The consistently stale and monotonous voice of the sleepy-eyed nurse pierced the quiet waiting room. A room lined with similarly tired people, sitting on uniformly black folding chairs. One individual slowly stood and walked forward as the nurse led him into the doorway, then with barely a sound the door sealed itself once again. The only noise now was the faint whirring of an unseen machine and the sound of the decaying walls creaking under their own weight.
The walls were a faded green, with mold signaling where they touched the ancient gray carpet. The stench emanating from every edge of this hell-hole was overwhelming. The small beige security camera keeping sentinel from an upper corner seemed more alive than any of the depressed shells of people who sat in silent anticipation. They kept their heads down; right now it was only men, from age 25 all the way up to what looked like 80. Some were in slumber, others deep thought, yet all were encompassed by a devastating cataclysmic boredom accompanied by the painful scratching of dread.
At some point in these desolate hours they all would eye both the door from which they came, and the door through which they would leave. The door into this place was painted a deep crimson, contrasting the fading and peeling old green paint of the walls. There was a peep-hole in the door, yet it was covered by a thin sheet of old rusted metal. The other door was heavier and from its color and appearance it was probably forged of steel. The heads of countless bolts were half-buried into the door, and from how smoothly it opened and closed it must have been automated.
It felt like years passed, though for all the men knew it could have been mere seconds. Sleep and waking felt one and the same, not even dreams could help them escape this room. There was no light to depict night or day, no watches nor clocks. There was nothing at all to help them know how long they waited. The horrendous boredom was omnipresent and every single man who ever entered or ever will enter this room is all too familiar with it. Yet finally, someone else was about to receive their relief.
With a soft sound the door swung open and the familiar nurse stood in the doorway. Once again her monotonous call shattered the overwhelming silence. Another man stood and silently followed the nurse back behind all sight and senses. The door sealed shut once more, and the footsteps faded, leaving only the whirring and the creaking. Yet this time, a second man stood and he faced the crimson door. His breaths were heavy and a look of pure terror fogged over his eyes. Each step towards the door was shaky and uncertain, his hands gently twitched and cold sweat softly dripped off them. The man took one last slow, deep breath, exiting the room.
More hours of near silence melted into each other, time unknowable passed. The stale air slowly grew to be suffocating. The uncomfortable seating slowly grew to become unbearably agonizing. The waiting men felt their wills being tested, the newest arrivals shifted uncomfortably while the ancient veterans shook as plentiful beads of sweat rolled down their foreheads. They heard a door open and they all silently prayed it was the nurse’s door. They prayed the nurse was ready to accept another man out of the timeless horrors which encompassed them.
Yet it was the crimson door that opened once again. In its frame stood a man, a look of immense confusion washing over his face. His hair was deep gray, depicting his old-age, yet his blue eyes shone clearly, as if to signal that age had not completely robbed him of youth. He was short, and appeared almost emaciated; his white buttoned shirt was two sizes too large for him, as were his denim pants, tied tightly to his waist by a plain leather belt. He slowly took one of the seats and started to read through a blue pamphlet in his hand. It was the same pamphlet that was now sitting under everyone else’s seat. It looked new and glossy, unlike everything else in the room. The old man sat back in his seat and began to read.
"Welcome to the waiting area, sir or madam. It is with great regret that we must impose some basic rules upon our honorable guests. The first rule is that you may not speak, nor make any sounds. The second rule is that your head must face downwards until you are called upon. The third rule is that you must remain seated upright in your chair at all times until you are called upon. The fourth rule is that your body must remain idle at all times until you are called upon. The fifth rule is that as soon as you finish reading this pamphlet you must place it under your seat and never touch nor look at it again.”
The pamphlet continued, “Don’t worry, we understand your accommodations may appear less than satisfactory, yet with time a trained assistant will come to your salvation. When you awoke you likely found yourself confused standing disoriented in the red doorway. However, we must state to you that this doorway will tempt you and it will open easily for you at any time. We must warn you that this doorway leads to the polar opposite of what we offer for your patience. That’s all you really need to know sir or madam, we sincerely offer you the best of luck. Remember, your patience here is a small price to pay for your admission to Heaven. Thank you and welcome to Purgatory.”