Writing: Short Story

Below is a short story I wrote about 5 years ago. I’ve considered turning this into a full novel, but thought this was a good example of my creative writing, so please enjoy!

The Staircase
The floorboards creaked below my feet as I walked through the lobby. My shoes were covered in dirt loosened by rain that had flooded the streets. I would have felt bad about tracking mud, except looking around the lobby instantly eased my guilty mind. The moss-green floral wallpaper was starting to peel, revealing an ugly pale-yellow color that looked like someone had relieved themselves on the walls before the wallpaper was applied. The room smelled like moldy vegetables and stale garbage. There were mice scurrying across the room, cockroaches hiding under the couches and chairs, and a little possum hiding in the corner that would run out from behind the newsstand, look around and run back to his hiding spot. It was obvious that this place was something to see many years ago, but it was now so decrepit that it was hard to believe people had actually elected to stay here at one point in time.
Slowly making my way up to the front desk, the short, balding man behind the counter glared at me through two too-small-for-his-face spectacles that desperately yearned to be cleaned. He stood slowly, revealing a grotesque body that could have been hiding two Thanksgiving turkeys and a small child beneath his shirt. I couldn't understand how his stubby legs could carry around such a shape, but he somehow managed to maneuver himself into a position that I assume was him standing. I said “Hi, I need a room.” He let out a deep cough that made me believe he was a heavy smoker, and had been for a very long time. He looked me up and down with a slight squint, then without saying anything, turned around and grabbed a small key off the hook on the wall. He turned to me, put the key forcefully into my hand, and pointed to a sign that was barely hanging onto the wall, which read: ELEVATOR BROKEN. USE THE STAIRS.
As I started to say “thank you,” he flicked me away with his right hand and sat back down on the creaking rolling chair that had been hidden behind him. I could tell that was all I was going to get out of him, so I didn't bother to ask what room I was in or any other details about this “hotel,” if that's what it can even be called, that I had stumbled into. I made my way to the staircase with my 40-pound bag that was soaked through and dripping onto the floor, and the only thing that came to mind was, “Wow, this place is old and should be put out of its misery.” You would’ve thought I’d shouted that, as I turned around to see the man behind the desk giving me the evilest eye, so I smiled slightly and turned back toward the stairs. If I get murdered, my money’s on him. 

I looked down at the first step of the staircase and held back some bile. The carpeting that covered the stairs was an ugly shade of brown-maroon that looked like bear scat mushed into a once-red bath rug. You could definitely tell it hadn't been cleaned in awhile, and although my shoes already had mud on them from outside, I couldn't bring myself to lift my foot up to the step that looked dirty enough to give me a fungal injection from looking at it too long.
I took a deep breath in, exhaled slowly and placed my foot on the first step. Crunch. I couldn't look, though I thought I may have just squished something that was living in there. I decided the best way to do this was to just get it over with, all at once... Sort of like a band-aid, except I really needed to make sure I didn't look down at the steps if I wanted to keep my lunch in my stomach and out of my throat. I ran up the stairs, feeling things crunch and writhe beneath my feet, not thinking about it because I don't think I'll be able to sleep ever again otherwise, and let out a gasping “thank god” when I finally reached the my floor.
I closed my eyes and counted to ten so that I could try to mentally prepare myself for anything else I might see next. 


It didn't work. 

When I finished counting, I took an extra second to breathe in and out, which was a bad decision because the air was so stale, it felt like I was choking and my eyes watered a bit. I opened my eyes finally and, lo and behold, the upstairs didn't look any better than the lobby. When I looked down the hall, there seemed to be only about ten or so rooms, though I didn't see a staircase leading anywhere else, so I assumed these were the only rooms in the hotel...... 

More on that later.
As I walked down the hall, I heard an orchestration of crying babies, music from the various decades of the 1900's, and lots of yelling that sounded like spousal arguments. I'd say I felt bad for all these people whose drama I could hear from the hall, but I'd be in no position to judge since drama was the whole reason I'm here right now. 

