I just moved into a new apartment. There were a few spooky goings-on and it reminded of a time earlier this year when I drove down to San Antonio on business. I went last year as well and, before I left, I did my research on which hotel would be the best choice. After much deliberation and combing, I decided that the Days Inn two exits from my office building would be perfect. It had free internet and breakfast and that’s really all I could ever ask from life.
However, this year, the hotel seemed different. Of course, since my planning was so flawless last year, I felt no need to alter my sleeping arrangements, so I arrived at my Days Inn, only to be greeted by a very different feel. The sign in front read “Days Inn – San Antonio As Seen on Sci-Fi … Under New Management” I thought very little of it, since I had important issues on my mind—such as chicken bacon ranch subs and Batman—and I proceeded to park and enter the office.
Although the ambiance of the hotel felt different, it was nice. It had almost a touristy air about it. The staff was very relaxed and friendly with an odd sense of theater, as if they worked at a theme park or something instead. They reclined in the lobby eating ice cream on sticks until, having been alerted to my presence, they sprung up and got about their jobs. The front desk lady asked me about my trip and where I’m from and all of the usual banter as she took my debit card, gave me my key and told me my room number. I bade her “adios” and took off into the night to embrace my new temporary shelter.
As I approached my room, I felt an odd chill climb up my spine. I am usually terrified of sleeping in hotels alone, so I forced the feeling from my mind. I am, after all, a goddamn man, and I sauntered into my hotel room as confident as I cross most thresholds.
The room took me aback. The sheets on the bed looked like they had been tossed off as if someone just woke up. The furniture was moved around. The water was running in the bathroom. There were half-empty Dr. Pepper bottles all over the room. Assuming I had been given the key to someone else’s room, I immediately left and set off to rectify this mistake with the front desk.
I spoke to the front desk lady. “Ma’am, I do believe you gave me the key to an occupied room. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, might I be moved to a different room?”
“Of course, Sir! I am terribly sorry. Let me take a look.”
At the moment, some man ran over to her with an alarmed look on his face. He asked me, “Which room were you placed in?”
He turned to the girl. “You know better than to put a customer in that room.”
“I’m sorry, Boss, I guess I forgot. It was the last vacant room with a single bed.”
I said, “It wasn’t vacant, there was definitely someone there.”
“No, there was not. The room is not occupied. It is haunted.” He said with an ironic degree of candidness.
“DAFUQ!” I orated eloquently.
“Yes, haunted. Robert lives there. He is our resident phantom. He is why we are famous! He is always up to mischief.”
“Does Robert like Dr. Pepper?”
“Oh yes. Robert LOVES Dr. Pepper. We have bottles go missing from shipments ALL the time.”
“I’d like a different room, please.”
“You just can’t make people happy sometimes.”
Not having noticed the attendant’s snarkiness due to my processing the ectoplasmic data dump I had fallen victim to, I walked to my new room, which, much to my chagrin, was two doors down from Robert. If he saw fit, he could merrily skip over to my room, diffuse through the door and decorate my room with fear-induced excrement that would be rocketing from my heinie.
There was good news, however. Like the girl said, Robert’s room was the last vacant single room, so my new room had two beds. If Robert DID decide to sleep over, he would have his own bed. I’ll be damned before I play big spoon to a pernicious poltergeist.
So just recently, after waking up for the first night in my brand new place, I remembered hearing the door open to my bedroom during my slumber and I guess I had dismissed it and chalked it up to the air conditioner or something similarly innocuous. But when I opened the fridge to make a protein shake for my breakfast, I saw my box of coke zeroes had been turned upside down and there were cans everywhere and some stacked up in the door.
A jolt of fear went through me and I looked around the room. There was no place for someone to break in. The windows were closed; the door was locked. All of my valuables were still where they should be. And then I thought, dammit, Robert, I don't have any Dr. Pepper.
Thank you for reading.
Here’s the link to my new book and there is an excerpt below.
Here is my email – firstname.lastname@example.org
And my facebook author page. https://www.facebook.com/ForAHero?ref=hl
I’ve also included a little PG excerpt from my book – hope you enjoy it.
Flames licked every wall of the once-beautiful Victorian home. The fire danced and made every hue transform into a dark orange. David knew exactly what to do. He felt more comfortable in a fire than out of one. A loud crack sounded above his head as a support beam gave way. Its heavy descent ended abruptly in the sturdy, solid palm of David’s broad hand. He effortlessly tossed it aside and continued searching the house.
