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3. Hallway

2. Threshold

1. The Drafting Board

Urbex: Hallway

avatar on 2024-07-06 18:13:04
Episode last modified by Perri on 2024-07-10 17:07:43

181 hits, 26 views, 2 upvotes.

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The door was heavy and swung inward silently. The sight through the open door couldn't have been more benign, and yet utterly shocking. On the other side was an open office. Beige patterned walls, clean loop carpet, and yellow partitions cordoning off workspaces that were otherwise empty. This, in contrast to the office, was completely empty, but most strange of all was that the office space continued out past additional doors and thresholds.

Tallulah appeared at my side and murmured, "Isn't... this supposed to be..."

"Yup," I croaked with a dry throat. "This should be the other side of the wall." I took a deep shuddering breath and realized I was shaking. "This is crazy. This really shouldn't be possible."

"Maybe it... went up or down a floor without us noticing."

"How," I replied dryly, looking at her with skepticism.

"I don't know! Fuck, Roarke, this doesn't make any sense."

We were both trying to rationalize things, but we had different ideas on how to do it.

"Let's check out some of these other doors," I suggested.

"Hold on, we have no clue what's going on here. Don't you think we should... wait or something?"

"Wait for what?"

"At least wait until I text Brace," she replied, pulling her phone out. "Damn, no signal..." She walked back to the window, and I walked deeper into the office. I opened the nearest door to find another office and desk, identical to the window room, except that the window framed nothing but the drywall and wallpaper. I checked a few more, finding subtle variations on the glossy desked office, before reaching what seemed to be an exit.

Opening the door welcomed us to a long hallway lined with doors, like the back hall of a strip mall, connecting all the units with utilitarian bare hallways. Only this hallway extended well past the threshold of the 7th floor of the tower. My mind reeled as I continued out into the hallway. I... should be standing out in empty space above the dilapidated downtown district now. I was visibly shaking as I reached a hand out to one of the push bar doors and depressed the lever.

"Roarke!" Tali grabbed me and pulled me back. "I told you to wait until I texted Brace!" Her urgent voice pierced the silence, as well as the spell it had over me.

I gasped, eyes wide. "Yeah, no, sorry. I should have waited." I ran my hand through my wavy black hair. "It's just this place is brain-numbing. I got a bit... It was like highway hypnosis."

"Ok, that's not concerning at all," Tali snapped sarcastically, then grasped my arm tightly. "Maybe we should wait until the rest of the crew can show up. Brace said he's definitely able to come, now that we've confirmed the story. We've got all weekend, let's go back to the hotel for now."

"Tali, we've barely even started."

"I know, but neither of us exactly planned on non-Euclidean physics-defying bullshit!" she hissed.

"Let's just see what's on the other side of this door," I urged. "The office is right there," I gestured to the open door behind us, "We can take a peek, and then I'll go back."

She looked down the long hallway skeptically, then turned to the new door before us. "Fine, but make it fast."

I nodded, and with Tallulah by my side, I pushed open the door. My hand felt weird as it passed the threshold of the door, like it was being gently tugged inside, and stranger still was the room on the other side. It was dark, nearly pitch black. The floor, as far as I could tell, was far below us, and the far wall, maybe 12 feet away, was covered in linoleum tiles. I went to peek inside, but as my head crossed the threshold, I lost my balance and began to tumble through, and as more of me fell through the force pulling me pulled harder and harder. I fell until I found myself crashing into the far wall, vertigo spinning the world around me in inexplicable ways.

I staggered to my feet and looked around for the door, only to hear Tali's voice from up above.

"Roarke! Are you ok?"

I turned my eyes upwards, and found the door placed squarely in the ceiling, with Tali looking through it from an impossible orientation. The gravity of the situation pressed in on me, both literally and figuratively. I'd fallen forward, to the lino wall that had become the ground, and was now, looking up at at Tali, who was standing parallel to my ceiling.

"This place, Tali, we shouldn't be here. Crap, I messed up, I really messed up." I called out in dawning realization.

"We've got the rope. Don't worry, I'll tie it off on the desk. It... It should be alright, just hold on!"

She disappeared from view, but as she left the door, the closer slowly pulled the door shut.

"WAIT!" I shouted. "The Door! Tali, the door!" I cried out as I watched the utility door slowly heave itself shut. I tried to jump, but couldn't cross the distance.

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" she cried out, but just as her shadow passed over the light of the closing crease, the door clicked shut, and the world started to swirl around me.

My stomach lurched with nausea, and I staggered as I tried to maintain my footing. I tried to keep my eyes on the door; Tali should be opening it up any second now, but it stayed shut. One heartbeat passed, then two, then three. My vision became disoriented, and I turned my attention elsewhere. The walls were obscured by shadows all around, and I felt agoraphobic. I was impossibly tiny in the middle of an impossibly large space. My cheeks flushed, and my mouth watered as I felt the urge to hurl. At the last moment, my gaze fell on a toilet, and falling to my knees, I emptied the contents of my stomach into the bowl.

Stability returned to the world. The walls rushed in on every side, the dark turned to light. The vertigo departed. No longer in a strange and infinite room, I was in a messy but well-lit bathroom, the hum of incandescent lights above. White tiles on the wall. Mineral board ceiling tiles where the backdoor to reality used to be. But with this restored normalcy, I slowly realized that I was anything but normal.

From my slouched position over the toilet, long straight brown hair with faded dyed ends hung in my vision, splayed across the toilet seat. With a trembling hand, I gently held a lock of hair in my fingers. Fingers that were too short, on a hand that was too small, and too soft. I felt nauseous and dissociated again as I sat up from the toilet and looked down to find a frumpy black and off-green flannel jacket over a black T. Beneath the shirt was the gentle curve of feminine breasts.

"Wh-what the hell?" I stammered with a soft and unfamiliar voice, afraid to touch what I'd discovered, and confirm the impossible reality. Wiping my mouth, I felt something in my lips. Piercings? I scrambled to my feet and stumbled to the sink and mirror.

Both were higher than I was used to, but the reflection that greeted me was that of a doe-eyed shocked young woman, about my age. Lip rings and a nose piercing. Skin far softer than my own, and deep brown eyes in contrast to my former green.

I stared in shock for a long time before I turned away from the reflection, unable to face the mirror any longer. My eyes drifted through the bathroom when they came to rest on some vandal scratch on the wall behind the door. It wouldn't have stood out, but the marks were familiar. A diamond with a long tail going down and to the left, and a circle with a slash going top left to bottom right. Hobo glyphs. "Hold your tongue" and "Good Path," respectively. Beneath them, scratched into the tile, were numbers... Coordinates to the 6th decimal. Accurate to 100 meters... This could just be for actual hobos, but... Maybe they stood for something more too. Maybe they were here, because here is where that strange door would put me... Right? Maybe? Please?

With an uneasy sigh, I put my hand on the tiled wall and committed the coordinates to memory. I grasped at them like a drowning man in the deep ocean. These glyphs and coordinates, these had to hold some explanation.

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