Hallway Story

You are walking down a hallway. For as long as you can remember, you have been walking down the hallway. Were you born there? Will you die there? Perhaps the hallway just warped your memory instead; you're just zoned out pacing an old hotel's halls and any minute now your friend, or a confused cleaner, or some other thing, will find you and help you leave. Right now, though, you do not know nor cannot tell if that is the case. Your only friends are the humming, painfully white fluorescent lights overhead, keeping you from losing your location and turning around or walking into a wall. The walls look like they might give way were you to walk into them hard enough, their stained wallpaper peeling away. You entertain the thought for a bit, as a slight and quickly fading impulse, then continue walking. You can’t tell how long, since time loses most meaning when you can’t keep track of it. The only clock you have is your heartbeat, which has somehow kept going without any food or water to sustain the body. Maybe the only reason you’re still alive is because you’re in a dream. Who can tell. Minutes or seconds or hours pass, and everything goes on.

You are walking down a hallway. You’ve been walking down the hallway for quite some time. The cracks in the walls, almost gashes from some unknown thing, seem to taunt you. Finish what they started, they say. Break the wall tear it open break it break it break it. The thoughts get unbearable so quickly, and you throw yourself at the nearest crack. Your mind is satisfied but your body stings. It might be drywall and insulation cutting your skin, but the hole is far too sharp, too jagged, to be any of those. You pull yourself away from the wall and look closer. It looks like everything and nothing, a void made of all the things you could find in an endless hallway, and quite a few things you don’t. You reach your hand in, then pull it back, for the cold and heat and everything inside is too much for a person like you to handle. Are you even a person? You could be. Anything can be a person if it’s able to think about it, and as far as you know you’re able to think. You decide to think about that more as you continue walking.

You are walking down a hallway. Your footsteps are muffled against the matted carpet, but they’re the loudest thing here, keeping in time with your heartbeat and the hum of the lights to form a droning rhythm that drowns out your thoughts. By now you’ve thought about most everything, those who you might’ve known and those who you made to keep your mind busy, the world outside and what might be inside, though usually you’re just thinking about yourself and your situation. By now, though, your thoughts are occupied by that hole you made in the wall. There was far too much behind it. You try to remember exactly what you saw, but whenever you try to examine it closely your head goes to something else. Maybe that’s what it is; something. You wonder if that’s true of everything, if they could all just share the same meaning as a thing that exists. The notion is peaceful and you almost smile, but any happiness that absurd notion could’ve brought to you is cut short. You faintly hear something else’s footsteps echoing in the halls, clashing with the tempo of your own. Your heart almost skips a beat, but you think about it a bit more. This is the first thing you’ve encountered here, so what reason do you have to assume it’s bad? After all, maybe it could be another person trapped here, and you could make a friend. Your pace slows to let it catch up, and you continue walking so as to not lose progress. Hopefully you two could escape together.

You are walking down a hallway, albeit at a slightly slower pace than usual. Your footsteps are punctuated by faster ones, far behind you. Hopefully whatever’s following you catches up soon, so you can talk to someone other than yourself. As it grows closer, however, you pick up on something odd. The steps are too heavy, too close together, to be human. Whatever it is, it must have too many legs, or it’s running far too fast. You try not to assume anything about it, though. Maybe the hallway connects to more places than just Earth, and humans aren’t the only ones who get stuck here. This hallway might’ve just disproven the Fermi paradox. If you get out, you could write a book about it and go down in the science halls of fame. Or you’d just get immediately ridiculed, your name going down in history as just some crank rambling about the infinite possibilities of this infinite hall. Being forgotten here seems worse than being forever remembered as a fool. You try not to think about it as you keep walking and the footsteps behind you slowly keep getting louder.

You are walking down a hallway. Something touches the back of your leg. It’s cold, a burning cold like taking one’s gloves off after being outside in the winter. You flinch. What was it that touched you? It was probably the thing behind you. You wanted to be friends but how could you trust something that wouldn’t enter your sight first? You run, and whatever’s behind you doesn’t seem to want to catch up, as it keeps going at the same speed. It probably didn’t mean harm. Still, that interaction was too much. It might’ve dragged you off to its lair, and then you’d be that much further from the exit. A truly gruesome notion indeed, for any end at all is better than boring perpetuity.

You are running down a hallway. There’s something behind you. Your heart pounds too hard for you to focus on the steps of your pursuer. It could be catching up, slowing down, or even turned around. You’re not sure. Time is lost and you keep running, until you lose your breath and collapse on your knees, gasping. Sitting down on the floor is an almost-alien experience compared to endless walking, and for what might be the first time that you can recall, you turn around. You almost wish you hadn’t, for you lock eyes with the thing behind you. Does it have eyes? You cannot tell, since it’s so visually loud. Its centipedal form flickers horribly out of time with the hum of the lights, and its colors and patterns continually cut each other off. It keeps getting closer and closer. Should you get back up? You know it wants to do something to you, and by now you don’t want to know what. You pull yourself to your feet, the rough carpet scratching against your hands, and begin to run. You can’t breathe enough to get enough speed, and so you fall again. It’s over. You know that you’re not fast enough. That damned thing chasing you is getting closer and closer, and you’re forced to accept whatever fate it chooses to give you. Something wraps around your leg, and you’re pulled backwards down the hallway, the carpet burning your skin as you’re dragged along, and you get pulled through a jagged hole into everything. Your vision is filled with terribly noisy colors and shapes, one of which you could swear almost looked at you, and everything cuts out

You are walking down a hallway. You don’t know how long you’ve been walking down that hallway, but you keep going anyways, since the endless walking is peaceful. The dull patterns on the walls and the soft carpet and the flickering lights fade together into a quiet blur. You keep walking.

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