Tommy - Room 229 (pt. 1)

There was a knock at the door. Then there was a bit more than a knock. The door pounded as if someone was trying to kick a hole in it. My eyes widened as I pounced up out of bed. A few quick blows shot to the top part of the door right before a voice ripped through it. 'Let me in!' screamed what sounded like a middle-aged man through the thick wood. His demanding voice was trembling itself around fear with a hint of plea. The latter was better heard in his next, and, as far as I know, his last string of words. A 'please' slid down the door. I imagined a bony, leather-skinned old man, sitting on a street corner with his elbows on his knees, as his back and spirit slouched in a parallel unison. I perceived him looking up at me, begging me in desperation for change to buy some food.

I took a few quick steps toward the door before my roommate stopped me. He was sitting up slightly in bed with an annoyed expression that read: Why am I awake? He simply stated in a just-kinda-woke-up mumble 'It’s prolly jus’ Joe.' My mind changed, it wasn’t a helpless spirit, per se, he was just our co-worker and drunk, like usual.

However, nothing, no logical thought process could have enabled me to explain the next sound. I still have trouble with it. The sound grabbed me from inside, twisted my stomach as my nerves turned to goose bumps and stood the hair on the back of my neck straight up. The noise radiated from the bottom of the door. It sounded like someone kicked a soggy laundry bag against the door, kicked it a few more times and, suddenly, started clawing on the door. Very odd, I thought, as a slowly stumbled to the door. The sound continued. I looked out the peephole and saw nothing but the door to Room 231.

I was trying my best to look down both sides of the hallway to get a good glimpse. Suddenly, at the bottom of the convex image, I saw a quick movement. I heard a dragging sound and this is where the proverbial cat died. I stepped to the side, pressed my right foot about two feet from the door, turned the handle and slowly opened the door. I slid toward the gap and peered to the right as my eyes made their movement toward where the alleged laundry sack would have been. I gasped as I realized there was about a liter of blood all over the floor. Shocked, I slowly followed the trail to the left side of the hallway.

At this moment my roommate asked in a courageous but curious tone, 'What? What do you see?'

'…blood.' I quickly noticed a movement from my right. I pulled back into the room and planted my foot as someone slammed into the door at high speed. I painfully stopped the door with my foot. Though I was knocked slightly off balance, the door did not go any further than where my foot stood. The person in the hallway stabbed their arm in the room toward me. I leaned away and against the refrigerator. My chest was pounding. I kept pushing the door further closed and wedging it at every opportunity the flailing arm lent. This crazy person wasn’t stopping, slowing down, or showing any exhaustion.

This person had to be insane. He was hissing, mumbling grunting noises, and frantically swinging his arm at me. My mind raced as the adrenaline pumped through me. What if this were the killer? What if he was after me because he thought I saw it? Why did the blood trail run to the left when he came from the right? My thoughts were interrupted.

'Watch out!' I glanced between the door and Kyle, a few times, until I figured out what he was planning. He stood across the room, crouched like a runner before a race, swinging his arms slightly, and staring at the door almost to look through it. He huffed and puffed a couple of times and took off sprinting toward the door. As he built up speed and I thought to myself, Kyle is gonna slice that dude’s arm off. I turned my head away as Kyle slammed his shoulder and all his weight into the door. The hissing and mumbling had not stopped. It didn’t even pause or change tone. Yet, the arm stopped moving. It swung lifelessly down to this psychopath’s side.

I quickly tried to take advantage and push the crazy man away and shut the door. As I put my hand toward him I saw it's face lunging at me. It’s jaw was clicking as it constantly opened and shut. It’s skin was grey and shaded with a pus color and peeling all over. His eyes were glazed like marbles; however, his eyes, minus the bloodshot, were a jaundicing yellow. It was clothed in business attire and covered in blood. Its smell was engulfing. It smelled like rotten eggs. It bared its teeth quickly as I pushed the psychopath away, far enough to clear the door.

