A cold chill crawled up my spine as I climbed out of our panel van. I was moving at a snail’s pace gathering my personal items from the back trunk. I could feel Patrick getting impatient with me. I felt the chill spread and slither through my body. The wind-chill took my breath away. I bundled my scarf around my face, and hung close to Patrick, who was still shaking off sleep long enough to get in the building. We’re aliens to this town. Strangers. Or rather, newcomers. And as a newcomer, I felt anything but welcome here.
The town itself was small. One main street that led straight through back onto the main road. A small cluster of local shops, but none looked as they had been open in a while. I guess I won’t be getting any souvenirs to remember this visit. And maybe I will skip the photo opportunity.The whirling snow and icicles falling of rooftops screamed holiday season, but there were no menorahs in the windows nor lights or wreaths hung. There were industrial buildings with neon lights, that was as close as it gets. I at once missed the last town, busy and full of life. Here, the streets were empty. There were no townspeople, tourists walking about the streets, which struck me as odd especially for being in the early hours of the morning. The town looked shut down, except for the gas station, mini food-mart and the motel. I tried to imagine the people who lived here. I cannot imagine there’s a large population, farmhands and landowners if anything. Not enough to call for much, if any, police presence. It was quiet here, and that provoked a weird sense of danger. It was a town that operated on silence. A powerful weapon.
This is a town to pass through, which was what I wanted to do, the lot in which we have parked was that of the grimly lit motel. We’d been driving all night, and all Patrick wanted was a real bed. Which I can’t say I blame him, but couldn’t we have stayed in the town before this? There we could have at least enjoyed a nice hot meal, a walk about town and a hotel that didn’t scream ‘murders happened here’. Heck, I would have stretched my wallet for a bouget bed-n-breakfast.
The motel lobby was grim and dark, like the attendant that stood at attention at the check-in desk. A long grim face and a tight bun to match, the woman looked like she belongs here. I could sense her bond with the town.
“Name for reservation, please?” she requested, sternly. I was surprised they even took reservations. Who the hell would vacation here by choice besides Patrick?
“We don’t have a reservation. We are just passing through,” Patrick replied, excitedly. But I doubt the woman cared about what we were doing there. But she seemed quite eager to get us into a room. It was a matter of minutes before we had signed the papers and checked in.
“I will have the room ready for you in about twenty minutes.” she says after a search on her dated computer. I could tell the operating system was Windows 7.
Ignoring my groan of impatience, Patrick replies, “That’s fine. Beats sleeping in our van.”
She disappeared down the hall and unlocked a room just three doors down. I watched for the door to open again, I was desperate to go to sleep.
I thought about what she might be doing in there. Leaving some kind of witch voodoo doll under my bed that would bind my first-born to her? Not likely. Cleaning up evidence? Plausible. I love a good mystery as much as the next girl, but I am too tired to engineer some fantastical murder mystery to give myself anxiety over.
Patrick looked over the map the motel attendant was hesitant to give us and started planning for our trip out of town in the morning.
“Not much here is there,” he said, not taking his eyes off the map. Breakfast was already on his mind.
“You can say that again. Something not right about that,” I glared at him. I was irritated now. What was taking that woman so long?
“It’s a commuter’s town, babe. You can’t expect much to be here.” he said, laughing. He knew not to take my irritability too seriously. I was cranky and we knew it. But I was laying in on the guilt trip. I had committed to that.
“We could have stayed in the last town. At least that was pleasant to look at.”
“Your room is ready,” We had hardly noticed her return, I nearly jumped a foot. I felt embarrassed for criticizing this town. It was her home after all. But maybe even she realizes it’s a crapshoot.
She shown us to our room, the same which she had gone into earlier. I half expected her to be carrying a candle to lead the way. The hall was dim and dark, as was the room. The bedding matched the yellow wallpaper. The bathroom smelt as if it had been over cleaned. An effort to hide something. Whatever. At least it was clean. The bed was springy. But it was a bed, clean I hope. And no bodies rolled in plastic stowed below. Patrick checked, after my insistence.
As we turned out the lights and climbed into the creaking bed, we heard a loud scream off in the distance. It sounded as if it had come from an animal, like a goat or a cat. My eyes grew wide and I looked to Patrick, hoping he’d have an answer for what we heard.
“I knew it,” he began. “There’s a cult here.”
“What makes you think that?”
“That was a goat.”
“And you know this how?”
“Don’t worry about it, babe.”
But I was going to worry. I was going to worry all night long.