The Hallway

The Hallway
He was in the hallway. It was a dark hallway with no natural light. The walls were an indistinguishable color, and they were wrapped in a mantel of wood. This hallway was circular, and there were doors, closed doors, locked doors, plastered against the inner wall. There were no doors on the outer wall. The doors varied in type, size, and color, but they were all locked shut. The man in the hallway did not know why he was there or how he got there, but he was there, and he was scared. He walked through the dark chamber and tried a door. It was a large wooden door, heavily locked; it looked as if an entrance had been attempted on it. Scratch marks were etched into the bottom of the door and steel supports were riveted to the door in response. The man knocked at the door. A hollow sound vibrated inside, like some huge drum. Then, silence. Out of nowhere, a bloodcurdling scream echoed from some chamber higher up. The man covered his ears and thew himself on the floor. The scream persisted. It seemed to be coming from someone in indescribable torture. The man was stirred with pity amidst his horrible fear. He got up with difficulty and headed down the sloped hallway, towards the sound. It was a shriek now, high-pitched and stung. The man ran through the dark hallway, hands over ears, when suddenly, he encountered stairs. The stairs fallowed the same curve and went up, towards the wretched sound. The man’s chest heaved, and he felt like weeping. Death was in that scream. Death and pain. He ran up the hundreds and hundreds of stairs, his legs aching and his heart pounding. It worked ever upwards, and ever on the same circular path. When he reached the top, he hesitated and panted. There before him was another hallway, on the same circle, that was tainted with red light. When the scream fluctuated, the light flicked or dimmed. He could not tell the source. Doors upon doors stretched before him on the inner wall. The man tried the first door franticly. He tried the second. Each one was tightly bolted. He approached the horrid, inhuman sound. It slipped from a voice to a nightmarish noise. The man was crying and sweating. The noise seemed close, very close, and yet far off. The man identified one door in which he was sure it was behind. It was wooden, and weak. The latch was of cold, icy metal, but it was locked. He cried out in despair and slammed his weight against it. He was thrust back and fell on the floor. The noise screamed in a new bout of pain. A metallic clank sounded behind the man. He looked around. It was an axe. Then, suddenly, a door flew open three doors down. He looked hesitantly at the door that just opened and approached it. There was utter darkness in the chamber that was revealed. Darkness and a terrible sense of fear. The man stood in shocked silence. What should I do? he pondered hesitantly. He took a step back. He could see the ax that had mysteriously appeared lying on the floor: the weak wooden door would easily yield to it. But why had this door opened? A bead of cold sweat trickled down the man’s forehead. His foot entered the threshold of the open door, and he fell. He could not see, but he could feel the sense of space. The shrieks of the voice mingled with the scream of the man falling. All

seemed to be void in this dark land of nothingness. But then, heat. Heat radiated from everywhere and a steady red light grew below the man. A great fire was below him, it seemed, and he was headed right for it. He could see it now. It was a large bubbling pit of fire, right below him; hungry for flesh. He tumbled down at thirty-two feet per second per second, with no hope. The man closed his eyes and tensed. The heat grew unbearable. It scorched, seared, and then — stopped. A crashing, and tumbling of rubble echoed as if in a large space. The man was unconscious and knew no more. When the man awoke, he was in a large heap of stones and rubble. Everything was covered in dust. He was not dead, and this startled him, for death was certain last time he was conscious. It was deathly silent, but he remembered the screaming. He hurried off in search of the voice, although hope was little. The space he was in seemed to be devoid of all recognizable features. All was dark. All except for one door. One wooden door that was white and yellow. He strode up to it and tried the handle. It opened. He walked in to a dimly lighted room. It was a bedroom by the looks of it. It had a bed and a dresser and a lamp that gave the only light. There were things strewn all over the floor. Clothes, furniture, and bottles. The man walked through these things in shock. Just then, the screaming voice was heard. It fluctuated in anguish. The man looked around in dismay. There was another door on the opposite side of the room. He ran over to it and opened it. A gust of wind and rain hit him immediately, and the door was blown shut behind him. He was standing on a large stone bridge that connected two large, looming, stone edifices. Below him was black, immeasurable distance. The man looked about him in perplexity, with dark rain and wind battering him; ever with the scream in his head. He struggled along the bridge, his face down to avoid the rain. After ten feet of slow progress, he looked up, and halted in amazement. There before him was a fit, well-dressed man with his right hand extended. The figure was soaked and was furiously yelling something that was drowned out by the wind. The man was holding on to the cold, wet steel that rose up from the side of the bridge. The well-dressed person had hard, penetrating eyes that gazed at some object faraway. The man approached in a hesitating, halting step. When he was feet from the person, those dark, hard eyes suddenly turned on him. The man cowered in pain as the person yelled. A rumbling boom rang from the depths below. The man started to yell, and the person approached. Cold hands gripped him. At this distance, the yelling was just above the roaring of the rain. The words were meant for someone else. They were words rejection. Words of pain. Words of anguish. Words of disappointment. Boom. Another rattling quiver echoed, and then a grinding, crushing sound. The huge tower in back started crumbling. The man struggled with his captor, gripping him around the throat. Boom. They were both knocked apart. The man, finding himself free, ran for the other edifice. As he approached, a sturdy wooden door appeared amidst the gloom. He entered just as another tremor shook the bridge. All went silent. The door revealed a room that was lighted decently with artificial lighting. The man dripped water on the well-worn wooden floor. In the middle of the room, there was an empty table that was slightly damaged. There were smashed and broken metallic things scattered all around. The man strode up to the table and discovered name plates etched into it. “For excellence of ...” “To the most honored ...” “In recognition of outstanding performance ...” Each one was accompanied by the name Frank Burnstang. The man staggered back, as if