I slammed the door shut. Locked the latch up top the door and secured the dead bolt. Had there been thirty other locks on that door, I would have locked them as well. Kyle sat on his back against the wall across from me. He was rubbing his shoulder. My jaw was still hanging from the events in the past five minutes. He looked up at me and said, 'Well, my shoulder prolly ain’t as bad as that other guys.' Happy go lucky Kyle.

I swallowed my sigh as I nervously stuttered back, 'I-I th-hink you, um…he’s, ha, not gonna be using it…I think you, uh, severed his, ah, what-do-you, um, t-tendons…' I was still puzzled. I looked down at my hands and realized I had blood on them. I went to wash them. I stopped and turned to Kyle, 'It was a business man.'

Kyle looked back as he stood up. '…so?' Kyle never thought things through. That thought probably went right through his head, never stopping at logic.

Kyle was about my age, a couple months younger. He was shorter than me, though, bigger. He weighed approximately "one-hundred-and-ninety-seven pounds." That was that day. He said it every day. He was one of those fit freaks. He ate the same thing everyday. Did alternating workouts depending on what the fitness magazine he was currently reading featured. How could you eat the same thing every night? Chicken Breast, whole grain rice, beans and a salad. He was always doing sit-ups, push-ups, planks, squats and whatever other workout he would come across. He even bought a pull-up bar. I mean, we only spend a couple weeks on the road at a time for work. It was such a big deal for him and, yeah, he was pretty fit. He could probably hold his own in a fight, but there was something eerie about this situation.

I stepped out of the bathroom to see Kyle on the phone. 'Are you calling the police?' He hung the phone up without saying a word.

Kyle complacently looked over to me and stated, 'It’s busy.'

'What? 911 is busy?'


'How many times did you try?'

Kyle sighed. 'That was the third…'

I walked cautiously to the center of the room. As I scratched my head, I peered at the generic hotel phone and solicited a response from Kyle, 'Did you try on your cell?'

'Why would that make a difference?'

I didn’t have an answer. 'Why? Well...How could the emergency hotline service be busy?!' He just shrugged his shoulders. His body read how am I supposed to know but his face posed an oxymoronic expression broadcasting: I don’t care.

Kyle stood up and started changing out of his bedclothes. 'What are you doing,' I asked.

'Goin’ out.'

I thought he was nuts. 'What is this? Are you in a contest with the dude outside to see who is the craziest?'

Half way through pulling up his jeans, without stopping, Kyle looked up at me and said the stupidest thing I had heard in weeks, 'We can’t properly assess the situation from inside our hotel room.'

I felt my eyebrows drop in concern. 'I have assessed all I’ve needed to. It’s not safe outside the hotel room and there ain’t no way, in hell, I’m going there until I have some sign to show me otherwise! And I suggest you do the sa-'

My safety speech was interrupted by Kyle. 'You don’t have to go! But…I am going. Don’t try and talk me out of it, I’m not staying here.'

I sat on the bed and slowly fell backward to stare blankly at the ceiling. My soon to be ex-roommate gathered his essentials, keys, phone, wallet, and the two knives he kept with him. 'Those are goin’ to do a lot considering what had just happened,' not directing my speech to anyone in particular.

'Dude! You don't have to come along. Not like I asked you anyway. I’m not leaving for good, either. I’m gonna go see what’s up, and gather some info. That’s it. The cops should be here already. Maybe my statement could be of some use.'

That bothered me. The cops would knock on our door if they needed our statement and they surely would when you take into count that there is blood all over the hallway in front of our room. I looked over at Kyle without moving my head, 'Whatever, the cops would come to us. There’s only about a half gallon of blood all over in front of our door.'

'Look, I’m doing what I want! You’re not my daddy. And, I’m not gonna sit in here waiting because I’m too scared to leave my safe little room.'

