This short fiction was written last year for a small collection called F*cked Up Fairy Tales. It was used to raise money for charity. Since I had never posted my submission on my blog, I thought I would take this opportunity to put it on here and use this as incentive to delve back into the morbid portion of my brain. (The book isn’t going to write itself!) This is my macabre version of the Princess and the Pea.
The sputtering neon sign cut through the malignant darkness, blinking as the electric current passed through the wires. It simply read ‘vacancy’. He knew wayward travellers would soon arrive at the only motel for miles and he had meticulously prepared for the new stragglers lost on the unforgiving stretch of highway. Each room had been cleaned by him and the deodorizer had been applied liberally to extinguish any remaining scent of decomposition. He surveyed each room, his eye focusing on anything that may have seemed out of place, and closed the door leaving the room ready for the next guest. He sat in the tiny office waiting for the first sign of headlights he knew would be coming. He sensed that she was near.
The storm winds had escalated and the rain began to pelt down on the tin roof of the motel. The staccato beat of water on metal soothed him. He closed his eyes and let the sound bathe him in its rhythm. She was closer. His eyelids fluttered opened to see the high beams of the oncoming car slash through the darkness and his pulse quickened. He could almost hear her heartbeat racing as she maneuvered the car through the puddles.
The flashing pink sign looked like a strobe light as the wipers furiously tried to keep up with the rain on her windshield. Her grip was tight on the steering wheel and she could hear her mother’s voice in her head calling it a ‘white-knuckle’ drive. The vacancy sign grew brighter as her car made the turn into the motel parking lot. She was almost positive she hadn’t been followed but parked the car at the back of the motel just to be certain it wasn’t spotted during the night.
She collected the small travel bag from the passenger seat and reached into the glove compartment for the Glock, tucking it into the side of the bag and concealing it from plain sight. Exhausted from the drive she headed to the motel office and hoped for a short reprieve from having to constantly look over her shoulder. This motel, in the middle of nowhere, may be the one place she could silence the voices in her head and shut out her warped reality, if only for a few hours.
She pushed the door open and immediately noticed the odours. The deodorizer hit her senses first, but her keen sense of smell detected the pungent scent of death lying in wait underneath the lilac spray. This essence was no stranger to her and she continued forward to ring the bell on the unattended desk. Her hand absently moved to the side of her travel bag and traced the outline of the pistol.
He came out of the back office and greeted her with a warm smile, welcoming her to the motel. The menial task of signing her false name was done and he moved around the desk to show her to the room. Her hand never left the side of her bag as she followed him along the concrete walkway. His gait was confident and his silence was comforting. They exchanged no words as he handed her the key to the room that was meant only for her. She opened the door to the room and felt his stare burning into her back. As she closed the door and turned the deadbolt, she knew he was still standing a foot from her door. She could hear his breathing and rather than feeling unnerved, she felt connected. Nothing about this quiet man-made her feel uneasy and that was the feeling that scared her the most.
She poured a Scotch and stripped out of her rain-soaked clothes. The acrid stench of decomposition was evident in her room as well but the smell dissipated slightly with a few more sips of whiskey. She cranked the water in the shower and listened as the pipes vehemently argued with the task. The hot beads of water from the shower stung her skin but she welcomed the pain.
Skin flushed red from the hot water and cheeks blazing from a half bottle of whiskey, she teetered across the floor and poured herself into bed. The duvet felt like silk against her bare skin and the pillow was perfectly plump but, as much as she tried to fall into a deep sleep, she could not find a comfortable position on the bed. She tossed and turned and what she hoped would be a fitful rest was a combination of half hour naps. She awoke in the morning, achy and wearied.
Determined to find the cause of her lack of sleep she tore the duvet from the bed, letting her hand roam the top of the mattress to detect any imperfections. Nothing was out of the ordinary. She grasped the handles on the side of the mattress and lifted it from the box spring. The orb was not as round as it should have been, but that was from the pressure of the mattress. The noticeably cloudy film and diluted pupil stared into nothingness as the human eyeball lay lifeless in front of her.
She moved across the room and took a long swill of Scotch from the bottle. The murky eyeball seemed to follow her as she crossed the room again to get dressed. Whiskey was not her first choice for breakfast but, given the circumstance, she didn’t care. She packed her bag, tucked the Glock into the back of her jeans and collected the human remains that thwarted her slumber.
He was in the office when she arrived, coffee in hand and wearing the same warming smile he had worn the previous night. She was not surprised that his first question was to inquire as to how she slept. She gently placed the slightly misshapen ocular sphere on the desk and simply tilted her head, lifted her eyebrows and waited for his reaction. His smile never wavered.
He spoke first, “It’s almost perfect, isn’t it?”
His words hung in the air as he eagerly anticipated her response. The ticking of the incessant second-hand on the clock seemed to echo in the tiny room and his brain felt like it would explode.
Her response was succinct, “Show me more.”
He knew it would be her. From the moment the winds changed and the rain foreshadowed the previous night, he knew it would be her. The Prince of Darkness had finally found his Princess.