Room With A View
Pay attention to what you see.
I travel a lot for work and usually stay at one of the major hotel chains. Their rooms are normally clean, beds comfortable, and the interior walls soundproof enough that if the person next door sneezes, I don’t feel compelled to say, “Bless you.” Unfortunately, none was available for this trip.
Work had dictated that I travel to Escape, New Mexico, to negotiate a mining lease between my employer Mineral Development Inc. and the Mescalero Indian Nation. It took me twenty minutes to find Escape using Google Earth and another ten to book a room. The only hotel in town was a three-story brick structure, circa 1910, called The Great Escape Lodge. I can deal with anything for one night, so as long as the sheets are clean and the toilet flushes, all will be fine.
I arrived at Albuquerque International at 1:30 p.m., collected my rental car, an all-wheel-drive Subaru wagon, and headed south. State road 53 meandered through the scrub brush and cactus-strewn desert. I finally came across a battered tin sign that read Escape 21 miles with an arrow pointing down a dirt road on my right. The road started smooth enough, but 6 miles later, large ruts appeared. Several more miles passed, and the ruts turned into a gully blocking my way. I would have turned back if I hadn’t had a four-wheel-drive vehicle. After negotiating the gully, the rest of the journey was uneventful, except for the curious glances from grazing elk, rabbits, and rattlesnakes.
The hotel was easy to find because it was the tallest structure in Escape, plus there was a wooden sign with peeling paint proclaiming ‘Welcome to The Great Escape Lodge.’ I parked behind the building, grabbed my bag, and as I headed for the front entrance, glanced up at the hotel windows, and froze. Two human skulls were grinning down at me from the third floor, empty eye sockets stirring a feeling of uneasiness deep in my soul. I quickly recovered after realizing today is Halloween, also known as Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I hadn’t thought about this holiday since I was a kid.
Feeling a little foolish, I climbed the steps to the wooden wrap-around porch, pulled open the creaky front door, and strode to the front desk. A shriveled old man looked over the top of his wire-rimmed glasses and asked, “Do you have a reservation?”
“I do,” came my reply as I tried to stifle a laugh. I was the only non-resident for 200 miles. After I signed the register, he handed me a metal key for room 313. The elevator reminded me of one I had seen in an old silent movie, so exercising an abundance of caution, I took the stairs to the third floor.
It was dusk by the time I entered my room. A brilliant sunset drew me to a large west-facing window where I watched the sun drop below the distant mountains while the stars winked on one by one. Looking down, I could see my parked car and realized with a start that the two skulls were in the room next door. Shaking my head, I remarked to no one, “At least I’ll have quiet neighbors.” Travel, coupled with time zone changes, hit me like a ton of bricks—I needed my bed. It only took seconds for me to drift into oblivion.
Several hours had passed when I was ripped from a deep sleep by a low guttural moan. It wasn’t the first time I had heard moans coming from a neighboring room, but this was disturbingly different. Disoriented, I staggered to the window, attempting to open it for some fresh air—it was wedged shut. In the parking lot below were a group of people dressed in strange costumes, chanting in an unfamiliar language. Next, I tried the door, but that too refused to yield. The moans and the chanting reached a crescendo, causing me to become completely stupefied. My world turned black as I crumbled to the floor, unconscious.
A year has passed, and it’s Halloween once again. I gaze out the window with my two friends watching a lone man park his vehicle and traverse the parking lot toward the front porch. He looks up to a third-floor window transfixed as three skulls stare back at him. He’ll ignore our warning just as I did. Soon he will learn there is no escape from Escape.
About the Creator
I have spent most of my life traveling around the US and the globe. Now it's time to draw on these experiences and create what I hope are interesting fictional stories. Only you, the reader, can tell me if I've achieved my goal.
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