The gods must have cursed me, Samuel thought as he looked at the flooded road and the downed street light.

Emergency lights and police vehicles were around the Mount Gretna road redirecting every driver to the Bellaire road that would take them past the minor accident and blocked road. His nine-hour drive from Indianapolis to his home would now eat more of his time. It did not help that darkness had already started to creep in, unnoticeable unless you were specifically looking for it. The churning sky and rumbles of distant thunder promised a storm, more for him to worry about. Samuel resolved to follow the detour and find a place to rest for the night. He would have to drive early to get to Mount Gretna by noon.

Driving for nearly half an hour, he say the signs of a hotel called Mylton Grove Hotel. He paid careful attention to the road and ten minutes late came upon huge mahogany gates with a large leaf logo covering almost the top half of the gate and the words Mylton Grove written beneath the logo. The gates opened to reveal a large Victorian home, but he could not pay more attention due to the incessant downpour.

While he could not discern anything from the exterior, he was more than capable to discern the flamboyant Old Victorian interior which seemed to have teal-tiled floors, a sapphire chandelier built like a vase with light bulbs on its sides, and well-uniformed staff walking around.

"This must be new," he mused as he walked to the front desk.

Their was a short stout man at the desk who looked up from his computer and stood to politely ask what help Sam needed. 

Too much for a complete stranger, he thought snidely.

"I need a room for the night, please."

After they had taken his information and payment for that one night, he was led to a room on the second floor and left with a key. He had paid attention to the many portraits of aristocratically dressed men and women hanging by the walls. He was too tired and emotionally drained from the revelations of the morning. He had woken up with a father, or maybe he hadn't, but it didn't count since he hadn't known of his father's passing until he had prepared for work. Work...the word left a bitter taste in his mouth. James Ross, his supervisor, had used his late arrival to argue his case for Samuel getting fired, and it had apparently worked. The guy was out to get him, and at the time of his firing, Samuel was too emotionally shattered to argue for his lateness that particular morning. Telling his supervisor that his father had just died and he needed to take more time off was clearly out of the question. He decided to turn to his desk, collect his meagre belongings and exit the building without a single word.

That had been his Thursday morning, getting fired and losing his father...his mentor. He looked across his room and removed his coat and shoes before jumping into the inviting neatly-made bed. He only had enough time to text his sister Dorothy his location and tell her he would be there in the early morning before sleep overcame him and he closed his eyes slowly. 

The shouting was an uncomfortable alarm that drove him from his peaceful rest. He looked around to verify that it was still dark, and that the storm was still raging across the sky. The shouting from the room by his bed was growing too loud and he banged the wall to try and point out the unusual time to the bickering couple. With no change, and an anger born out of exhaustion, grief, and unemployment, he stomped to the door flung it open and matched to the neighbouring room for same cathartic yelling, but when he got there he found the door ajar and no lights or sound.

He carefully stepped into the dark room and traced the wall resting by his bed. The wall was housing a mini fridge and nothing else. The silence in the room was deafening, he could swear his racing heart could be heard across the small room. Trying the light switch was unsuccessful and the heater seemed to be on the "fritz" since the air was chilling in that room. 

He turned to leave when a shadow raced across his vision into what must have been a dark bathroom. He was not a believer in the fantastical elements of films and books but a thief, mugger, or a murderer could have been waiting for him in the bathroom. He turned and hurriedly left the room, practically ran into his own, and turned the latch on the door successfully locking himself in.

The lights which had been turned on prior to his enraged departure were still on, but the bravery that had ridden alongside his crushed need for catharsis was not. He called the front desk and was just about to report what he'd heard through the walls when he realized how utterly ridiculous it would sound. He decided to forget the episode and try to get some sleep despite the amount of adrenaline coursing through his blood vessels.

He returned to the bed, made himself comfortable, and shut his eyes to the lights in the room- which he would not shut after the experience in the other room. He wrestled his running mind and finally got it to rest long enough for sleep to embrace him.

It was the running of a slender feminine hand across his chest and the sleepy moaning sound next to his shoulder that rattled him from his sleep. His still sleepy mind welcomed the feminine touch, trying to convince his mind that it was pleasant and familiar. 

"Mathias, are you awake," came the sultry voice beside him.

The name, in its unfamiliarity and cadence, was like a bucket of cold water dropped on him. His mind sharpened and he stiffened to the now foreign touch. He was about to turn around when a small childlike figure with long hair waddled into his line of site by the door.

"I can't sleep, daddy," whispered the little girl. "Can you tell me a story?

By now he was panicking. He turned to the woman in his bed only to find an empty bed. He turned back to face the young girl only to be met with empty air. He jumped out of bed quickly and raced to check the latch on the door. It was still in place. It was only then that he noticed the lights had gone out. He tried to turn them back on but it seemed there was a power outage in the area.

An audible continuous croaking forced him to turn back to the empty bed. He could only make out the blanket moving from something beneath it, probably the woman who jumped into his bed. His logically attuned brain told him to remove the blanket and end this foolish prank, but he stumbled on something on the floor on his way to the bed. The thing was frighteningly familiar, thick and woollen.

His blanket!

...but if this is the blanket then what's...

His thoughts were cut short by another continuous stream of gravelly croaking from the bed. What seemed to be shapeless and like a blanket was definitely not. He backed away from the bed as fast as he could. He couldn't seem to catch a breath despite the racing of his heart.

He retreat was stopped by the door which he unlatched at a lightening pace and ran to the lobby as fast as his legs could manage. In every turn or wall the strange incessant croaking accompanied him, even in the lobby full of drivers who had also been diverted.

He checked to see if he had everything on him, and was happy to find his car keys in his pocket. He had slept with everything he'd carried into the hotel. His bag was still in the car. He rushed to the front desk and tried to feign calm.

"I would like to check out now, please."

The attendant looked at him strangely and offered a breakfast meal before his departure, but with what he had experienced that night he politely refused. He collected his car and drove away from Mylton Grove, hopefully for the last time. He had his own problems to deal with, his own grief and despair, without welcoming whatever nonsense Mylton Grove Hotel promised.

November 01, 2019 10:07

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