Sara Kreller, I hope that you enjoy this twisted little tale!
Crouched down behind an old Ford 150, clutching a kitchen knife in my shaking hand, all I could think about was the last thing my sister had said to me.
Every muscle taut and my breath caught in my throat when the empty soda can rattled across the pavement beside the truck. I was afraid to look, so instead I did a sort of backwards shimmy under the truck to try to hide myself a little better. I wasn’t sure what had kicked that can, and I wasn’t about to be surprised by it either. I quickly realized I was still pretty much out in the open, but at least it was better than nothing. Once fully underneath the old truck, I decided to see if I could see what had sent the lovely little tin can alarm off. In the fray, I’d lost sight of my mom and dad as well as my brothers and sister. I was hoping that I would see a familiar set of shoes. Instead, I saw nothing.
Exhaling a long slow breath to calm myself, I crossed my arms and rested my chin on them. With every sense heightened from the adrenaline, I felt that I could take a moment to digest the past month and a half. It had all seemed surreal and like something I’d seen in a movie or three.
The nightmare of an adventure had begun when my parents had the wonderful idea to go on a vacation. The concept of a vacation in my parents’ minds was stuffing the entire family into a RV and driving to see our grandmother who lived across the country. We’d been on the road for about two weeks when my parents had disclosed a little secret that they’d neglected to share previously. We were driving out to our grandmother’s house to settle some random uncle’s will. Apparently, my parents had failed to mention that our uncle was one of those dotcom ridiculously rich types. This uncle, whom I’d never met, was apparently the black sheep of the family because he was gay or something old-fashioned like that. The rest of the family followed my Grandfather’s wishes of disassociating themselves from him. Everyone, that is, except my mom. She now told us that was why she had been the sole heir to his estate.
A week after their little revelation and much sight-seeing later, we’d broken down in a little shithole of a town somewhere in New Mexico. I suppose there’s a ‘wrong turn in Albuquerque’ joke in there somewhere but right now, it’s lost on me. The local sheriff had strongly advised against us staying in the motel that was across the street from the mechanic’s shop. He instead basically told us it was the law that we had to stay at this strangely outfitted hotel. It looked like the building was ready for a major hurricane, tornado, and every other natural disaster all at the same time.
The noise on my right made me hold my breath and focus my attention back on the here and now. When I searched the darkness, I was relieved to find nothing more than the wind blowing in the distance. Okay, this is just crazy. Where was I? Oh yeah, calming myself down by reliving the past month and a half. The hotel? Yes, I was thinking about the hotel. It looked like some sort of hybrid A-Bomb shelter and a hurricane safe-house. When we pulled into the hotel, it was getting close to sundown. The lady at the front desk was nice but very firm. We had thirty minutes to get anything we wanted into the hotel before the doors locked for the night. When we began to question her, she looked at the clock and instead of answers gave us a running countdown of our time left. We took her seriously.
We quickly gathered our suitcases from the loaner car the mechanic had given us. At the exact time the clerk had said the doors would be locked, they clanked shut. We took our stuff to the room and had the debate of stay in the room or go out and explore what areas we could. Curiosity won out in the end and we set out to explore. Dad went back to see the clerk while Mom and I watched my siblings investigate the lobby’s comforts. When Dad came back with the new info on where we could and couldn’t go, there was no restraining my brothers and sister. It was off to the pool. The younger ones jumped in and frolicked in the water while the parents and I found a table to sit at. This was where we met Arjun. Arjun was this really cute guy from Australia or somewhere like that. He explained that there was some sort of serial killer or pack of wild animals that only struck at night. When my mom asked about the strange acoustics of the pool area, Arjun explained that it was the hotel. He said that not only was it sealed from letting out any light sources, it was soundproofed as well. On the way back to our prospective rooms, we saw a lady in a heated argument with the clerk. I was looking forward to a nice soft pillow so I didn’t even pay the scene much attention. Little did I know it would become a nightly argument. And so it went, our days turned into weeks with little notice being given. We were content and complacent in our little haven. The news reports finally started to pick up the story as the strange occurrences started happening all over. No one seemed to know what it was that was out in the dark, only that the bodies found in the morning were mangled and ripped apart.
Oh shit! What was that? Shit shit shit! This time it wasn’t nothing like it had been before. In the distance, I heard an unearthly howl. Focus! Keep calm or you’re going to be bloody ribbon puddles! Shit, the news. No time. Take a breath and get it together! OK, focus, the lady. The crazy lady that ended our utopia, how had she managed? She was the same crazy lady that argued with the front desk clerk for about three weeks before disappearing. Dad had in the meantime become the unofficial leader alongside the sheriff. Dad and the guys had searched and searched for crazy but no one ever found her.
Shit, it’s getting closer. Should I move? No, stay here and calm. Can it smell fear? Shit I wish I would have paid attention to the news reports! Something, there was something that I need to remember about these things? Oh hell, it’s close. Are those shoes? Remember! Remember what?
“Saaarrraaaa….” The distorted voice called out and scared the shit out of me. How did it know my name? Oh no, This can’t be good, shit! Remember, the only thing I can remember is the last thing my sister had said to me. She had said, “Sara, did you forget to change your tampon?”