Silvia is a short story written by Dana Trick and shared with The Ugly Writers under the theme What Could Go Wrong? for the month of December
Silvia loved abandoned buildings. The old ones from ages long past, with the paint rotting off and its wooden frame slowly ripping itself apart. She felt safe in those rotten, empty buildings haunted by plants and emptiness. She was fortunate to find this abandoned hotel that had lost its fancy charm last night when it seemed it was going to rain. When the morning came—and no evidence of a storm passing by—she decided to spend rest of the day exploring the hotel, gleefully wandering through the empty rooms that once held lonely people.
The hotel is the second one she encountered in her journey, but it was so humongous—maybe more than a hundred feet at least—which meant more space for her to explore than the abandoned barn she encountered a thousand miles back. She managed to cover only one-fourths of it when she took a break at mid-day. Cautiously placing herself on the top of the lobby’s stairway, Silvia opened her tattled grey backpack and grabbed a bruised green apple that she hastily devoured.
“Aren’t these types of . . . uh, building like this . . . hotel supposed to be, like historical landmarks or something?” Silvia mumbled, surprising herself with her hoarse voice. The echo that rang in the silent corridor offered little comfort. Her eyes wandered to the broken roof, asking the sky if her parents already called the cops yet. The note she left behind on the kitchen counter two weeks ago probably didn’t give them any comfort:
“Dear Mami and Poppi,
I don’t know why, but I’m gonna run away for a bit. Be back soon.
Though she wasn’t anywhere near her home and parents, Silvia could feel their worry and dismay of the fact she ran away. She was a good nerdy kid who’s too timid to join in the stereotypical teenager haze of drugs-&-sex parties or whatever normal teenagers do nowadays, but she still ran away.
“Why did I run away?” She asked the clouds but they weren’t giving any wisdom today.
If I wanted to spend my summer looking for abandoned buildings, she mused, I could’ve planned it with them. It would’ve been less annoying. God, they’re going to get sooooo pissed when I get back.
A jarring crack snapped Silvia out of her lonely monologue, bringing her back to the reality of the abandoned building. She placed the ravaged apple core on the stair step where she sat—it can’t be littering if the trash is a part of nature in the first place—and then continued to explore the southwest section. As she cautiously walked on the weakened boards, she gently dragged her hand across the walls, occasionally clutching it whenever the building weakly groaned.
She spotted the chaotic nest of broken wooden planks in front of her before she felt the floor below her suddenly tilt. Her feet flew into the air and her body crashed onto the top of the sliding floor, a splash of shock and pain temporarily obscuring her vision. As gravity viciously dragged her on a downward slope, she frantically flayed her arms to grab something before she slipped to her idiotic demise by fallen stakes. A stake gently grazed the tip of her right shoe just when her hand grabbed the bottom frame of a door. Mustering all the feeble strength she had, Silvia pulled herself up to the stable floor, her uneven and panicked breaths slowly calming down. When she finally got both her feet on the solid and stable floor, she glanced back at the pile of stakes deprived of their kill. In an attempt to look cool in front of no one, she flipped her middle finger at the stakes as she started to walk away in a badass marched, but quickly bumped into the side of the nearby room’s doorframe.
Rubbing the faint red mark on her already sore arm, Silvia cautiously peaked into the room. It didn’t appear to on the brink of breaking apart in any minute like the other second story rooms she encountered, but a sense of foreboding clawed at her organs to pull her back from the room. Praying she won’t encounter another near-death experience, she cautiously stepped into the room. Furniture that was once fabulous from ages past or even scraps of trash were absent. She walked towards the room’s window, taking the chance to view the scenic flat grassland outside in a different angle. She could see a few cars roaring and tumbling in the far-off distance but there was nothing interesting to see. Then a bird chirped incredibly
There, not noticing the surprised teenage human next door, was a simple red sparrow sitting on a tree.
There wasn’t anything cool about the bird but the tree branch it placed itself on appeared like it was growing out of the building, just a mere few feet away from her current location. Silvia carefully rushed out of the room and opened every door until she finally found the room—ironically in front of where she placed her rotting apple core. She opened the door gently but the noise made the bird flew away. She didn’t mind it because the scene in front of her was beautiful. The tree’s crooked branches completely took over the room’s floor, its unusual growth created giant hole which was partially filled by the tree’s giant trunk and a deep darkness below. Curious, she ran down the stairs and headed to the main lobby.