'Whatever! You weren't holding th-th-that thing back! You don’t know how relentless and strong he was. Jus’ because you’re .Mister Strongman-Hero doesn’t mean-”

Kyle interrupted me 'Shut the fuck up! There are a lot of unknowns and, frankly, I don’t like unknowns. And, I do not appreciate you summing me up to some hero that blindly...you know what, I’m not gonna sit here and explain myself to you. People may need some help, or, this could be a sickness, a disease and I don’t wanna be quarantined, or…dude, you can stay here. You are a big boy that can handle yourself, right? I’ll be gone for a little while. If you’re here when I get back…Three knocks and a slap. Do what you want.' Kyle got up, walked to the door, and preceded to unlock it.

I leaned up and prepared myself for what might happen next. Kyle took a quick peek through the peephole and slowly opened the door, peered out, and leaned back in. He said the last words I would ever hear him say, 'Peace brah.' Then, Silence.

- Continue Reading (part 2)


Tommy - Room 229 (pt. 2)

- Part 1

Three and a half hours passed and there was no sign of Kyle. I moved back and forth from the bed to the peephole to the floor against the door and back again. I’m not a patient person by nature and this was no exception. I knew that with limited food supply and a growing curiosity, if nothing were to change, I would be venturing out myself. I kept trying 911 and flipping channels on the Television. The line was busy and the picture was snow. I tried calling a few people from my cell phone. No answers and the long distances numbers presented: We’re sorry the number you have dialed blah blah blah messages.

I felt confused, like I was late to a horror movie and no one in the audience would fill me it. Soon, I supposed, I would be a part of that horror film. I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and had the last glass of milk while plotting my next step, or steps. I walked to the window to take a look at nothing. The hotel was nestled just outside civilization on the edge of a heavily wooded area. The view outside my room reflected such.

I laid on my bed and let my mind wonder. What happened to Kyle? Why haven’t I heard any noises? From anywhere? Why is 911 busy? What is happening? Am I going to die in this hotel? A noise broke my concentration. It sounded like someone running down the hallway at full speed. I rolled out of bed and zoomed to the door. My eye closed in on the peephole, again, nothing. I was surrounded by nothing. Nothing outside and nothing inside. Yet, I was still afraid to leave my room.

I had fallen asleep. I’m not very clear as to when, but it was around 7:30 a.m. when I woke up. It only took a matter of moments for the memories of the previous night to flood my mind. The rancid smell, which had grown stronger, had helped. I had to leave. I walked over to the window again to get a look at nothing in the daylight. All I saw were trees. However, as I started to turn away, something caught my eye.

My car was scraped up on the passenger side. Even though my car was a piece of junk, it wasn’t green. Between the blemishes of missing paint and dents, there were obvious markings of green paint. Kyle’s green pickup was parked next to me if I remembered correctly. He must have left in an extreme hurry.

I walked into the bathroom to relieve myself but, when I flicked the light switch I didn’t receive the known response. The power was out. The little bit of food in the refrigerator was on its way to spoiling. The hotel phone was not working and my phone only had about a half a day’s charge. I knew I only had one option, to leave.

The thought of anything outside my safe hotel room seemed less frightening in the daylight and after some time had passed. I got dressed. I gathered my essentials and grabbed a granola bar. As I walked to the door, I remembered how Kyle snatched his knives up. I didn’t own any weapons. I toyed with the thought of how Kyle’s probably didn’t serve him much considering that bastard slammed into my car in a hurry to escape.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. My trembling hands unlocked the door. I grasped the handle with my sweaty palm and turned it. I felt my heart thump like a heavy bass drum. I clenched my teeth and swallowed my fear. I opened the door about two inches and slammed it back. My breathing was elevated and my hand was slightly trembling. I started again. I made it outside my door. It was eerily silent. I heard the door close behind me. I paused for a moment, and then headed down the hallway to the stairwell.


Neil - The Superstore

It was an overcast day. I found myself power-walking with a programmed sense of urgency through a superstore parking lot. There was a pillar of smoke off in the distance signaling a fire. There were people screaming, close by and from afar, but, like most by that time, I had learned to ignore it. The parking lot was full of cars by only a third and only half of those seemed to be recently attended. Some were still running, some were blocked in and some were damaged, mangled or stripped completely. Lifeless bodies inhabited a few vehicles, but even a partially devoured corpse in that landscape had become normality at this point.

