All Hallow’s Fiend-1

I gasped suddenly, waking to the feeling that my dream monster had been real. And not just in my sleep, but had crossed over somehow. My eyes darted wildly all around the darkened room, searching for him. In the corners, behind the recliner. Nothing could be seen. Not even a light from the outside. I really hoped I had been wrong. That there wasn’t some boogie man waiting, or that something even worse maybe was waiting for me. Just then, before I could rub the exhaustion from my eyes, a terrifying sound came at me from just the other side of the bedroom door. The faint swooshing of footsteps across the rich carpet. Coming closer and closer towards the room. It was like I was was six years old again, watching my closet door come creaking open and knowing what was on the other side of that clothes rack. This isn’t how I am, I thought then. I’m not supposed to be scared. I laugh at horror movies. Halloween is my favorite holiday of them all. I loved it more than Christmas. So why was I holding my breath?Wrapping my dark painted nails around the metal bed railings?

A serious and heavy knocking, shocked me into reality, and I began to tremble. Worse than I ever had in my entire life. Shivers flew up and down my spine, while the brass door handle rattled violently. I carefully reached for the tank top I’d shed during the night, and pulled it back over my head.

“Morgan! Come on! It’s almost two o’clock!”

“Fucking hell,” I grumbled, falling back against the pillows and comforter. I closed my eyes and let out the panicked breath I had been holding in. It had all been a dream. I noticed that my heart was still racing, despite the calming voice that was talking to me. Peeking out from under the blankets, I saw Holly, searching through the top rack of clothes.

“Are you joking?” I yawned, sliding my bare legs over onto the carpet. I looked down, remembering that it seemed so worn considering it was rarely tread upon. I looked back to my cousin, one hand on her hip, the other taking down a red and white dress.

“No, crackhead. I’m serious. Listen, I gotta pick up Jada from school. You wanna go? Or are you gonna hang around here today, because…”

I nodded and waved a tired hand to her.

“Yeah, I know. The list. You know I’ll do it. Sides, I got some unfinished business with those bathrooms anyway.”

Holly took the dress down and glanced out of the bedroom window. I could see what had caught her attention. The leaves on the trees out back had begun to change. of course, I smiled. For her, the school year was just getting started. For me, it meant Halloween wasn’t that far away. There was only one problem. I was broke as hell. Holly looked back at me.

” I have to take something to Lana, over in Modeo. So I have to come back and change clothes. Think you’ll be ready by then?”

I nodded again, my focused remained on the sky and area outside. First, would come the chill in the air that always gave the warning. No matter what part of the country you happened to live in. That had begun four days ago. And the minute I’d stepped outside that day, I could feel that electricity in the atmosphere that I waited for every year. Pure excitement was the onyl way I’d been able to describe it. Last year had been a shitty year. Sitting in a crappy house, watching less than nice horror movies. Bad B-versions. And no alcohol in sight. Not a drop of anything. This year, I was in Tennessee. A whole other world from Halloweens past. Sometimes though, I felt like I’d been here before. Did the same things I’d been doing. Even some of the people I’d met seemed so familiar to me. That classic deja-vu feeling that everyone gets now and then.

Holly tossed the clothes over her shoulder and head out of the front door. I forced myself to my feet, and dragged my ass over to the floor length mirror. As I leaned in for a better look at myself, I barely recognized me. My brown waves of hair seemed scattered. Matted even. The dark and heavy circles under my eyes. No wonder though. I’d been stressing out twice as much lately as I had been prior to the move. I had a short story due on one of my more loved websites. A Halloween piece for their annual contest. Other than that, my only reason was money. I needed it, and fast. The little that I had saved and brought with me had been nearly used. Giving it to Holly and her little girl, and a few small pleasures that I’d allowed myself. Like the bottle of whiskey that I had opened only last night. I rubbed the corners of my tired eyes and shuffled into the living room. I took a moment to look around, then continued on into the guest bathroom. Glancing at the clock on the wall, I knew it wouldn’t be long before Holly and Jada returned.

I smudged away a space on the bathroom mirror, blinking as my reflection stared back at me. At least I looked better now. I still couldn’t rid myself of the feeling that I’d gone through this before. Not just the shower, but the time of day. The circumstances, and the still blank pages of notepaper sitting atop the dining room table. That and the sensation that something very strange was about to make this day seem even better than it was.

