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the other side of nowhere

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Ah, good evening, traveler! Welcome to the McKittrick.

May I take your suitcase? I’m afraid we’re a little short-staffed at the moment, but let me assure you, you’ll find the McKittrick’s hospitality as warm as ever. Please, take a key. Wait — don’t pocket it just yet. Give me your hand — my apologies, traveler, my hands shake more than they used to these days — and trace the star, like this. Write your name backwards in the center.

There. Keep it safe. It may be some time before you find the lock that it opens. The McKittrick has many rooms, and not all of our keys are to their doors. Some of our guests prefer the comforts of a grand hotel; behind the doors of others you’ll find something a little more…esoteric. You never know whose story you'll find beyond the threshold of that little cottage in the misty woods. What tales lurk in the shadows of that shuttered detective’s office, drawers bulging from its file cabinets and blood-red string creeping across the plaster, a candy wrapper or two still lying on the secretary’s desk. Whose secrets might be locked inside that tiny box with the sable-fur lid. All hidden somewhere within our walls. Be careful — it's easy to get lost in here, and some of our guests wear faces that aren’t their own.

Alas, my task is to act only as a concierge, not as a guide — I would like to protect you, dear traveler, from the dangers that may lie along your journey, but my service is bound to another. Maybe one day you’ll understand, if she leaves her mark on you as she has on me; I hope that you never, never will. What's done cannot be undone, and some doors, once opened, can never be closed again.

Here we are, traveler. I can't accompany you any further; there's somebody important I have to wait for. Of course, there are always other guests, too, come from far and wide like you to seek out tales of mystery and peril, and to tell their own. But this person...I wouldn’t call them one of our guests. Should you chance to run into them, you'll know — the most beautiful person, and the cruelest, that you've ever met.

What’s that? Oh — that’s very kind of you. What a...what a lovely handkerchief. Here. Thirteen tears, for your kindness. Use them as you will.

Good luck.