stricken. As he stepped back, he tripped over something on the floor. He examined it: it looked like the remains of a college swimming trophy. All over the room, plaques and trophies of all sizes and types were in ruin in the on the floor. The man started to cry. His heart was racing. This room had two doors on the opposite wall. One was black and wooden and the other was red. As he was pondering which way he should go, a knock on the door behind him was heard. He spun around and looked at the door. There was silence. A growing fear crawled up his spine. Another savage knock on the door came. A hoarse bark yelled “Let me in you scoundrel!” The scream started again and the knocking became a banging, and the man stood there, stunned. Crack. Crack! The head of an ax showed through the door. The features of a thing on the other side became apparent, and he hated it. He knew it, and he hated it. This was the very definition of hatred. The man looked at the thing a second time, and his hatred was dwarfed by his fear. He fled towards the doors on the other side. The screaming was coming from the black door, so he tried to enter it. The door was locked. The thing on the other side of the room had broken the door now, and it was coming towards him. The man tried the other door; it was locked. He frantically tried the latch of the black door. It would not budge. The thing coming towards him cursed and yelled. The man knew that there was nothing else to do. He turned around. There was nothing there. All traces of the thing was gone, and the door that had appeared to be broken through was intact. Why or how the man did not care. The screaming increased and he was gripped with a sense of urgency. He tried the black door, and it opened. It led to a narrow, close hallway that was all black and then an intersection. There was another long, narrow, black hallway to the right and left, and a black wooden door ahead. It was secured with wooden boards and several pad locks. The screaming continued. The man stopped at the intersection when, suddenly, he heard voices. They were voices he recognized. He put his ear to the door. He stood there in silence, listening intently. The voices grew higher. Suddenly, the man’s eyes shot open. He recoiled from the door in disgust. He looked at the locked door in horror, and then covered his ears. He wanted to get away, far away. He no longer cared about the screaming, he no longer cared about the screamer's pain. He no longer cared. He no longer cared. All he wanted to do was get away, far away. He fled down the hallway on the left. It was dark and narrow and filled with despair. The hallway concluded in a stairway. It was steep and close. He climbed it heedlessly, running like he was being pursued. His head echoed with the voices, and he covered his ears harder as he ran. His jaw was set and his dark eyes were hard. He went high up, not caring for the burning in his legs. He went up, up, up. He reached the end of the staircase. It ended with a large door, and he ran threw it. He came suddenly to a curved hallway with unnatural red light. He noticed that it was the same hallway he had come from, the same hallway that with the door he had fallen through. He stopped. All was silent now. The man was stilled in his emotion. He looked up and saw a figure standing still in the hallway, looking at him. He looked intently at him, and choked. “Frank ...?” The man was middle aged, slightly wrinkled, but he looked so amazingly beautiful. Pity and love stirred within the man. He called his friend’s name and ran towards him. The figure retreated, running through the curved hallway. The man ran after the figure, but he disappeared.

