We could be cast out on a moment's notice. We were but four broken and weary travellers without so much as a dime to our names. What once was seemed unlikely to return, and we were forced to sell everything that we owned to the hotel in which we lived. Day was night, and night was darker still. Even hope was no more than a stinging crack of night air that reminded us not to dare believe in it.
Gunther owned the hotel and he allowed us to stay only because he felt it was an honorable and Christian thing to do. Once we dined merrily and enjoyed the wonders of each breaking day. Now we stayed locked away, far from the eyes of visitors to the hotel. Our lives became meaningless in the greater context of this place. We only had each other and all four of us vowed to protect and preserve the others.
Once we ruled the hotel of our own accord. We would take turns running wild and showing the guests our own brand of entertainment, amusement, wit and wisdom. That was no more. We were gaunt, undernourished and powerless against the winds of change.
Now Clewan wanted out. He was the greatest performer of us all and feared nothing, aside from what he faced now. The curtain would not go up for him again and he knew this all too well. He wanted us to help him die, but we would have none of it. All for one and one for all. That had been our vow for all times, and now we vowed to hold Clewan to his promise. Yet we could not preserve him for long. A man who wants to leave will eventually leave. On a desperately cold December morning we would find Clewan gone. We held a simple ceremony to honor his memory and looked to each other for support.
With Clewan gone, the rest of us became weaker. The drive to rebuild what once was and to take charge of the hotel once again faded with each passing day. Gunther allowed us to stay in his hotel, but he no longer acknowledged us. He was busy with his guests and with being Gunther. To him, we had become little more than common parasites.
Jeffrey was the next to pass on. He went in his sleep, silent and beautiful in his own way. George and I watched him leave and held each other tightly, knowing that one of us would be left alone to watch the other die. It was a moment of great fear as the realization of our fate became all the more certain. We had no place in the world of this hotel and our obsolescence was assured. Taking a new vow, George and I agreed to die together and to remove the chance that either of us would be left alone in this cold and dark place.
"Gunther, the doctors have agreed that you can go home.
You no longer show any signs of disorder.
They think you are ready to resume a normal life outside of here."
He did not recognize this new feeling.
It was the feeling of being alone.