Outside the bathroom window, I heard the slamming of one car door, followed by another. Holly and Jada had made it back. The sounds of giggling and screaming brought a smile to my face. I had arrived in Tennessee at around the end of July. My other relatives and I couldn’t get along. That was old news. Now, it was nearing the end of October. Almost a week and a half before Halloween.

“Morgan!” I heard from just outside the bathroom. “You alive?”

“Yeah!” I shouted, reaching for my towel. Maybe today would work out better than yesterday. I quickly got dressed, pulling on a tight shirt and my favorite pair of jeans. One more quick look at myself and I tucked my hair under a black scarf. I thought I looked half-way okay. Hard to tell what Holly would say. It was always something crazy. Good enough to be hired, relaxed enough that I didn’t feel like a puppet. In other words hellcat with a dash of Wall Street. As I entered the living room, Holly looked up from straightening Jada’s dress. An odd grin crept upon her face. I knew something was brewing in her head.

“Not bad,” she answered. “They’ll either wanna hire you on the spot, or wanna get you alone on the office copy machine.”

We both snickered at the suggestion, and I slipped into my wedged sandals. Again, something in the air caught my attention. It was so peaceful, yet I still felt worried about something.

“Morg?”

I pretended to be scared and looked all around before looking down into those big hazel eyes. She grinned from ear to ear and brushed her hair away from her face.

“What’s up, little bit?”

She giggled even louder.

“M-mommy said I could play chizzles when we get back.”

“Oh. She did huh?”

Jada nodded and twittered in laughter as Holly kissed her fat little cheek.

“So,” she coughed. “Where you wanna head first? Raulson’s? Or we could hit the Plaza?”

I grabbed my purse from the armchair as she moved into the den. She was changing her shirt as Jada took off for a room unknown.

“We can stop by the hotel, since Lana’s working today.”

She nodded and flipped her hair back.

Lana was a friend of Holly’s from a previous job. She seemed nice enough, then again, I barely knew anything about her.

“Ok,” she sighed. “Let’s get going then. I wanna be home in time to get Jada ready for homework and bedtime.”

I nodded, leading the way out of the tiny home. A slight breeze brushed past the lot of us as we got the kid settled into her booster seat. On instinct, I looked into the direction that the wind was coming from. On the horizon, a subtle wall of light gray clouds had formed. Making everything to the northeast look so depressing and foreboding. Above us, there was nothing but sunshine and blue skies. As I sat in the passenger’s seat, Holly popped in one of her “road tunes” cd’s. There wasn’t a minute the car was going that some sort of music wasn’t coming from the speakers. One more look to the massive clouds, and the tires were burning asphalt on the way into Modeo.

The hotel drama had not gone as I’d thought. The owner of the place had seemed genuinely interested in me. Unlike most where ya go in they say they’ll call, then boom. They never do. She went over my papers, my references. All the usual. And when she told me that she would be giving me a call in a few days, I actually believed her. There was something about the way she said it. Finally, I thought as I left her office and went out into the main lobby. A chance at some money. A glimmer of hope in an almost ghost town of a city. Modeo was like any other small time place on the map. Always trying to become that big name on a map. I thought I’d left places like that when I moved. I guess not. I hear familiar voices coming down the hall. Holly, Jada and Lana. All talking amongst one another. I looked back to the closed office door, trying to remember what the owner said her name had been. Jada came running at me full force, nearly taking me down to the marble floor in front of the desk. She swatted me on my butt with her backpack and took off again.

“So,” Holly asked, hefting her bag up on her shoulder. ” How’d it go with Connie?”

I tried my best to look disappointed, as thought the answer had been worse than what it really had been. Before I could get two words out, The middle aged friend of Holly’s spoke up. Her weathered brown eyes wide behind her frames.

“Honey, the way you look, I doubt she’ll turn you down.”

I had a feeling that there was a catch to it. I laughed, realizing just what sort of catch it had been. Hell, If being sexually harassed by a fifty year old hotel owner was my biggest problem, I ‘d be fine. I’d dealt with far worse things in my life than undersexed lesbians in business suits. We all filed outside, Holly dragging Jada along behind her.

