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Fiction Drama Contemporary

Jake McGinn, an average looking thirty-something guy, panted, his chest heaved and a bead of sweat trickled over his brow. Moonlight poured through a row of hopper windows overhead. He slid onto the basement floor. The concrete wall was like ice against his back. Wearing only his boxers and a tee shirt, he glanced up at the sound of creaking joists. He heard running footsteps above. Then he turned to the door at the top of the stairs. Wiping his forehead, he rubbed his eyes. Just two days ago, he was rushing to catch the Greenville commuter train.

“I wasn't sure you were going to make it this morning,” Nolan said as Jake dropped into the seat next to Todd. The three of them grew to be friends while commuting to the city together every day. As they pulled away from the station, Nolan gazed at Jake and said, “Are we all set? Did you find us a place?”

A little rattled from nearly missing the train, he paused to gather his thoughts.“I believe so. I found a lodge near Sugarloaf Mountain. The only issue was that I had to get a second room. They limit the number to two people. It was still less expensive than some others. From the pictures, it seems to cater to young couples.”

After arriving in the city, they exited the depot. Todd glanced overhead. A light snow was swirling between the skyscrapers. “I’m just glad to get away.”

When Jake stepped out of the revolving door into the building, he said, “I need to work a half-day tomorrow. Let’s plan on meeting later in the afternoon at the lodge.” 

Todd said, “Since we have the day off, I'll pick up Nolan at his house, and we will meet you there. Don't forget to send one of us the address to where we're going.” 

The elevator doors opened on the 15th floor. As they entered the IT department. Nolan whispered, “Boys, welcome to paradise.”

Jake and Todd chuckled. “Yeah, this getaway won't start soon enough for me,” responded Jake. Then Nolan glanced at both Jake and Todd, and the three of them grinned.

At about lunchtime, Jake's cell phone rang. It was Mason, his brother. “Hey, little brother, what’s up?”

“I'm travelling your way. Next week, I'll be attending a conference in the city. I thought I would spend the weekend with you.”

“Ah, Bro, I’m heading up-state to do some skiing. Would you want to tag along?”

“I’m not into that.”

“We had to get an extra room anyway. You can bunk with me. Come on, what do you say?”

“Guess it beats sitting in a hotel all alone. Sure, why not?”

On the walk to the train after work, Todd gazed up at the darkening sky. “Heard there’s a big storm headed our way.”

Nolan snickered, “Suppose that just means more snow for ski’n, right?”

Jake paused, “Yeah, I guess.”

Nolan asked, “Is the place where we’re staying close to the major ski areas?”

“Well, not exactly. It’s out of the way. But, we ended up with the last two rooms available.

Squeezing through the train doors as they started to close. “Hey, my little brother called, and he’s coming with us. You're cool with that, aren't you?”

“Not a problem.” Todd said. Nolan glanced away.

The next day, after work, Jake went to the airport to pick up his brother. On his third drive around the terminal, he spotted Mason on the sidewalk.

“I suspected your flight might be late. The weather’s not looking so good,” Jake said, as Mason hopped into the front seat.

“Several flights were either delayed or canceled. It may not be such a ––”

The radio announcer interrupted, “Hurricane Betsy is expected to produce snow measured in feet for the Northeast.”

“Where are the other guys?”

“They're already on their way. They left about an hour ago.

Mason, who struggled to translate his thoughts and feelings into words, much less action, sighed, “Guess it’ll be okay.”

With a dark, murky sky overhead and heavy snow. Nolan and Todd spotted the sign for the Blue Mountain Lodge. Ice and gravel crackled under the car tires as they turned into the parking-lot. “Are you certain this is the right place?”

“Not sure, I lost the map at the turn-off. No cell service.”

“There’s only two other cars here.”

They approached the entrance cautiously and slowly opened the door.

“Welcome to Blue Mountain. Please come in, and get warm.” Emily said, smiling with a sparkle in her eye.”

A welcoming fire flickered across the logs in the fireplace. A subtle hint of smoke in the air. “I like it here,” Nolan said.

“Not too bad.”

“A reservation for Jake McGinn, for four people, I’m Todd Malone and this Nolan Taylor.”

“Of course, we’ve been expecting you.”