Just as she presumed, the room with the outstretched tree was under the room she wasn’t able to enter earlier. Grinning, she ran back to the room and started climb down the tree. She was used to climbing up trees when she was younger but wasn’t so good going down without the help of a ladder. Well, better late than never, she mused as she grabbed its twisted limbs and began descending into the darkness below.
Small splinters poked and prodded at her arms as she slowly slid down the rugged trunk. Every downward step she took felt off balance and a start to a long fall. She didn’t even dare to look down. The tension and fear stretched and bent time with each search for a fragile branch so much it was hard to tell if five minutes or five million years have gone past until her feet finally found a stable surface. The flooding relief made her trembling knees fall onto the hard ground, the shock and renewed pain immediately pushed her body into panic mode, her logical lungs straining and struggling themselves to bring her panicking breathing under control. As Silvia slowly struggled to calm herself down, she looked around the large dark room, the surrounding shadows around her making monsters with whatever it hid. This scenery didn’t scare her but rather embolden her curiosity, and her curiosity made her pull herself up and began to wander towards the room’s shadow creatures, the crackles of the fallen dry autumn leaves, paper scraps, and wrappers turned into unnatural growls by Silvia’s imagination.
As she walked further from the only source of light, she started to notice the ruined treasures hidden in the shadows. Old furniture—tables, chairs, beds, couches—once popular and fashionable from decades too foreign to her hug the room’s peeling walls in a cluttered and tight outward embrace. Her hands curiously reached for and stroked the nearest object near her—the armrest of a velvet armchair. The ripped cloth enveloped her rough hands in its blanket-soft touch, tempting her to curl inside of it and fall asleep to her daydreams, if the protruding seat cushion wasn’t a nest of iron springs, cotton stuffing, and torn velvet. She let go the cloth and resumed her exploring, the ruined armchair and surrounding furniture giving her an ugly and offended glare.
Silvia’s eye wandered towards the shards of a deformed and fallen chandelier, the sad sight dragging her to it, but a faint shuffling and scattering on the other side of the room tore her away from it. Common sense told her it was smart to keep away and forget what she heard, but her curiosity was starving for more exploration. Cautiously, she walked towards that side of the room, trying to locate the cause of the sounds. With each closing step, her insanely creative imagination ran wild with horrible fantasies of robbers and serial killers jumping up from with that couch or that pile of drawers. With shuttering breaths struggling to even out, her fear stole her eye’s sense of awareness but let go when her back suddenly slammed into an old scratched up wooden closet.
Just pretend you’re going to Narnia, you’re going to Narnia, just going to Narnia, nothing bad happens in Narnia, Silvia mentally recited as the deep gorges and ridges imbedded in the polished surface glared at her. God, it even looks like it was slashed by a monster.
She started to consider to leave the poor furniture alone for the day when that same shuffling sound erupted from the closet. That only made her be more curious, despite the inane logic behind it and her fear begging her to quit. She cautiously opened one of the doors, the rusted hinges painfully screeching as the insides were revealed. The darkness, broken branches, dried leaves, and scraps of cloth and paper hid it away perfectly in the corner, but she still saw the shredded remains of an old stuffed bunny. Upon closer inspection, she could spot the haphazard bad stiches and the variety of fabrics they tried to hold together among the mess of cotton and cloth of the poor rabbit.
“Hey, do you know where your owner is?” Silvia kindly asked but the bunny apparently needed more stuffing so it could talk. She outstretched her hand towards the toy, her fingers barely brushed on the bunny’s floppy years when a flash of white fangs and sharp claws obstructed her vision.
She jumped and dashed away from the monster in the closet but lost balance and fell on the unforgiving floor. Tears forming at the corner of her eyes, she looked back to the closet. With overflowing spit dripping from its mouth, a raccoon stared madly at her, snarling with anger and fear as each second passed between them. Its entire body was covered with bald spots and scars from battles from long ago, its spikey hair bristling with each snarl and growl. The two of them stared in silence, then the raccoon rushed at her with a mad roar, its limbs moving in the rhythm of a broken robot only dragged down by its one shattered back leg.
Silvia’s eyes darted to every section of room until they found the door, which was blocked by a chaotic mess of broken furniture pieces. Her knees and hands were struck with pins and needles but her fear puppeted her legs into a mad dash towards the door. The raccoon, quickly discovering the plan, chased after her with a monstrous growl.
