A Twist of Fate

May 29, 2008
By Rachel Babiak, Menomonee Falls, WI

“Abigail, please. As soon as I find a motel, I’m going to pull over and we’ll get you to a bed. I just need you to calm down,” I said, trying to ease my four-year-old daughter in the backseat. She had been kicking and screaming for the past twenty minutes and I was about to go insane. We were on our way to my mom’s house so she could see Abigail before I had to take her back to her father’s house. It had been a long night in the car, especially with the torrential downpour going on outside. My windshield wipers were on the highest speed and it was still a nightmare trying to see.

I pulled into the first motel parking lot that I came across. The place was a mess, even from the outside. There were shingles missing from the roof, shutters were hanging off of their hinges, and it looked like it hadn’t been painted since 1960. Usually I would’ve looked for something a little less trashy, but I was in a dire situation. Anyone with a cranky four-year-old would know what I’m talking about. I got Abigail out of the car and we headed inside to the motel office to get a room. There was an older man sitting at the front desk chewing on a toothpick. He was staring at his television, which happened to be set on a channel that was all static. I found it to be very strange. A normal person wouldn’t do a thing like that. He took his eyes away from the television for a moment and looked up at me.

“Evenin’ ma’am. How can I help y’all tonight?”

“We just need a room for the night. It doesn’t have to be anything too spectacular, I just need to get her to bed,” I said, pointing to Abigail, who had finally calmed down to a reasonable level. To be honest, the guy was kind of creeping me out, so I tried to make the conversation short and sweet.

“All right there, little Missy, I got just what you need,” he replied. He handed me a key to room seven and marked me down in his papers. “Y’all need to be checked out by noon tomorrow,” he called to us as we were walking out the door.

Room seven. What good things can I say about room seven? As soon as I walked in the door, I saw everything the room had to offer. There was a queen-sized bed in the center of the room and a TV across from it. The TV was small and only had one channel, which happened to be the local cable access station. Watching a bunch of fourth graders sing their holiday concert from two years ago was not my idea of quality entertainment. The bathroom seemed to be the same size as the closet, small and confined. The bathtub was covered in mildew and I decided that it would probably be best not to use it. Who knows the last time that thing was cleaned. Apparently this motel didn’t believe in housekeeping. The overall décor of the room looked like it was straight out of my grandmother’s living room, dark and patterned everywhere.

After settling in, I put Abigail to sleep and I dozed off sometime during “Jingle Bells.” When I awoke, the lights and television were off. I turned over to check on Abigail, but she was gone. After checking of the bathroom and closet without turning up anything, I started to panic. Where could she have gone? She wasn’t tall enough to reach the locks on the door, so she wouldn’t have been able to get outside by herself. Somebody must have taken her.

I tried turning on the lights so I could find my cell phone, but nothing happened. The storm must have knocked out the power. I put on my shoes and decided that I needed to go out and look for her. I walked down the narrow path to the main building. The rain dripping from the roof made it hard to tell if someone was following me or not. I kept my eyes open for a little girl wandering around in the cold rain, but it was coming down so hard that I couldn’t see anything. When I got to the main building, the lights were out and the door was unlocked.

“Hello? Is anybody in here? Abby?” No one answered my calls. The man was nowhere to be found, so I decided to look around. I went behind the desk into his living area to see if she was lying on a couch or playing with something. A four-year-old can get into anything, especially something that isn’t hers. I opened a big trunk that could’ve resembled a toy chest and gasped at what I found. Inside were chains, hunting knives, and a couple of rifles. Underneath these items of terror, I found a worn picture that was about to fall apart. It showed an older-looking couple, lying on a bed covered in blood. I panicked, closed the trunk, took one last look around for Abigail, and ran out of there as fast as I could. I ran back to room seven to look for my cell phone so that I could call the local police. I walked in the already opened door and realized that I was in real danger. All of our belongings were thrown on the floor in disarray. Then I realized that whoever was going through my things was still in the room, but didn’t hear me enter. I broke the antenna off of the TV and got ready to strike. There was a younger-looking man going through one of my suitcases.

