Sunday, July 24, 2011

Last Stop Part 7 & 8

So, the family and I went on a little camping trip this weekend both for fun and as a test drive for our rather old camper. Next week we will be taking it to Tennessee with the probability of being my new home for a short while as we transition ourselves down there. It might prove to be hectic next weekend so I will leave you with parts 7 and 8 of the story. Part 8 is actually quite short and so I thought it should tag along. And we are almost coming to the story's conclusion. Stick with me, the next couple weeks are gonna get bumpy.

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.

                                                                   Part 8

          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.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Last Stop Part 6

Wow, this past week went by quick! I nearly forgot to post part 6. Nearly. Here it is.

Last Stop part 6

Disappointment was what he felt. Standing at the bottom of the stairs surveying the room before him, David’s heart sank as he found the space empty. Carrie was not here, snacking as he had hoped. David looked around the room which appeared every bit as a commercial kitchen as you might find in a restaurant. Stainless steel was the dominant color, combined with overhead fluorescent lights making the room cold and uninviting, a stark contrast to the rest of the house above.
            In one corner was the dumbwaiter that Muriel had spoken of, and cabinets and counters lined the walls. A large double sink was against the back wall with a commercial grade dishwashing system alongside. David wondered how a place like the Last Stop, so remote and seemingly struggling along could afford such a setup. Obviously the barbeque was serving Muriel and William well. Monolithic in the center of the room was a large, a very large, heavy, stainless table with a slab of inch-thick nylon serving as a table top. Holes were drilled into the two long edges and at one end. The table was stained disturbingly with brownish splotches and David assumed this was where the lamb meat was cut up and deboned.
At the far end of the room was a steel door that was padlocked with a solid security clasp, and it was from behind this door that David heard a muffled thump. With thoughts of his wife’s safety swirling through his mind, David shuffled to the door, careful of giving the table that seemed to host death a wide berth. As he approached the door, he spotted something on the floor. A piece of fabric that, unfortunately yet again, was familiar. It appeared to be a fragment, torn and frayed, from the nightgown that Carrie had been wearing when he left her alone in the upstairs bedroom to begin this quest that he now regretted. A stupid, selfish quest that had yielded nothing but a disturbing find in the great room and, even worse, the inauspicious disappearance of his beloved new bride. David cursed himself for causing this by leaving her alone. He suddenly thought he should go back upstairs and start beating on every door in the house until he found someone that could provide him with answers or, better yet, produce his wife.
He studied the clasp and padlock, even pulled on it, knowing it was locked anyway. He glanced around, foolishly hoping for a key to be lying nearby, but of course there was none. Anger began to build up in him along with the concern and yes, even a good dose of fear. He committed himself to find someone, anyone, that he could blame and force them to open this obstacle that he now was convinced held Carrie captive. Whoever he found should hope that she was unharmed. David picked up the piece of fabric and the smell of Carrie’s perfume hit him. This enraged him even more and he began beating the door and calling his wife’s name. Tears flowed from his eyes and he slumped down to the floor, crying. Why had he brought them to this place? Why hadn’t he just listened to her and turned the car around and left as she wanted? Because he was stubborn and foolishly optimistic? Too trustworthy? A sucker.
And then he thought he heard Carrie’s voice from the other side of the door. Her simply asking his name, quietly and muffled. It couldn’t be, could it? He spun around and put his ear to the door.
“Carrie?” David sniffled, “are you okay?” There was no response. “Carrie!”
“David? Help me.” That was all he heard, and it was all he needed. He rose up and called through the door.
“Carrie! I’ll get you out, hold on.” He ran through the room, opening drawers and cabinet doors, seeking anything he could use to beat the lock with. After several minutes of searching and clanging, no longer caring now if anyone heard him, he discovered a metal, meat tenderizer. David ran back to the lock and began hammering at it, but it was well built and held strong.
David became frustrated that the lock held even as his hope was renewed. Now he knew that Carrie was alive and nothing but a stupid door stood between them. Even the new rush of adrenaline did nothing to help smash the lock free of the hasp. He was going to have to find a key somewhere. David put his head to the door.
“I can’t break the lock. I’m going to have to find a key,” he said. He waited for a response from the other side but there was none. This made him wonder if, although she was alive, Carrie might be injured.
“I’ll be right back,” David said with a sense of déjà-vu. The last time he had spoken the words to his wife, she had disappeared. Again he waited for an answer and again there was only silence. He whacked the lock one more time which continued to hold, then turned and ran for the stairs, still clutching the tenderizer as a potential weapon.
David sprinted up from the basement kitchen and headed for the staircase to the second floor, intent upon finding someone and forcing them to open the door. There were other people in the house, and he was committed to find them and make them do what was necessary to get him and Carrie out of this insane place.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Last Stop Part 5... and I'm a winner!

