This is the entry for the second round of the NYC midnight short story challenge. I didn’t get passed on to the round three. I posted the feedback on my previous post.
The Lost Mission
A man hears voices in his head, and one night in a Swiss Village they come for him.
When he awoke there were still no signs of human life. He felt at moments that there were people around him, like small flashes of life, but there was no one. There was no time, no past, no future. He was alone. They had taken them all, he thought. They came from the sky and took everyone. He wandered from kitchen to kitchen looking for food. He had been trapped in the hotel since the The Visitors had arrived. He sometimes tried to leave, but no matter which door to the outside he opened, it turned into another part of the hotel. It didn’t start this way, but he always knew they would try to come for him.
He had come to Montreaux on assignment to write a lifestyles article about the Jazz festival. The hotel was hard to miss. It was bright yellow with the name written in art nouveaux lettering “Hotel Montreaux Palac”. It had been a five star hotel that catered to the rich and famous. The hotel had stood out to him, but it was the pretty Swiss woman standing outside who had really interested him. He had wanted to find a way to talk to her, and had asked her to take his picture in front of it. Her name was Maria. It seemed years’ ago that he had spoken with her, and tried to flirt with her to get a peak inside the Montreaux Palac. Now he was the sole inhabitant.
Life had felt relatively normal before his trip, and it was his first assignment in Europe. He had some troubles in his past, but his mind felt clear for the first time. Maria had worked in one of the kitchens and he had asked her to meet him for a drink after she got off work. He waited for her in one of the expensive bars. It was then as he was waiting that the voices returned. It was a buzzing insect chatter in his brain. “Come home. Your time is over.” He looked at the bartender wondering if he could hear the sounds in his head, but the bartender wasn’t looking at him. He was looking beyond the massive glass windows toward the water and the mountains. There were lights, round full brilliant lights, and many of them moving quickly toward the hotel.
He had always felt somewhat different in a way that he could never explain. When he was sixteen his parents had put him in a hospital for a year, because he believed he had come from the stars. They had said he was depressed and suicidal, but after some years of therapy and some medication he wandered through his life fairly stable and somewhat successful. Still, at times he would get this lingering feeling of being watched, and he felt like he could hear distant voices calling him. He never spoke of it because he had worried about being put away again.
He followed a small crowed of people outside. He forgot about Maria, and the bartender, and everything else. The stars had appeared to grow brighter, closer, and stronger while the darkness began to pull away. It was the The Visitors. They had come before when he was young. They spoke to him, whispered they missed him that his assignment was over that he could come home now. He looked around to see the people staring into the lights. He screamed for everyone to run, but no one seemed to hear him. He covered his ears and closed his eyes. He ran back into the hotel and hid. He didn’t see them leave. He didn’t watch the darkness return and the stars fade back in the universe. He turned away from them.
He did not know how long he had been in the hotel he only knew that food was becoming difficult to find. Occasionally, he felt as if he would see the figure of a human passing through the halls of the hotel, sometimes he thought he saw Maria, but it was nothing just a whisper of a memory.
“He’s grown so thin.” The voice was genderless yet motherly.
The man spun around at the sound. He had not heard them speak, not since the first night they came from the stars. It frightened him that they were still here. Watching him. They were coming to get him. The last man! He ran through the halls looking for a place to hide. He ran from the reception to the luxury suites, until he hid in the grand pantry that once stored exotic and rare foods like fresh Beluga caviar and white truffle oil. He held his breath. His hunger replaced by fear. He waited.
“Come home son” it was like a faint whisper in his brain. Come home. He could hear the voice again, calling him to go home. There was crying, and he felt a great deep sadness.
“We send them here and then we can’t get them back.” It said. “Trapped between dimensions” it had said. “We have to leave him,” it had said. The Visitors were leaving.
Yes. He thought, yes, leave me. There were no humans left. Yet, he knew he was wrong. “Son,” it had whispered one last time, “You cannot stay here. You are nowhere.” He pressed himself even deeper into the pantry with the hope that the darkness and the corners would protect him. The door opened and a bright light washed over him he covered his eyes and began to scream.
Maria, paused a moment. She thought she had heard something. A faint sound coming from the corner of the pantry. It unsettled her nerves. She thought about the man who had asked her out for a drink. The man who disappeared the night the lights came from the sky. He had called out to them. Take me home, he had said, and he disappeared, but for some reason, Maria felt as if he had never left.