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.