Can I have a room for one please

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The elderly receptionist peered over her aged, dented and burgundy coloured reading glasses. She calmly leaned forward in her battered arm chair, as if she had all the time in the world which was unlikely. Her gushing breath acted as a signal for the arrival of her face, which was now directly looking at mine. I tried to peel my gaze away but I couldn’t help notice her decaying, yellow teeth. Her skin sagged down her bony face in an ocean of wrinkles. The grey hair didn’t remedy her appearance which was tied up in a bun at the back of her head in a desperate attempt to hide the obvious bald spot.

Her eyes were a dark grey cloudy colour. Something fearful inside me told me that she must be blind. “Yes, young gentlemen” she croaked. “Follow me and I’ll show you to the room”. One surprisingly firm hand clasped an old mahogany walking stick, an expensive one with carvings of snakes twirled around the sides. Her other hand was tightly wound around the handle of a large antique bag. I knew something suspicious was lurking in the bag by the way that the bottom sagged, almost touching the torn red shoes she wore. She had a skirt on, a blue one that sagged to the ground, and a red and white plaid shirt.

She caught sight of me judging her clothes and immediately chastised me with a hit on the leg from the cane. I was biting my lip, resisting the need to shriek out in pain. Something didn’t add up; no woman of a pensionable age should have that much force in their arms. Her nostrils flared in annoyance as I softly let out a whimper and resided to clutch my aching leg in both hands. I felt a sudden urge to flee, yet I knew that I came too far to turn back now. Besides, I doubt I would have much hope of escaping this dark, unpredictable woman. A sudden realisation hit me. There was no one apart from her in this inn.

It looked and even had the aroma of a building that had been abandoned for half a century. Flaking speckles of paint lined the floor with dust and the corpses of unfortunate insects. Disused pieces of wooden furniture were rotting away in the corner of the reception room; stained with lichen while the curtains hanged limp and moth-eaten. The atmosphere felt eerily silent, patiently waiting in expectation for one more life form to creak across the ragged floorboards. The room was hidden away in a gloomy corridor on the upper level of the inn. I walked a few steps behind the old woman just to observe the surroundings.

The space was confined and suffocating, the only source of hope was hanging loosely from the sealing in the form of a single light bulb. Driven by its own momentum, it was swinging from left to right systematically. The receptionist arrived at what seemed to be the only discernible room in the inn. I could only catch glimpses of her, but from what I could see, she had turned around to face me. She waited there silently. Knock. Knock. Knock. The sound took me by surprise. I had failed to notice that the woman had a lifted a blunt object out of her bag. Wait a minute. Why was she knocking on the door?

Who else was in this abandoned inn? I immediately sensed that something was not right. The doorknob rattled repeatedly as if someone or something was trying to force its way out of the room. Finally the door opened. I took two steps forward. Rays of light burst through the door sprinkling into hundreds of bright fingers that speckled the ground. Reaching out to me, the fingers grew closer and a closer, fading away right before they had the opportunity to take hold of me. A coppery smell drifted through the door. A large shadow moved closer to my feet. There was someone at the door. It was an ageing man!

The most unique man I have ever seen in my life. He moved through the door and was now stood directly in front of her. He began to move closer. My every movement was scrutinised by his intense and fear provoking eyes. His face had mostly been hidden by his glasses, but I could almost feel his cold breath as stepped closer and closer and closer. I could sense an imminent danger. I slowly turned around, keeping my eyes on the man all the while. Deliberately, he followed me. A malevolent smile crept across his face. His smile reeked of wickedness. Something inside had told me withheld sinister secrets.

His cold, grey eyes bore into my skull. My heart raced. I took my eyes off the man for a split second and bolted down the narrow corridor. I threw myself around a corner. That’s when I saw it. The coppery smell. The blunt object in the woman’s handbag. The abandoned inn. It suddenly all made sense. An entire wall was covered with horrific photographs of corpses that had been dissected and divided into men, women and children. I felt sick and weak. I turned around to see the object that the old woman had been carrying in her handbag. It was a small hatchet that dripped with blood.

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