“Lana?” I asked, pulling the neck of my shirt a little higher. “You don’t know of anyone around here that’s looking for workers, do you?”

She looked curiously at Holly, and inhaled on the full flavor cigarette she’d lit. She was hesitating.

“Not many. There’s Ozone, next town over, in New Egypt. Bar type place. Strippers are there three nights a week. Pays cash though.”

Holly and I both rolled our eyes. Not that I hadn’t considered it, it just wasn’t what I was looking for right now. Jada tugged at Holly’s jeans and grappled for her key-chain.

“Mommy? What’s a stripper?”

“Grown-up women who take their clothes off for money.”

I laughed at went back to Lana.

“Come on, dude. I’m not that needy.”

She snickered and coughed. I took the half a menthol Holly handed me and watched the cars on the main highway pass.

“There’s the Inn. Out off the old highway. The Lizear place.”

When she said those few words, it seemed like everything stopped for a moment. The air, the sounds, the wind in the trees out front of the hotel. Why did that name sound so familiar to me? How did I know it? I looked over to Holly, who’d somewhat given her friend an annoyed look. I nudged her in the ribs, drawing her attention back to me. Was it really that bad?

“What?” I laughed. ” Is it like some old whorehouse that no one talks about or something?”

“It’s just some old farmhouse,” she sighed, looking off to the side of the place. “A couple of other property buildings. A couple of younger guys bought it like two years ago and changed it out into a haunted house. It’s got like three or four different sections to it inside.Each one worse than the one before.”

I could now recall how I knew the name of it. There had been almost a full page piece in the paper earlier that week. The Devil’s Inn, as it had been re-named, had been many things in it’s time. A plantation, A home. A restaurant. It wasn’t the suicide of the man that had owned it that gave it it’s reputation. It was what happened after the place shut down , that still shook everyone who talked about it.

“And they’re looking for people?”

Lana nodded quietly, taking a sip of her bottled water. She hiccuped and replaced the lid. I took a moment to myself, wondering how bad it all had been.

“Yep,” she finished. “Deadlines tomorrow, honey. Ask for either Don, or Remi. Don’s a friend, but his boy is the one that owns and runs the place. “

I took a scrap piece of paper from my purse and scribbled the names on it. Holly pulled Lana off to the side as I was helping Jada back into her car seat. I watched the two other women talking, and walking around the side of the building. They had been gone only a moment when Holly had emerged. She waved to me as she crossed the asphalt, waving money in the air above her head. We both hopped in, she turned on the engine.

“Tell ya what,”she said in an uneasy tone of voice. “I’ll drive you up there. But, ou have to fill the thing out right then. It’s too hot out here today, and I don’t wanna have to come back out today.”

I hugged her around the neck. Holly had been more help in the short time I’d been here, than most people had in years. I’d also first heard about the Devil’s Inn from her. Last year sometime. Only of rumors of goings on. Live snakes and spiders freely crawling around on floor, hanging from the ceilings. Of how one woman, around the same age as I was, had to be taken to the local hospital for shock. Another was a story of a room, that closed in on you. And if you didn’t make it out before the walls closed, you were stuck. However, the more she would tell me about it, the more about it I wanted to know. The more I wanted to find out for myself. Horror movies and haunted houses, were my niche’. Of course, I was like a kid at Christmas. I could barely wait to get a look at the place, and learn if the most vicious rumors about it were true. If this “incident” really did happen.

“MORGAN! Wake up, dude.”

I shook the fogginess out of my head and squinted against the earl evening sun that was trying to set behind the trees. I gawked at the seemingly abandoned and overgrown parking lot. Weeds and wildflowers of all types were pushing up through the cracks and breaks in the pavement. High standing, dead, grass bordered all of one side of the main house. Busted parking barriers on the farthest end. I forced my attention to her and smiled bravely.

“Sorry.” I laughed, lighting a menthol in my mouth. She shook her head, looking back to the sleeping child in the back seat. her little head was hanging to the side. I held my breath and stepped out of the passenger’s side of the Impala. The farther away I moved from the car, the more closely I watched the entire place. Everything about it screamed at me to go back to the car. To stop where I was.