There was a small amount of the living moving about the parking lot. To list a few, there was a mother with her children linked together with her hands, frantically stirring around; a man perched on his car with his head in his hands, lost in his own thoughts, perhaps from an event that had recently taken place; and a small girl standing between cars, misplaced and adrift, pungently hardened by this world and past the point of tears. She just stared straight into my eyes with lifeless intensity like she was not even there. People were begging for help from anyone walking by but, by that time, you viewed it much like you would someone flagging you down on a busy freeway for a ride. I had a mission.

As I began to approach the doorway into the store, a spot of sunlight commenced to break through the clouds and flooded the desolate parking lot with a mocking brightness. The doors were broken and jammed open. Shattered glass from the windows decorated the floor. The mega-store appeared to operate almost regularly, however there was no staff, no electricity, and no order. People were coming and going, arguing, acting as though no one else existed and foraging for food and supplies.

I stood in an open section of the store, between aisles and panned around for a moment or two. I was in search for a pair of cargo pants, some heavy boots and a backpack as well as a weapon or two. I would have found my direction by the sign lying on the floor although I was unsure as to which way the arrow meant to face. I resigned myself to believe that the clothing section was toward the left side of the store and the hunting section towards the back right. Naturally one would start with the weapons, yet, since the grocery section of the store was on my immediate right, I would go left and make my way to the back. Survival in this situation would state to stay clear of the masses and the majority of the people in the store were centered around the grocery portion.

One must always lend an open eye and an open ear. Too many fall victim to the fallacies of misconstrued security. It is the moment that one feels safe that I attribute as the contestant to survival. I have yet to hear a tale of one’s focus, standing in affirmation, portraying a contributing factor of a life-ending event, less, of course, the infamous dumb luck. Sometimes, it is just not in the cards. Keep focus, plan for escape at any moment and keep mindful of your goal. Always have a goal.

I was letting my mind run adrift as I made way past the register aisles to the far side of the massive shop. Though my mind was being set on the important topics of safety, I was lacking cautiousness. Thankfully a sound struck me before it was too late. It reminded me of what I would once discount as innocent as a man’s best friend passing time by gnawing on leftovers but this previously harmless sound became a staple of recognizing danger in present life. If you have yet to adapt to this sound as a signal for becoming stealthy, then you probably have be eliminated already.

The sound was emanating from one of the uninhabited register aisles. Teeth on bone, this is when you must take notice. One false move and you are prey. Everyone alive has become accustom to running, though it leaves distaste for even the most undignified. There is, however, always the option of fight. Still, fighting seems to bring hordes. We do not know why. We just know this to be true. Sometimes the hordes take days to amass but, for some reason, they come. If you dispose of one of the creatures, you must move, unless you incinerate it immediately. As always, your best bet is to go unseen, unheard and undetected.

We do believe that they can smell us. Some theorize that it is the unnatural smell that draws them such as soap, perfume, deodorant and detergent, amongst other things. Some consider it is just the life force that the demons seek to end. Radicals seek faith in the idea that they are here to take this essence of life from us due to envy. No matter the cause, steer clear.

I peered around the counter and to my relief it was actually a random canine chewing on a bone, what luck. I called to it quietly. The dog lifted its head and turned to look at me. It showed its teeth, picked up its bone and trotted off. Animals seemed to have changed. They never act the same anymore. It is almost as if they do not trust humans, even though they can sense a clear difference between us and the turned. Some dogs have stayed loyal to their owners, even in some cases after a transformation, but most had a personality change when the world went to shit. It is as if some sort of survival mode kicked in and took over.

I continued and crossed through the pharmacy area remembering to keep an open eye for any medicine that may still be lying about. I was not very optimistic because medicine, any kind, had become almost as much a currency as advanced weaponry. I may easily find a hunting knife, an axe or even a handgun, but I would be lucky to find a rifle or a shotgun in this store.

