1. Motel California

A Glimpse of Freedom

They said a single day could change your life completely. This is the day that changed the lives of seven individuals, each with their own stories to tell, who fatefully met at a cheap motel.

It wasn’t actually a day. It was a cold Saturday night. Winter just arrived at the train station after catching the second to last train to the city. She glanced at her watch, which she inherited from her mother. It is already seven; I hope I can find a vacant hotel at this hour.

Afraid to get lost at night, she searched for a hotel near the train station. However, due to the locations of the hotels, all of them are full. Just like in the infinite hotel paradox. She remarked.

It is already thirty minutes past seven. She began to worry about where she would sleep for the night. Why did I even decide to go on a trip alone?

Winter is a third-year biology student, whose hobby is writing novels. Because it is the middle of June, she is on a vacation. For this vacation, she planned to travel to places to find inspiration for her stories. That’s how she ended up here.

Unfortunately, her plan of finding inspiration for her stories seemed hopeless since it was unlikely to find a place to sleep in a city she visited for the first time. That is until she saw the neon retro sign bearing the name: "Motel California".

How unoriginal . She thought.

After mocking the motel’s name, she decided to enter the motel. It is a thin motel, with a tiny garage outside. The motel is just around seven meters wide. What it lacks in width, it makes up for in height. It has four floors, with the last floor serving as the rooftop of the motel.

Stargazing in there would be nice. Imagine stargazing, having deep talks with your special someone, or jamming with friends. I haven’t experienced that in my 21 years of existence. I have friends, but sleepovers are a rarity. We are all living a strict routine. If this is a good motel, I will be back here someday with my friends, and do all the things that I dreamed of. That’s it if they would let me enter that floor.

As soon as she enters, her eyes gaze upon the interior of the room. It looks old, with furniture and designs from the 1990s. It looks like they haven’t refurnished their furniture ever since they opened this place.

"Good evening, ma’am." A guy, standing behind the receptionist counter, greeted her.

She glanced at that guy. She took note of his haircut with white highlights, looking like an emo kid from the early 2000s who listens to My Chemical Romance and other bands of that genre.

He looks like he’s the same age as me and he’s working here at night. Is this his part-time job or a summer job? He doesn’t have a name plate or anything. Wait, he does not wear a uniform. I thought hotel staff were supposed to wear it.

"Good evening. Do you have any available rooms?"

"Yes, we have two rooms left."

Thank God, I was able to get here on time.

After discussing the price of the accommodation, Winter decided that she would check out the room. The receptionist then leads her to a flight of stairs. They went through a narrow hallway. He then showed her the available room on the second floor. Like the overall aesthetic of the motel, it looks like it was a time capsule from the 90s.

It is old, but it sure looks clean. This will do.

"I’ll take this." She said.

"Okay ma'am, just leave your things here first, and then come to the reception later to finalize your reservation. "

"Sure. I’ll come downstairs later. "

After leaving her things, she immediately went downstairs to pay the receptionist. Immediately after paying, a man carrying a guitar hurriedly went inside the motel. He looks like he did a tiring exercise as he is drenched in sweat.

Did it rain or did that guy just run here?

She then glanced at her watch. Oh, it is already eight. It would make sense if he ran all the way here. It seems he is in a hurry, though. He only brought his guitar. Did he even bring clothes?

"Hello, good evening. Are there any rooms left? " The drenched man asked the receptionist.

"Yes, sir."

"I’ll take it."

He didn’t even check the room. I guess he is really desperate to find a place to stay tonight.

"Right this way, sir."

Winter followed behind them since there is only one way to get up to the upper floors . It will be awkward if I am too close to them, but I need to get inside my room. I haven't unpacked my things properly.

Because of her unintentional proximity to the two guys, she was able to hear some of their conversation.

I'm lovin' the aesthetic. 90's eh? " The drenched man asked.

"Yes, this motel was built in 1993. Due to low income, the owner decided to just maintain the furniture and decorations instead of buying something new. I don't know why this place hasn't been closed. "

"But hey, at least you get to work here, and I get to meet you. By the way, what's your name?"

"Oh? Me? " The receptionist asked while pointing to himself.

"Yeah, you."

"Oh, I'm Beomgyu."

"Nice to meet you, Beomgyu. My name's Yeonjun. "

Unfortunately, Winter cannot eavesdrop on their conversation anymore since she has already reached her floor. The two guys, Yeonjun and Beomgyu, will be going to the 3rd floor because that's where the former is staying.

After unpacking her things, Winter laid down on her soft bed. It's obviously not of the quality like those in the hotel, but it provides comfort.

After a few minutes of lying down and thinking about what she was going to do tomorrow, her stomach suddenly grumbled.

Right, I haven't had dinner. It's already nine. Are there any restaurants that are still open at this hour?

