The elevator of the Eleventh Avenue Hotel, on what happened to be a particularly chilly November night-the eleventh to be exact-stopped at the eleventh floor, at precisely 1:11 am, filled with eleven people, all of whom had obviously had a few too many.
The man in the back, with the breathtakingly bloodshot eyes, while desperately clinging to the hand-railing chimed,
"It's about time! If the stairs hadn't been swaying side to side so goddamned much, I would have gotten up here ages ago!"
Without waiting for any sign of acknowledgement from his lift mates, he clumsily shuffled his was to the doors, and stumbled out into the hallway. Not that anyone would have replied anyway, because, no one even knew who he was. He had, already three sheets to the wind, wandered obliviously into the Eleventh Hour Café, and had promptly inserted himself into the only empty chair at their table. He hurriedly, as if driven by some invisible force, began to divulge the multitude of gossip stored in the caverns of his short-term memory, talking so informally with them, that, to the naked public eye, it would seem he had known these people forever. But, despite being a tightly knit group, who did not care for assuming outsiders, he wasn't really bothering them, and he was quite amusing to behold, so they decided to let him stay.
Now that he was out of the elevator, however, and out of sight, not one of them wondered if they'd ever see him again, and certainly, not one of them really cared.
The man, whose name even he himself could not presently remember, ambled less than coherently down the hallway until he reached what he believed to be his room. Not having any idea where his keys were, or where they might be, and lacking the energy to fish them out even if he did, he decided to put his Faith in Luck, and try the door. Luck prevailed, and the door opened. With a full view of the room, albeit a very fuzzy view, the man realized that the little bit of luck he'd just had was Mercy Luck. The time for gaiety was over.
"Oh. Fuck me."
All was as it should be. The curtains were closed to block out the ever vengeful morning sun, the alarm clock (due to Em's infamous apathy) was flashing 12:00 am, the plastic cups were still in their little plastic wombs-save for the one that had been birthed earlier that afternoon for Em's magical hangover potion, vodka-and, most importantly, the Holy Bible was in the most sacred of places-the top, left corner of the bottom, right hand dresser drawer. Yes, everything was as it should be-almost. The one thing out of place-which wasn't really out of place, as it had not been in the room when EM left-was a woman naked, bleeding, and nailed to the wall.
EM, for what seemed even to himself an unnecessarily long few moments, stood stone still, staring blankly at the ghastly scene. He wondered if he should scream, whether it be to shock his addled and fractured mind back into his body, or to summon some sort of external support or aid. But when he opened his mouth to try, nothing came out. He tried to forcibly expel the air from his tarred and leathery lungs, to squeeze it through his constricted vocal chords, but all that came out of his mouth was a weak, almost imperceptible sigh. Understandably shaken and stunned, EM numbly shut the door behind him, and staggered over to the mini-bar.
As he saw the blurry and empty bottom of his third mini Lucky 7, he felt detached enough to take another look at the gruesome human crucifix above his bed. The fashion in which she hung was Jesus-esque. Two thick spikes protruded from her wrists, and two through her feet. The only added fixture that wasn't biblical was a fifth spike straight through her heart.
The woman could only have been 25, 26-27 at the most. She had, what looked like, brown hair, but may have just been blonde with bloody highlights. The color of her eyes was impossible to determine, so full of blood they were, it looked as though she had no eyes at all.
EM was mortified at how cruel someone could be to do this to an innocent young woman, and, furthermore, how cruel they were to pick EM's room to do it in.
Despite her grotesque and disgusting disposition, EM couldn't help but find her helplessly beautiful. He imagined her in a simple red dress-backless-with a black snakeskin belt, red stiletto heels, and a little black clutch purse, holding a martini glass. Then it dawned on him. He knew her.
It was about three years back. EM was at his most favorite of haunts, The Lonely Heart Bar. He had his head down on his table, staring at the ice as it melted in his glass, silently sobbing at what he'd become.
Once upon a time, he had been in the prime of his life. He'd been in top physical condition. He ran every day, swam a few times a week, ate well, had one or two glasses of red wine every night, and maybe the occasional black market Cuban. He'd had lustrous brown hair, blue eyes, and was working as one of the most successful journalists to ever grace the pages of Chicago's most trusted and beloved newspapers, The Daily Truth. Now, for reasons he didn't want to even remotely reminisce upon, he was losing himself. He was losing his physique to excessive alcoholism, two packs of cigarettes (at least) a day, and fast food. His hair, what was left of it, was almost completely gray, and his eyes were dull, faded, and lifeless. And to top it all off, he was now working as a night janitor at the hospital known as the "Angel's Harp", due to the ratio of how many patients went in, to how many successfully came back out. How it hadn't been shut down and condemned, with all of its employees (excluding EM) in federal prison, EM would never know.
It was just as he was about to lose his grueling battle with consciousness that she walked in. The look on her face said that she was shocked and dismayed to see that a place like this actually existed, and was not a nightmarish Hollywood dramatization of the utter downfall of human civilization imposed upon the unwitting masses. She treaded carefully on the sticky tile, so as not to get stuck and become food for the legion of cockroaches she was sure inhabited this appalling establishment.
EM was just about to get up and inquire as to why a young lady of her looks and seeming intelligence was in this wasteland, when a wave of nausea crashed over her face, replaced by a flash of overwhelming terror, and she turned on her heels and bolted out of the door. EM decided to give chase, forgetting how many drinks he had actually consumed. He tripped over a barstool and fell flat on his face. He scrambled to his feet, blood trickling from his bottom lip, and burst forth from the bar and onto the sidewalk. He saw her slow, for a brief moment, and glance back, a twinge of fear in her eyes, to assess what had just occurred. She quickly readjusted herself, threw he hand in the air, and vanished into a taxi.
EM though to himself,
"That was the most disturbingly beautiful woman I've even seen in my life. I hope she's okay, she looked like she might be in trouble. She'll be okay, right? Yeah."
He collected himself to his feet, and, a slight mist in his eyes, made his way back into the bar.
Snapped back into the moment (and finally remembering his name) by the soft thud of the Lucky 7 bottle hitting the carpet, Logan started to cry. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Who did this?
This last question was the one nagging the strongest at Logan's fragile mind. It really had been three years since that night, hadn't it? Had that been earlier tonight? It couldn't have been. He'd been at the Eleventh Hour Café. But where had he been before that? He hadn't been at work. He'd been fired nearly 6 months before now. If it was tonight, did she run from his because she already knew him? No. That would be impossible. That was the first time he'd ever set eyes on her. He lit a cigarette and walked over to look at himself in the mirror. A figure stood there, no face, no identifying features, except for an air of seething vengeance and malice. Logan heard words, not from behind him, but from inside of his own head.
"Did you do it? You did, didn't you? Did I? I don't know who I am. Do you? Who are you?"
Logan spun on his heels, determined to face down this paranormal intruder, but found only air. More confused and terrified than ever, he said one final, silent farewell, ran out of the room, dropping his burning cigarette of the floor, sweating, panting, heart mercilessly trying to break free of its cage, and climbed back into the elevator that had brought him to his grisly destiny-not at all sure of where he was going to go, or what he was going to do when he got there.