The only hotel open in the middle of no-where tends to move fast. So fast, that nobody notices that curiosity had killed a black cat. (In other words, I tried to write an origin story for Seek.)

AO3 Mirror Here

Some jobs are worse than others, and some jobs are only applied to if you never read the details about them in the first place, because such entries would scare anybody sane and not just looking for drug money off.

Fortunately for that cobweb-empty position at the Nowhere Hotel, a man had occupied it for at least a week by now, enough to just get used to things, the in-and-outs of both paperwork, door keys, and the people themselves. What had brought him towards this was the people. There was something he liked about a place where everybody passed through, but nobody stayed. A melting pot of minds, an opportunity to see the ends of the world from the same seat. The only other thing to entertain during the long night-shift hours was the quietest radio in existence, music and news being nearly drowned out in a static of disconnect.

There were not many opportunities here, but at least Nowhere was here. Enough of a wage to survive on at the time, at least. That's all he could ask for -- to live, to live comfortably as his father did or his grandfather did over in a European country that was surely nonexistent by now. The world spins so quickly now, it wasn't always like this, but just like the renters of rooms came and went, so did those things, so easily tuned out.

As the mind floated away with thoughts such as these, somebody approached his desk, glanced at the name-decor right next to him, and then back at his glasses-covered eyes. A young lady, with a face obscured by the giant brim of a sunhat, and the shadow of the hat for the rest.

"Hello, ah...[Nobody remembers who he was anymore, so his name is not relevant.]? How much for two nights?" Her voice was like a violin, but one awkwardly tuned, and out-of-sync with the rest of the world.

"Two nights, eh?" His own voice was a deep piano, and his eyes went towards a small chart on the side. Surely he would've memorized these by now. "...Around ninety," and back to the lady, with a swivel of the chair.

"That's a steal, but with what I've heard floating around this area recently, I'm not surprised. Here, just give me a moment," She opens a white wallet, or rather, a once-white wallet now some shades of light dull yellows and greys from being around tobacco's clouds for too long. The amount is pricked from this bottomless pit, and slid over the desk. The hand of the attendant takes it, files it away, throws the spare keys over. Another deal done, but with what sour note she left off on, the thoughts wandered again. It was a quiet night, an easy encouragement for daydreamery. He had never went out much, so these sorts of things usually slid around him, but whenever a rumor landed on his lap, he ate into it like the meals they were for such thinking minds. No wonder he was the only person here, and not just because he only took night shift. There was only two other men during the day, and they both looked the part of desperate enough to be there. He was different -- young, and his mom called him handsome enough for it to not be entirely a lie.

A curiosity blooms. He must know more. And he was never above anybody he looked down upon, because, he, too, worked here, in what he would soon find out was --

"A haunted hotel! Dear, you've been watching too many big-screen flicks. The paranormal is disproven." An argument broke out while a newlywed couple rented for the night. It was the beginning of the next night's shift, and it seemed that, as rumors do, it had spread out like the disease it was. The owner was praying that it not spread too far, that the profits didn't hurl down underground and the place be bought by frauds to become a hyperbole of itself. Him, on the other hand, simply tuned into the gossip radio today.

"God is invisible, and makes movements, so how would the dead not be able to as well?"

"God is God, we are humans. We are judged on death, not left to fester." The man's lips and brows curl into disapproval. This marriage would probably not last.

The two of them's conversation grew too far away to eavesdrop upon after that, going down that long, long hallway to reach a ground-floor bedroom. What made this place unique was the way it cut down on costs -- it sacrificed view, and instead of the floors going up, they went down. In consequence, the basement was now a second floor that too many people had accessed on accident, only to find dusty nothings. The second floor was empty, except for another room in the middle, which nobody, not even the owner, the braggart he was, spoke of.