She decided to go downstairs to ask the receptionist, Beomgyu, for help. Upon opening the door of her room, she stumbled upon another set of guys. Both of them appeared to be of stature. One guy has a more gentle and flower boy type of face, while the other has narrower eyes and looks more masculine.

Am I in a motel full of boys?

The flower boy then smiled at her, and then went downstairs with his companion.


Winter followed shortly behind them to the reception of the motel. Upon arriving downstairs, her eyes met another of the new faces.

Thank goodness. I thought I was the only woman here.

She gazed at the two other women, who seemed to be arguing with a hint of confusion. The two women are polar opposites of each other . Winter noted.

And she is right. The lady on the left has shoulder-length hair, a bob haircut to be exact, while the other has long straight hair. The girl with the bob haircut wears a leather jacket over a white t-shirt, while the other wears a dress. Accessory wise, the former has a few piercings on her ear while the latter has a ring on her left hand.

While the two girls were arguing, the pair of boys that Winter had met earlier began talking to the receptionist.

"Good evening. May I ask where the nearest restaurant that is open at this hour is?"

He has a deep voice. It sounds good.

The other girls stopped arguing and turned their heads to the receptionist, who started speaking.

"At this hour? Honestly, I'm not sure if there are any restaurants nearby that are still open. I do know a restaurant that is maybe open 24/7 but-"

"Hey Beomgyu! Where can I eat? " Yeonjun suddenly emerged.

The other occupants and the receptionist turned their attention to him.

He still wears the same clothes, but they are not as drenched as before. It is almost dry, but there are still darker marks, which show the parts that got drenched the most.

Oh? He must've taken a bath. His hair wasn't wet earlier. So was it sweat? He looks fresh right now, and that's what's important.

Winter just smiled awkwardly at him. She didn't notice that the other occupants also smiled awkwardly at Yeonjun.

"Anyway, continuing as what I have said, the nearest restaurant that is open at this hour is quite far. I don't think you will be able to walk from here to there. "

"Any convenience store nearby?" This time, it was the flower boy's companion who asked.

"I'm afraid not."

When did the convenience store become inconvenient?

"That restaurant you were referring to, where is it located?" The lady with straight hair asked.

"It's on York St."

"I'm sorry, but we don't know where that is. We just arrived here.'

"It is about three streets from here."

"That sounds far; can you show us how to get there instead?" Yeonjun commented.

"There might be taxis outside that will drive by once in a while. You can ask one to drop you there. "

"Honestly, I don't really trust taxis, especially since I'm new here."

It seems like it. He literally ran towards this place. To be honest, I don't trust taxis either, especially since it is late in the evening and I am new to this city. It would be better if someone I know dropped me off at that restaurant.

The other occupants nodded at Yeonjun's statement. It seems that they're also new here. What a coincidence.

"By the way, on the way here, I saw that this motel has a car."

Trying to charm the receptionist?

"There's a car?" The girl with straight hair asked.


"Maybe we can rent that car to drop us at the restaurant? Maybe we can settle this over money. " Yeonjun then flexed by opening his thick wallet.

Was that gesture even needed?

"You don't want us to starve to death, right?" He then pouted at Beomgyu.

"Fine." The receptionist said as he reached for the drawer on his counter. "Here are the keys. You can drive, right?"

"I do, but I don't know how to get there. It wouldn't be nice if I-" He then glanced at the rest of the occupants, realizing that they also wanted to eat at that restaurant and that they were also new to this city. "I mean, we would get lost."

"Yeah, I get it. You wanted me to drive you all in there?"

"If it is possible."

"I could drive you there, but I don't want to leave this hotel. I am the only staff working right now. "

So that's why I haven't seen other staff.

"Maybe you could just lock this motel? I promise, we will just eat for an hour. "

"Fine." He held the keys firmly. "Is someone going to be left here?"

Nobody answered. If this was a comedy, there would be a grasshopper sound effect.

"Alright, follow me."

Despite being with complete strangers (except for Beomgyu and Yeonjun, whom she only knew by name), Winter decided to follow them. It is safer to be with them than to be alone in the streets at this hour. And hey, this is my first time eating with strangers. This is an opportunity to meet new people, find new friends, and maybe even love. Who knows? This experience could also inspire me to continue writing.

Winter's train of thoughts stops after they've arrived at the garage. Their eyes gazed upon the semi-old blue pick-up truck of the motel.

The back part seems to be a good place to watch stars as the car drives. It is also nice to just sit there and feel the breeze while looking at the sky above.

"Hop in." Beomgyu said as he entered the driver's seat.

Yeojun soon followed, sitting on the front seat. The other girls were also seated together at the left side of the back. Upon seeing the other girls seated, Winter also sits at the back of the car, opposite the girls. Seeing that there was more space near Winter, the two remaining boys sat near her, with the flower boy sitting beside Winter. The more masculine of the guys then locked the back of the pick-up truck since he was the last one to get inside.

The engine started and they were off to go.

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Chapter 1: Interesting