beats faster and faster, he doesn’t know if the feet making the sounds carried his savior or his captor. As the person comes into view, Jim’s heart almost stops, it is the last person he wants to see right now. Red’s face is half in the radius of light and half in the darkness leaving a shadowy effect on his aging features. “Ah, I see you’ve finally decided to awaken. You might have noticed your surroundings have changed since last night, I took the liberty of escorting you from your room.” Red says in a cool and controlled voice.

Jim wants to scream at him, curse at him, attack him, something, anything, but he is still too petrified, his body won’t allow him to move or speak. “Now for the fun part. You have been brought down here to make a choice. A rather simple choice actually, you only have six options.” Red says as he casually strolls off into the darkness. Jim hears a clicking noise and a dozen more dim lights flicker to life revealing a medium sized rectangular room with six large, rectangular metal doors and a seventh, smaller metal door. Red continues, “The doors you see before you are your options, your job is simple: pick a door. But, decisions are never that simple are they? And this is no exception. Behind one of these doors is a hallway leading to an exit in the back of the inn, and if you are fortunate enough to choose this door, you are free to go. Behind the other five doors, however, are hells unimaginable by most men, things you most definitely will not survive. So choose wisely my friend, your life depends on it.

When he is finished Red walks smoothly over to the seventh door, opens it, and walks through. Jim is too stunned to react. This can’t be happening he thinks. He hears the loud sound of a large lock on the other side of the seventh door, he is trapped. Jim sits in stunned silence for a moment, but then he remembers that one of the doors is an exit. He needs to think carefully. He decides to try to listen for what is on the other side of the doors. Jim walks up to the first door slowly. He carefully presses his ear up to the cold surface and listens. He hears a strange howling sound, Red’s words echo in his head, “hells unimaginable by men”, images of werewolves and the horrible monsters the door could reveal dance through his mind, and he moves on to the next door.

At this door Jim hears nothing, a good sign he thinks, but he decides to check out the other doors first just to be sure. As he approaches the third door, he feels heat and the words of his captor move him on without a listen. At the fourth door, he hears clawing and whining. This sound turns his blood cold and he finds himself frozen in fear again but he quickly recovers and moves on to door number five. This door is so cold Jim’s ear sticks to it and he hears a faint scraping sound on the other side. Visions of monsters again enter Jim’s mind and he is almost sprinting to the next door before he gets a hold of himself. At the sixth and final door he hears a banging. Not a loud bang, but a bang that is audible enough to scare Jim into paralysis again. He slowly backs away and turns back to the first two doors, whose sounds were the least threatening. After a little thought he decides upon the second door, because the quiet seemed the most obvious for a hallway. His mind made up, he slowly walks up to the large metal door. His hand is trembling as he reaches for the handle and he pulls it back, fear gripping him again. But he knows that this door is his best bet, and if he is right then he can get out of this horrible room.

Jim reaches for the door with a shaky hand and slowly turns the gigantic lever and he feels the door creak open. He eagerly looks within, expecting the hallway and stops dead. It is not the hallway. Jim is gazing into a small, circular room whose floor is covered with a thick, black mist. Jim’s hear is beating fast. He made the wrong choice. Red’s words creep back into his mind, “hells unimaginable by man”, Jim wants to run but he can’t, he is frozen with fear again. He knows even if he could run he would have nowhere to go, he is trapped in the room. Then, an idea enters his mind, the other doors! He could open door number one, his second choice. He runs to the door and pulls on the lever, expecting it to swing open like the first. It doesn’t budge. Red must have rigged the room so only one of the doors would open thinks Jim. All hope gone, Jim slowly turns to find that the black smoke has followed him out into the room. He stares in horror as the smoke slowly begins to rise up from the ground. As it begins to take shape, Jim’s heart beats faster and faster. It is like nothing Jim has ever seen. The best way he can think to describe it is pure, uncensored, grotesque evil. As it grows a face becomes visible, and it has the same hungry look in its eyes that Red did. It stares at Jim and smiles, “Welcome to Hell.”

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