I'm a winner. And this isn't some self-affirming, confidence building scheme.(Well, maybe a little). Earlier this week I submitted to a contest on another blog I follow. The gentleman offered a mad libs type competition and so I sent my options. I was notified then, that I won! Granted there were only three submissions, and I honestly didn't expect to win, and I really liked one of the other entries, so imagine my surprise. For my effort he gave my blog special recognition and I truly appreciate it.(He's got a lot of followers!) So let me return the favor to Mr. Vincent Kale, fellow writer of things macabre, sick, and scary. Check out his blog Crawlspace, based upon his novel Crawl(which I have not yet read but is on my to-read list). Thank you Mr. Kale. Now... a little shorter but another installment of Last Stop.

Last Stop Part 5

David bounded up the stairs and was approaching the door to the room that he and Carrie had been assigned when he noticed the door that had been closed and locked was now standing slightly ajar. His heart dropped at the sight and his only thought was that he had to get to his wife. It proved to be a vain thought when he pushed the door open to discover the room vacant. David shot a glance to the bathroom door, praying it was closed and she was merely using the facilities but discovered it standing wide open with the light off.
            “Oh my God,” David said with growing concern taking hold of him. Where did she go?
            Now he began to panic, looking around the room, unsure as to what to do. Perhaps she just left the room, looking for him. The place was certainly a maze and if she had taken a different route than he, they could easily miss one another.
            David went back out of the room and into the hallway. It was quite dark as there were no windows in the corridor and it took his eyes a moment to adjust. She was obviously not further down the hallway, so he turned and headed back down the stairway. He was desperately trying to remain calm although with his wife gone and the thing he was certain was a human tooth he had discovered, it was proving futile to try.
            He hurried down the stairs, no longer concerned about making any noise, and thought that if he were to come across anyone besides Carrie he would bash them in the head with his bare hands. David roamed around the house, not finding Carrie or anyone else for that matter. Where was Muriel? Or William? And what about Mr. Wright? Was he merely fictitious or did he truly exist? David had certainly seen no sign of the man.
            As he turned a corner, David found himself once again in the great room. It continued to be empty and quiet. He glanced over to the cavernous fireplace and he nearly screamed. There were several small hooks lined up along the front edge of the mantle, something one might hang Christmas stockings from, only these hooks were void of any such good tidings. Only one hook was occupied, and from it hung a necklace and pendant David recognized, which he should since he had given it to his wife.
            “Oh my God,” he said again, now completely terrified at what he could only assume was a message claiming that Carrie had possibly fallen victim to the furnace. But that was impossible. He wasn’t gone that long and it seemed to want to make sense to him that no one could have abducted his wife and placed her inside there so quickly. And so quietly. Surely she would have put up a fight or screamed or something he thought. David swallowed hard and refused to believe that Carrie had been incinerated.
            And although he was in the process of convincing himself of this, his knees buckled and wobbled and he found himself wanting to collapse. He steadied himself against the mantle, then snatched the piece of jewelry from the hook. David regained his composure and was about to exit the room to continue his search for Carrie or anyone else that he would certainly beat some answers out of when he heard a noise in the corridor outside of the great room.
            “Carrie?” David questioned, but there was no reply. He entered and discovered the hallway vacant. Somebody was obviously toying with him and David had no doubt it was that creepy William and if he found him he was going to crush his skull.
David was passing the door that he and Carrie had discovered earlier that led downstairs, presumably to the kitchen when he breathed in a familiar scent. Carrie’s perfume that, like the necklace, he had given to her. It was her favorite and he had ensured he knew what it was. The odor was unmistakable, but, had she gone down to the kitchen? For a bite to eat perhaps now that they knew where the room was located?
David opened the door and stared down the stairs. The same cold light that they had witnessed earlier was still shining. He bent down trying to see more of the room at the bottom of the stairs and could see the lower half of a stainless steel cabinet on wheels. Slowly, he forced himself to descend the stairs praying to God that he would find Carrie there snacking and they could laugh about the whole situation and then get the hell out of the Last Stop.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Last Stop Part 4

We'll keep it short, but I must wish you a happy 4th of July.

