The abandoned hotel room left question marks on their faces. Not a single trace of human existence was in sight. Hesitant at first, Nadia picked up a heavy rock and threw it at the door. She immediately lost her balance from not eating all day. There was a pause and then the door crept open slightly. They stared at each other with fear, Nadia and Leon slowly walked inside.
“Hello, is anyone in here?” Nadia asked.
“Obviously not,” Leon said.
“Then who opened the door?” Nadia asked. The two of them explored the hotel room for a moment. They picked up several pieces of broken parts to chairs and tables. Leon tugged on his shirt and Nadia fanned herself with her hand, beads of sweat dripping down her forehead.
“This place scares me,” Nadia said.
“I love it,” Leon said.
“We’re doomed.” She wiggled the doorknob, but it fell off the hinge.
“Relax, we will get out of here,” Leon said. Nadia sat still in the corner. Her face turned a cherry red, and her vision clouded. Buckets of sweat poured down her face, and her right leg shook like Jell-O.
“What’s wrong?” Leon asked.
“It is too hot in here,” Nadia said.
“So, take off the long skirt and your neck scarf.”
“Are you crazy? This is a part of my religion.”
“Who believes in religion anymore…” Leon muttered.
“I do. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to pray. Or is that too religious for you?”
“Do what you want. I am going to keep looking around.”
Nadia sat down with her left foot on the ground and her right foot upwards. She turned toward Mecca and prayed. With the fasting from Ramadan, and the heaviness of her clothing it made focusing a near impossible challenge. She tried to pray about a nice cool breeze to calm her body down, but her mind was constantly bopping in a circle.
“Get out of my room,” an evil baby voice said. Leon jumped and frantically paced around the room. Nadia recaptured her balance and crept behind Leon’s shoulder.
“Who are you?” Leon asked.
“This was my room first,” the voice replied. The whole room shook, and the wall caved in.
“What is happening?” Nadia screamed in fear.
“You must play by my rules if you want to escape,” the sinister child said.
“I don’t want to play. Just let me out,” Leon cried.
“Fine, then I will just watch you get crushed by the walls.”
“W-wait,” Nadia said.
“Interested in playing?” the voice asked. Nadia tightened her hijab and Leon gently tied his dreadlocks in a ponytail.
“Let’s do this.”
“Very well,” the voice said. Time stopped for a moment and everything remained still. Silence fell upon the room.
Leon glanced at Nadia’s wispy eyelashes, “You ready?”
“To escape the room, you must find five items I have hidden. The only form of help you get is each other. You must show me all five items to escape.”
“Okay, how long do I have to find the objects?” Leon asked.
“Just five minutes, one minute per item,” the voice said.
“Sounds like a plan.”
“You must bring back: two buttons, one pearl bead, a shard of glass, and a scarf. Your time starts now.”
They ran all around the hotel room, checking things off his list one by one. Leon managed to get three items done in two minutes. A slight grin emerged on his face,
Nadia ripped a shiny white pearl off her Abaya. “We got everything.”
In the final minutes, Leon remembered the last thing on the list: a scarf. Leon paused and starred directly at Nadia. The clock counted down faster and faster. Ten— nine— eight. In a mode of panic, he tried to undo Nadia’s hijab.
“Get off of me!”
“We must present the items, we have to.”
“What part of sacred do you not understand?”
“Give me the scarf!”
“I am wearing the scarf. It counts.” Leon ripped off Nadia’s scarf and presented it to the voice. Nadia’s face turned blank. Her closest childhood friend betrayed her trust, she could never forgive him. Tears emerged from her face. Leon presented the items to the voice.
“Very nice job, Leon,” the voice said.
“Are we free to go?” Leon asked.
“Yes, you are. Here is the key. However, let this be a lesson for you Leon. I only said you have to find the items. You did not need to present them. Remember to always listen to instructions carefully.” Leon froze. Nadia glared him down and snatched the key from his hand. She locked the door and left Leon in the room alone.
“Good luck getting out now,” Nadia said, as she dropped the key down the spiral staircase.