Not only was the hotel affordable, but it was comfortable as well. The walls and floors were immaculate, the lights bright and cheery, and the staff were kind and constantly smiling. You’d just gotten done with a very long business trip, and you were ready to relax for a couple of days before moving on, and what better a place to relax than a hotel away from the civilized world?
Within your first hour, you were laying on the bed with your luggage placed all over the room, resting your eyes and body both as the tension from your travels sank into the bedsheets beneath you. Normally, hotels with a price as low as the one you’d paid were full of scratchy blankets and chipped-paint walls, but you were pleasantly surprised as the quality of this place, and even more so at the service. Almost every hour, you were greeted by another staff member who would ask you if everything was alright. They even brought you drinks and snacks that you hadn’t asked for, and ones that you didn’t have to pay for. It stopped when you put the ‘do not disturb’ sign outside of your door, but it was nice while it lasted.
At last, the moon lay high above the world, streaming into your room in the form of small beams of moonlight that scattered along the floor. You were ready for bed, dressed in your normal bedtime attire and under the comfortable comforter. You took your last deep breath of the day, relaxing your body as it prepared to sink, but then you heard something that made you stop and listen; music.
The music was soft, just barely audible, but loud enough that your ears were able to pick it up. It was a gentle melody played on the strings of a harp, one whose notes resonated through the room, lightly tapping against your eardrums like the ringing of a music box. There was a subtle beauty to it, one that you felt through your entire body. As the music went on, you began to feel yourself sinking deeper into the bed, as though the notes of the harp were weighing you down, dragging you further into the sheets. Your eyes were closed, and you could find the will to pull them open. In fact, you couldn’t find the will to move at all. Your limbs were stone, your mind was frozen, and the only thing that played between your ears were the same repeating notes of that wonderful music. It repeated over and over again, but the notes never became old. Each time you listened to the same melody, it cemented itself in your mind just a little bit more, and every time it cemented itself further, it turned another one of your frozen thoughts into another copy of the melody.
The collection of notes slowly overtook all of your remaining thoughts, until time stood still and your focus was only on the notes that stole you away from reality. You were stuck, but you were unable to realize this without the ability to think, and without your thoughts you became eager to absorb another note, another fragment of that wonderful music.
You became absorbed, so much so that you weren’t able to hear the lock on your door as it clicked, allowing a staff member into your room. You felt their hands on you, you heard their voice, but none of that mattered. You were vaguely aware of the light in your room turning on, and you were brought out of your room and into the hallway. There were other people around you, not staff, but other visitors who were also so absorbed in the music that they became unable to realize anything else that was going on around them.
The lot of you were ushered into the backrooms of the hotel, and as you drew closer you began to hear the music grow louder and louder. The more the volume increased, the further your awareness drifted from your mind, and the second you passed through the doorway that led to the backrooms, your thoughts left you completely, and your memories became dark.
When you woke up the next morning, it was like you’d just had the best sleep of your life. You were able to immediately rise out of bed to get your day started. It was like any other day; you spent some time checking emails and waking up, you slipped yourself into the uniform that sat on the edge of your bed, and you went down to the backrooms to clock into work. Oddly enough, you saw many new employees walking down the hallway with you. You didn’t remember seeing them before, but then again you’d never been the smartest employee, yourself. In fact, you didn’t even remember accepting a job at the hotel, much less applying to it. Still, you didn’t care all that much; you’ve loved your job for as long as you’d been working here. It offered you a free room, free food and drink, and the opportunity to serve. You didn’t remember ever being this excited to serve before, but you couldn’t deny the joy that the mere thought gave you now.
You and the other employees walked into the backrooms, arranging yourself just as you had done every morning for years, standing in perfect lines and waiting for the owner to give you your tasks for today. Before that, however, there was the mandatory conditioning, which was understandable; you weren’t exactly clever, but the conditioning made sure that you wouldn’t be able to mess up at your job by disobeying. Plus, you would never pass up the opportunity to be a good employee, and conditioning meant that you would always be a good employee. You were so absorbed in your thoughts that you didn’t even notice that the owner had entered the room, but as he began to play his music through the overhead speakers, you heard that beautiful melody again. You gave in, losing yourself and allowing your mind to be further conditioned by that wonderful music.