The Only Guest

April 23, 2017
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Carl Davidson’s eyes were bloodshot and his hair seemed like a nest for birds. Splotches of black coffee appeared sporadically across his white button-down shirt, and his wrinkled tie hung loosely from his neck. The moon was barred behind the thick clouds up in the sky and the only thing that illuminated Carl’s path in front of him were the street lights which flickered on and off. Carl was rushing to NJ from Boston with adrenaline when he got the call from the hospital that his wife had just delivered their second child. She was currently resting on the hospital bed  on that cold night and it was crucial for Carl to be there to comfort her. He wanted to feel like he was actually part of the family for once and not always off to work from Monday through Friday. Carl had driven tirelessly for about two hours, but only halfway through the trip, Carl almost swerved into a ditch on the side of the road. However, Carl, being the stubborn man that he was, kept driving trying to neglect the fact that his body needed rest. Soon, Carl nearly missed falling into a lake on the side of the road. Finally, Carl came to his senses and realized that he could not go on any longer. He knew the faster he found a hotel, the faster he would be able to see his family.

Carl turned on to an old road which was promised to have restaurants, gas stations and hotels. The silhouette’s were promising however, as soon as Carl got a closer look, he was able to see that these rest stops were from the 1930’s. The buildings were covered in graffiti and falling apart from the wind and rain however, there was one building that stood out from the rest. Carl felt a faint glow pulling him closer and closer to a building that he was looking for, a hotel called World’s Fair.

The gigantic parking lot was surprisingly vacant that night and the hotel had no windows making it look like more like a prison. Of course this brought up a great suspicion however, Carl realized that the sooner he slept the faster he would get to see his wife and child. Soon, he hauled himself out of his car and stood in front of what would become his final destination.

Car swung open the double doors to the entrance and dust flew everywhere. Coughing and half blind, Carl kept walking through these doors through a dark corridor that led to a small light in the distance. After reaching this light he realized that it was the lobby. It was carpeted with red velvet and there was a grand chandelier hanging overhead. Carl thought he had hit the jackpot realizing that the living conditions were fit for a king.
Carl ran his eyes around the room and squinted at the vases gleaming on top of the ivory pedestals to his left. Soon, Carl made himself at home and collapsed onto the black bear-fur couch to his right next to a marble fireplace slowly crackling away through the night. He tried to stay awake but the soft fur enveloped Carl and made him start to drift off to sleep. As soon as his eyes started to shut, a man with a black suit and a top hat popped up from behind a wooden counter straight ahead of him. The man confronted Carl and said, “H-h-h-hello mighty fine you visit at this hour” while stooping over the counter to get a better look at Carl. Carl could smell his breath of black licorice and his voice was so soft it was almost inaudible. The man, who introduced himself as H.H.Holmes, had a shy manner although he was double Carl’s height. H.H Holmes seemed almost deaf when Carl began talking with him. Every time Carl would try to start a friendly conversation H.H.Holmes would always start doing something else.  However he perked up as soon as Carl mentioned he had to be gone quick to meet his family in NJ. After hearing this H.H. Holmes, ignoring the fact that Carl had to be gone in a few hours, kept trying to pick up conversations about the wonderful neighborhood and the fabulous people nearby. Is this guy crazy? Carl thought. Carl persistently asked for a room but as soon as he did, H.H. Holmes small voice would become as big as someone speaking through a megaphone. However, through persistent asking, Carl finally persuaded H.H.Holmes to give him the room keys to the third floor. While H.H. Holmes walked from behind the counter to give him the keys, Carl realized he was limping. Carl inquired about this but H.H. Holmes brushed it off by saying, “Ahh this from a drunk man across the street who beat me up with a baseball bat.” Carl tried to remember if there was even a restaurant or working bar nearby. He didn’t think he’d seen one. Suddenly, Carl thought he heard a faint scratching sound coming from the floorboards.

Carl walked up to the third floor where his room was however, the incessant scratching got louder and louder. However, the last straw was when he heard a muffled scream and a silenced BANG go off and the screaming stop. Carl turned around to head back however, H.H. Holmes appeared right behind him smiling showing his only few teeth that he had left. Carl started having extreme doubts but he couldn’t surely go back and leave his wife and kids to suffer without him. Soon, Carl made his way to his room, number 113, and H.H. Holmes made sure he made it to his appointed destination. In the room Carl stripped off his clothes and took a steaming hot shower that he was longing for all night. As soon as he got out of the shower, Carl slipped into his pyjamas making sure that he would make his wife and his new child proud tomorrow. As soon as thinking that, Carl drifted into a deep sleep.

