I haven’t posted anything in a while. I have been editing my fourth book, and I tend to work in a left brain/right brain sort of way. When I’m editing I don’t have much creativity, so I couldn’t come up with anything for this blog. I have sent the manuscript off to some agents, so while I wait for them to reject me, I’m posting a short story Tara Whitacre wrote based on a dream she had. She tends to write children’s stories like The Little Engine Who Could Sneak Into Your Room and Chew out Your Eyeballs. No seriously, she writes horror stories, and she recently got married, so that might explain the dream (just kidding). This is the first part of it. I’ll post the rest later on. Enjoy. And my apologies to Alice Cooper.
WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE
by Tara Whitacre
Please Enjoy Your Stay
It happened slowly. A misplaced intent. A voice that invaded your dreams. A soft, melodic, opaque scream that is never clearly remembered. A slow numbing feeling starting at the back of your mind and flooding your body. It all happened slowly.
We checked into the hotel on a late Saturday night. The long trip had been taxing, and we slouched under the weight of exhaustion. I think it is why we missed it. How could we have missed it? Tony spoke to the woman behind the desk and got everything in order for our stay. She handed us our cards — she being a non-descript white female with a painted on smile. To describe her further would be a trial. I only glanced and never saw her again.
The room was set up with a dresser, a television and two queen beds. Some awful art hung above the beds and a door at the back of the room lead to the bathroom.
Angela dropped her bags on the faded green carpet and looked around the room. “Well, this isn’t bad.”
Tony nudged me. “Looks relatively bed bug free.” He walked into the room and claimed the other bed.
My last trip like this had landed me in a dump of a hotel and a bunch of unwanted friends in the form of, you guessed it, bed bugs. I’d never had an issue like bed bugs, lice, or fleas before and the experience of these vial creatures left me leery of any space not my own.
I smiled at the floor as I, too, dropped my bags, “Just as a precaution, I’m staying at your house for awhile after this.”
He lay on the bed and chuckled at me. Angela looked out the window at the dismal view. She frowned, a look that never truly hid her ever present smile, and faced the room..
“What should we do?” She looked us over, a bright smile on her face. I had always thought it’d be impossible to get rid of that smile..
I lay on our bed and sighed, “Sleep. Long trip and long day tomorrow.”
Tony nodded his head in agreement and settled more comfortably on the bed. I did the same and pulled the clean smelling blankets up to my chin. Angela frowned, but grabbed her bag and went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. Tony flipped through channels and soon we were all in our pajamas and ready to sleep.
Sleep came unusually easy for me, but, as usual, did not last. I lay on my side facing Tony’s bed. I could see him in the soft glow of the television. He was sound asleep on his back. I stretched out as I tried to figure out what had awakened me. It had been something. My mind had just about grasped the cause of my being awake, when I felt the bed move. I rolled over and saw Angela sitting up, her back against the headboard staring off into space. One hand lay limpy in her lap and the other worked the side of her head I couldn’t see.
“Angela?” I propped myself up on my elbow and looked into her slack face. “Are you okay?”
She stared at the television, so I looked too. I saw a fake man in an expensive suit and neatly styled hair. He told me to sleep. His voice was hypnotic, soft and warm. Before I knew it, I was fast asleep.
Morning came in a sea of melancholy grey. I was the first up. Swinging my feet out of bed brought a pained groan from my lips. Everything, every part of me, felt as if it had spent the night in a vice. Standing up and carefully stretching eased the tight feeling by miniscule amounts.
As I made my way around the bed the feel of the floor suddenly changed. Long thin strands wrapped and twisted around my toes. “What the fuck!”
My steps became awkward as I tried to reach the bathroom while touching the floor as little as possible. Stumbling through the door, I flipped on the light and lifted my feet to inspect them. Hair. Long dark hair.
I wrinkled up my face in disgust and quickly worked to disentangle the strands from my feet. I collected the ball of hair and leaned out the door to see Angela staring at me.
“What’s your problem?” She yawned and rolled onto her back.
I held the ball of hair out for her to see. “Shed much?”
Her hand flew to her head, the same side her hand worried at last night. The image played out fuzzy in my mind and I chalked it up to being tired and not fully awake. Why did I do that?
“I must be shedding.” She sounded unsure but flipped her wrist as if it were the obvious answer.
