Forever and Hallways

📅 Published on May 14, 2021

“Forever and Hallways”

Written by Ryan Harville
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.75/10. From 4 votes.
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Daniel pushed his mop bucket before him by the mop’s handle, careful not to go too fast. He would’ve liked to avoid another accident like–

The bucket swerved to the left, then ricocheted back towards him, sloshing gray mop water over his sneakers. He felt the tepid water immediately sink into his shoes, soaking his socks.

“Goddammit,” he said, his shoulders sagging.

Daniel wrung out his mop, and the hall echoed with the sound of the water dripping back down into the bucket. Sheryl, his supervisor, cleaned the first two floors, leaving left Daniel with the other three. He didn’t really care that he was stuck with a bigger workload, as long as he didn’t have to work with her. She was an awful woman, who once tried to get him fired for not working after he had sprained his ankle. How the hell was he supposed to mop three floors worth of tile when he couldn’t stand without a crutch? She wouldn’t listen, so Daniel called her supervisor. He had kept his job, but now she hated him as much as he hated her.

But he liked the quiet. It was part of the reason why he took the job. That and his college courses weren’t going to pay for themselves, not to mention his rent. He started to mop up the water he’d slopped onto the floor, his shoes squelching as he moved. Within minutes he was lost in his work, with nothing but the hypnotic swishing sounds of his mop going back and forth over the chestnut-colored tiles. He had a two-way radio if he needed to talk to Sheryl, but he tried his damnedest to never have the need.

He made his way down the hall, passing the opaque glass doors of the four businesses that occupied the third floor. The CPA had hung a sign on his door that read, “I’ll be back tomorrow, you can count on it!

He laughed, amused at how awful the joke was. His elbow struck something behind him with a metallic clack, and Daniel quickly wheeled around to apologize…to a door.

The door stood slightly open, just enough for him to see the hallway beyond. It was the same beige walls and red-brown tiles as the rest of the floor. A framed sign read “Do Not Enter” in bold, black letters.

Had he mopped through there before? He couldn’t remember. All the halls looked alike.

Daniel sighed, going through the door with his mop. It was better to err on the side of caution.

The door clicked shut behind him, with his bucket still on the other side.

“Shit,” he said, shoving the push-bar.

The door was locked.

He turned away from the door and began walking. There were stairwells on each corner of the building. He would just go down a flight and loop around back to his bucket.

On his left, the door to the tech start-up of the week, IntelliVent, was lit behind the black shade that covered the inside of the door, which was odd.

Even stranger was the fact that IntelliVent’s office was on the hall he had just left, and he was sure there weren’t two of them.

Daniel turned around, surveying the rest of the hall.

Next to IntelliVent was Dr. Dern’s office, the child psychologist. But her office shouldn’t be there either.

On the opposite side was Travelon, the travel agency. And beside that was once again the office of Charles Murray, an accountant. Daniel walked slowly over to where the sign still hung. It now read, “You’ll be dead tomorrow, you can count on it!”

Daniel froze, his heartbeat loud in his ears. He backed away, nearly tripping over his mop bucket.

His mop bucket, that he had left in the other hall, was there in front of the door opposite the one he’d entered through. The sign read “Do NOT Enter” in bright, lime-green letters.

He didn’t hesitate. Shoving his palm down on the push bar, he swung the door open and quickly crossed the threshold.

Again, the offices were identical. The only obvious difference was the lighting. The white fluorescents were gone, replaced by a baleful orange glow that seemed to swell and wane in slow pulses.

“Jesus Christ,” he said, his eyes wide. “This is some kind of joke–”

A voice screeched behind him, shattering the silence. “Don’t you dare take the Lord’s Name in vain!”

Daniel screamed and wheeled toward the sound. There was nothing behind him but shadows.

“Answer me, Danny!”

He would know that shrill voice anywhere. He grabbed the two-way radio from the clip on his belt. “You scared the shit out of me, Sheryl!”

“Good. Serves you right for going to Mr. Lee behind my back,” Sheryl said. “Now keep the Lord’s name out of your filthy fucking mouth.”

Daniel started to respond, but the words dried up. Sheryl was awful, no doubt about that. But he had never, not once, heard a curse word from her mouth.

“This…this isn’t Sheryl,” he said.

A blast of static squealed from the radio. Daniel yelled and threw it to the floor, his ear ringing. The radio cracked, its housing showing a few wires within. Black fluid began to leak from its edges, spilling from the speaker and creating a small pool.

The fluid bubbled as the voice spoke. “You’re going to need to mop this up.”

He slowly backed away, being careful not to step in the mess. The push bar of the door hit him in the small of his back. He turned and slammed it open, spilling into the opposite hallway.

The orange light winked out as the door shut behind him. The new hall was more of the same. The same offices, the same dark brown tile, the same paint…but older, cracking in places and revealing old wallpaper underneath. He grasped a rubbery edge of old paint, then slowly pulled a swatch from the wall.

The wallpaper beneath was a deep red, with dime-sized white bumps studding the surface like welts on flesh.

“What the hell is this?” he whispered as he prodded one of the bumps with his fingernail. “What the hell is this?

The bump opened, and a runny, noisome fluid burst out in a small spray. Daniel leaned over, retching. The smell, oh God the smell was terrible, like spoiled meat and ammonia. As he watched, a clump of dark hair pushed its way out from the hole, and a small object dropped to the tiles with a click. He reached out a shaky hand and picked it up.