I finally made my way to the clothing department. There was hardly any organization left in the heap of linen. After some rummaging, I found a pair of cargo pants in my size. I slowly rose to perch atop a shelving unit for a moment to scope out the area around me for I knew that I may be temporarily putting my safety to inconvenience while I changed my clothes. I heard people faintly across the store and there seemed to be a commotion coming from the grocery side of the superstore but I could not see what it was about. However, I was now fueled by a sudden level of concern. I began to remove my shoes and take off my jeans. When I had gotten one leg off I, thankfully for some reason, looked up.

I found myself staring into the glossy eyes of one of the walkers. For a moment, I could not believe it. Out of all the people in this store and even the disturbance that lay across the building with obnoxious screams echoing from afar, I was the one looking at this creature. It stood about twenty paces away. I gulped as I fixated on its chest pumping up and down as if it were a living, breathing person. My heart started to race. I felt my hands trembling. The cargo pants that were primed to be slipped over my right foot slid from my hands and onto the floor. My eyes felt as if they were deceiving me. I was frozen in place. I was even unable to let out a gasp. It stood arched over, its arms dangling in front, feet a little more than shoulder width apart and mouth hanging wide open.

Time seemed to stand still. The monster was dressed in tattered clothing and poised like a lion ready to pounce but not for the moment. It looked like it used to be a middle-aged man. Short hair, light complexion and even looked to of had a pleasant face. It was positioned to gorge itself on my tender flesh. I was not about to let that happen. I tried to remind myself that it was just one, but focus seemingly slipped out of my current situation, I was down to my boxers, socks, an undershirt and with one foot still wrapped with my jeans. I was not in position to fight.

The rogue being started to click its jaw as if to taunt me. That sound, though heard before, sent shivers down my spine. I rather find myself against ten of these things in an open environment then in my current situation. I felt trapped. I had no escape route. This was one of those situations that you hear about; stories told in refuge, lessons taught through others’ mistakes. I was frightened. I would have to run.

After this monster was finished with its frightful pre-feeding ritual it rolled its shoulders back to a stance of attack. As it lifted its leading foot off the ground, I lifted mine and shook the remainder of my jeans off my foot. It darted toward me, I darted right, the direction that I had first entered the area. Unfortunately, any weapon or supplies I had were left laying on the floor behind me along with my jeans. With the pharmacy, again, in front of me, I took a sharp left.

I might as well of been ice skating. My sharp turn left, on a dusty tile floor, swept my feet right out from underneath me. I slid right into metal shelving at the end of the aisle. The corner met with my hipbone and I felt it tear into my skin however the adrenaline masked the pain pretty well but not well enough. In a flashing-sharp sting I hit the ground, on my knees and wincing in pain. My mind running laps about how I needed to get up and keep moving, but I was momentary paralysed.

The demon quickly decreased the gap between us by about half. Without any further hesitation, I leaped back onto my feet and began my slippery acceleration. I was lacking traction and moving very little compared to the amount of effort being supplied. I felt the presence of impending doom nipping at my feet, and I decided to make a daring maneuver. It had seemed to be my only option since this monster was at full acceleration, and I was lacking heavily on grip. I spun around and grabbed the shirt of the creature right about the center of its chest; then, twisting all my weight through the air and pivoting on my right heel, I used its momentum to swing the creature past me. In that moment I was far closer than anyone would ever wish to be. I was in shorter proximity than I had ever been to one of these vile renditions of man without a proper weapon. I was close enough to see the dim light from the skylights above reflecting off its cloudy eyes. I could even peer at the detail of its receding gum line as it decayed in its mouth. Its arms were waving frantically as if were one mere movement away from the salvation of its starvation, and it was, but to my dismay, the stunt worked out pretty well.

It is worth noting that these creatures have horrible motor functions, but, what they lack in balance and logic, most make it up with endurance, speed and strength. They can keep going and going, at full speed and strength. They never tire, never.

