's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Room "

Submitted by Stephe Keane

You awoke to find that your bedroom door was gone.

It doesn’t matter whether you were a boy or a girl, a man or a woman. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. Your mental health and how many neurological disorders you do or don’t have are completely insignificant. Whether you were already wildly successful in life or a hopeless failure makes no difference. All of your relationships, both to other people and to the outside world have very little (if any) relevance to present circumstances.

The only thing of note was that what had once been was no longer there, for whatever reason.

You sat up in your tangle of half-made bedsheets and worn, tattered sleep clothes and stared at the far wall. Which, at that point, was exactly that. Just a wall. In a daze, you rubbed the sleep and dislodged lashes from your eyes. Upon approaching its surface, you ran your hand all about it, feeling the smoothness and solidity. Assuming what any marginally sane person would have in your place, you decided to return beneath the sheets. Might as well, as long as you’re still asleep.

You woke up an indeterminate length of time later to find that you hadn’t exactly been dreaming. Or maybe it just hadn’t ended?

Still there.

Or rather, it was still gone.

No windows either. Only the artificial light of the overhead fan confirmed the nature of the room. Still more confused than anything else, you made your way once more across the floor and face to face with the inexplicable nothingness that had manifested itself on this specific day. You were waking rapidly, frustration building gradually within you. Small and suppressed at first. You reached out, trusting one of those reliable human senses to guide you. It only reinforced what you had initially thought, but denied as a possibility. It was solid, of course, and consistently so.

Striking it yielded no hollow report, and further investigation of the surrounding walls accomplished just as much. Unsure of what else to do, you sat at your large wooden desk and stared at your blank monitor. Not much made sense. Spinning slowly in your chair, uninvested in the act, you noticed you could hear nothing from outside. No cars going by. No early morning or dead of night animal choruses signaling the passage of time. If you had been living with anyone at all, you could hear no sign of their presence beyond the walls.

You turned on your computer or laptop or whatever sort of technological device you had access to. External contact was possible yes, but there was also little else to do. The first thing you did was try the internet, and the product of your efforts was a plain, white webpage accompanied by a consolatory error message. There was a small, frowning yellow circle above it to let you know they cared. You sighed and settled for your downloads folder. There were a variety of distractions available to you largely dependent on your age and inclination. The rest of the day was spent engaging in these assorted activities. Those that read books for satisfaction opted to do so instead, either at intervals or for the duration of the period. Inevitably though, sleep called you away to oblivion.

Upon waking, one often feels a sense of optimism, however dependent on that person’s circumstances. Any that you might have felt who knows exactly when was squashed almost immediately. The wall stared back at you, with a similarly nondescript expression. You turned your gaze to the ceiling and lay there. It was strange how the room’s new geography was almost becoming acceptable. Just another unexpected change that was unpleasant, but also part of life. At the very least, you were home, and it was comfortable. At least you were safe.

Then you had let out a cry of variable pitch, tempo and duration, before barreling straight towards the lack of architecture. The inverse of something. Fists clenched, arm twisting and driving forward. Regardless of the specific outcome, pain and failure were involved to at least some small degree. If you were lucky to be strong enough at the time, you might have left an imprint in the sheetrock.

You collapsed to the ground in agony, feeling regret for your decision. Remaining driven, fiercely intent, you looked around for any miscellaneous object that could aid in your predicament. There was an umbrella sitting in the corner behind your bed. The handle felt solid enough, so you figured it was worth a try. The wall did not give way immediately, but repetitive strikes slowly chipped away at its foundation. It was much deeper than you had originally thought; eventually you had left a decent-sized crater to explore. It was a bit like burrowing into the earth itself—with the exception of the ease of entry—you couldn’t see an end to the miniature tunnel you had started, even if the depth of the hole was equivalent to the thickness of four or five walls.

Exhausted and perplexed, you stumbled backwards, dropping your bludgeon and falling on your bed. After catching your breath, you decided to return to your (laptop/PC/tablet, etc.). You would resume your work later—perhaps tomorrow—but for now you needed a break. Hours of nothingness passed. All of the downloadable entertainment was as meaningless and shallow as it had always been, and anything of artistic merit had been substantially dulled by recent events.

Life was losing its context. Breathing and sleeping and sensing had become draining obligations, and the efficacy of escapism was eroding at a steady, gradual pace. The only thing that kept you going was the dwindling hope of freedom. It used to be so easy to leave your room. Forward progress was simultaneously motivational and demoralizing. The farther you carved into the hole, the more it felt endless and insurmountable.

It must have been almost ten feet deep before you finally conceded. The wall’s confines were cramped and hot and unpleasant, but you settled into its uneven grooves all the same. You pulled your knees into your chest and began to cry, even if you weren’t conscious of it immediately. Sleep would come once more.

Upon waking you dragged yourself out of the recession and fell to the floor. You brushed the bits of plaster from your discolored clothes and grabbed the edge of your desk to pull yourself up. There was not a joint in your body that wasn’t suffering. You wanted to keep going, but lacked the energy to do much else, save the usual. At that point, slipping into that leather arm chair was torturous. It was still plenty soft, sure, but the all-too-familiar sensation had become mundane and largely unsatisfying.

Days and weeks and months passed, blurred together and coagulated, leaving a place where time meant nothing. You were pretty sure you had stopped aging, stopped growing—and for all intents and purposes you had. You were becoming something less than human, something repugnant and unworthy of description. The hole never seemed to end, despite your enthusiastic augmentations to its original design. The one initial passageway eventually developed into erratic, multitudinous tunnels that went off for miles in all directions. Each expedition inside only made the return trip longer and more confusing, so at some point along the way, you just gave up.

Back in your room, you looked lethargically about your shelves for any traces of evidence to the person you used to be. Finding a wrinkled, discarded polaroid of what you assumed was your family, you proceeded to sit there and stare at it for the next couple of hours. It didn’t make things any better, but it at least kept you sane.