It was a tooth.

Daniel tossed it away with a cry. All around him came the sounds of the bumps popping behind the paint, their contents pushing forward and stretching the paint until it burst.

He ran as teeth and fingernails rained down around him. Daniel struck the far door with his shoulder, knocking it aside. He fell to the floor as the door shut behind him, but he had plenty of time to read the sign: “You shouldn’t have entered.”

All was quiet. Daniel’s breathing slowed, and he whimpered like a frightened dog.

In the new hall, IntelliVent’s door was ajar, and the sign taped to the front read “Going Under Business”.

Daniel pushed the door open further. “Hello? Anybody there? I don’t know what’s happening, please–”

His eyes adjusted to the gloom of the office. A man hung from the rafters, his face black, his eyes bulging. An electrical cord bit into the bloated flesh of his neck. Daniel watched in horror as the corpse reached over his own head and wrapped his fingers around the cord. He began to pull, his triceps muscle ripping audibly from the effort.

The cord snapped, the sound as loud as a firing pistol, and the body fell to the floor.

Daniel grabbed the door handle and yanked it. He had to close it before that thing got up, he had to–

The door was blocked by a woman’s foot, still wearing a high-heeled shoe. The flesh was gray and swollen, rising over the leather of the shoe.

The dead thing swung the door open, and its watery eyes locked onto Daniel as it lunged towards him.

Daniel screamed as the corpse grabbed handfuls of his shirt and pulled him close. They fell together, the dead man landing on top of Daniel, driving the breath from him. He instinctively reached up to push the thing away, his hand landing on its jaw. The blue-black skin sloughed off beneath his palm. His stomach heaved, and bile rose to the back of his throat. Daniel flailed around with his free hand, searching for anything that may help.

And found his mop.

He brought the mop up, holding it between his body and the dead man. The corpse grabbed the handle and shoved, pushing it against Daniel’s throat and pinning him against Travelon’s office door.

The dead man’s face fetid breath washed over him as it spoke.

You’re scared?” it said. “You need help? I’m dead and bloated and trapped here and there is nothing else after, no God, no Hell, just this stagnant–”

The glass door of the travel agency splintered against his shoulder blades, giving Daniel enough room to duck his head under the mop. He rolled away, then half-ran and half-crawled towards the door with a sign that read “I tried to tell you”.

The dead man lumbered towards him, but not fast enough to catch Daniel before he reached the door.

The man cried after him. “Stagnation and suspension, stagnation and–”

Daniel slammed the door shut and slumped to the floor, his breath catching in his throat as he sobbed.

“Why is this happening to me?” he said to no one. “I don’t deserve this, I don’t. I don’t.”

“Of course, you don’t,” a voice spoke. Dr. Dern stepped out into the hall. She looked strange and out of place in her smart, gray pantsuit. “But when has that ever stopped someone from suffering?”

Daniel wiped his eyes with the heel of his hand. “You aren’t real,” he said.

Dr. Dern smiled, and the corners of her mouth tore like wet paper. Blood welled up from the wounds and dripped down her face. On her neck was a scar shaped like the numeral eight.

“I am real enough,” she said.

“What do you want?!” Daniel cried.

“A vacation,” she said. She ran her hand over the pictures taped to Travelon’s door. One depicted a man with the head of a goat, his mouth turned up to the sky, horns curling around his face, standing in a vast desert under a sickly green sky. The caption read “Visit the Charred Lands! Because burning is better than oblivion!”

Daniel let out a shaky laugh. “A vacation? How in the Hell–”

Dr. Dern leaned down to look into Daniel’s eyes. She smelled like floral perfume sprayed over carrion. “Do you want out of here?” she asked.

Daniel nodded numbly.

The doctor moved her head closer and slowly licked his cheek. He turned his head, trying in vain to keep the look of disgust off his face.

She stood back up. “You want out of here, and so do I.”

“Then leave,” Daniel said.

A light shone from her eyes, quick and dangerous, then gone. “If it were that easy to get back to Earth, I would have done it already.”

Daniel looked up at her, his eyes wide. “Back to Earth?! What are you saying? Where–”

“You don’t want to know, honestly.” She said. “Let’s just say that outside of these walls is a world that you never want to see. Now, I want you to deliver one who can deliver me. I need to be carried, and you are not a suitable bearer.”

He stared at her, blankly.

“If you do this, you are free to return your reality. If you don’t, every door you open will show you something worse and worse and worse until you pray for death and blind yourself to stop seeing the horrors. And if you agree then renege, then the horror will follow you out into the world. I’ll always know where you are.” She flicked her tongue towards him, and his cheek burned where her saliva had touched.

She held out her hand. “So, do we have a deal?”

Daniel shook her hand, feeling her sick, radiating heat.

“Good,” she said. “Now pay attention: a man can open the door, but a woman must carry me through. Do you understand?”

Daniel quickly nodded.

“Then go.”

He opened a door with a sign that read “Go Ahead”, and the cool air of the hall washed over him. Everything was how he left it, like nothing had happened.

But his cheek still burned from her rough tongue.

He reached behind his back and was unsurprised to find his radio was there. He unclipped it from his belt, lifted it to his mouth, and pressed the button.

“Sheryl,” he said. “Can you come to the third floor? There’s something you need to see.”

Rating: 8.75/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Ryan Harville
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Ryan Harville

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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