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It's not a big room, here, and not something that 'wow's you – at first, of course. At first.
Neither was the door.
That's how I found it. The room, I mean. You would know, because obviously, you found it too.
How did you get here? I think there's different ways to access it. I wouldn't know, of course. And I haven't met anyone else here. Except for the Room itself.
I got to it through the little door at the creek, that started small, and grew, and if you didn't get here through that way you probably think I'm crazy.
See, I was running away. That was my plan. Not to come here, obviously, but to go – somewhere.
My parents – they argued all the time. Finances. Chores. Kids (as if we weren't crouching by the door, hearing every word they said). Time. Jobs. Other people.
And then – when they wouldn't get enough anger out by screaming at each other – they would take it out on us, me and my little brother.
“It's your fault. This is all your fault. I wish we had never had kids,” they screamed at us. That was usually my mom, when she was drunk. My dad used not so 'nice' terms – well, not terms – try physical terms, like 'punch', 'kick', and even 'bite' when he was super-furious.
I hated it.
I hated them, truthfully, although perhaps that's not quite fair.
Eventually, my little brother Andre ran away. I think he went to live with our grandparents, who have cut off all communications with our parents out of shame-slash-embarrassment, so they'd never tell them, which I'm glad for.
It's better than my situation...
But anyway, after Andre ran away, it was (according to my parents) all my fault, which was almost worse.
“Kendra, if only YOU had been the one to run away. Andre was a good boy – you must have pressured him into leaving – you horrible, horrible brat,” my mom would yell, her face a bright, sickly red, until her voice was hoarse and scratchy and she passed out on the couch.
At the least, I didn't have to protect Andre from my dad. I can take pain. I couldn't take watching my sweet, innocent younger brother get pounded by my former-linebacker father. So, I would protect him, cover him with my body, which only made him angrier, which gave me more bruises.
Until Andre ran away, and I didn't need to protect him, so I took the pain alone. I hated it. So much. Parents should be loving and kind, and mine were not, were not even close to normal, how normal parents should be.
But the abuse kept coming, and I lived with it.
Until one day, when I escaped the house and walked down the hill to the tiny creek at the bottom of the slope and sat there and cried.
I cried for, oh, I don't know how long, but when no more tears could escape my burning eyes, I just sat and watched the creek bubble and laugh down the small, gentle slope, and listened to the birds sing their happy little melodies, careless and free.
Then I saw it.
Well, half-saw it. I kind of saw it, out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned it was gone – a little door in the side of the hill.
Impossible, I tell myself. Your mind is playing tricks on you, I say. Stop imagining things, I chastised myself that day, knowing full well how my imagination works.
So, I left. I stood, and left, the spring sun gleaming down weakly on the creek, which laughed to its own little joke.
And I didn't give it another thought, until the next time I went down to the creek.
You see, it became my little escape – I would stay down there, and think, maybe bring down a book, or some snacks.
And every day, out of the corner of my eye, I would see – faintly, but surely – a door – in the side of the hill. And I would be startled, but as I turned, it would be gone, and I would scold myself again – scold myself for hoping – wishing – that the little door would be there, and lead – somewhere.
And the creek would laugh, give an infuriating laugh, laugh at me, at the world, laugh to its own little joke, the joke being me, not seeing the little door that didn't exist – did exist – didn't, always out of my reach, tantalizingly close, yet so far.
And I would go home, disappointed, to screams and blows and curses.
Every day, I saw that little door. And I grew more and more believing – believing that is was real, that it wasn't my imagination, that it was real – yes, real -and that it would take me away to a wonderful land where my parents did not exist, and maybe, where Andre was.
I would daydream, as well as dream at night, about what that little door held in store for me. But always, when I turned to look at it once I saw it out of the corner of my eye, it was not there – not there, vanished, like a four-leaf clover you think you see until you reach for it, and it turns out to be nothing.
Until one day – that fateful day – the day were it didn't.
Vanish, I mean. It didn't vanish.
That morning, I had woken to my father's fists pounding on the walls. Scared, I leaped up and ran to try and lock the door, but too late, it flew open and there was my dad, red-faced and screaming.
Two hours later, I had taken a beating unlike any I had ever known, for money that I had not taken.
“One hundred dollars, Kendra!” he had screamed. “Give it to me! NOW!”
“I don't have it,” I had cried, “Please, Dad, I swear, I don't have it!”
“Liar! You have always been a lying, sniveling little brat, you snot-nosed spoiled little idiot!” my mother now, was screaming that sentence, though I have kindly edited out the crude curse words sprinkled throughout for your sake.
Finally, they left. And finally, I made up my mind.
I ran. I ran out of that house, screaming one last sentence behind me, “I hate you!” to my parents, and sprinting to the only place I knew – the little laughing creek.
I collapsed there, a mixture of tears and anger, crying out to the heavens, “Please, please, be real, little door, take me somewhere other than here!”