Between the crackling of the burn, David’s ears caught a strangled cough. A child. Probably a young girl. He could hear her in one of the bedrooms in the back hallway. He sturdied himself. His self-contained breathing apparatus allowed him to stand tall without the smoke filling his lungs. The muscles on his back hardened, preparing to support whatever burden he was called upon to bear.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” David didn’t want to waste time searching each room. He needed to know exactly where she was.
“I’m in my room,” a tiny voiced choked out through sobs of fear. David checked, but the door was jammed. The hinges may have warped or the walls become compressed together due to the fire eating away at the studs and ceiling. Fire can kill in so many ways.
“Step away from the door,” David shouted. With a mighty shove, he broke the door open quickly and cleanly. A lonesome young girl lay on her bed, clasping a teddy bear wearing a red ribbon, while fire ate the room around her.
“Are you ok, Sweetheart?” David asked gently. . He would have liked to stop and check her for injuries, but there just wasn’t time.
“I want my mommy. I am so scared.”
“It’s ok, Honey. I know where your mommy is. I am going to help her save you. Is it alright with you if I pick you up?”
The young lady nodded and held her arms into the air, one still holding tightly to the teddy. David gently lifted her to his chest, flexing his biceps until his arms were solid as oak. She was wrapped in armor.
David walked back the way he came, it was imperative that they leave the building as soon as possible. It might fall any moment.
The house creaked at David, warning him of the impending collapse. He lengthened his stride. She mustn’t know what danger she was in. David had made her safe now. That was his purpose.
He was too late. Just as the light of day could be seen through the front door, fire ate through the ceiling and it came crashing down, blocking their way with embrous debris. The scream of the child’s mother was muffled behind the mountain of white-hot wood, insulation and sheet rock, obstacles fire had placed in his way. Ceiling tile and a large wooden board clashed with David’s back. The plank snapped on his trapezius. He felt no pain. This was his job. However, the sound of the crash caused the child to bury her face in David’s chest. He hated her to be afraid while he held her.
He turned around. Homes like this always had another door. He marched through the kitchen, shielding the child from spark and flame. He found it. The side door. It stood near the cooking appliances and the danger of electric shock kept most of the emergency response team clear of the area. David, however, had no choice.
Without a hand to open the door, he stepped back to ready his kick.
“Hold on, Honey. We’re almost there. Protect Teddy.”
A wicked snap resounded through the house and the door flew through the air into the back yard. The breeze of freedom wrapped their bodies in cold and comfort.
From the front, the snap could be heard clearly. Police held on to the woman, her screams echoing down the street. The house trembled and cracked. With a belch of smoke, her home imploded into rubble.
“NOOO!! God, no!! My baby! Why did nobody get my baby?” She screamed accusatorially at the firemen and police who stood idly watching fire steal her world from her. The news reporters had nothing to say. The cameras just rolled on.
“The Fire Chief, David Conlon, was in the house, Ma’am. He went in after your daughter.”
“He went alone?!?! Why was he trying to save her alone!?!? Where are they?!?!”
The team hung their heads while the fire hose rained life-saving water down upon the house. It would be hours before the firemen and EMT’s could retrieve and transport the bodies from the smoldering ruins. Despite the ruckus, a silence stole the minds of the spectators between the sobs of the mother.
At that moment, bursting forth from the cloud of smoke and water and despair, an angel walked calmly into the street, a little doll cradled in its arms. A wave of cheer and celebration erupted from the crowd. Where once there was silence and sadness, joy and hope popped like fireworks.
David handed the baby to her mother. Tears of joy streamed down her face and she petted the little girl’s face with kisses. He peeled off his hat and mask. His black curly hair framed his face. The ash-blackened silhouette of his SCBA encircled his brilliantly blue eyes. She gasped at the beauty of the man that saved her only child.
“Thank you so much. You have no idea what you did for me today. You are my hero.” Her thankfulness welled up within her. This man was her savior. Without him, she would have said goodbye to her daughter instead of hugging her.
“Please don’t, Ma’am. It’s just my job.” David accepted the gratitude, but he did not bask in it. He did not do what he did for the “thanks.” He smiled a little smile at the woman and kissed the girl on the crown of her forehead.
Without an ounce of pride or boastfulness, he turned and walked away. The excitement faded. The police and rescue teams retreated. The mother took her child to start a new life elsewhere. Fire rested to attack another day, and David returned to his home alone. He cleansed himself of the ash, treated his wounds and waited for another chance to do the only thing on this Earth he knew how to do.