by Shane Jones

Hallway Walkers, One For Each Guest

The guests are allowed to communicate by way of message. Each room contains an oak desk and a stack of paper. Once the paper runs out, they will not be allowed more paper unless DH approves.

We have been advised by DH to read each message before sending it to the deliverer’s room. This will prevent any kind of coup or cohorts against us.

Some examples from today are:

I’m going mad in here. I hope you are well Foe – Antun


I’m going to bleed to death – Bilo

This is a funny group. We have little to no idea why they are here or what DH is going to do with them.

Jillian, of course, seems to have a soft spot for one of them, a good looking man named Ernest.

We are told great things are on the dull cloudy horizon.

Foe had a slightly larger room than the messengers. On her desk, along with the stack of paper and pencil, was a bound book informing her of her life. She flipped through it and retained nothing. She decided to take a nap.

When she woke a message had traveled under her door. It was from Antun and it read I was informed by my hallway walker that you are here and I wanted to know if you were okay.

Foe wrote back I am okay but I’m afraid we are going to be killed here for reasons I don’t know I still have nightmares and don’t know anything.

Foe’s hallway walker approved the message and sent it under the deliverer’s door who when the time was right, opened his door, walked down the hall to Antun’s room, and slipped it under.

Six messages were constructed by DH, his note takers, and the typewriter team. Each message was given to each respecting hallway walker who took turns sending their notes under the deliverer’s door.

The notes read:

For one of you, your punishment will begin at daybreak. Have a good night – DH.

Once a hallway walker questioned DH, by way of message, about his process of communication.

DH wrote back that the ways of proper civility and order should be maintained.

The following morning the hallway walker was thrown into the driveway by three men. He was only allowed back into the house when he penned an acceptable apology proclamation which took several days.

After he was thrown, his hands badly cut, he yelled triangles and squares.

One of the three men wrote a note that said please write a message back as you probably know, like many people, if not all, we are deaf.

When daybreak came a knock came at the door to Bilo’s room.

Three men in brown dress shirts and brown vests holding revolvers gestured with a flick of their wrist for Bilo to leave the room.

Bilo, his chest wrapped in bloody gauze, a few yellow triangles sticking out, obliged.

He was led to the back lawn of the house where a man he presumed was DH stood. Standing next to the man was a short man holding a stack of paper, and on the opposite side, the deliverer, who smiled and waved in the direction of Bilo.

For the next hour Bilo and DH communicated by way of DH writing a note, the note transcribed by the short man who was a note taker, and the deliverer walking the note over to Bilo. When Bilo was finished writing a note, he was given a small red flag that he lifted in the air which summoned the note taker to run over and take the note from Bilo back to DH.

Do you know why you are here, asked DH.

Because I failed at telling Foe her life, said Bilo.

A failure of duty and a failure that puts me and my people in a dangerous situation, yes.

I didn’t mean for that to happen.

Nevertheless, you will be punished. It is the proper way I believe.

After the last note arrived, the deliverer ran back to DH and the note taker and a long car rounded the side of the house and drove up between DH and his men and Bilo.

The driver turned the car off and waited.

DH opened the trunk of the car and pulled out a long iron bar. The iron bar was placed on the hood after the deliverer laid down a purple cloth of some expense.

Bilo felt the mouths of three revolvers against his back. He was pushed towards the car. He looked up and saw fur covered clouds, little black crosses bobbing up and down.

DH wrote something on a piece of paper which the note taker read. But instead of transcribing the message onto proper deliverer paper, the note taker and the deliverer began making a fire from a stack of twigs and logs.

Soon, a large fire was going and DH placed the end of the iron bar into the flames. Once red and glowing, the note taker handed Bilo a paper.

Please hold your hands out, it read.

DH nodded to Bilo who thought of yelling, or running, but knew he would surely be shot. He held his hands out.

Once the hot iron was laid across Bilo’s open hands, the three men with revolvers dropped their weapons and with thick gloved hands, forced Bilo to form fists around the hot iron. A large sheet of paper, the size of a man’s torso was held up by the deliverer that read Ten Seconds.

A handkerchief was stuffed into screaming Bilo’s mouth and tied at the back of his neck.

After ten seconds his hands were bandaged. A final large sheet of paper was held up to Bilo who looked up from his crumpled status on the grass. It read if you’re truly innocent your wounds will heal and you’ll be able to communicate again by way of message. Most likely, this will not happen and you will have trouble from this day forth writing a message or carrying a message and thus you won’t be heard from again. Goodbye.

