I lingered in the doorway. The raindrops screamed behind, hounding me to enter. I hesitated. It didn’t feel right.
I’d never been there before. Still, something seemed out of place. I could sense it. The hairs on my neck tingled. Thunder rolled, goading me forward.
I stepped in, my eyes wide and unsure.
The air had been locked inside for a fool’s age. It was rancid with stale smoke from the tavern below, sedated with cheap freshener. I flipped the light switch hidden behind a crusted avocado-green drape. The bulb overhead failed to respond. A wicker shade suspended beyond the bed sputtered into a feeble glow. Squares of pale yellow struggled to reach the peeling wallpaper. Darkness fought to stay in control.
There was something ominous about the room.
I needed to get out. Stranded in an unfamiliar city or not, I couldn’t stay in there. I moved toward the phone on the table. I’d call the front desk and demand to be moved.
A shadow blocked my path as the door slammed shut behind me.
I spun about, startled. A cry echoed off darkened windows. The voice didn’t sound like my own. I stumbled against a chair and fell, my face buried in the musty carpet. The wicker lamp began to spin and sway, the light spasmodic and flickering. The room became a dying strobe and I was trapped inside.
Something touched my ankle.
I rolled and kicked against the air, pressing myself away from the thing, the evil presence, that I knew was there. My head struck the wall and I blinked back tears. My skin became cold as if a breath of decay and morbidity had blown across me.
I thrashed about with my fists. “Go away! Leave me alone!”
There was movement beside me. I froze in terror.
A bolt of lightning arced across the night. For a moment a billion raindrops were ignited, making the sky look like molten lead pouring down, consuming the earth in a fiery damnation. The blinding flash seared my eyes and I twisted from the trauma.
A skeletal face leered at me, its mouth stretched in horror and agony.
I scrambled away as the room was swallowed in darkness. The electricity failed and the walls shook with dread.
I felt my chest convulse and, against my will, a rending scream issued from my lungs, adding to the furious cacophony of the storm.
I knew in that instant that I was going to die.
Shadows in the night, the rustling of blackness in the pitch. My eyes were useless, but I could see a figure in my mind… feel it with my soul. It moved into the doorway and stood, taller and taller, filling the space and towering above me.
There was no escape.
My heart felt as if it had exploded and I lost control of my faculties. I flailed about as insanity consumed me. I tried to flee, to run, to get out of that place….the room from hell. In my blindness I crashed against the bedpost and fell, my fate sealed.
I reached for anything to protect myself from the phantom that sought me in the gloom. My hand found the pillow and I hurtled it. “Get out,” I screamed. “Get out of here!”
It moved toward me, reaching, grasping.
“No!” I struggled back across the bed. Light, I needed light. I couldn’t confront what was shrouded in murk. I reached for the lamp and twisted the switch. There was no relief.
I fumbled my hand on the night stand. The clock. I lifted and threw it.
From the demon a mocking, rumbling, laughter carried in a peal of thunder.
I didn’t want to die, alone, afraid, far from home. A stranger in a strange land. Yet, I was unable to save myself. “God, please. Not like this.” Tears of frustration filled my eyes. “Don’t let it end like this.”
The creature was upon me.
I groped for a weapon, a defense, anything at all. But it was beyond me. I opened the drawer and felt something hard. I picked it up and swung just as claws were grasping my neck.
A bolt of lightning struck as I made impact with my foe. The lamp beside me burst to life and filled the room with a blinding glare.
I was alone.
I dropped onto the mattress, my weapon, a book, falling open beside me.
The inscription read, “Holy Bible. Placed in the room by the Gideons.”
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