Forever Vacancy: A Colors in Darkness Anthology
A mysterious hotel… An enigmatic caretaker… Stay for a day… or for eternity
My Story: Karma Suture
Stephanie thinks the Kretcher Motel would be the perfect location for a horror movie. The Kretcher has other plans for her…
“No photography allowed.” The husky voice came from the tall woman behind the front desk. She polished the mahogany wood, pausing to admire her reflection.
“I’d just like to take a picture of the fountain,” Stephanie said. She was annoyed at herself for not noticing the clerk before.
Stephanie approached the desk, sizing up this new obstacle. Was this woman with warm, cinnamon-colored skin dressing too young or too old for her age? She imagined that the black head wrap concealed a tangled mass of unkempt curls. When the clerk tilted her head down to meet her gaze, the silver hoops lining her ears clashed and clinked against each other. Her eyes, black and pupil-less, revealed nothing.
Shaking off her discomfort, Stephanie focused on the woman’s t-shirt. “Dyke and The Blazers? Is that a movie?”
“Band. Way before your time.” The clerk’s smile had a touch of menace. “Can I help you?”
“My name is Stephanie Boston. I’m a location scout for Bombast Films.” She pulled a business card from her purse and motioned toward a door in the back. “May I speak to the manager?”
“You’re speaking to Sybline Kretcher. the owner.” She tapped the gold plate bearing her name.
“Is it possible for me to take a quick look at a couple of rooms, look around outside and take some pictures? Currently, we are producing a feature film and would like to consider the Kretcher for one of our sets.”
“Want a room? You have to pay for it.”
“Ms. Kretcher, I just need a few minutes.”
“Mmhmm. Get a room for a few minutes and call your boyfriend over to do your business. I know that scam. You want a room, you pay for the whole night.” She chuckled to herself. “Have as many friends over as you want.”
Rather than protest, Stephanie took note of the posted rates and took out her wallet. The misidentification amused her. When she got back to her real life, this was one of the stories she’d tell—how, despite her professional demeanor, the owner of a no-star motel thought she was a prostitute.
The reception had been more welcoming at the other motels she visited. Other managers had given her tours of the property. The men were eager to show off their southern charm to a Yankee.
Stephanie handed over cash and was presented with a guestbook. She signed it and received a silver key with the number 228 etched in it. Sybline leaned back, satisfied. “Elevator is to your right. Do enjoy your stay.”
While waiting for the elevator, Stephanie thought she could squeeze the front desk and the proprietor into a shot if she took a selfie. As she lifted her phone, Sybline appeared on screen directly behind her. She yelped and whirled around. Sybline was at the desk talking to another customer.
The elevator doors opened and Stephanie ran inside. The last picture taken was a blur of her palm.
What surprises are waiting for Stephanie in room 228?
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