The Quandary Room

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 09, 2017

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Submitted: August 09, 2017



The man stared unblinkingly at the room’s expansive ceiling. It was decorated by a mural in the style of the high renaissance with dramatic imagery and a clearly biblical subject matter. Specifically, it seemed to depict the final conflict between heaven and hell. From one corner to the center of the ceiling the backdrop was the blue skies and masses of cloud that heaven is almost always depicted as and thrusting outward and downward from the clouds was the army of heaven itself. The angels that made up its ranks were dressed much like Greek soldiers with plumed helmets and fustanella and the figures almost merged together into a bristling cornucopia of armor, weapons, and wings. The opposite half of the ceiling was occupied by the armies of hell bursting forth from what at first glance seemed to be the opening of a volcanic cavern. However on closer inspection the ingress revealed itself to be the mouth of a dragon-like man which one could only assume to be the devil himself. The ranks of hell’s army, unlike those of heaven’s, displayed more interest in violent, orgiastic revelry than actual combat with the angels. They danced about, tearing at each other’s flesh, throwing fire, and even those that seemed to take notice of the angelic onslaught merely continued their same chaos but with a half-hearted focus on the enemy combatants.

Although his eyes were locked on the mural the man used his peripheral vision to scan the rest of the room. The architecture and design were extremely Victorian, with a gaudy black and red color pallet and gold trimming. The furniture as well, including the high-backed couch he was seated on, seemed to be of the same era. Couches, chairs, and small tables were strewn haphazardly across a floor covered by a large red and gold Oriental rug. Soft jazz played from some unseen source, giving the entire room the air of a traditional Londonian gentleman’s club. There was nothing particularly wrong with the room, the man had always been more of a fan of the works of Saint-Saëns and Beethoven than any jazz artist but not enough to make a scene about it. In fact the only issue the man could bring to mind was the matter of his name, or rather the absence of it. Try as he might the man could not recall his own name — first, middle, or last. He searched his mind for other information. He was born on September 12th 1902, he was 39 years old, he was born in London England, his mother’s name was Elizabeth... Elizabeth… His mind held a blank.

He was pulled from this train of thought by what seemed to be the distant sound of bells chiming. He lowered his eyes from the ceiling and looked around. He wondered where the sound could have come from, there were no windows in the room nor any doors… This realization brought to his mind a second problem. The loss of his name had captured his focus so much that he had not considered that he was also unable to remember how he had come to reside in the room or even ended up on his particular couch. He was perplexed as to why he had not considered this earlier. But once again his mental efforts were shattered by the bells. This time they were much louder, almost as if they were coming closer. This room, his name, the bells, it was all so strange. Perhaps… Perhaps he was dead. This possibility perplexed him deeply. He had never been a religious man. His father, James, was a devout Irish catholic but had never forced his son into any form of indoctrination, and his mother, although never mentioning her faith and beliefs openly, was a indeterminately spiritual and habitually superstitious woman. He looked around the room again. If this was hell then he was relieved, but if this was heaven then he was sorely disappointed. Once again the bells wrung, shaking the furniture slightly. The time between the chimes was getting shorter, once again it seemed the bells — and whatever was ringing them — was drawing closer.

Suddenly a single chime shook the room with such force that several of the small tables crashed to the floor and the man’s vision shook so much that for a moment he was rendered temporarily purblind. When his vision finally cleared he rubbed his eyes and looked around the room again. Something seemed oddly different although he could not quite determine what it was. But his attention was drawn away from that matter by the sight of blood on the pants of his corduroy suit which… which he did not recall having been wearing during his prior time spent in the room. But if not this suit what had he been wearing? Hard as he tried he continued to hit the same mental blockade that hid his name or how he had come to be in the room from him. Then another drop of blood hit his pant leg. The intensity of the chime, he rationalized, that must have caused his nose to bleed. Then another drop hit him, and another, and another. His mind was forced to come to the sickening realization that the source of the splatter was not his nose, but in reality something… Above him. He slowly lifted his eyes up and his gaze was met by a circle of blood pooling and seeping through the mural. The man lurched away in disgust but as he stood up from the velvet, Victorian couch he found his legs would not obey him and he struck the oak floor hard, his head saved from worse damage only by the oriental rug.

The blood began to fall more steadily, soon covering most of his back and head. As he attempted to drag himself away the oozing blood began to harden, becoming like an unbreakable wax and restricting both his movements and his ability to breath. Panicking, the man struggled desperately to get air but the spate rushed down on him faster and faster, imprisoning him further. His struggling lost intensity until finally he lay limp. His vision was red with the quickly hardening blood, through which he could make out a portion of room now warped and distorted as if he were somehow gazing through a funhouse mirror onto an otherworldly nightmare-carnival. Soon though it all faded to the black of unconsciousness. But somewhere, deep in the recesses of his dormant mind, he sensed someone or something standing above him and two very distinct voices. One was male but high pitched, like a child, with an accent akin to the Welsh cadence, “It’s a pity really. He never seems to make it past this first trial.” The second voice spoke, and the very sound of it cast a dark presence that pervaded even the man’s oxygen-deprived coma. It was inhuman in nature, as if someone had taught a boar to speak the King’s English. “No matter. Begin again.”

The man stared unblinkingly at the ceiling, examining the mural plastered upon it. Although his gaze did not waver his mind was preoccupied with his inability to remember his name or how he had come to be in the room…

© Copyright 2019 L.P.C.. All rights reserved.

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