BANG! BANG! BANG! Carl awoke instantaneously from this raucous noise coming from outside of his wooden door. “Who’s there?”Carl croaked. However, without hearing an answer, Carl dressed himself hastily with his messy clothes from last night and looked out through the peephole in the middle of the door. To his surprise Carl saw H.H. Holmes staring right back at him. Carl cautiously creeked the door open, and he asked  Holmes politely what he was doing at his room at seven o’clock in the morning. Holmes started to say, “I was check-” until he changed his topic and asked, “Will you care to c-c-come dine at our breakfast buffet t-t-today?” His voice was quivering with excitement and as much as Carl wanted to leave, Carl’s stomach could not let this chance go and in less than a second, Carl had made up his mind to follow Holmes down to the breakfast area.
At the breakfast buffet there was a single light and a table and a chair for one man, this man was Carl. With no one to help him devour the mountains of  lightly salted scrambled eggs heated to perfection, italian sausages oozing with juices, and all assortments of breads and desserts Carl sat down and immediately started going crazy. There were even his favorite food:macarons, chocolate and vanilla fruit cake, and even dragon fruit. However, Carl’s mealtime was cut short when he heard all the ventilation chambers make a screeching close. Carl was a mellow man and he lied to himself saying that it was “only a malfunction”, but when Carl made his way through towards the door,  it would not budge and there was no handle to open the door from the inside. Carl, expecting that Holmes would come and open the door for him, waited in a panic patiently crouching next to the buffet hall entrance door but when heard no one come, he knew that this wasn’t any kind of normal hotel. Five minutes in and Carl’s voice became raspy and he started screaming making his chest pound even more. Carl started crying and begging for anyone to help him out so he could see his family for one more time. Carl felt hope flush through his body when he heard one man’s that came from the other side of the door, but it didn’t sound like the caring Holmes that he met earlier. No, this voice sounded more like one of one of America’s most infamous killers, James Young.

“Why not s-s-see your family up in the s-s-sky?”, James Young said with sheer excitement of his soon to become victim.
Carl replied yelling, “I’d do anything if you let me out, please!”
After debating for some while, James Young compromised a deal. He said with a devious laugh, “If you solve this riddle you will find the way to get out!” He started speaking, “When you have to unlock something
But a code isn’t what you need
You need this thing that’s on a ring
Which has been cut but doesn’t bleed?”

After thirty minutes of trying to solve the riddle Carl ran his hand through his pocket and realized the answer to the riddle was a key. Soon, with the last bit of energy that Carl had, he jammed his car keys into the slot between the metal door and the wall and slowly but surely pried it open.

Gasping for air, Carl lay on the floor like a fish who hadn’t been in water for days. However this was no time for celebration because as soon as Carl got out of the chamber, to his right he saw the face of a broken man at the end of the hall. His eyes were wide and twisted, and his top hat lay crooked on his distorted head. This man stared at Carl for a few seconds and smiled. After a few seconds, the man slowly hobbled closer to Carl, and he picked him up almost as if he were his father picking up his child that stumbled onto the floor. Carl could not move and no matter what he did, Holmes A.K.A James Young still kept walking. However James Young wasn’t walking to the exit, he was walking him to the attic.

In James’s attic were multiple lifeless, dead bodies lying on the floor with nooses tied around their necks. This hanging chamber almost seemed like a spider's web and the people were flies caught inside them. Some of the people’s eyes were still open as if staring straight at the new to become victim. As all other of his sufferers, Carl was hung on a hook on the basement roof with thick braided rope.  As James left the attic to go freshen up, he whispered, “Sweet dreams.”

Carl knew that if he struggled against the rope it would only tighten. He also knew that if he would escape it would have to be something damn clever enough to save him from the grasp of death twice. Nothing Carl had on him could break the rope, not even his car keys which had saved him a couple minutes earlier. Each exhale seemed like his soul was slowly leaving his body. Only a minute later Carl was hanging lifeless with all the other unfortunate souls to stumble upon World Fair’s hotel.

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