Darren closed the door to his motel room and pressed his back to it. He let his bags rest on the floor next to him. He slid down to a crouch, wrapping his arms around his legs. It was bad enough he had to leave the house, but to have to leave the state was just too much. Why couldn’t all of his relatives just stay in their home town. Why couldn’t they have the decency to die and be buried HopeSprings. No, Cousin Tommy had to move away. He had to drive that damnable bike of his too fast.
Seeping in from under the door, chilled air made its way to Darren’s waist line. He stood and moved away from the cold. The room was vast, stretching from the door to infinity. Each step forward moved the worn out furnishing farther away. Darren’s legs grew wobbly. He closed his eyes, taking a deep calming breath.
Come on, Darren, it’s all in your head. You have to move past this. You have to settle in. You are going to be here for a few days. Can’t spend that time sitting in front of the door.
He took another deep breath. His eyes opened. The room was as it should be. He let out a sigh and went to work. To make this room as comfortable as possible, everything had to be put up neatly, a proper place for it all. Clothes were placed in drawers or hung up, with everything spaced just right. Darren took it upon himself to move the items that came with the room. Towels were reorganized, soaps, lotions, and shampoos were put away. The coffee maker was assigned its normal task of brewing the good stuff.
Darren settled onto the bed with a warm cup of coffee. He wasn’t home but the hotel would do for the short duration of the trip. He flipped on the television and commenced channel surfing. T.V. was not his normal form of entertainment but he had left all of his books behind. Darren considered buying a novel at the airport but decided he could not bring himself to betray the bookstore back home that he loved so much.
He found some two-bit horror flick. Nothing else grabbed him as worth watching so he settled for a cheap scare. The movie wasn’t scary. Darren fell asleep half way through the program.
Voices from outside his room woke him with a start. Darren jumped up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He looked around for the source of the voices. Realizing it was still dark in his room, he turned on the night stand lamp. Darren was instantly reminded of where he was. A sigh escaped his lips as he reached for the lamp to turn it off again. His hand froze inches away from the switch. The voices continued.
Darren jumped up from the bed. He marched to the door. He wanted to give the loud mouths a piece of his mind. He was trying to sleep, and it was… What time was it? Darren turned back to the bed to find the red glow of the clock. It was past two in the morning. The interruption of his precious rest could not be left alone.
With righteous furry rekindled, Darren spun and headed for the door. Images of himself being pummeled by some big Neanderthal sprung from his imagination. They were relentless. The brutality escalated with every new imagining. In the short distance from the bed to the door, Darren went from beaten to dismembered. As he reached the door, all of his resolve and courage had faded.
Sweat beaded on his brow and his body chilled. His throat went dry. Fear gripped his neck, making it impossible to swallow saliva that was not there, but he felt the need to nonetheless.
This is a bad idea, what the hell are you thinking?
On the balls of his feet, silent as he could be, Darren crept up to the door. He looked through the peep hole. A man stood on the other side of his door. The man’s head was turned, he didn’t see the darkening of the peep hole as Darren covered it. Darren watched as a smile spread across the man’s face. A scream rang out, but cut off almost as quick as it began. The man laughed and performed a silent clap. His head turned back and Darren dropped before the guy could see him.
Don’t be ridiculous, he can’t see you. Pull yourself together, Darren. Scared as he was, Darren couldn’t help but wonder what was going on out there. He quickly went back to the bed and shut the light off. Quiet as a mouse, Darren made his way to the window. He peeled back the curtain just enough to see out with one eye. The man was still there. Darren got a better look at him. He had pale skin almost translucent; his long hair, filthy and greasy, hung from his head in clumps. The wide smile was still there but as Darren watched it slowly transitioned to a frown.
The man’s nose twitched, or, Darren thought, it might have just been a shadow moving across the man’s face. His nose crinkled again, this time with a lot more movement. And then a third time. His head turned slowly as his nose continued to move. The nose stopped when his face was pointed directly at Darren.
For the first time, Darren noticed the eyes. They were inky black pools of nothing. Dead. Those eyes were dead. Cold. Looking into those eyes was like looking into a vast void and it was looking back. The man smiled, a dark humorless smile that carried with it the promise of harm. His smile continued to grow slowly until his mouth could no longer contain it. His lips parted, allowing the grin to reach its full potential. The man’s teeth were a brilliant white, unnaturally so. Each one was pointed. They looked sharp enough to rend flesh from bone, effortlessly.
Darren threw the curtain closed. He stood there, holding himself. His vision became blurry as his eyes watered. Warm wet fluid soaked the front of his pajama pants. In spite of the warmth from his own piss, his body shook violently. Screaming, he ran to the bed. He jumped under the covers and hid there, shivering.
Blankets used to provide comfort when he was a child but did no such thing now. Darren knew what he saw was real. If the man got in he was dead. No blanket would be strong enough to protect him from that thing.
He lay in the silent darkness for hours. Not once did he move, not a single muscle. Eventually, the voices outside stopped. In between the images of the thing tearing him apart, Darren came to some conclusions. He figured that the voices were a trap. When someone was brave enough to step out and have a few words with the rude guests, the trap would spring. The brave, tired individual would die.
A knock sounded on the door. Darren froze. His shivering stopped and so did his breathing. The knock came again.
His jaw locked. He couldn’t respond.
A faint beep sound emanated from the door, followed by a metallic scraping—the lock releasing. The door opened. Sun light spilled in. A woman followed the light into the room.
“Sir, are you okay? Did you want service today? Sir?”
A hand touched the blanket. Darren leapt up and off the bed. He screamed as he backed up to the wall. Crouching low, he began to cry.
“Sir, Sir! Calm down, Sir. There is nothing to be afraid of, Sir!”
Darren didn’t respond, only continued to cower and bawl.
“What’s wrong, sir? Is there something I can do for you? Someone I can call maybe?”
Darren’s jaw opened and closed while he tried to regain his composure. When he could get enough air to form words, he said. “Eyes… Buh… Buh… Black eyes… Dead, black eyes…”
The housekeeper stood still, a look of understanding covering her face. “Oh, I see. I’m sorry, Sir. Those idiots were not supposed to let this happen. It is cruel to allow you to live with what you’ve seen. Either you come out or they come in. We can’t be discovered. I’m sure you can understand why.”
Darren took a minute to register what she had said.
“Oh, you do understand. Good, then I’m sure you will understand the need for this.”
She walked to the door and closed it. The room plunged into darkness. Darren stayed where he was, looking around wildly, unable to see anything in the dark. A clicking sound filled the darkness, followed by the light on the night stand coming on. The housekeeper walked around the bed keeping her eyes trained on Darren. The light bounced off her pale face. Her eyes were now black, two pools of shimmering ink. She opened her mouth revealing rows of razor sharp teeth.