The man ran in a feverish frenzy, and then, suddenly, he fell. He had stumbled over an object on the floor. It was an ax. The unbearable screaming started again. The man stood up and began weeping, heaving under the weight of his emotion. Three doors flew open. The one that the screaming was coming from stayed shut. The man was desperate. He approached an open door and experienced utter darkness within. Darker than death, and accompanied by an unnatural smell. He recoiled in agony, and ran for the ax. Time is running out, he whispered in a foreign croak. He badgered the door that the screaming was coming from with blows. Each blow caused him pain. Stopping midway, he bent over and panted. Then he continued to hack the door. He finally forced entrance. The room was small and lighted with unnatural, dirty light. It was deserted. There was a faint trickling sound. The screeching continued. The man walked in and found a wooden table with a single picture. The picture was of a beautiful girl, perhaps twenty years old. She was smiling and wearing a sky-blue dress. The picture frame, however, was smashed. The man stared at the picture in bewilderment, staggering under emotion. And then he noticed that the floor was wet. He put his hand in it and lifted it to his face. It was blood. He recoiled in horror and ran out of the room. The screaming became louder. When he exited the room, a huge rumbling sound blasted through the hallway. The room he was just in crumbled into nothingness far below. The voice screeched in agony. The man looked around in despair. The doors that had been open were now shut tightly. The hallway started to shake uncontrollably. Foreign voices sprang up under him. Intruders! Theft! The man fled up the hallway in terror. His heart was beating uncontrollably and he was panting. The walls were moving and the screaming voice clashed with the yells of the voices below. They were getting closer. The doors he encountered were all securely locked. From then on, all the doors he found were of stiff metal. The man came across another staircase of the same sort as the first and he ascended. Halfway up, he was tossed to the ground. He tried to get up, but stumbled. The horrid noise ever filled his ears, and the ones below were closer than ever. Intruders! Intruders! He got to his feet and ran up. He came to a hallway like the first two, but this one was darker than the others. The scream was definitely originating from this story. He ran on until he found a door that was of solid steel, riveted, without a handle. The scream cried out in unbearable pitch. Suddenly, two doors flung open, one on either side of the door he stood in front of. With nothing else to do, he picked the one on the right and hurried in. The door unveiled a hallway that was on an incline. It was extremely narrow and had no doors. There was cold stone beneath the man’s feet. At the top of the dark incline, there was a light that silhouetted a bent figure. Hey! What are you doing! It shouted. The man quailed and turned back. The screams increased. The man franticly closed the door on the thing inside. He saw dark figures running towards him from the stairway he had climbed. There he is! Get him! Then, as they approached, a rattling quake shook the entire structure. All were thrown to the ground, and large chunks of ceiling crumbled to the ground. Then, a blinding light smouthered everything. All the doors were thrown open with a shuddering bang. The screaming stopped. Dust and debris were everywhere. The man looked up from the floor, and he saw the door that the screaming had come from. It was open. He crawled

to it and peered in. There was an old man sitting in a chair; his face worn and haggard. The man on the floor peered intently at him. “Frank...?” The man whispered hoarsely. The old man in the chair looked up with venom in his eyes. The man on the floor winced. “You broke in,” he muttered in a metallic, terrible voice. “I was ... Trying to save you.” The man said, shame filling him. “You broke in.” “I —” “YOU BROKE IN! GET HIM!” The man bellowed and stood up. Noise was closing in. And then the old man started. His eyes flew open in pain. He grabbed his chest and fell, face first. He hit the ground with a sickening thud. All went silent. All went dark. The man was crying. All was lost. There was no sound but his hoarse, wretched weeping. A flame kindled in front of him, and he was suddenly roused from his sadness. A figure knelt on the floor in front of him, fingering a match. The person turned and stared at him. They stared at each other, each in silent contemplation. The person with the match smiled, removing the lines of terror, stress, and sadness. He smiled, and the man smiled back. Silently, the person reached into a pocket and pulled out a small metal key. The match was extinguished. In the darkness, a small clanging rang from behind the silent figures. Then, a deafening roar. All the doors were unhinged, and a red, fiery glare roared up. Stones heaved and the floor and the ceiling and every dark and secret chamber and every barred and locked door and every phantom and every trophy and every ax in that structure was blown into nothingness, forever.