Todd took a few moments to glance around, “It's very pleasant. How long have you worked here?”

“My husband Glenn and I’ve run this unusual out-of-the-way spot for close to 25 years. I do the cooking and cleaning. Glenn does the rest.”

“What do you cook?” Todd questioned.

“Every room comes with breakfast and dinner for two people. We hit some difficult times a little while back. Glenn found a business partner in the city. He wanted to invest in a little privately owned hotel. He made one visit here and thought it was the perfect place.”

“ I suppose that was a stroke of luck.” 

“It was an overall convenient arrangement.”

“Fair enough.” 

“We’re uncertain if any of our other guests will make it. You know, with the weather and all. It's just frightful out there. The central lift over at Sugar Run has already shut down.”

“Does that mean there's no skiing?” 

“I’m afraid ––”

Glenn, a heavy-set crusty man with a flat face, interrupted, “Welcome boys! I hope the drive up from the city wasn’t too rough.” 

“Nah, not too bad.” 

“No one was prepared for the storm to reach this far north. The worst is supposed to hit sometime tomorrow.” 

“Here are the keys,” Emily said, sliding the key cards over. “You're in one and your friends are in three on the left. The bathroom is between your rooms.” Smiling, she said. “Remember to put out the occupied sign. It’s a shared one. Now, why don’t you get settled while we finish up dinner? I hope that you enjoy the New England pot roast.”

The snow was falling more heavily as Jake and Mason arrived.

“How much further? Where the hell is this place, anyway?” 

“I know it’s a little out of the way.”

“You know, given this weather, this location, and the fact I don’t really ski. I’m not sure coming along was such a great idea.”

They parked alongside Todd’s Subaru. After they made their way across the snow-covered parking lot, Jake opened the door to the lodge. He let Mason step in first, and quickly followed. Together, they brushed the snow from their shoulders. Glenn stood to greet them as they stomped their shoes clean. You two must be Jake and Mason. Welcome to Blue Mountain. If you'll follow me, I’ll show you to your room.”

Glenn led them down the hall to the left and unlocked the door with a master key card. “Your friends have yours.” Giving them a nod and a smile as he started back toward the front, “Dinner should be ready in about twenty minutes, and the dining room is just across from the entrance you came through.” He glanced Mason up and down, and winked.

Jake surveyed the room, “Well, at least the room’s not terrible.” 

“That man was a little too friendly. Don’t you think?”

“Not really. It’s a small lodge in a mountain town.”

“The whole place gives me the creeps. Where is everybody? Are we the only people here?”

A knock at the door, “Hey folks,” as he opened the door, Todd tossed the key card to Jake. “It appears that skiing is off the table. The lift has been shutdown due to weather.”

“Are you saying we came all the way up here for nothing?” Mason snapped.

Nolan laughed, “Well, there is dinner that this polite old couple is making for us. Mason, maybe you could learn to appreciate some simple pleasures.”

“Assume you mean being snowed in with a weird old couple in the middle of nowhere is a pleasure. Well, you're right, I don't.” 

Jake snapped, “You two, knock it off. The least we can do is make the most of this situation until we can hit the road. We'll be out of here tomorrow after breakfast. By then, the plows should have the roads cleared. Now come on, let's make the most of this tonight.”

The aroma of fresh baked bread filled the air as they walked into the dining room. Glenn and Emily served each of them a prepared plate with sizable portions. They stood watching them eat through the server window.

“Handsome boys. I think they’ll do just fine.” Whispered Emily.

“That was delicious.” Jake said, as he stood up from the table. He tossed his napkin onto his plate.

They moved to sit by the fireplace. “Anyone up for an after-dinner drink?” Glenn said. He jumped behind the bar and grabbed four glasses and lined them up. “I’m certainly ready for one.”

Mason locked eyes with Jake.

Glenn poured whiskey into four of the glasses from a bottle off the shelf, “Hope you like Irish.” Then he pulled a glass down for himself. Mason watched as he filled it from a flask he had in his pocket. 

Each of them took one and clinked them together. “Possibly, the trip won’t be a total loss,” Jake said, winking at Mason, but he glanced away. After the second one, Todd stood and put his empty on the bar, “That's it for me tonight. I’m going to grab a shower.” Waving his hand over his head as he walked away. Glenn watched him intently. The moment he entered the hallway to his room, Glenn dashed into the kitchen.

