Last Stop 7
Determination wasn’t a characteristic that David had been consciously aware of during his climb to a professional career, but it was now as he sought to realize Carrie’s release. He would begin his search of the second floor, first trying each door along the hallway, and if it wouldn’t open with a turn of the knob, he’d kick it open.
The first on his left did in fact open when he grasped the knob, turned it, and flung the door open, brandishing the tenderizer and ready to engage it. A quick scan of the room however deemed it void of any people, seeming to be used only for storage. Several pieces of furniture sat under dust covered sheets, some of it blowing up and swirling about from the draft caused by the rapidly opened door. David left it open as he ducked out of the room and moved onto the next.
He came to the entry of the room that had been occupied by Carrie and himself on the right and for a moment he thought to skip it, then changed his mind in the event that someone may be hiding in the room possibly waiting for him. Muriel or William were the two he was obviously seeking and he wanted no space left unchecked. This door too opened with a turn of the knob, and as he did, David tried to recall if the door was opened or closed the last time he saw it. He couldn’t remember and went into the room. He looked around and realized the last time he stood at this threshold he was whispering to his wife lying on the bed, and his heart sank a little more.
It occurred to David that it might do him well to call the authorities and make them aware of what was happening at the bed and breakfast. He glanced to the side table where he remembered leaving his cell phone and, no surprise, it was gone. He shuffled around to the bedside and checked the floor and under the bed, all the while assuming it was pointless. He looked over to Carrie’s side of the bed, or what used to be, and saw that her Blackberry was gone too. Obviously someone had removed them. David examined the room, trying to recall how it looked when he had last left it, and except for the missing phones and the absent wife, it all seemed the same. There sat their luggage and belongings, exactly where they had left them, untouched. David walked to the bathroom door, peered in, advanced to the shower, raised the tenderizer, and yanked the curtain back, but the tub was vacant. As he exited the room, his feet crunched something into the plush carpet and he looked down to find another portion of the chain that Carrie had been wearing around her neck. He picked it up and examined it, noticing the fragile chain broken open as though it had been forcefully removed. This only reinforced his determination and he continued on out of the room and returned to the hallway. That was when he heard a thump from behind the door across the hall and he rushed to this one next.
David tried the knob and found this door locked. He knocked on it, wondering why as he did so as he really didn’t expect anyone to just open it for him and ask what he wanted.
David tried the knob again which still refused to turn, and then pressed the weight of his body against the door. It continued to hold firm. He stepped back, considering giving it a solid, swift kick, but reserved instead to bumping against it with his weight as quietly as he could. It seemed to loosen a bit and he bumped it again. This time, the latch gave and the door swung open, bouncing off the wall behind it.
David’s eyes took a moment to adjust to the eerie red glow that was cast about the room, making it impossible to determine the décor of the space. It didn’t matter. What mattered was the rotten egg smell in the room and David focusing his gaze on the scraggly-haired silhouette of a figure sitting at a desk placed at the far end of the room. He also noticed a great number of shapes seeming to hang from the ceiling and as his eyes adjusted further he realized they were air fresheners, the kind that hung from automobile mirrors. They did little to repress the pungent rotting odor. The tenderizer firmly clutched in his hand, David walked slowly into the room, his eyes darting about, scanning the room and then back to the figure.
“Hello?” David questioned the stench nearly unbearable enough to open his mouth. No reply was offered. He advanced closer to the silhouette, undoubtedly a human being although the gender was indeterminable. David stepped closer, taking in and letting out small breaths, and then fell into a retching fit.
The red light was coming from a small lamp upon the desktop and afforded David the sight of a human hand grasping a pencil which was poised upon a sheet of paper. David narrowed and strained his eyes to read what appeared to be a single word written. Help. David realized the hand holding the pencil was quite thin. Beyond thin. It was skeletal.
David walked up alongside the figure and gasped, putting a hand to his mouth, either to suppress a scream or to keep from vomiting. The being appeared to be smiling graciously, but it wasn’t. The grin was caused by the dried and mummified lips pulled taught around large, nearly perfect teeth. The eyes were gone and the two black holes where they should have been housed a gathering of maggots. Still unable to determine if this was the corpse of a man or a woman, the clothes that hung on the mummified frame were those of a man. And the name tag that sank in one of the folds of the button-down shirt read, ‘Hello, my name is…’ with Mr. Wright scrawled in jagged letters in the blank space.
