Content warning: violence, murder
Julie walked into the hotel she would be staying at and could barely suppress her glee. She was going on vacation. Between her job with copious hours and the expensiveness of airplane tickets and other travel needs, she never was able to go on vacation. But today, she was. Two weeks ago, she had been looking through her mail and had found a vacation package deal including a hotel room for a bargain.
She adjusted her bag and went through the revolving door to the front desk. “Hi, I reserved a room under the name Julie Wargrove.”
The man at the front desk looked up and smiled. “Ah, Miss Julie, welcome. It looks like you will have room 704. I can show you the way.”
She thanked him and followed him to the elevator. “I must say when I found such a good deal, I could not believe it. Definitely did not expect such a nice hotel, but here I am.”
He nodded. “So you are. I hope you will enjoy your stay with us. If there’s anything you need, just call using the phone in your room and we will do our best to accommodate you.”
They walked out of the elevator and he turned left past several rooms until they were at 704. “Here you are.” He opened the door and handed her the key card. “Enjoy your stay.”
She thanked him once more and then stepped into her room. She gasped. It was perfect. To her direct left was a small desk and chair along with a mini fridge. On the right was the closet. She stepped further into the room and saw a queen bed with a plethora of pillows and was that a balcony? There was another door as well, but she ignored that momentarily while she studied her view of the balcony.
She plopped her bag down and sank onto the bed. She could get used to this. At least for the week. That was how long her vacation was. But she would make the most of every moment. What to do first though, that was the real question. She could take a nap or she could go down to the beach, or she could order room service. Or…
The door she had neglected to check opened in that moment, pulling her from her thoughts and startling her. She jumped. A man stepped into the room and looked at her. She screamed. He did not look like housekeeping. No, it looked like he was a hotel guest. But why was he in her room?
“You have the wrong room, sir.”
He peered at her blankly. “No, I don’t.” He said nothing more and only stared at her oddly.
She remembered the front desk man’s words about the phone and grabbed it. “Hi, this is Julie from room 704. There is a man in my room. I am not sure who he is, but I think there must be some sort of mix up.”
The person on the other end of the phone, the same person who had led her to the room, replied. “Julie from room 704, you said?”
“Yes.” She looked back at the man, expecting him to have turned and left, but he still stood where she had left him. Standing strangely still and watching her. She shivered and turned around to face the wall.
“Well, Julie. It looks like the room you have that came in the vacation bundle is a connected room, meaning you have one side, and another guest has the other. There should be two doors between you, so you don’t have to worry about an invasion of privacy. If you need anything else, please call.” Then he hung up.
She held the phone limply as she looked back at the man. A connected room. No wonder, the hotel had been so cheap. She took a deep breath. It would be fine. She still had the beach, the various pools and the shops. She would probably be out most of the time and would probably not even see much of the stranger.
She turned back. “Well, it would appear that I made a mistake. Clearly I did not read everything about this vacation bundle.”
He still said nothing.
She was growing uncomfortable under the eeriness of his dark gaze. “Well, I am going to the beach. If I could just ask one thing, please stay on your side of the door. I will not enter your room and you need not enter mine.”
He gave her one more look and then turned and walked back to his side of the door. She breathed a sigh of relief that he was gone and hoped that she would not have to see him again.
She pushed thoughts of the stranger away and grabbed her bathing suit. Turning back to the door, she twisted the lock. Just for good measures. Then she headed toward the beach.
Julie returned to her room after hours at the beach and a delicious meal of surf and turf. She set down her beach things and stepped into the shower. The warm water hit a few places where she had been sunburnt, but it only stung a little bit so she was not overly bothered.
As she was finishing her shower, she heard the sound of tapping against her bathroom door. She froze. Tap. Tap. Tap. Then came a scratch. She jumped and turned the water off.
Perhaps she was imagining things. She grabbed a towel and wrapped it around herself. She inched her way to the door, wishing she had another means of exiting the bathroom, but the door was the only way out. “Hello?” she called out. Perhaps it was just housekeeping. But why would housekeeping come at night?
There was no way to find out without opening the door. She opened the door and looked around, holding the towel around her like a shield.
The room was dark so she stumbled around until she found the light. Then she looked around again. She expected to find the stranger lurking in the corner of her room. But she saw no one. She looked at the door that separated her room from his, but it was closed. She stepped closer and saw that it was no longer locked. Hadn’t she locked it before she left?
She felt her heart rate speed up as she locked the door and darted under her covers, not even bothering to change out of her clothes. But then she thought about the stranger and thought better of it. She quickly put on her pajamas and then re-darted under the covers.
She was probably overreacting, but something about the stranger made her uncomfortable. Forget about him, she told herself, don’t let him ruin your vacation.
She sank deeper into the comfortable bed and felt herself drift off. She was going to have a good vacation.
She awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Something wasn’t right. Her room felt quiet, too quiet. That is, until she heard the sound of breathing. She froze. She was alone in the room, so why then did she hear breathing that wasn’t her own.
Don’t panic, it’s probably because the walls are thin. She didn’t need to be dramatic. She tried to fall back asleep, but the breathing continued. And it seemed to grow closer every second. She tried to scream, but her lips felt glued shut. Her hand groped for the lamp on the bedside table and she pulled the cord. Her eyes took a moment to adjust and when they did, they fell upon the stranger.
“Housekeeping.” Terry, one of the housekeepers/janitors, waited for a response and, when none came, pushed open door 704. The sight that met his eyes haunted him, but did not surprise him.
Blood covered one of the walls spelling out the numbers 704. A knife covered in blood lay on the floor. But the bed was the worst sight. A lady lay across the bed. Had he seen her in a room not covered in blood, he would have assumed that she was just sleeping. The killer had arranged her in clean pajama, hair spread across a pillow. But her face was frozen in a look of pure terror, her mouth open in a scream that would never be completely uttered.
He should have warned her and everyone else about room 704, but he was not allowed to. Or else, he would be the one with a knife wound in his chest and it would be his blood smeared on the walls.
He shook his head in disgust and pulled out his cleaning supplies. “I don’t get paid enough for this.”