Freaking Mark. Oh... I guess I should back up.
Mark's the boyfriend. Well, ex-boyfriend. I gave that loser four years of my life, and what does he give me? Nothing but a bunch of lies and a line about how “it was an accident, it never meant anything to me.” Oh yea, I'm sure you just fell into her on your way to church and accidentally did it EIGHT MORE TIMES. 

Oh, and that's the best part. Who he “fell into” was my best friend, Veronica. That's how it always is, right? The best friend sleeps with the boyfriend and suddenly, everything in your life falls into place because they “never meant to hurt you,” but they open your eyes to new and better opportunities, like that hot guy who lives in town and just happens to meet you one day at the library, and then you get married and have kids and die happy while holding hands... right? Except, no, that's not what happened. Veronica got pregnant and Mark felt the proper thing to do was move-in with her, so he kicked me out of the apartment (even though I'M the one who pays the bills) and now I’m the one looking for something else and out on the stoop. 
So now you know, that's how I ended up at this dirty hotel in the middle of the city that I never even knew existed, because it's the only place I could get to before my tank hit empty. Gotta love sky-high gas prices that only let you fill up once-a-month if you're on a budget; whoever thought $4/gallon was bad, would probably have a heart attack paying the $6/gallon I paid last month. Moving on, back to the hotel.
I walked past each room, hoping to not have to socialize with any of the sources of the noises I was hearing. I finally reached one room where I didn't hear anything inside, and the door and mat were the cleanest I’d seen since walking into the hotel. The door was a lively red and the frame was clean and unscratched. Weird, but hey, looks like I lucked into the nice room. Right above the door, there was a room number: 1. Now, if this was room one, then the rooms weren't in numerical order: weird. But that's not the only weird thing about it; no other room had a number above it, next to it, or even near it. When I looked down at the key that I was handed, there was no number on it, but I thought I'd see if it fit in the lock, as all the other rooms sounded occupied. I slid the key into the lock, and it clicked, but the door didn't open. Okay... so then which one is mine if that didn’t work? The key wouldn’t come back out, but the knob wouldn’t budge. ... Is this my room?
Well, this sucks. I let go of the key and let it stay in the lock. I took a few steps back and stared at the door. Suddenly, the door creaked opened, so I grabbed my bag and walked inside.
Now, there’s something you need to know about me: I believe there are ghosts. I don't think they're murderous or anything, but you know those inexplicable things that happen and you can't understand how, but you know you weren't dreaming? Well, that pretty much describes everything that happens to me, so I've just decided to assume it's ghosts... though I'm not sure if I'm kidding or being serious when I tell myself that.
I walked into the room and dropped my bag in awe. The room looked like it hadn't been touched in 100 years; everything was in perfect condition. I wondered if anyone had actually stayed in this room before, and how often it must have been cleaned. The wallpaper was a fresh, 1920s-style floral wallpaper, the carpet was a beige tone that had no stains or tears, and the mahogany furniture looked brand new. Woah. 

I heard a creaking noise, turned around, and saw the door was closing. Must be the wind. I walked over and shut the door fully, clicking it into its locked position. The key fell out the other side and I picked it up off the ground, then put it on the dresser so i wouldn’t lose it. I turned around, kicked off my shoes and crawled into bed, not even bothering to get undressed. I laid on my left side, then rolled over to try to get comfortable, which wasn't hard to do in this bed. I took a deep breath, but when I exhaled, I felt something strange. If I’m being honest, it felt a bit like someone else's breath on my face. It even sounded like someone else was breathing. I figured I was just feeling my breathe trapped under the blanket, and then... Then I opened my eyes. 


I opened my eyes and I saw myself. I don't know how, but it was definitely me. My brown eyes, my dark hair, my awkward freckles. Me. I felt my jaw clenching in fear, but this is where my reflection differed. She smiled, and suddenly I felt cold. Cold, like death.




That's all I remember from how I died. I see her now, still smiling at me when she looks my way. I sometimes wonder what she'll do next, but I don't really want to know. All I want is to claw that smile off her face with my cold, dead hands.

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