Bilo looked down at his bandaged hands. He looked up and saw DH and his men get into the car and drive back around to the front of the house where they got out and entered through the front door.

In the fox room, milk poured down a narrow pipe and into the wooden trough. All the foxes lined up and drank. The nurse, smoking through her mask, watched intently. Irish folk music was being played in an adjacent room that no one, even the musicians themselves, could hear.

The next person to receive punishment was Cecile who received a message showing a woman drowning in a lake and another showing a woman floating in a lake.

She was led by the three gunmen to the back of the house. DH, a note taker, and the deliverer were standing side by side.

A car appeared.

We are going for a ride, said DH by way of message.

Where they went was a large lake with a single long dock that stretched to the center. The group walked to the end of the dock.

This is proper punishment, said DH. If you are guilty, you will drown, if you are innocent, you will float. This is simple and right.

The three men poked Cecile with their revolvers.

She held up her red flag that said, But I don’t know how to swim.

DH nodded and with the note taker and the deliverer walked away. When Cecile stepped off the edge of the dock she screamed and birds flew from the opposite side of the pond. Limbs flailed in the water.

The hallway walker began coming to Ernest’s room late at night. The two sat in the dark passing a single candle back and forth with their messages.

Is there anything you can tell me about DH.


Then tell me.

I can tell you but you have to burn the message immediately in the fireplace.

Very well.

Smoke soon filled the room.

The hallway walker who took a liking to Ernest was named Jillian. She begged DH when she found out his plans for the messengers. When Cecile drowned in the lake she screamed from her hallway walker window and the sky filled with the sound BHHHHHMMMMMMHHHHHMMMMMMM.

I hate DH and everything he stands for, she wrote one night and immediately threw the paper in the fireplace, feeling guilty.

It was always so quiet in the town that when someone made a noise loud enough for everyone to hear, everyone turned their head and waited for it to hit them square in the face. Car accidents were like this. Someone yelling. Loudly played Irish folk music.

People passed messages. Those able to speak and hear stayed together. Some pretended they couldn’t speak or hear to fit themselves neatly into society. They took up the fine art of message writing.


Something was happening. The amount of messages passed increased. I spent most of the night walking the halls, making sure not to make eye contact with the hallway walkers. I feel the messengers being kept here are in cohorts against us. I should tell DH.

The next messenger to be punished was Antun. He was led by the three men holding revolvers to the backyard where a car drove up between them and DH, a note taker, and the deliverer.

Messages were passed.

This punishment is fairly simple. It’s a duel, said DH.

DH opened the trunk. He extracted two revolvers. They looked expensive, new.

We will begin back to back then take ten steps and turn and fire. Each gun holds six shots. If both of us are still standing after firing six times there will be a brief pause to reload.

The proceedings took close to an hour before Antun was standing against DH who was much taller. The note taker laughed at the small stature of Antun. A flag was raised indicating that both men begin taking their steps. The deliverer held up both hands, counting down with his fingers.

Jillian was yelling again from her room but all anyone heard was Bhhhhhmmmmmmm.

Three shots were fired, each by DH, each hitting Antun – once in the right shoulder, once in the stomach, and the final shot clipping the side of his face that tore the skin.

The nurse, her cigarette dangling from the hole in her white mask, came over and began treating the wounds.

The deliverer walked over and held up a large message up by way of extending his arms.

If you survive this you are innocent, if not, guilty.

The bleeding was immense. Antun felt cold then warm then he wanted to write a message but felt the words escape him and he thought he heard splashing in the lake and he thought maybe this was all a nightmare.

DH nodded, wrote something down, gave it to the note taker, and the deliverer held it up to all parties by way of turning in a circle: GUILTY.

Jillian The Hallway Walker

DH was going to destroy everything. It started with small bombings, dynamite set at a gate, and had escalated to shootings, murders, a fox starved for no reason. His belief in duty and all things true was slipping away. I hated watching him carry out the punishments of the messengers. I screamed from my room and made inaudible noise. I wrote message after message begging DH to stop, to give up, that days could start over, be new. I sat in my room crying. I wrote this message and gave it to you.


Jillian told me what was happening. She told me about Ernest and Cecile and Antun. She said I was next. She said Foe held secrets that DH wanted and needed to know. DH wanted to fill her with lies about her life in order to cover up the secrets he couldn’t get at. He tried to make her believe her parents weren’t murdered by his people. He tried to tell her he wasn’t going to destroy everyone and everything in the city and country.

