Writing Prompt #111 — The Extra Room

Prompt: You notice your robot vacuum has mapped an extra room in your house that does not exist… You take a deep breath, push the button, and command it to clean the nonexistent space.

I watched it glide down the hallway and turn towards the bare wall. For a moment, I thought it had stopped, but it continued forward and vanished into the baseboard.

“What the hell…” I muttered, moving to the spot where it disappeared. I crouched and put my hand against the wood, prodded it with my fingers, tried to pry loose the board but it was nailed tight. With nothing left to do, I sat against the adjacent wall and waited for the vacuum’s return.

*

Two days later, I commanded the vacuum to sweep the “invisible room” again, but this time, I had strapped a camera onto it. After it vanished into the board, I sat and waited.

It returned a few hours later, went to its charging station and slept. I removed the camera and plugged it into my laptop. The video file was enormous, well over five gigabytes, filling the entire SD card. I double-clicked the file.

At first the video was black, then faint wisps of light appeared at its edge, and red and blue smudges appeared from the darkness. Gradually they were wiped away, seemingly the farther the vacuum went on. Stars hung in the sky, or what looked like stars. Colored waves danced and crashed on what must’ve been the horizon, dimly illuminating the dark ground, revealing fissures in the shape of odd symbols running through it. There were flittering shadows, but they moved far too fast to see completely.

The video became jarring, bumpy, and the colors overheard towered overhead. They took shape, like clouds in the sky; a giant with spiraling limbs: a flayed monstrosity with an enormous eye and spewing mouth, a woman with nine arms carrying a bundled form in each, so on and so forth the ghostly images formed and deformed, replacing one after another until they became a mess of colored mist I couldn’t make sense of.

The vacuum stopped, abruptly. A black wall was before it. A blinding white light revealed itself, casting everything in silver, ivory. Then, the whiteness overwhelmed the video and I winced, closing my eyes. When I opened them, the video showed my hallway, my ankles and feet, and its course back to its charging station.

*

I didn’t know what “the room” was or what it could be, but I didn’t want to find out. The robot vacuum was sold and I bought a normal vacuum. Now, I’ll never have to wonder what the extra room is, or even if it’s a room at all, or what the flittering shadows were or if they could somehow get out.

Read my previous prompt, “Antichrist May Cry

Read more of my writing prompts here.

Check out my bibliography for more of my work.

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