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One of the portraits I saw, except the eyes were black and the face ripped.

Thoughts are free.

Sometime ago, while travelling, I came across a small village inn. It was a cold morning in January, and I simply cannot recall why I entered the inn. Nonetheless, I did. Inside, there were several tables, and a few booths adjacent to the bar itself. I sat down on a bar stool - there were many of these, packed in a row facing the bar. The inn was almost empty, apart from a couple having lunch, an old man drinking bitter at the bar, and myself. A fire burned in the gloomy dark of the room. I sat at a stool and waited for someone to serve me.

Naturally, after so much travelling, I was parched - I had only water, and I found that cider was quite a refreshing drink after travelling anywhere on foot. I had laid my walking stick beside me, and I leaned forward to rest on the bar. A man stepped forward from out of the shadows, seemingly out of nothingness, and offered to serve me. I asked what beverages he sold, he replied with the usual stuff - bitter, ale, lager, spirits, and of course cider - and I placed my order; one cider. 

After a wait of 7 minutes (it is best to leave the drink to settle, or so they say) I picked up my cider and tasted it. That fresh, crisp feeling I always associate with this beautiful drink overwhelmed me. This was the perfect cider. I was astonished, and I was pleased. I waited until I finished my pint, then I asked if they had any rooms going. 

To my surprise, they did. Only one, and only for a day. I decided to treat myself, and I gave the man his money. His face, once I got a good look at it, was quite like that of a rat. His nose was long, his face pushed forward, looking as though it had a constant leer. I was disturbed by his odd appearance - of course, I made nothing of it, who would? But still, I found it awfully odd. It was getting late when I headed to the room, which the man said was "upstairs, on the left". He also warned me to "mind your head". I had already drank copious amounts of the delicious cider they provided, and was feeling rather unsteady as I began to climb the stairs. This became quite an ardous task, especially for a man of my age. There were always strange portraits on the wall as I went. Men in blue uniforms, some adorned with medals, some not. All of the faces seemed to have been altered strangely. They were not particularly human looking - this in itself startled me. As I gathered myself and reached the last step, I used the bannister provided to hoist myself forward onto the landing. My head suddenly smacked into a large piece of wood that held the doorway in place. 

"Jesus Christ almighty!" I scorned, as I held my head in my hands. The pain was quite astonishing, and I believe that if I was not half-intoxicated it would have had a much stronger effect on me. Nevertheless, I abandoned my attempts to massage my head and made my way to my room. I unlocked the door, closed it behind me, and then surveyed the room. It was a pleasant, spacious room with a bed, a bedside table, a lamp, a desk and chair with some pens and paper, and a tiny bathroom. This was impressive for an inn in such a rural area. Too impressive. I thought to ask the barman why exactly the rooms had bathrooms - normally there was just a large, outdoor shack. Yes, for our era, indoor toilets such as those were impressive and expensive. I dropped the subject, preferring to take to bed. I rested on the sheets, which were cool and comfortable. As I glanced up, I noticed a framed scripture on the wall. 

"Thoughts are free,

who can guess them?

They fly by like nocturnal shadows,

no man can know them,

no hunter can shoot them,

with powder and lead,

thoughts are free!"

This old text was in Tannenburg font. I felt odd. It was such a strange text, and seemed so familiar. I put it out of my mind and switched on the lamp. The light getting in from the window was inadequate. I untied my shoes, took them off, and got into my bed-clothes. My suitcase was most certainly large enough to accommodate for proper bed-clothes, something many travellers did not accommodate for. 

I do not remember turning the lamp off, but what I do vaguely remember was shouting and some very loud noises. I must have slept through it though, as I cannot now specifically remember what it was. I woke up that morning to the sound of frying, and after dressing and grooming myself, I went down to the bar, walking to the smell of black pudding. I ate heartily, the grease of the pudding spilling down my front and onto my napkin. I left after an hour of reflection on the past week. It all seemed remarkably familiar, I had visited several inns already, all of which had the same room, the same food, the same delicious cider...

Travelling the next day, I came across a small village inn. It was a cold morning in Jan-... It's always the same. Always, the same at every single crossing. I walk a dozen miles or so every day, and I always find the same inn. It is driving me crazy. Then again, your thoughts can be as free as they like... when you're in hell.

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