The night grew, a rain poured down upon the area, and his head grew unsteady. Between yesterday and today, a black cat sprung from his head. He wanted to know more. If he could find a ghost, he would land upon the riches to escape such a workplace as this, and if he found nothing, he would be bestowed riches from the skeptics instead. Either way, he wanted to be the one to discover it all. Hopefully, nobody would have to wait too long for this mystery to be solved, as a lone man stood from the desk and walked over to the elevator. The long hallway, and at the end of it, a lone elevator. Wallpaper that threatened to curl from the bottom, a coffee stain on the ceiling, and the noises of thin walls and what lied inside, which could not be spoke about, because then they would hear you speaking, too. And then, the elevator, an old, creaky thing it was. He was no stranger to it, but with a general chain of the keys to the entire residence in his pocket, and with this friend, he could go anywhere.

The familiar ringing ding, as the friend greeted him. Two muscular figures walked out and away without saying a word, and the place was his. It was a small one, cramped, and if somebody told him this was originally a coffin, he would believe it. A press of the 2F button, and a tune reminiscent of a popular song played as it took all of less than a minute to reach another empty hallway. Somehow in even worse condition...there had to be mold here. There just had to. On the left, after a similarly long walk, was the door to the storage room. Without a word or even a hum, he traveled over, opening the door with a loud creak. Coughing from the sudden onset of dust and aged air, his eyes closed, then opened again.

A glance to the left brought piles of boxes, unused furniture, other things like that. A glance to the right brought nothing but the empty room's decaying walls, some spots stained black, which only made him more curious of this fate. And in the center lied a single, small room, with one single door in the middle, wooden, aged like the rest of this place.

And below the door, in that small crack every door had, glowed something. Something was making light from inside, a dull cyan light, but a light that had no common-sense answer. With the light came the sparkling specks of dust that floated around, illuminated in its presence, then drifting away as he approached this single door, staring down at the list of keys in his hand. It would now be a game of chance and picking-luck and lock picking if he got desperate enough to discover the source of this light, and the sources of these rumors. Small steps, filled with anticipation, echoed through the room, a drum beat towards the prize.

His hand reached towards that padlock, holding it up, and then began a key roulette. Not that one. Not that one either. That one doesn't go to anything at all, so why would it be that? And then, there it was, as the lock fell off to the floor, an echoing bang. The door creeked open, and then, on impulse, was slammed to the other side of the wall. Inside this awful room was...not much different from the outside. Perhaps the skeptics were right, that this was all hyperbole, but the light's source was still there, now faint, and surrounding a certain box. He tore that cardboard away like it was Christmas day, and inside was...dusty books. All dust. His lungs were never good with dust, and he was coughing more and more the more time he spent in the room. While peering into this box, the light also came from not only the room, not only the box, but from a certain book. Eyes on the prize it was, and the prize even had the sigil of an eye on the top. This was it -- his claim to fame, a book that produced light was paranormal enough to set him free from the bounds of this awful, awful job. With that, there was no harm in exploring the rest of this untouched tomb.

It was mostly other boxes, perhaps with more reading materials in them, but touching it up more than this could bring the case from pure curiosity to an unwarranted, messy theft. In the corner the door was slammed into laid a lamp, never used, not even with a light-bulb in it. The duties were done by now, but as he walked away from this sacred place, an even worse feeling than dust allergies came over him.

The feeling of being watched, no matter how irrational, stabbed into him like the key into the lock. It went through his head, his chest, that awful feeling, a cold air, dreadful, threatening to strangle him and decapitate him. It was only the feeling air gave one when one felt paranoid, but now, it was the highest feeling, dominating all else. It only encouraged him to make a swift escape. Not running, for he had to be noiseless this entire escapade. Whatever was watching him could also hear him, smell him, and if close enough, touch and then go for the kill on him. Back into the hallway he went, where that swift shifting walk then became a dash towards the elevator. The feeling of being watched had faded away by then just enough so that he could make a little bit of noise, and that allowance was used most usefully on it.

He nearly had ran himself straight into the elevator, merely crashing into it with one arm only, his back bending, trying to take a breath after that assault on the respiratory. Coughing, wheezing, a cacophony of exhaustion. It lasted for an eternity, the book still grasped underneath his arm, perhaps with the cover now soaked in a panicked sweat. Once that feeling had, too, faded away, he punched the elevator buttons, a detour from the usual gentility he had used on his friend before. By now, it must've been time to go, to sleep and forget any of this happened, and toss the book in his own basement to never be touched again. It had to be the book. It had to be.