And I gasped for breath, listening to the creek laugh, but the birds were silent. Tears blurred my vision and I didn't notice.
I didn't notice that the door was there.
Not bouncing out of existence, like before – not out of my reach, like previous days – there.
Once I realized this, I stood, my legs shaking. I took a step forward and – it grew.
I took another step forward, and the door lengthened and widened another inch. By the time I had approached it, it was exactly my height. Exactly. Exactly my height, so that the top of my head almost – almost – almost brushed against the top of the door, when I stepped in, because I did - I stepped in.
At first, nothing.
Was that how it was for you?
Couldn't see, feel, hear. The light shining in from behind me from the laughing creek was not there – nor was I – there was nothing – no, nothing – I didn't think, couldn't, I wasn't there, not me, not anyone, not anything, just -
miraculous something, I could think, I thought, something, something good.
('Something good', I thought. Ha!)
And I found I had legs, that I could walk. So I walked, walked towards the – something – that was there.
And I entered it.
The light, I mean.
I walked straight into it – straight into the light – the light that beckoned.
And I came across this room.
Is that how you got here?
Obviously, you've gotten here by some way. Was it the door by the laughing creek? Is that the only way here? I wish I knew. I probably won't.
Here, to this little gray room, with the voice.
Hello, it had said, the light, melodic female voice, as I blinked, and got used to the light streaming from high above – from where exactly, I don't know – Hello. Hello, Kendra.
How did it know my name? I don't know. I still don't know, but then, I didn't care -
“Where am I?”
Laughter. Where, does not matter. You are here, away from your parents.
I backed up. This room, this solid, unfurnished room, gray, and bleak, was terrifying.
“Um... no. I want to go back.”
Concerned. Back? There is no 'back'. Unless you mean this back.
It pulled out a sort of screen from the wall, showing my parents beating me – cursing at me – hating me, and me hating them.
Where did they get that footage? I don't know. I still don't know, but remember, then, I didn't care -
“Well... I don't know, but I don't know about this place, either.”
Sighed. We cannot keep you here against your will, Kendra, not without your consent. If you want to go back to the family, the life you hate, then by all means...
A door opened, showing the little laughing creek.
But Kendra. We've been waiting for you. We can keep you away from your parents. The parents you hate. It's so much better here! The screen flipped to footage of a room looking the same as the one here, with laughing people watching some sort of show, eating delicious food.
Gentle. Stay here! With us.
I was torn.
“I... I don't know.”
Persuasive. You've wanted to go – somewhere. Well, this is somewhere!
I made up my mind. “Fine, I'll stay here.”
Still as warm, but a bit cooler. Do you give your consent to stay here?
As a couch pulled out of the wall, I flopped on it. “Yeah, yeah, I consent.”
With a bone-chilling slam, the door leading to the creek shut, sending a freezing cold gust of wind my way. I furrowed my brow.
Cold. Thank you for your consent, Kendra.
The screen was still flipped on the people laughing and watching the show, when all of a sudden the screen in the footage was pulled back , three of the four people gone, the delicious food gone, and the one remaining person staring up at the screen, mouthing, “I'm sorry. I'm sorry.”
Cold, calculating laughter echoed through the room, laughing, cackling, insane laughter.
I was scared. Sprinting to the door, I screamed, “Let me out! Let me out of here!”
I grabbed the handle, yanked it open, waiting to see the laughing creek – the beautiful creek, but as the door opened, light did not stream through the door – no, it was something far worse, something beyond horrible -
first, I saw pictures. Portraits, almost, each in a little collection. It started with a well-fed person, then continued, the person getting skinnier, their eyes haunted, some pictures showing them screaming, crying, laughing hysterically, and then at the end of each line of picture -
- a skeleton.
Soon, you will be added to the collection, Kendra, the voice said. The collection of hopeless human beings, gullible enough to fall into our trap.
“Let me out of here!” I screamed, terrified, scared beyond belief.
Oh, no, Kendra! Never, ever! The voice, laughter in its voice, humorless laughter, cold, cruel laughter, taunting me as I crumpled to the floor, trying to block out the noise, the noise, but it spoke into my head, making me scream, but still it didn't cease as it instead grew louder and stronger and I knew, I knew it would someday drive me insane- ...besides, you've just got here, Kendra. Sit back and enjoy – you have a lot of time left.
Then the laughter.
That's my story. I've been here so long. Years, I think, but I can't tell for sure.Soon I will be added to the skeletons, and a new person will be taking my place. Before I go, I'll put these papers on the floor – maybe the Room'll leave it so you can read it.
Dear reader, what year is it?
What has the world done while I've been gone?
I pity you, reader, but I also pity myself.
We can only hope, that the Room, will stay with the people who wander into its trap, and do not try to expand further.
I hope, dear reader, that you can find a way out,
because I cannot.
~Kendra Marcuson, 1948