Tony was still fast asleep in his bed, so Angela and I got ready for the day keeping the bathroom door cracked open to help ventilate the steam. I sat on the edge of the bed and waited for my turn in the shower. She was shaken up about her hair, even though she did her best to hide it, so I gave up my claim to first shower, hoping her time alone would help her come around. I found the remote by carefully sifting through Tony’s blankets to try not wake him up. I sat back on my bed and idly flipped through the channels. Images of a man flashed briefly behind my eyes. I thought nothing of it.
Angela came out of the bathroom in a rush of steam and a swirl of towel. She held her clothing clutched tightly to her chest, ran around the bed and sat as far from the door as she could. Her smile faltered around the edges but burned furiously in the middle. “Finished.”
“That was fast,” I touched her towel. “You’re not dressed.”
Her face peeled back painfully with the force she put into her smile. “I got too hot.” Her words rushed out and barely contained a tremble.
I shook my head as I looked her over and realized she hadn’t even taken the time to dry her hair. “Are you okay?”
Her throat convulsed as she swallowed,. “Yeah, I guess.” She sighed heavily, “I guess I’m just tired. Strange dreams.” She smiled, more relaxed. “Go get cleaned up. If he starts to wake up, I may have to step in to finish dressing. Is that okay?”
I nodded my head. “That’s fine.” Walking into the bathroom, I closed the door till just a few inch gap remained. I walked to the mirror and wiped away the steam to look at myself. Cream colored skin, pale eyebrows, bright blue eyes, and pink lips neither full nor thin. I brushed my auburn hair behind my ears and turned my head left then right watching my face, looking for blemishes and hating my nose. Too big, I’d always thought.
I sighed, turned away from the mirror, collected my towel and started the water. Before undressing I peeked in on Angela. She sat in front of the mirror, completely dressed and carefully applying her makeup. I smiled a little.
I folded my pajamas and sat them on the closed toilet seat and stepped into the shower, closing the curtain tightly. The warm water felt good as it fell down my body. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feeling. I ran my hands up and down my arms. Suddenly, the smooth feel of my skin started to feel sticky. The sensation confused me. I opened my eyes and to my horror I saw the water had turned to blood.
For reasons unknown, I wiped at it, my hands moved faster and faster as if that would wipe it away. Rationally, you’d step out of the blood and away from it, but rationality had taken a flight from my world and even though my hands worked furiously, my feet remained rooted. The sticky substance coated my body and soaked itself into my hair, clotting the strands together. My hands would wipe and the paleness of my skin would peek through before being covered back up.
I sucked in my breath to scream but nothing came out. It did, however, cut my body loose. Grabbing my towel, I stumbled out of the shower and began wiping at my face. I scrubbed till my skin stung, pulled the towel away and looked at it. My pounding breath froze in my chest, and my panicked thoughts came to a screeching halt.
The towel was white. Rushing to the mirror and wiping away the stream, I stared and I panted, but there was no blood. I batted the curtains away from the shower and the still running water. Clear running water. No blood. Not a single drop.
<I couldn’t figure it out. Had no idea what to think. So I took a few deep breaths, shut off the water, dried off, and got dressed. I couldn’t figure out what had happened, so I let it go. I finished dressing and walked out of the bathroom.
Tony smiled at me as he stepped around me and shut the bathroom door behind him. The click of the door sent a flutter of fear through my chest. I shook it off and started to brush through my hair.
“How do you think the class will go?” I turned and sat on the dresser.
Angela was jumping from one bed to the other, “class is cancelled. The teacher is sick and is still at home three hours away.” She gave a cry of pleasure as she landed on her butt and bounced back up to her feet.
I smiled, her happiness helping me deal with the scene in the bathroom. The bathroom? What had happened in the bathroom? I shook my head and decided it wasn’t important. “So what should we do?” My head bounced back and forth as I watched her.
“We should stay in and play cards. Rent a movie and order room service!” She sounded so happy, and I have to admit, I felt happy, too.
When Tony came out of the bathroom, we both looked at him, unconsciously searching for some sign. A sign of what? He just smiled and we both returned it.
“Are we staying in?” He looked at us and we shook our heads yes.
We spent the day in an unexplained ecstasy. We played cards, jumped on the beds, had a pillow fight, ate till we were bursting and laughed. Oh god did we laugh. We wrestled on the beds, watched countless movies and never noticed the time slipping away. We drank and sang. Danced and laughed as we pretended to fight. When it was done, we collapsed into bed.
It happened slowly….at first….and then…very suddenly.