One more ding, and the doors opened, with him nearly falling, still leaning on them, and then standing up again right in the middle of the floor. With less abuse than the call up, he pressed back to floor level, the doors closed, but then nothing happened.

He pressed the floor level button.

Nothing happened. He pressed it again. Still, nothing. The presses turned frantic, then, once again, punches and swings. Still, it remained still, the flickering lights more dim than usual after the hits. With that being said, the emergency call buttons were then punched instead, with him slumping to the floor soon after, mind heavy and drained from the night's swift event.

But while he was here, and would be here until the day-shift starts and somebody notices the malfunctioning, he might as well get started on cracking open this book. If he was going to throw it down to where it belonged, it didn't hurt to just have a taste of Nowhere Hotel's secrets first.

While the events aligned, and there was no mistake in his actions, the path he was taking would not be well.

The pages seemed blank at first. Turned, turned, turned. Then an eye, similar to the one on the cover, small, in the center. Two eyes on the next page. Three. Five. The entire page was eyes. Staring at different directions. Flipped another page, the eyes now stared at him. One last page, one fatal turn. The book was blank again, but it was unnoticeable, because now, a powered fountain of black ink poured from that page, onto the ceiling of the elevator, and then back to the floor. It was a torrent, with him dropping the book in fright but no matter that or his cowardly crawl back into the corner of the room, the hose of ink continued with no end, perhaps even growing more strong.

The flood had arrived for his sins, as already, the ink had covered the floor entirely, and began to grow upwards. The doors were sealed from outside, and with nobody to help, no buttons functional, all he could do was wait as the pouring rivers of the void came upon him. First one inch, which would stain enough of his shoes to need replacement. Then two, then three, then six, socks that went from new and tight-whitey to that same voided black.  It stained everything it touched, and only continued.

Up to the waist -- He went on the tips of his toes to try and delay inevitable fate. When one of his hands sunk into it, it felt less like ink, and more like an awful goo substance. The plumber would have a horrible time with this. Despite the book being submerged in the thickness of its spewings, it still showed no signs of stopping.

Up to the chest -- It was cold, cold as the nights, and as dark as it too, again. One hand reached up towards the ceiling, him being just tall enough to reach up to it. Stabilization would not save him from this fate. As it reached closer and closer towards his nose, a rotting-flesh smell came from it, enough to make any man who hadn't worked in a place like this puke into it.

The tip of the chin -- A prayer was whispered. This prayer would not be answered, because God could not reach the place where he had been. It was no longer Nowhere, but somewhere, he was at, and in this somewhere, he was alone, and would die alone in this flood.

The eyes and nose -- Just before it had reached here, he had taken a deep breath to hold. Once it went over the eyes, he had already considered himself a dead man. It is the human instinct to try and survive in the most hopeless situations such as these, however. The endless void was all he would see now, eyes closed or opened. It didn't feel any different if his eyes were open. One last bid to safety, he shuffled towards the door right before the liquid hit the top of the elevator, banging on the door with the desperation of survival. And then, what would've been a scream became inhaling bits of the ink. It was enough to set in the oncoming fate.

It would be safe to say that the slowing and the stopping of the banging sounds from within that personal hell were from the onset of a drowning demise. His body floated up to the ceiling, light enough for that, covered in that staining blackness. Quickly, it putrefied, and then...

The elevator soon resumed normal activity, with the next few days reporting that the walls in it felt stickier than usual. His spot was soon filled, because, again, there were not many places to work in desolate lands like Nowhere was located. Missing posters hung through the walls, with some assuming it was an actual disappearance, and some assuming the hotel would now lean into the rumors of hauntings.

In another word, this man would wake up, not a shell, but not himself. But for now, all that remained of him was the posters as traces, around hotels and around the town.

"MISSING MAN -- PLEASE SEEK OUT [He is no longer here.] -- $2000 REWARD" was the only trace. He is no longer there, or anywhere. But he still lives on, just not as himself, yet not forgetting himself. He seeks a way back to the hotel he came from, but the one he's rented an eternal room at is similar enough, no?