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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 15 page 05


Around the corner is a small staffroom, a back office, situated beneath a grand set of stairs leading to the guest rooms. There is no door to block access this time so he investigates. The filing cabinets and glass fronted cupboards are locked. There are no ornaments or trophies on display. Pinned to the corkboard are postcards and papers but they too are unmarked. Standing upright adjacent to an empty wastepaper basket is a bare hat stand.

In an attempt to cause some change in his immediate environment, he hangs his hat upon the hat stand and leaves the office. As he makes an exit, his hand flicks the light switch by the door. Yet the bulb continues to shine. He toys with the light switch and watches the bulb all the while. No action of his on the light switch is able to modify the lighting in the room.

The plush red carpet on the stairs is inviting. As are the brass railings running up either side. A gold cord suspended from the deep red curtains secures them in their place. Beyond them, the cream wallpaper is replaced by dark wooden panelling decorated by bland and plain landscapes, each nearly resembling the next, which could be of anywhere.

He spots a row of elevator doors to the other side of the desk. Once more his squeaky shoes track his progress across the lobby. He selects the far right elevator, for no particular reason or emotion, and presses the button. Expecting it to be as unresponsive as the light switch, he is surprised when the doors open to the inside of the lift. He steps in and it bucks moderately under his weight. Within this confined space he is able to inspect his appearance on the flawless mirrors lining the walls.

Adjusting his glasses he sees himself, a dirty blond haired man in his early forties. His cheeks are not overly pale nor are they ruddy. His rounded nose is not spoilt by a scar or pockmark and his ears do not stick out, instead serving as perfectly average and balanced pegs to hang the frames of his glasses upon. The frames themselves are smooth and black with no indentation or logo. He takes them off and opens and closes them. The motions are smooth, without resistance. Replacing them, he sees that he is of middling weight and height and is generally mediocre all around. So why does he seem unfamiliar?

The elevator doors close and he shuts his eyes. He points a single finger from his right hand. He holds it hovering in front of the buttons and swirls it around in the air. He finishes this flourish by pushing on a haphazard button, which promptly lights up. In this way he has succeeded in selecting a floor at random. The lift hums and, eyes still shut, he feels pressure on the soles of his feet as the small container rises. The lift dings, startling him. The door opens. Tentatively, he treads a single foot on the carpeted corridor.

The pattern here is identical to that of the top of the stairs back in the lobby. Dark wooden panels poorly lit by converted gas lamps, bland watercolours and two-tone photographs, probably of the rest of the resort, but it’s difficult to determine. Nose almost pressed to the glass, he examines one of the pictures closely, as if to spot some afore unseen landmark yet the effort is fruitless.

He strides down the corridor and begins trying the un-numbered doors, all of which are locked. As if to mock him, each doorknob rattles emptily with the same repeated syllable. His steps are muffled by the plush red carpet, which ordinarily would appear worn at any other hotel in any other place, but here it is immaculately kept.

Panic breaks. He begins to run. How has he not reached an end to the corridor yet? The lift has disappeared from view down the lengthy stretch behind him. The light does not change, the curvature of the corridor is constant. It is all the same. Uniform. Occasionally he stops and tugs at doors, shoving against the panels with his shoulder. Now he bangs against them and cries out incomprehensibly. He beats his fists raw and bloody in desperation.