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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Checkout (06/09/11)

TITLE: Tiffany Twisted*
By Cheryl von Drehle


The mystery began on an otherwise unremarkable Monday morning, when I attempted to checkout of the hotel where I had spent a rewarding weekend. It was one of those small boutique hotels that like to call themselves an Inn, in this particular case, Tiffany Inn. Yes, I know, a bit pretentious, but the setting off a California desert highway was perfectly lovely.

I tell you this to explain why I could not just leave the key in my room and checkout via television: no swipe card, and no television in this hotel. Of course, that is what attracted me in the first place. I had chosen this sedate spot for a mini retreat from my busy life. And, it had been an idyllic weekend, filled with meditation and prayer, reading and reflection. But, I digress…

I was packed and ready to go, after breakfast in the hotel dining room. I was last in the long checkout line, which moved slowly. Finally, my turn.

“Hello. I’m checking out of room 7.”

“I’ll be right with you.” After waiting another few minutes, the night man, finishing up his shift as counter clerk, returned his attention to me. “You said room 7?”

“Yes, I’m Miss… ,”

“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you will not be leaving today.”

This enigmatic response was delivered with flat affect and an offhand manner that seemed out of place given the friendly staff I had otherwise encountered during the weekend. Figuring I must have misunderstood what he said, I inquired politely, “Is there a problem?”

“No, not really. You just can’t leave today.”

I glanced over my shoulder, out the window, expecting to see perhaps a huge storm brewing. Nothing but calm breezes and sweet sunshine…“I’m sorry, I’m not following…is there a problem with checking out?” my voice rising a bit.

"Relax," said the night man, “I can check you out anytime you like; you just cannot leave.”

Uh oh. I can checkout but I can’t leave? Strains of “Hotel California*” ran through my mind, and a chill crept up my spine. “…Never? You mean, I can check out anytime I like, but I can never leave?” The reference was just too good to pass up but apparently the clerk was either too young or not sufficiently steeped in classic rock. Without missing a beat, he responded, “I didn’t say never. I just said you can’t leave.”

A feeling somewhere north of irritation and south of alarm began to form in my chest. I scrutinized his face, looking for a clue, although to what, I wasn’t sure. “I haven’t checked into the Twilight Zone, have I? Or perhaps, Candid Camera?”


“Okay, I’m done with this game. You have my credit card number. Just put the charges on that.” I abruptly plopped the key down on the desk (rather loudly, I must admit), picked up my overnight bag and huffed off to the front door. Just as quickly, a huge (I am not exaggerating) wrestler-type security guard (replete with snake tats winding up both arms, I kid you not!) stepped in front of the door and glared at me, all the way from his 6’ 7” 350 pound frame, down to my 5’ 3” 115 pounds.

Forget irritation. Now thoroughly frightened, having been intimidated by both a monstrous security guard and a creepy night man, I turned around to see the expressionless clerk behind me, jiggling a key. “Here you go, Ma’am. That was room 7, correct? It has been cleaned for you.”

Without a word, I took the key and walked back to my room, fear and confusion having rendered me zombie-like. I opened the door, expecting some kind of beast or other horrible surprise inside. Surprise indeed! The room glowed spectacularly with hundreds of sparkling Christmas tree lights, and I was enveloped in the sweet aroma of rose petals scattered throughout the room. Classic romance music reached my ears just as someone stepped out from around the dresser. “Good morning sweetheart.” “Don!” I gasped. “You just about gave me a heart attack! What are you doing here? What is all this? I just had the most frightening experience…,” and then I saw what he was holding: a glass of pink champagne and a diamond ring.

Jer 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

* Inspired by Hotel California by The Eagles

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This article has been read 428 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Curtis06/16/11
Oh this is a gem! Very cleverly written; I love the dialogue throughout, the way you built up the sense of foreboding, and the twist at the end - awesome! Well done!
Leola Ogle 06/16/11
Ah...how sweet! I love romantic endings. This kept my interest throughout. God bless!
Noel Mitaxa 06/17/11
Thanks for trip back to that Eagles' classic, and for a far less menacing close... Well done.
Linda Goergen06/17/11
I don’t know if I would have liked the surprise of being made feel I was in Hotel California, ring or no ring! LOL LOL I know the Eagles always denied the song referred to the hotel purchased by Anton LaVey and turned into the Church of Satan, but that is always what I felt when I heard the song!

But this story was a totally captivating and entertaining read beginning to end! Gave sufficient chill and creepy sensations as the similarities to Hotel California began to pile up, to keep you glued to the scene…then the fun ending…I THINK?....it never does tell us they got out of there! LOL LOL LOL
Thank God you placed the scripture at the end to ease my mind! LOL LOL LOL

Terrific job on this!!!!!
Phee Paradise 06/19/11
I love this line: "A feeling somewhere north of irritation and south of alarm"
Kelvin Fowler06/20/11
Oh the Eagles and the memories that they bring up.

I was anxious reading this and just wanted to skip the middle and rush to the end to find out why she could not leave.

Fun story, well done. Cheers Kel
Janice Fitzpatrick06/22/11
Oh, this is so good- scary, creepy, full of tension and suspense and a charming wonderful ending! The only thing missing was a box of dark choclate truffles,lol, need I hint how much I love those things?:)) Great piece hon! Love it.
Patricia Protzman06/23/11
Congratulations on your 3rd place win.
Linda Goergen06/23/11
This one was so unique, congratulations! Deserved win!
Noel Mitaxa 06/23/11
Congratulations on your 3rd placing.
Bonnie Bowden 07/04/11
What a fun twist of events. I could have never predicted the story's ending. Congratulations on 3rd place.