“Move another inch and I’ll jab you ‘til you’re bloody,” I screamed at him.

“Whoa, whoa. I’m just looking for a cell phone. I was walking to the front desk, but your room was open and…”

“And you figured you could just waltz right in and go through my stuff?” I snapped back at him.

“Listen, there’s a little girl who wandered to my room and I’m assuming she came from one of these rooms. I didn’t see anyone else around here, so I was going to call the cops to report her missing.”

“Little girl? Is she a little blonde girl with pigtails?” He nodded. “That’s my Abigail! Where is she?”

“Don’t worry, she’s safe. My room is locked and I’ve only been gone a couple minutes. She seems a bit shaken up, but she didn’t look hurt.”

“Take me back to your room so I can get Abigail and we can get the hell out of here. The guy who runs this place is a psycho. He’s got weapons and a picture of a dead couple in his office and I don’t plan on becoming his next victim.”

I gathered the most important items that I could carry with me and then we ran out of my room towards his. I was constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure we weren’t being followed. When we got to his room, he unlocked the door and Abigail was sitting on the bed, huddled in a blanket. I ran to her and hugged her close.

“Oh Abby, you had me so worried. I thought I might’ve lost you,” I whispered through my tears. I grabbed Abigail and the three of us ran towards my car. We were finally in the clear and ready to make our escape. I turned on my lights and the man from the front desk was staring back at us, standing in the rain. He had a hatchet in his hand and started running towards us with murder in his eyes. I slammed down on the gas pedal and went straight for him.

“Abby, close your eyes hunny.” I hit him full speed and he flew over the hood of my car and laid motionless behind us as we sped off into the night.

The announcement made over the loudspeaker hit me like a brick wall, “The four-o-clock flight to San Francisco has been cancelled due to poor weather conditions.” I had a flight to catch for my business meeting the next day and it was crucial that I was on time. I lived in Reno so it was roughly 190 miles to get to San Francisco where my meeting was. I could either risk it and wait for the flight or drive all night and make it there by morning. Since I had to prove myself at my new job, I decided to drive.

The drive started out fine. I had plenty of time to stop for meals and make it to San Francisco with time to spare for a quick nap. I thought my luck was starting to turn. Until, that is, the rain started. It rained so hard I thought a hurricane was coming. My small sports car was no match for the gusting winds and heavy rain droplets. I decided that I needed to pull over somewhere until the rain subsided.

The first place that came up was a dumpy-looking motel out in the middle of nowhere. I figured it would be the only one for miles, so I pulled into the parking lot and ran inside to the front desk. There was an older man at the desk, going through what looked like an old photo album.

“Hey there son, looks like it’s coming down pretty hard out there,” he said, quickly shutting the album and putting it out of sight.

“Yeah, it’s pretty bad. I was wondering if I could get a room for the night. I might not even spend the whole night, but I’m not sure how long this rain’s going to last.”

He gave me a key to room ten and I went to go check the place out. It was pretty dark and dank, but I had things to keep me occupied until the rain died down. I pulled out my laptop and went over my business meeting presentation so I could at least get something done that was productive. Things weren’t turning out in my favor yet again because the power went out as soon as I started going over my work. There were no motel phones and my cell phone battery was dead from the calls I had made earlier trying to figure out what I was going to do about my cancelled flight.

About fifteen minutes went by when I heard faint crying outside my door. I got up hesitantly and opened the door to find a small blonde child soaked from the rain and her tears. I asked her a series of questions, but she wouldn’t speak. She wouldn’t tell me where she came from, who she was with, or what happened to her. I decided that I needed to find someone who could help. I tucked her into my bed and went to investigate, locking my door behind me.