“Fuck you,” I mumbled, staring it down. I flinched as a bit of the smoke floated into my eyes. This place wasn’t going to scare me. It would be pointless for me to be. Even if I was trembling as I looked over the few outer buildings. All fairly small in size. All the same faded and chipped shade of pale yellow. Pieces of the original siding had fallen to the ground. Gathering to the dirt and sidewalk below. The main building, however, had a personality all it’s own. I could almost hear a voice, speaking from behind one of those windows. Like I was being sized up. I had noticed several things at that time. Things about this house, and the scattered tools and props all around it.

First, was the unmistakable sight of two old tractor trailers. Their rusted bodies sitting off in a corner. They’d once belonged to a pair of eighteen wheelers. Now, they were pushed far on to the other side of the lot, close to the treeline and thorn bushes. The ominous screeching of one door startled me as it swayed carelessly back and forth. If there had been even a hint of wind or breeze, I could have played off an excuse. But there was nothing. Not even a single bird chirping in the blue skies above.

Secondly, the busted sidewalk that wrapped all around the back of the main house, past rotting trees and loose brick. It’s rough, concrete, arms, snaking all out to the farther buildings.

Finally, The fact that not only was the wind not blowing, but there wasn’t a soul in sight. Human or otherwise. Not even the crows that would’ve completed this macabre picture. I noticed that there were two pick up trucks out back. The driver’s door of the newest one hung wide open. Like it was waiting for it’s owner to return at any time. Then, there was the clunker of the old truck. Parked at an odd angle at the back corner of the dead and dried lawn. But, A real, live, person to talk to? Nope. Not here.

I took in a long breath, trying to not to think of the worst scenario. Me, alone, in the back lot of an abandoned restaurant. I quickly made up my mind to go back to the car. Almost made it too, when I caught a man coming down the peaked roof out of the corner of my eye. There was a sort of deep mischief in his smile as he walked over to greet me. I smoothed down my hair and forced my steps closer, returning my most polite smile.

“H-Hi,” I muttered, suddenly aware of an unusual nervous feeling. I blushed, realizing how scared I sounded. Good thing. Because I was really worried about this place. He watched me, and his grin widened.

“Let me guess,” he drawled in that slow, southern accent. “You’re looking for an application for the Inn. right?”

I nodded uneasily, then forced myself into a more serious manner of acting. He wiped his grease smudged hands on the back of his jeans and chuckled.

“I do,” I choked. ” I’m sorry, but I’d rather talk to the owner about it. Or the guy in charge.”

Without missing a single beat, or grin, he reached for his phone, not even acting as though he cared about my rudeness. I took a look back towards the car. Holly and Jada pranced around the car, listening to the radio. Farm boy watched me intently, speaking in a low tone to someone on the other end. Telling them that a woman was out front wanting to speak with them. I turned my attention to the backside of the house. To the old trailers, to the open truck door. To anything that would keep my mind off of the bad thoughts I was having. The worker pointed off in the distance to a taller man that was walking towards us. The closer he came, the more I noticed something about the way he walked. It was calming, somehow. Like the way he moved and acted was relaxing me. Lulling me into a serene state of mind. His hair was close cut. dark in color. From between my thighs, I felt a tingling sensation. And it only got worse as he reached out to shake my hand.I couldn’t help but to think someone watched us. amused at how immature I was acting around this man. He snickered.

“Hey,” he sighed, sounding out of breath.

I-I didn’t interrupt you did I?” I finally squeaked. He laughed and shook his head, saying that he’d only been working on one of the inner rooms. My pulse was going crazy. Almost painful. Maybe it was the notorious reputation of the Inn. Maybe it was the feeling I had in my stomach about this whole thing. Then again, maybe I was just losing my damned mind due to lack of sleep and sex. Yeah. That had to be it.

“So, what can I do for you?”

“I was wondering if I could still apply for work here. I mean I know it’s only going to be temporary.”

“But you really need the work?”

I nodded and wondered how many other people had given him that same story only to quit after a few short nights. He smiled, and I could’nt stop imagining things about him. About the place. Fantasizing about the two of us inside one of the old rooms. Alone.He smiled, sifting through a folder he held in his hand. In a second, he handed me a set of stapled papers.

“Here ya go. Did you wanna take it home? Bring it back later?”

“I was actually hoping to fill it out now. Is there somewhere I can sit down?”

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