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Gothic Beauty Magazine

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Willow Creek Chapter 5

A bubble appeared on the surface of the blood in the bathtub, the only movement in the now- still bathroom. The puddle of water, now cooling, covered the whole of the hotel room floor, an inch deep. It stopped at the base of the door, caught by the slight difference in levels between the room and the hall. From outside, no one would know anything was amiss.
Another bubble appeared, quickly followed by another. The blood dried on the walls, now. The dead woman still lay; face down in her own blood- one arm hanging out of the tub, her slashed wrist occasionally dripping blood into the water- lazily, as if relaxing in the heat. Suddenly, Anna pulled herself up out of the blood. The crash of sound fell over the silent hotel like a lightning strike. Every being in the building sat up and paid attention. Anna gasped for air, her hands at her throat. She pushed the dead woman off her body- and she popped out of the tub, sliding down onto the floor with a splash and current of red following her. The woman was stiffening, now- her arms held at odd angles, as if she were posing for some sick picture. One leg lay behind the other, crooked, at an odd angle. Anna’s whole body shook, and she used the sides of the tub to pull herself up and out of the cold, coagulating blood. She put weight on her injured ankle as she stepped out- and fell once more, on top of the dead woman. A smell similar to rotten fruit met her as her weight came down on the woman’s slightly bloated stomach.
Anna gagged, pulling herself up again, using the edge of the sink and the tissue holder to pull herself past the woman. She was coated in blood- soaked in it, down to her soul- and suddenly, she had to stop. She coughed uncontrollably, sliding down to the floor beside the toilet. Suddenly, a great river of red came up- she vomited the contents of her stomach. Her whole body tingled as she pulled herself along the floor, reaching up to open the door. She gasped and gasped, her body shuddering with each breath. She pushed it open and pulled herself along- trying to get away from the dead woman, afraid to be too close. Suddenly, hands came down around her waist. Anna screamed, lashing out. “Miss!” a voice commanded, coming as if from far away. “Please calm down!’ but Anna couldn’t calm down. Her body tingled, sharp knives piercing every bit of skin. Her breathing came short- and her arms, her arms ached. They screamed with pain with every single movement. She crossed them over her chest, shivering with the intense cold that suddenly over took her. Her vision blurring, she looked up at the man who had grabbed her. He was in a suit, immaculate- his hair parted perfectly. His buttonhole had a rose in it. She gasped for air, unable to get enough. Suddenly, her weight went onto her injured ankle again- and she fell heavily onto the bed, collapsing onto the soft mattress. The man sat down beside her, grabbing her around the face. His mouth was moving- but she couldn’t hear. The cold got worse- blooming up from insider her- somehow bypassing her chest, which burned hot enough to make her faint. The intense pain crippled her, deafened her- his mouth was moving again, or was it? Huge black dots began to swallow up the visible world, spreading over his face, the walls, the ceiling- until all she could see was black. Confused, she reached her hands up to touch- but felt nothing. She couldn’t even feel her arms move. Slowly, her body relaxed back on to the mattress- it was so heavy, she couldn’t hold it up anymore- she didn’t have the strength. Slowly, she felt herself lifting up and out of it. It felt wrong, to be detached- but it was impossible to stay. Suddenly, she felt it fall away; and she rose up onto her feet, turning back to see the man sitting there, staring at her where she stood; still cradling her dead body.
“Welcome to Willow Creek,” he said, his eyes wide. She screamed, pressing her hands to her face. Or did she have a face anymore? She felt completely out of proportion- as if there were no ties to bind her, nothing holding her together but her own iron will. She reached out to touch her now- dead living face, but the man held out his hands to her. “You don’t want to do that.” He said a warning look in his eyes. “You don’t wanna get sucked back in.” confused, she looked from her body, to the bathroom, and back to the man. “Yes I do! I want to live!” but the man shook his head again. “You won’t live; you’ll be trapped in a sack of rotting meat. You don’t know how painful that is.” Swiftly, he picked up her dead body. “Wait here.” He said curtly, striding through the open door, slamming it shut behind him. Upset, she chased him through the door into the hallway. “Where are you going?” she demanded, following closely behind him. As she spoke, a man’s head promptly popped out of the wall beside her. She screamed, and for a second, she seemed to be made of snow- as if she was a black and white buzzing mass and not a person at all. She snapped back to existence, grabbing onto the man in the suit’s arm for support. The man’s head grinned at her, three sets of sharp teeth showing. “Quit it, Andrew.” The man in the suit said, carrying on down the hallway. “Sorry.” A little boy’s voice emanated from the head’s mouth, and it disappeared back into its room. Unnerved, she stood there for a minute, staring at the spot where the head had been. The sound of another door slamming caught her attention. Turning towards the man in the suit again, she saw him disappear along a corridor behind a glass paneled door. “Hey!” she