Mason said, “Where's he going in such a hurry?”

Nolan took the opportunity to grab the bottle and pour another round. He glanced down to see Glenn’s metal flask under the bar. “What’s this?” He said, showing them the flask.

Mason said, “He filled his glass from there. I–”

“Whatever.” Jake cut him off, turning his glass up and chugging it. “You just need to chill out, let it go.”

“I don’t like that man,” Mason said. “There’s something not right here.”

“Not up to your standards, Mason?” Nolan said, downing his in a single shot.

“All I'm trying to say is that there’s something strange going on.”

Popping their glasses onto the bar, they waved good night to Glenn in the kitchen and headed to their rooms.

Only minutes before, in the shared bathroom between their rooms, Todd felt the water in his hand before he entered the shower. He turned his back to the spray and felt his tension starting to ease. The shower water struck him like summer rain. He looked down to see the steam rising at his feet. A mysterious sensation of relaxation wrapped around him. Turning to feel the warmth of the spray on his face, he slowly opened his eyes. Noticing what he thought might be a bead of water about to drip from under the shower head. 

He rubbed his hands down his face to clear away the soap to get a better look. It wasn’t water, but rather a tiny camera mounted directly under the shower head. He reached up and brushed his thumb on it. What is that? His vision began to blur and he felt dizzy.

That’s a camera. Turning to reach for his towel, he felt the weight of his whole body push down on his shoulders. His eyes rolled back in his head. He groaned, and fell back against the wall, before sliding onto the floor.

“Good night,” Jake whispered over his shoulder to Nolan as he entered his room. “See you in the morning.” 

Jake eyed the occupied sign on the bathroom door as they passed, “Guess Todd really needed a shower.” 

Once Jake and Mason were back in their room, Mason, muddling through his knapsack, said, “Man, I need to brush my teeth.” 

“Bathroom’s next door.” Jake said, hopping onto his bed. “I’ll be right here when you get back.”

After a few seconds, Mason returned. “The occupied sign is still outside.”

“The other bathroom is on the opposite side of the lobby.”

“Hey, if I’m not back in 10 minutes, come look for me.”

“I don't get what you're so paranoid about.”

When Mason got back to the room, he quickly undressed and climbed into bed. “You know, Jake, that weird old couple is up to something. Why did he pour his drink from a flask and ours from the bottle?” He said, staring up at the ceiling.

“Could be he was drinking the cheap stuff and saving the good stuff for his guests. You need to cool your paranoia. There’s nothing going on here.” Jake yawned. “You know, I’m totally beat, just need some sleep.” Two or three-seconds later, Jake was snoring.

The room started to spin as soon as Mason closed his eyes, and he was out cold.

The morning came quickly. Jake awoke to catch a glimpse of dim light creeping through the break in the drawn curtains. He looked over at Mason, shocked to see Mason lying naked on top of the bed covers. Emily and Glenn were tying his leg to the bedpost. His hands were already tied. Mason, awake, was twisting to break free. Duct tape across his mouth, he looked over at Jake. Panic screamed from his wide, bloodshot eyes.

Jake yelled, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He could hear Mason’s muffled voice from behind the tape. “Get your hands off him!”

Glenn whispered, “Buddy, you’re next.” He picked up a butcher knife from the bed and started toward Jake. “You should have stayed down.” Jake threw back his covers and dashed out the open door. He paused and looked in both directions. Then he ran to Nolan and Todd’s room and pounded on the door, and it drifted open. 

There lie Nolan and Todd naked and tied to their beds. They struggled to break free. Slamming the door shut behind him, he ran to the lobby. He spotted a door in the back of the kitchen. Could that be a place to hide? He needed somewhere to gather his thoughts to make a rescue and escape plan. When he reached the door, he threw it open. There was a set of stairs that led to the basement.

He paused on the first step and turned to latch the door. In the darkness, he stumbled down the stairs. Once down, he could see the dim light of morning from a row of hopper windows. The door burst open. The kitchen light cast a spotlight, putting him in full view of his pursuers. He shielded his face with his arm.

Now what?

Copyright © 2022 by Chandler Wilson

December 16, 2022 19:45

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