“Oh my God,” David stifled and backed away from the corpse. He bumped into the post of the bed behind him and let out a slight yelp as he turned and ran from the room. The finding of Mr. Wright made it obviously clear what the intentions of his and Carrie’s hosts were, and David scurried down the hall, intent on dismantling the ideas from the heads of Muriel and William.
Terrified and rather disoriented, David came to the next door down the hall and simply kicked it in. It easily gave, smacking against the wall and coming back towards him. With panic coursing through him, he smashed the tenderizer into the door to keep it open and burst into the room. It was dark and David felt for the light switch, found it, and clicked it on. Bright lights appeared leaving starry flashes in his retinas.
“Come out, damn you!” he yelled, but the room appeared empty, decorated in much the same way as the one he and Carrie had occupied. The only difference was a stack of magazines upon the dresser. David walked over and glanced at them. On the cover of the top one was a picture of a man, but with a pig’s head, brandishing a ludicrously huge chainsaw. The magazine’s title was ‘Fangoria’.
“Who are these people?” David said to no one and turned to face the closet door. It was closed. He crept to it, the tenderizer poised and ready to strike. David listened a moment, his ear to the door, heard nothing, and grasped the handle. He flung the door open and raised the hammer-like weapon above his head. No one charged or assaulted. David’s eyes focused on shelves, floor to ceiling, and they appeared to contain heads. Many, many heads; some seemingly misshapen and distorted.
David pulled the chain of the overhead light bulb and tried to hold back another scream but failed. Then, studying the heads, chuckled as he realized the heads were not decapitated trophies but rather a bizarre assortment of masks. Some were indeed human and grossly distorted and bloodied, but obviously rubbery and artificial. The monsters were all here too. A vampire, a werewolf, Frankenstein’s creature and more.
“What the hell is going on?” David said, and, attempting to think at least something resembling rational, began to wonder if this was all part of some practical joke, like one of those murder mystery parties. This was all too surreal to be real, wasn’t it?
People don’t really act the way Muriel and William did, do they? Did we stumble upon some kind of hidden camera TV show? Did we miss something on the web site? This has to be some kind of a setup.
“Okay, I give. You got us,” David yelled aloud, waiting for the production crew to come out of hiding. But nobody did. Everything remained quiet and the masks just glared, scrutinizing him. David began to shake, his hands and arms twitching. It caused him to drop the tenderizer which landed on the top of his bare foot, causing pain and snapping him from the panicked jerking. His mind worked to comprehend the situation but was unable. A severe feeling of nothing more than wanting to live, wanting to survive, wanting to free his wife and escape this lunacy grabbed his mind and mentally slapped him back to reality.
“Oh God, please. Please get us the hell out of this place,” David said. He shut the closet door, not wanting the rubber heads to stare at him any longer. He picked up the tenderizer, took another glance of the room, the exited, determined to find somebody, anybody, find a phone, call for help and put this nightmare to an end.
After a lifetime of living in the same house, William was able to quietly navigate his way down the stairs, unseen and unheard, by-passing the areas of the steps that he knew creaked. So far, David had acted just about how they all thought he would, proving to be yet again another predictable participant.
William could hear the man upstairs, shuffling around, making discoveries, becoming more panicked and careless and was pretty certain what David’s next move would be. At most times, William detested playing the part of the dumb and quiet son, but after so many years it was a role that he had perfected, and it proved most effective on this charade. He glanced at the clock in the hallway and noted the time. The game was approaching the end and right about on schedule.
William hurried down the stairs to the basement kitchen, ensuring he’d be in the proper place for the next phase of the game. He went to the steel door at the end, unlocked the padlock, and maneuvered through the entry, reaching around to re-hang the lock in the clasp but leaving it unlocked. William estimated David’s arrival back to the kitchen within fifteen minutes and needed to make sure that the camera was ready to go.
William turned and faced the dimly lit room and smiled a mischievous grin as he looked upon Carrie sitting on the floor amongst the cages, singing quietly.