The Internet Cafe
By: April Feng
The city streets were cold and barren. The bustling noises of everyday city life usually filled the air, but today, the streets remained deathly silent. Cornelius shuddered as a gust of cold wind flew past him. He wrapped his blazer tightly around his body, trying to ward away any sinister spirits that might have been looming over him. Rancid alley rodents slinked into the darkness as Cornelius , slowly made his way towards an ominous blinking neon sign. Internet Cafe, Where All Your Dreams Come True!, it read. Cornelius blinked three times. The neon sign went in and out of focus as he squinted his eyes. What day was it again? How many days had passed since the incident? His head was throbbing, and his mind was tired. There’s no use thinking about these problems now, he sighed. Shaking the thoughts from his head, Cornelius sharpened his focus as he neared the cafe; the ghostly silhouettes of humanoid figures were visible. After searching for days on end, it seemed like he had finally found another sign of life.
As Cornelius neared the internet cafe, his limbs felt heavier and heavier. It was almost like the earth’s gravity had doubled down on him. Eventually, he reached the entrance. The flashing neon sign nearly blinded him as he dragged himself into the cafe. The perky, wide-eyed receptionist greeted him with a strangely monotonous voice: “Hello, guest! Welcome to the Internet Cafe, where all your dreams come true! Would you like a room?” Cornelius rubbed his eyes and yawned. Why was he suddenly feeling so sleepy? No! He couldn’t go to sleep. He had to stay alert, especially in such a foreign place. The receptionist raised her voice, asking once again: “Hello, guest! Welcome to the Internet Cafe, where all your dreams come true! Would you like a room?” Cornelius observed his surroundings. The brightly lit internet cafe had a slightly green undertone to it. Green armchairs were placed along the wall, with light blue coffee tables placed between every other chair. The floor was littered with what looked like week old magazines and newspapers. Cornelius looked back up at the pretty green haired receptionist. No, wait. Didn’t she have brown hair? Cornelius shook his head as the receptionist’s face flickered. It must have just been his fatigue. As he looked back up at the receptionist, her previously smiling face seemed to have morphed into one of impatience. She grimaced and asked one final time, almost screaming: “Hello, guest! Welcome to the Internet Cafe, where all your dreams come true! Would you like a room?” Cornelius felt himself nod. After all, what was the harm in simply resting for an hour or two? The receptionist’s eerie smile returned, and she led him down the hallway.
While the receptionist’s heels clicked against the tile floor, Cornelius’ muffled footsteps made hardly any sound because of the leather boots he was wearing. The hallway seemed to stretch on forever, with door after door after door appearing on their right hand side. As they walked, Cornelius spotted an open door. Looking inside was a huge mistake. A sinister neon glow filled the room. It was from the large flatscreen TV that had been hung up on the green wall. The guest, a thin, sickly looking man was crouched on the bed and wearing a helmet. He seemed to be laughing maniacally at something Cornelius couldn’t see. However, as Cornelius neared the room, the man’s laughter turned into screams. A mysterious, foul smelling black slime began to flow out of his fingertips, forming a humanoid shape. Cornelius’ heartbeat sped up as the gruesome slime creature inched its way towards him. It oozed closer and closer, until it was almost centimeters away from his face. Suddenly, the receptionist snapped around and hissed, slamming the door shut and locking the creature inside. She glared at Cornelius, beckoning him to continue walking. With no other choice but to follow, Cornelius continued to walk onwards. Eventually, they came to his room. To his surprise, the room was full of soft pastels and calming scents. A perfectly laid bed sat in the corner of the room, and a matching set of pajamas was placed on top. Cornelius brushed away any suspicions he previously had and rushed into the room. After he reached the bed, his legs buckled and gave away. He was simply too tired, and he really deserved a rest. Sighing, Cornelius gave in to his desires, sinking into the soft, silky bed sheets. He closed his eyes, not noticing the traces of black slime that had appeared on his shoes. A TV appeared, and the receptionist’s voice rang across the room: “..the Internet Cafe, where all your dreams come true.”