Thursday, April 06, 2006

Nickerblog's "Mystery Hotel" Meme.

Because I needed *another* mystery...

With credit to Shane at Nickerblog and Wil Wheaton for the genesis of the meme, and MM for editorial support, here follows my entry at 299 words....


Donald stood stiffly in front of the desk; he sensed that the old man was doing his best to look as he thought the proprietor of a "fine hotel" should. The cuffs of Donald's sweater were rolled up to hide the ink stains from the blotter, and he realized too late that he had not unrolled the cuffs of his trousers. To move now would ruin the photograph; if he did, the old man would surely box his ears.

Donald always cuffed his pants as soon as he arrived at work because his first task, even before the sun rose, was to go down and feed The Monster. The monster ate coal, and lots of it; it was the monster, after all, that heated the water for the dingy, stained bathtubs and rust-streaked sinks. In the winter the monster also pushed heat through the creaky old cast iron radiators that hissed and clanked throughout the building.

The monster lived in the far corner of the musty basement. The old man called it a boiler, but to Donald it was a thing alive. It's glowing mouth was always agape with hunger; insatiable in it's need for fuel. Donald turned up the hem of his pants every day before descending into the bowels of the hotel; otherwise the coal dust ruined the cuffs of his trousers.

The photographer snapped the picture, and with a great flash of light, the scene was captured for posterity - and for the postcards that the old man thought he could sell to the traveling salesmen to show their families where they stayed. A two-cent souvenir from a two-bit town.

Donald stood stiffly, not knowing or caring that at the turn of the next century, someone would find this very photo and begin to wonder why...


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