I once considered myself normal, one person among the human race. I was calm, organized, standard. Woke up, went to work, came home, slept. Normal. But not since that room, not since that doorknob. Not since that ever screaming, ever leering, ever peering doorknob. I was once normal, but no longer.
As part of my job as a representative of my corporation, I on occasion had to travel to meet with other representatives, to try to work out a beneficial relationship, but often to no avail. I had to travel for 2 days by car to get to the next meeting, the Fall Annual “Let’s sit around and act like we care” Brunch, or as they call it, the cohesion meeting. I had to stop for the night, and had to pull up to a hotel. I got out of my car, grabbed my lone bag, and headed inside.
“Hello sir, how may I help you?” I was greeted by an old, pleasant man who seemed to be the only employee on duty at this late hour.
“Uh… Hi. I need a room, just for the night.”
“Quite doable. You’re in luck, we only have two rooms left. Well, actually, one I suppose.”
How I wish, how I desire and lust for the ability to go back and beg my former normal self to not ask, to not inquire, as to why the odyssey.
“What do you mean, actually only one?”
The man hesitated for a moment, considering how best to answer.
“Why don’t you pay for the room first, and on the way up I can explain, if you feel up to hearing it.”
What else could I do? This was a renovated, but clearly old, hotel. It didn’t seem to have any entertainment. I was tired and figured I could use something to think about. Wanting to hear the story, however dull it might be. I wish now that it was dull, that it was just a non-renovated room unfit for occupation. I suppose it was really that, looking back. I glanced at the bill.
“What? You’ve got me signed up for a Master Suite. I can’t possibly–”
“It’s quite alright. You’ve got a discount, an apologetic one.”
And he took off. I saw he already had my bag in hand, heading down the disquietingly dark hall. It seemed to me that he was too comfortable stealing somebody’s bag and hobbling off down a dark hall. I paid the bill, and peered down the hall. I could hear a faint shuffle, reassuring me that my bag had not been stolen by a crazed homeless man dressed as a bellhop. So I followed, just as my job trained me to do. We arrived at my room, number 312. I noticed there was a large space between my room and the other ones in this hall.
“Well, here is your room sir, I hope you have a bearable evening. Check out is by eleven o’clock, please be sure not to miss it.”
“Wait, you said you would explain the whole… one room, two room… thing.”
Now this just felt silly. Why was I concerned about that simple second thought an old man had? The old man sighed.
“Well, you paid, it’s your room now. No skin off my head if I tell you. There are 313 rooms here, we intended to have 333, make it the 3’s hotel, but there was a sudden bout of fund depletion.”
“I got married. Anyway, we got stuck with 313 rooms. Went years without any major problems, except the newlyweds who refuse to leave their rooms, and the occasional party that got out of hand.”
“…So what happened exactly?” The man hesitated, started to inch away.
“Oh! Just remembered, need to start the laundry for tomorrow. See you in the morning!” And then he was off. I checked that I still had my bag, and seeing that I did, went inside my room. I had never realized until then how much I had been missing out with standard rooms; this master suite had twice the space and luxury I had been accustomed to. I settled in, rolled up in the surprisingly comfy blanket, and closed my eyes.
Then my nightmare started.
Wails of sorrow streamed from the walls. I woke up, at an hour at which no sane being should ever be up. The pitch of the wails went from gasping for breath, to screeching, with just the essence of pure despair. I unlocked my door, and went into the hall. The wails stopped at the door. I stepped back into my room, and the wails continued.
I was dumbfounded. That shouldn’t be possible. The wails were seemingly… directed, at me. I ran into the hall, my heart beating, slamming the door behind. I then realized my room-key was still in the room, and I had just locked myself out.
My only consolation at the time was that the wails had stopped, apparently trapped in that room. I looked around. The screams seemed to have come from the walls. But that would be impossible. My room was on the edge of the building on the first floor, the only room close to mine was-
I looked over at the aged, dark door. This room clearly hasn’t been renovated like the rest of the hotel. Management has been avoiding this room for quite sometime. I moved toward it. The doorknob, that dreaded cruel doorknob, seemed plain and at rest. Slightly rusted at it’s cylinder, it seemed harmless. I handled the knob, discovering that it was ice-cold to the touch. I pulled my hand away, shocked by the touch of it. I kneeled down, and peered into the keyhole.
A woman stood alone in the room. She faced the corner of the room, long dark hair going down her back. She never moved, never twitched, just stood there, looking down into the corner of the room. My heart sped, the blood drained from my face and arms, going to my twitching legs. My mind was screaming.
“Run. Run now. Run and never come back.”
Sadly, curiosity is now stronger than self-preservation. I raised my hand, my eye still peering through the keyhole. I knocked.
“Ma’am? Are you alright? Did you… hear anything?”
The woman didn’t show any reaction. She still stood peering into the dark corner of the room. I tried my call and knocks again and again, but still she never moved from where she stood.
I lamented my calls and knocks. My legs calmed, I went back further down the hall, and sat down in front of my room. I waited for morning. It was the old man who found me. He was disturbingly amused by my predicament.
“I’ll admit,” he said, “you’re the first person to ever get locked out of their own room while renting alone.”
He opened the door to my room, I peered inside, stuck my head in, and prepared for the worst. The wails had died during the night. All was calm. I gathered my stuff, and came back out. The old man had left. I wanted to ask him if someone else had checked into the hotel, forced to take room 313. Already thinking of that room, I turned to face the door. It was still dark, still aged, and still there.
“So much for hoping it was a dream…”
I contemplated the risks of taking another look. Deciding it was worth it, I knelt down, and peered into that foreboding doorknob.
Red. Luminous, never-changing, blood red greeted me. The most luminous shade of red I had ever seen. I would have appreciated it more, had it not been not less than 4 inches from my eye. I jolted back. Wanting to ensure that I wasn’t insane yet, I had to look again.
Red greeted me again, unchanged from before. The color itself seemed to peer into my very being. The color of it seemed to mark me, make me apart, different from all else. I was the only one to ever have to receive this mark, or so it felt.
Was this a trick made by the woman last night, hoping to ward me off should I come again? I tried to convince myself. I took my bag, and scuffled faster than usual to the desk. The old man was waiting for me.
“Had a good night sir?” He seemed way too cheery for this hour.
“Err… Fine.” I replied, trying to not sound insane. “So tell me, what is the deal with room 313?”
The man grimaced, and saw there was no escape from my question this time, and answered.
“A couple years ago, two newlyweds rented the room. They got into an argument. He or she had been cheating, I don’t know. The groom snapped, and broke her head in with a lamp and ran. Police never found him. People started to feel… uncomfortable in that room, so I closed it off, stopped trying to maintain an upkeep on it.”
“…I see… What did the woman look like?”
“Oh, it was years ago. Bit hard to remember.”
“Please, just try. Please.” I was on the verge of begging. Did some pothead just sneak into that room at night, or was it something else? I had to know, I couldn’t let it go.
“Well… She had black hair.”
Crap. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. I wished it was something else.
Thinking about her seemed to pain the old man.
“…She did have red eyes. They were beautiful on ou- her wedding day.”
From Tristan: I was informed that “The Most Luminous Shade of Red” resembles a popular online horror story called “White with Red” (http://www.creepypasta.com/white-with-red-eyes).
The idea from my story came from a meme I observed online (Rage Comic, www.ragecomics.com). Apparently, the Rage comic was heavily based on “White With Red.” I was not aware the story existed.