There’s a major highway that encircles the city of Cairo called the Ring Road. Every fifty kilometers or so, there’s a gas station, usually with a nice little café inside where you can stock up on cigarettes, snacks, or just sit around and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Those were my go-to spots after midnight when I couldn’t sleep and wanted access to faster internet connections. They were always empty, except for the barista, and I usually stayed there until dawn.

That all ended one night when I walked into one of said cafes, sat down across the room from an old man screaming in his phone, demanding from whoever was on the other line to confess. I never knew what the premise of the phone call was, but I still remember the look on the barista’s face as the old man’s raspy voice filled the empty café. I remember how I turned to leave, and when I looked in the barista’s eyes, could clearly see how jealous she was that I had the opportunity to escape when she couldn’t.

It was quite a regular incident, until a few years later I dreamt of being locked in a dark room, cold and scared, with the same old man’s voice hissing at me from the dark, demanding that I ‘confess’. In my nightmare, though, there was no escape, and it eventually led to this story. What would you do if you were haunted by your sins, and your only escape would be to confess? And would your confession actually set you free?

They’re questions I have yet to find the answer to, and to this day, the old man is still demanding a confession.

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Kurtain Motel by A.I. Nasser