(This starts the special horror story that will run all month. I will mention that I only did a quick read over for editing. If you haven’t read the first story Raven’s Hold and are curious then feel free to click on the link for the category. Hopefully the sequel entertains.)
Slipping his arm out from under the sleeping woman’s body, Carl rolls out of bed and searches for his underwear. Finding them in the bathroom, he tries to remember the drunken escapades that are slowly coming back to him. The sound of snoring causes him to peek around the corner at his companion who he recognizes as one of the waitresses from earlier. A smirk is on his face as he notices the shower curtain is on the floor, a casualty of passion that he is happy to pay for. Running a comb through his thinning hair, the businessman uses his other hand to touch the scratch marks on his chest. Stepping out of the bathroom, Carl finds himself unsure of who was the aggressive one in the one night relationship. Going to the balcony door, he takes in the sight of New York City and decides he does not care. After years of a bad marriage and a month of a brutal divorce, the idea that someone actually wants him for more than his wallet is enough to make him content.
“The wife and none of the others ever made me feel this way,” Carl whispers, not wanting to wake his new friend. Grabbing his cellphone, the man pads his way back into the bathroom and closes the door behind him. “Is this room service? This is Mr. Anders in suite 3069. I know it’s after midnight, but I was hoping to order some food and drink. Thank god I called now then. I would like a bottle of your most expensive bourbon, the fried calamari, two lobsters, a chocolate cake, and two cans of whipped cream. Hold on a second.”
The dripping of a faucet brings his attention to the sink and he moves the handles until the leak stops. A low groan from the wall causes him to jump before water dribbles out of the removable shower head. The lights flicker for a second while the building shakes, which Carl assumes is an effect from the subway that runs a few feet away from the basement. He had been warned by the owner that speeding trains can cause random quakes, but the sensation continues to put him on edge. A loud squawk from his phone reminds him about room service and he wipes the sweat from his brow.
“Sorry about that. I haven’t gotten used to the shaking,” Carl says, taking a seat on the toilet. He stares at a mural of vines and serpents on the wall, which has the effect of movement when the light strikes it perfectly. “No, I won’t be needing a wakeup call. My business is done so the rest of my trip is pleasure. Throw a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries onto my order. I don’t care about the cost. If I don’t spend my money then the ex-wife and her man-whore lawyer will find a way to get it. Oh, and please let the owner know that I’m very happy with Judy’s work ethic. She deserves a bonus or a raise or whatever waitresses get when people like me compliment them.”
Turning off the phone, Carl heads for the door and freezes when he hears a serpentine hiss from the wall. The sensation of scales against his exposed ankles makes him quickly sit onto the sink, but he is unable to stay up for very long. Crashing to the floor, he scrambles to his feet and grabs the toilet brush while searching for the snake. Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, Carl swings and hits the harmless picture. The sound repeats behind him and he whirls around to see a long shadow sticking out of the toilet. Holding his breath, the man sneaks forward a few steps before lunging to whack at the serpent that is trying to escape into the sewers. A surge of courage drives Carl to grab it by what he thinks is the tail and yank the beast free.
“What the hell is this?” he asks when he sees that the serpent is actually the waitress’s ripped pantyhose. The toilet makes a low hiss when he moves away, the flush sensor picking up his movements. “This is why I need to stay away from absinthe. Jimmy always said I couldn’t handle that stuff. Then again, he also said my ex-wife was a nice person. Guess nobody has perfect judgement.”
Returning to the bedroom, he is surprised to find that the waitress is still asleep in the messy bed. A wave of paranoia consumes his mind, so Carl tiptoes onto the bed and gingerly puts his fingers to her neck. The strong pulse puts him at ease while her hand grazing his crotch makes him lick his lips. Before he can kiss the slumbering girl, the man’s phone goes off and causes him to leap out of the bed. The waitress mumbles in her sleep and rolls over, the sheet nearly falling off her naked form. Muttering curses under his breath, Carl storms over to where he put his phone and puts it to his head. A second passes before he realizes that he needs to tap the screen, the force of his finger leaving an oily print.
“Swear this thing should have stopped ringing already. Hello?” snaps the irritated businessman before he notices that there is only heavy breathing on the other end. He is about to hang up when a violent cough and the clang of weights being dropped can be heard. “Is that you, Luther? What have I told you about calling while you’re working out? At least wait until you’re in the sauna because I always think you’re one of those creepy stalkers you see in the movies. I know I’m not a sexy teenage girl, so I shouldn’t worry. Speaking of hot, young women, I bagged the waitress from last night. What do you mean that’s crude? I’m sorry, but you weren’t any better. That was your wife you were making out with? Life is treating you very nicely if that’s the case. Fine, I apologize and I’ll pay for drinks at lunch. Guess I should get some real sleep since we have the breakfast meeting. Talk to you-”
Carl drops his phone when a high-pitched shriek and the clanging of metal erupts from the other side. Staring at the device, it takes him a minute to realize that room service is banging on his door. Casting a final glance at his companion, who is entirely exposed, he forgets his fear and hurries to get the food. Instead of a cart with his late night meal, Carl finds an empty hallway that is brightly lit by far too many lamps. Shielding his eyes, he looks down both ways while keeping his other hand on the door frame. The last thing he wants is to be locked out since he does not believe the waitress can be woken up by anything short of a grenade going off next to her. He grins at the thought of himself being the cause of his exhaustion, his chest puffing out with bloated pride.
Not seeing anything, he is about to go back inside when a strange haze on the opposite wall mesmerizes him. The effect stops him from noticing the entrance to his room is opening as far as it can. His attention locked on the swirling distortion on the wall, Carl is left screaming when the door to his room slams shut. All four of his fingers are on the floor and he stares at the damage, the nubs twitching and spurting. He stares at the blood dripping down the frame, his back to the disturbance that resembles the wall being pinched and pulled backwards. When the door opens again, Carl hurries to collect his fingers and tries to remember where the ice machine is on this floor.
Turning around, he stops in surprise at the bizarre effect on the wall before assuming it is a similar illusion to the vines and serpents. Dizzy from pain and what he believes is blood loss, the businessman tries to take a shaky step toward the elevator. With the sound of a snapping rubber band, the distortion expands to release a burst of hurricane force wind. Carl is launched back into his room and toward the balcony, the glass door opening to let him through. He sails over the railing and plummets toward the distant pool. Clutching his severed fingers and screaming, he prays that he is going to hit the water and one of the late night swimmers will save him from drowning. Most of Carl’s body hits the pool with a loud slap, but his head splatters against the wet bricks around the edge.
“Close the doors or I’m going to catch a cold,” the waitress mutters as she curls the sheets around her. On silent hinges, the two doors close and the front one locks itself with a gentle click. “Thank you, Carl. You’re such a gentleman.”