I walked down the hallway of rooms and noticed that room seven was open. I went inside, but no one was there. I figured that somebody would eventually come back, but I took it upon myself to start looking for a cell phone to call the cops to report what happened with the little girl. If the girl’s family went somewhere or were looking for her, the cops could help a lot better than I could. All of a sudden there was a woman behind me trying to kill me with the TV antenna. She asked me why I was going through her things and she sounded scared. She told me the owner of the motel was some murderous creep and she found a picture of a dead couple in his things. That’s when I thought about the photo album he was looking at when I walked in the motel. When I told her about the little girl that came to my door, she said it was her daughter and I took her back to my room so they could be reunited and we could get somewhere safe.

Once we got the girl, we gathered into the woman’s car and decided to drive to the nearest town and get some help. I figured my car would still be no match in the gusting winds and rain, so I could come back for it when everything was straightened out. Once she turned on her lights, the guy from the front desk was standing in the rain, looking right at us. He didn’t seem like a murderer when I asked for a room, but apparently I thought wrong. He started coming towards us, but the lady floored the gas pedal and plowed him down. It was something straight out of a horror movie. The little girl was crying in the backseat, but we kept driving until the motel was just a speck in the rearview mirror.

I sighed, watching my pathetic little television sitting on my desk. Being in the middle of nowhere didn’t help when it came to television reception. I spent most of my nights staring at the constant static. It entertained me though. My mind would wander off into a state of nothing and the time would fly by until my next customer came. Dealing with customers was the reason I kept my motel open. There were plenty of different people that came in, but they all ended up the same way. My last guests were a couple from Arizona that had car trouble on their way to a fabulous vacation to Los Angeles. It’s a shame they didn’t make it there.

That night was one of my better nights. I gave them room seven, the room that I usually give most of my easy targets. Around 2:00AM, I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer. I went into my treasure chest of tools that I keep for these occasions and grabbed my hacksaw. Hearing the screams always made me feel very serene. There were many noises that filled the room that night: the screaming, the sawing, the spilling of blood…

My flashback subsided and I entered real life once again when the door opened and a woman and daughter walked towards me. The little girl’s face was red from crying, but otherwise she looked like a typical child. Her blonde hair was tied into pigtails, a favorite among young moms I’ve noticed. She was wearing a shirt that said “I Love Grandma” and had a blanket in her hand that was dragging along the floor. The woman looked agitated, but tired. The woman made it seem like they were going to go to bed as soon as they checked in, so I starting thinking of ideas in my head as to what I was going to do to them. I could do away with them just like the last couple, but I wanted to do something a little less predictable, and a little more exciting. I gave them their key to room seven and started hatching up a plan.

My planning came to a sudden halt when a young man entered the motel. He was soaked from the rain and was carrying a suitcase. He asked for a room, but mentioned that he might not be staying the whole night. That meant I had to move quickly if I wanted to get everything done. I gave him his room key and went to gather my supplies.

I walked down the narrow walkway to room seven. With my hatchet in one hand and my master key in the other, I felt a surge of power go through me. It had been a while since I had last done this, but I thought I had all the basics covered. Until, that is, the motel power went out. The walkway and outside lights went out and I started to get a little hesitant. My vision wasn’t the greatest in the dark and this put me at a slight disadvantage.

I unlocked room seven and walked inside. I could only make out a few things, one of them being a blonde head walking back from the bathroom. I ran over to her and grabbed her so she wouldn’t scream, but she bit my hand and ran out the door. The bite sank deep in my hand. I could feel the blood dripping onto the floor and decided to head back to my office and get a bandage. The little girl wouldn’t get far without her mother telling her where to go.

I was in my bathroom washing out my cut when I heard the woman’s voice outside the door. She was in my office, calling out the girl’s name. She must have found my tools because I heard her scream and then run off. I quickly bandaged myself up, grabbed my hatchet, and went looking for them.

When I got outside, I heard the woman start up her car. When she turned on her headlights, I was standing in front of her car, trying to come up with a quick plan. The young man was in the car with them and this was my last chance to get them before they got away. Unfortunately, my mind didn’t think fast enough. What seemed like minutes was only half a second. She struck me with the car and I flipped over it, landing face-first on the ground.

A white light came over me, and then faded to black.

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