She arrived the pile and climbed on top of the tangled web of wooden arms and legs, with the animal just a few feet behind her. Stray table legs and chair arms poked and prodded her but her arms just brushed them all away. When she finally reached the door, she pulled herself up and knelt down on the top of a random drawer that was the closed to the exit. She reached down towards the side of the door, her trembling hands fumbling and pushing away broken pieces until they finally grasped the cold metal of the doorknob. She frantically twisted the knob, but the rust festering inside the lock and the pain from the poking splinters made it difficult to for the door to completely open. For a second, tired of the pain, she let go of the knob. Then a savage and near snarl erupted from behind her.
Clutching the knob once again, she pushed from whatever hard surface she was on, slammed her weight on the large door as she painfully turned the knob completely, and leaped into the danger-free lobby just as she felt the raccoon’s claws just touching on her pant’s leg.
Some of the furniture crashed onto the floor along with her, the broken half of a table even landing on her that she quickly pushed aside when she swiftly pulled herself up. Pain rippled through body in a flood, but she quickly dashed towards and slammed the open door, a pained squeak on the other side. She could feel the raccoon’s tiny body slamming into the door, heard its mad snarls and murderous claws as it attempted to dig through the door. She clutched the bronze doorknob with sweaty palms and pushed against the door, hoping that the raving animal wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to turn a knob.
The frenzied scratches and pitiful thrusts against the door were maddening, but she couldn’t allow for a moment of weakness against nature for she doesn’t know how to treat rabies with basic first aid. She had to return home, say sorry to her parents, catch up on her schoolwork, live and all that crap.
Eventually, the scratching and pounding ceased. She waited for a few seconds in case of a surprise attack, but she heard none. Fear evaporating, she let go of the knob. All the pain and fatigue flooded through her body, making her collapse on the floor which didn’t offer much comfort. When the initial shock of it all wore off, she examined herself.
Her arms and legs were covered in a mosaic of bruises and scratches, with her left hand having a crescent scar from her pinky to the base of her hand and her right knee suffering from a huge bloody scrap that she didn’t feel until she saw it. She looked behind and checked to see if her backpack was still on her back, which it was, miraculously. She quickly took it off and proceeded to ruffle through its cluttered contents for a spare water bottle and the tiny first aid box. As soon as she grabbed the sought items, she swiftly washed and bandaged her wounds with the best of her ability.
After she nursed all the wounds she could see, she slowly picked herself from the rugged floor, her small whimpers and whines of pain accompanied the shrill groan of the floorboards and distant birdsongs. Stiff and hurting everywhere, she noticed the blue sky was now painted in the rainbow colors of dusk.
She started to limb towards the southwest corner of the lobby where she slept the night before when her foot suddenly kicked something with a clang. Her eyes glanced downwards to spot the rolling spray paint can tumbling towards the hellish room’s door. When the canister’s journey was finally stopped by the immobile door, her eyes had a new target. There, literally on the right side of the room’s door, was an amateur tagging of a middle finger sprayed, or the letters of a gang name—it was really hard to tell.
“W-why, why, fucking why, you stupid b-brat?” she growled at the poor tagging—it offered the same response as the clouds. She punched the tagged wall in fury, her hand covered in splinters and wet red paint.
She left the spot and headed to her corner. She carelessly dropped her bag on the creaking floorboards and grabbed some utensils, a can opener, and some cans of beans and vegetables. As she stuffed the almost frozen food, long shadows still lingering on the empty walls started to form into shapes, blobs, then finally into human figures. They danced and laughed and loafed through the echoing hallways just as their now-dead owners once did in ages too long past.
This was all in her willful head as she lonely debated whether or not to go to a town. After these two cans, she only had two cans of beans and veggies, one liter of water left, and two full batteries for her flickering flashlight. She knew that there’s a small town a few miles south from here when she checked the map in the morning. She still had some money but she knows that it will quickly run out if she continues this path.
It’s not like I’m trying to avoid police but I really don’t care if I get caught or not, she thought as she desperately scraped the sides of the bean can into her mouth. The sun was completely gone now and the air became freezing, so cold that her shivering could barely hold on to her flashlight. She didn’t want to see the building anymore, so she dug out the horror manga she was carrying to read but the flickering flashlight denied her that small comfort. Sighing, she pulled her sleeping bag and her raincoat, laid them on the floor, and tried going to sleep.
Head resting on the horror comic, she stared at the patchwork night sky of stars and clouds, still debating her plans for tomorrow and waiting for a hopeful rain to lull her to sleep.
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