When DH thought about getting the words from Foe he wrote on a scrap of paper I will open the paper throat.

Foe tried to escape into her nightmares. There were doors she couldn’t open. An attic full of foxes. Men poured buckets of milk onto the foxes. A sound wasn’t made.


In prior days experiments were performed on the throat. The throat was cut open like a box. We tried to extract the words from the deafness. The note takers had trouble keeping the messages blood free. The deliverer tried to keep his shoes clean. When we couldn’t get the words out of the throat we tried to stop the bleeding by stuffing the open throat with fox fur. Some people prayed. As usual, things were quiet. We tried to be polite. There was some mumbling.

In the old days there was movement called I ♥ Your Throat Deafness so people weren’t so against their inability to speak. The slogan was written in the town. It didn’t work because what came next was their hearing. The inability to communicate led to the messenger service.

Jillian slipped a note under the door of Ernest’s room.

I ♥ Your Throat Deafness.

The two decided on an escape plan with Foe. They stayed up the duration of the night wildly sketching plans on paper. When a message slid under the door they opened it immediately and read

Your punishment will be carried out within the hour. Dress appropriately, as it is quite cool this morning in the back quarters of the estate.

The scene was similar to the past punishment scenes. Very dignified. When the three men holding revolvers ran from the house trying to yell, DH wrote madly onto a scrap of paper, wadded it into a ball with his first and threw it in their direction. Afterwards, the note taker and the deliverer ran back and forth carrying the messages.

Message thrown: What is the matter.

Ernest, the girl, and a hallway walker are missing.

Which hallway walker.


Foe can speak.

Yes, we know that sir.

She’s going to the State. Where are the papers.

What papers sir.

The nightmare papers.

Gone as well we’re afraid.

When people got so upset that they couldn’t write they screamed into their pieces of paper. They imagined the paper becoming a house full of people that could hear them.

Bilo, Antun, and Cecile-under-water, were all screaming. They formed a square wave of sound that reverberated throughout the mansion grounds. DH imagined a giant foot coming down and flattening it. He sent the three men with revolvers to finish each one off. DH, the note takers, the typewriters, and the deliverer all armed themselves with revolvers and piled into three long cars with drivers named Carl and headed to the State building.

At the State building Foe handed over her nightmare papers to an old man sitting at a large oak desk. He was very polite. He spoke and Foe smiled. Ernest and Jillian heard the square wave of sound that went Bhhhhhhhmmmmmm. The old man read over the nightmare papers. He read through them faster and faster and his mouth was moving and Foe was saying something and all you could hear was Bhhmmmmmmmmm.

More people that could speak entered the room and they were loading revolvers.

Before anyone could leave the State building, an explosion went off and a square wave of sound surrounded the State building. Foxes covered in milk were running in circles. A few were shot and lay on their side with milk and blood forming little pools. The deliverer was running back and forth from outside to the inside of the State building with a note taker closely behind.

Stop firing, or suffer the consequences, said the State.

We will not stop firing. It is our duty and right to protect ourselves.

The fighting continued into the evening. The deliverer was eventually shot. He took five bullets. He dragged his body across the front lawn of the State building. Messages poured out of his mouth and open wounds. He clutched his gold necklace that said DELIVERER.

One bullet fired struck each of the three men with revolvers. They died in a neat stack.

People screamed and yelled and it was a square wave of BHhhhMMMMMMMMMM.

DH aimed his revolver at a burning window with half of Foe standing, looking out at the bodies. The bullet tore into the side of her face and as she lay dying, people were holding messages up to her but all she wanted to hear was someone’s voice. So Ernest and Jillian made a square wave of sound and placed it in her mouth and pushed it down her dying throat.

When DH realized he was the only one remaining, all his note takers and typewriters and deliverer dead, he realized he couldn’t communicate anymore and shot himself. He hoped to wake up somewhere different. Somewhere he could speak and hear words.

Only Ernest and Jillian remained.

Bloodied and without paper, Jillian and Ernest walked into a field. They lied down and undressed. They tried to communicate but only made a sound like bhhhhhhmmmmmmm. Jillian was on her back. She opened her legs wide and Ernest knelt down with his face between her legs and made a sound like bbhhhmmmmm and Jillian did the same, her head tilting back, neck exposed to the sky. A square wave of sound surrounded them, got smaller until they were enclosed and couldn’t say anything but touch and nothing remained outside.