The monster tripped over its own feet and tumbled to the floor about ten paces away from me and slid a good five more feet while the whole time not seeming to notice how close it had been to its goal. As it quickly pulled itself off the ground, I took a moment to rip my socks off. I felt a thin stream of liquid run down my side from my hip to my knee, drop to the floor and splash on the side of my bare foot. It was blood, and I had just been reminded of the throbbing laceration on my hip. My senses were at an all-time high as fear had really began to seep past the overwhelming surge of adrenaline. I was engulfed with fantastic hope that the monster would get distracted by another victim, or that I could outrun it long enough to find a weapon or, at least, some sort of advantage. I took off with all force.

I felt my feet pounding the hard floor step after step as I made my way toward where I thought the hunting department to be. I heard stomping footsteps behind me. It drove me harder; I was afraid to look back. I kept going, pushing and striving. I felt my heart thumping in my chest, my breath in and out with every other stride. I sprinted through the toy section, past the kitchen and bedroom areas. As I passed through the hardware portion of the store, I thought about grabbing a hammer, but, one, I did not know how close my pursuer was and, two, you really do not want to get that close to those things. I believe I had already stretched my luck with my previous ploy. One bite is all it takes.

My guess was correct, and I finally reached the hunting department. I saw the glass, semi-circular display counter where they kept firearms. It still seemed so far away, like viewing a mirage from across a desert. I did not have enough time to stop or even to look and see if there was anything left. I decided to make a loop around the closest aisle. Keeping my speed as much as I could through the turn as I passed through the sporting goods section. I took a tight turn and started to make my way back to the display case. As I made my one-hundred and eighty degree turn, I heard a crashing behind me. My attacker probably lost control trying to take the turn at full speed. I imagined an indycar taking a turn too fast and slamming into a wall. Although, this time it would not burst into flames, the driver would just slam the gas pedal and keep going. However, I remember remaining pleased as that should buy me time.

I refocused on my goal. I sprinted to the display case and attempted a lunge over it. I landed on top, and my body weight cracked the glass on impact. I slid off into the area between, slamming violently shoulder first on the floor. My body was in no regard for injury at the moment. Rolling onto my side and then a knee, I punched my fist into the case reaching for first gun I saw. I was not only happy to find one but to grab ahold of it before I heard my predator approaching again. I darted out through the opening between the counter.

Again, I began to make my loop around one of the aisles bordering between the hunting department and sporting goods section. Once more, the monster took the turn too fast, and I gained some distance. Through my current lap I was able to identify that the weapon I was wielding looked to be a 9mm. When I approached the counter again, I only had time to see where the ammunition was kept.

Darting around the aisle for the third time I decided to make another daring feat for I was beginning to tire. I grabbed a baseball bat with my right hand and turned around in such a way to swing straight through the head of my pursuer. I connected with full force and the monster changed direction as it plummeted into the shelving, knocking various soccer balls, volleyballs, and basketballs all over. I fell on my back a slid a bit, watching the spectacle. Due to the fall, I had dropped my gun. Without hesitation, I jumped to my feet and made my way back toward the display case.

This time I was able to grab a box of ammo that seemed fit for my newly acquired handgun. This is when I realized that I helped slow down the monster, and it was able to make the turn faster than it had before, thus allowing it to accelerate out of it faster. I started my fourth lap around the aisle while trying to locate the weapon that I haphazardly dropped. After spotting it, I made a headfirst baseball slide; I grabbed the gun and jumped to my feet. I started running again. Only this time I had ran toward my attacker, evading with a quick side-step around it and darting straight through to the automotive department. The monster had to turn around, and this would buy me some more time to try to load the gun with ammunition. I was dropping most of the bullets on the floor, but I managed to load three or four. I slammed the magazine into the gun, stopped and turned around. At this point the monster was about twenty-five or so paces away from me. I grasped the gun with both hands and raised it to shoulder level in front of me. I gazed down the barrel with definitive accuracy and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. I pulled it again. I pressed the safety and tried again, nothing. The monster was almost at ten paces. I closed my eyes and I pulled the trigger again, again and again. Then I heard a deafening sound. My ears were ringing and the corpse was lying at my feet with a puddle of blood forming around its head. I finally had a moment to breathe. The moment struck me with a feeling of relief. Then I heard a voice behind me simply state, ‘you forgot to pull the slide.’