Last Stop Part 4

          Later that night David and Carrie tried to relax in the bed in their room, but neither seemed capable. David had made a futile attempt at coaxing Carrie into doing that thing that most newlyweds do but she wasn’t going for it. She was convinced that that creepy man William had a peephole or two drilled through the walls and was probably spying on them even now.
            David had finally given up and tried to focus on reading one of the books from the ‘library’. Carrie just sat with the blanket pulled up tight around her and seemed to be staring off into space just biding her time until they left the place. David was actually a little surprised that Carrie had not yet begun to pester him to leave the next day. He appreciated her willingness to see it through though. They were only booked to stay three nights anyway. Perhaps she’ll come around, he thought.
            David had just begun to reach for the lamp on the table when there was a muffled thump outside the bedroom door. Carrie jumped and grabbed David’s arm. The two sat quietly watching the door when another series of the noises followed.
            Carrie nudged David letting him know that she was expecting him to get up and check it out. He looked at her dumbly so she widened her eyes and motioned toward the door with her head. David sat up and scanned the room, hoping to find something to utilize as a weapon. Undoubtedly, Carrie’s nervousness was beginning to get to him.
            There was nothing in the room that seemed to make for an effective club and so he settled for the Tiffany lamp on the nightstand. He got out of the bed and disappeared to the floor, unplugging the lamp. David picked it up above the base, the shade wobbling, and slowly inched to the door. He quietly slipped his hand over the doorknob and glanced back to Carrie who had pulled the blanket up tighter, right to her lower lip. Again the eyes and head motion.
            Rather than open the door slow, David decided to yank it open, hoping to catch William-who he was sure it was-by surprise and brain him accordingly if need be. He swung the door open and raised the lamp, sure now that he looked completely ridiculous upon finding the hallway empty. David poked his head out the door and looked down to the far end of the hall. There was nothing. He shot a glance the other direction, toward the stairs and was certain he just saw the top half of William disappearing below the railing and out of sight. David sat the lamp down on the floor and looked to Carrie.
            “Stay here,” he said quietly. She responded the same way, barely above a whisper.
            “Don’t leave me here.”
            “You’ll be fine,” David said, “just lock the door behind me and don’t open it until I come back.”
            “Where are you going? What do you think you’re doing?”
            “Just stay here,” David said, holding up his hands motioning for her to stay, “I’ll be right back.”
            With that he went out the door and headed for the stairway. He glanced back and saw their door close quietly and heard the ‘click’ of the lock. David tip-toed to the top of the stairs and looked down them. He just caught a glimpse of William going down the hall. David started down the stairs, his bare feet making light, slapping noises on the steps. He peeked around the staircase and down the hall and again saw William heading for the great room. At this point David couldn’t help but think he was being led, but why would the strange man be doing that? He shook it off and followed. He nearly walked right into the great room but caught himself and peeked around the doorframe. William had finally stopped and was now standing in front of the gigantic fireplace.
            David watched as William bent down and nearly disappeared into the cavern. There was a loud click, a low rumble, and William re-emerged from the fireplace, pulling a large metal rack out of it. The rack was a flat, grated thing that was ludicrously long for the depth of the fireplace. It was similar to twenty clowns emerging from a Volkswagen Beetle.
            William produced two plastic shopping bags that David hadn’t seen him carrying and placed them on the rack. They appeared to be packed full, like they contained grapefruits. William had also been holding a stuffed teddy bear which he also placed on the rack. The man grasped the rack and rolled it back into the fireplace. A plume of smoke burst from the hole which William waved away and reached into the cavern again. There was another rumble, a couple of clicks, then William came back out, stood up looking around, and exited the great room through the doorway at the opposite end. It was remarkably quiet and dark. David waited a few minutes to see if William reappeared and when he didn’t, David went into the room and stood in front of the fireplace, examining it.
            The fireplace looked like any other save for its mammoth size and seemed completely innocent. David glanced around, trying to determine if anyone was coming, the sparse moonlight coming through the large windows affording the only light to the room. Assured that he was alone, David bent down closer, leaning into the fireplace. He could hear a slight rumble that lasted a few seconds then stopped. He felt around inside the fireplace, running his hands over the brick interior, searching for anything out of the ordinary. He discovered what he was looking for when his hand reached the back wall, which was metal and incredibly hot to the touch. He yanked his hand back in surprise and slight pain, catching himself before he cried out.
            David tried to see if there was a button or lever that tripped what he was now convinced as being a door at the back of the fireplace, but the darkness was too profound and allowed no insight. Again he groped around the interior, being cautious not to touch the metal again. He felt around inside the top of the fireplace, and after a few moments found what he was looking for.
            Mounted along the side of the brick in the top corner, David’s hand ran along a metal bar about a foot long, in a horizontal position. He poked his head back out of the fireplace and took another covert glance around. The room remained dark and silent. Butterflies fluttered around in his abdomen as he grasped the bar. It pivoted on one end as he pulled it downward into a vertical position. He heard the same click as he had when William had obviously pulled the same handle, although now in the cavernous fireplace it was magnified. The metal door at the back slowly opened outward against the side of the interior wall.
            As soon as it opened, an acrid, burnt odor wafted out, making David gag. He tried to quiet himself as he attempted to get his eyes to focus on the space inside. He could just make out the edge of the rack that he had witnessed William pull out. David held his hand close to it and felt heat emanating from it.
            What the hell is this for? David thought. It undoubtedly resembled a crematorium furnace, and although he had never encountered one himself, he had seen enough movies and TV shows to assume that this is what he was looking at. He felt he had to tell Carrie about this, and they would expedite their departure from the bed and breakfast. The Last Stop obviously had more secrets than meets the eye, and there had been enough unusual ones to make David feel uncomfortable enough to leave.
            He tested the metal door which seemed cool enough to touch, and as he was reaching to close it, something inside the box glistened on the rack in the moonlight. Curious, David chanced leaning into the furnace to pick the object up. He pulled it out, blowing on it although it didn’t seem as hot as the rack. He held it up in the moonlit room, trying to focus his eyes in the dim light, and upon realizing what he was holding, began to shake, suddenly felt nauseous, and attempted to settle his mind that was trying to process the disturbing find. David choked down the urge to vomit and dropped the object, forgetting now about being quiet and cautious. He ran for the doorway and to the stairs. In the great room, it would be quite some time before anyone noticed the tiny human tooth on the plush rug.