ran down the hallway, expecting to be able to run through this, too; but she bounced off this time, falling onto the floor. “It’s granite.” The little boy’s voice came again, this time from behind her, and she turned to find a dark little boy- his pale grey skin standing out against the peach and cream of the walls. “What does that have to do with anything?” she asked, getting slowly to her feet. As she stood, he lifted his chin, his eyes fixed on hers; and as the light flooded into his face, his eyes suddenly glinted blood red- as hard and certain as steel. “Granite gives energy, granite blocks energy.” He shrugged, turning his back on her. “We’re energy.” He walked down the hallway again, heading for the room he had popped his head out of. “Wait!” Anna ran after him, trying to keep him in sight. “What was that thing that stuck its head out of the wall?” He stopped suddenly, turning back to give her a scathing look. “It was me,” he said, rubbing his sleeve on the end of his nose. “And I’m not a thing.” Anna backpedaled, afraid of offending him- although she didn’t know why. “Well I can see that, you’re a person, but I-” “look.” He cut her off, tilting his head to the side. “I’m a demon. My sister is a demon. Pretty much everyone in this hotel, is a demon. Except for you and the man in the suit.” He smiled at her, as if this explained everything, and turned once more to go into his room. “Wait!” she called, but his door slammed shut in her face. She stood still for a moment, staring at the door. “Excuse me; a voice came from the lobby. Turning, she saw a middle-aged woman standing there- her spotless white dress long enough to just skim the ground. “You’re very loud. We like things quiet here.” The woman said, folding and unfolding her hands- as if stressed. “And where exactly is here? Anna asked, walking down the hallway towards her. The woman smiled, moving aside to let her pass. “It’s a haven here.” She said, her arms pressed tightly against her stomach- her fingers moving, always, against the fabric of her dress- stroking, smoothing, correcting- as if she could stand nothing out of place. “Okay,” Anna said, careful to keep her tone respectful. “But where is here?” “It’s not a where,” the woman answered, motioning for Anna to sit down in one of the waiting chairs. She sat down herself- smoothing out her dress as she did, arranging it so it sat just so- as if she were posing, constantly, for a picture. “It’s more a matter of when.” She said, smiling at Anna’s confusion. “By the way, I’m Veronica.” She held out a satin gloved hand. Uncertain whether she was really allowed to touch it, Anna shook her hand. “I like your dress,” she said, telling the truth. It looked expensive. “Oh, thank you.” Veronica’s perfect teeth flashed for a second. “I’m just waiting for Peter, we’re going into town.” She said, looking down the hallway. “Is that your husband?” she asked, sitting up straight at the mention of civilization. “Yes,” she said, glancing sideways at Anna. “We’re going down the street to a play.” She looked once more down the hallway. Her hopes of finding the way out dashed, Anna slouched down again. “Oh, here he comes.” She said, standing up quickly, adjusting her dress. “Hey, Bonnie.” A man strode around the corner, dressed in an old-style suit, his hair smoothed back. In his hands he held a pure white fur coat. “I couldn’t find your stole.” He said, holding up the coat. “Will this work?” “Yes, it’ll do.” She said, taking it out of his hand. She slipped it on carefully, avoiding crushing the perfect beadwork that laced the neck edge of the dress. He held out his arm, and she took it, her clutch held in the other perfectly gloved hand. “Hey!” Anna said suddenly, breaking the ritual. “You said you’re going down the street.” She said, raking her nails along her leg nervously. “Can you show me the way out of the building?” “Of course!” Veronica said, grinning widely. Peter coughed nervously, looking towards the granite door. “you just push the button.” Veronica reached out and pressed a small, nearly hidden red button on the wall. The door swung open, coming to rest at a perfect ninety degree angle. Anna stared, her words lost. “have a good night!’ Veronica gave one more blinding smile, and as abruptly as she had arrived, the couple disappeared, only two steps away from the threshold. “are you going for a walk?” the little boy’s voice came from behind her. She turned, her words catching in her throat for a moment- there, hulking over her in the cold light of the lobby, was something that resembled a black praying mantis, except for the boy’s head, which sat on top of the thing, staring down at her with his glinting red eyes. “I’m leaving.” She stammered, leaning back to look into his eyes. He grinned, leaning down a little closer. “take me with you!” he announced brightly, excitement lighting up his face. “are you supposed to… to leave?” she asked, looking towards the granite door. His smile faded, replaced by a sullen stubbornness. “are you?” he shot back, the grin hitching itself back up onto his face. Anna looked towards the granite door again, uncertainty swirling in the pit of her stomach. Footsteps echoed suddenly in the hallway behind it. “he’s coming back!” Andrew hissed, shrinking suddenly down to his regular size. “come on!” Anna grabbed his hand, shocked by the cold of it. She pulled him along behind her, marching out of the door. She expected the sodden, sullen heat that had been present in the building to disappear- but it remained, as if soaked into her skin, even as they walked further and further away from the building- looking like a mother, walking her child after dark, his hand held tightly in hers.