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Under The Blackend Sun

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It had been two months since Maria's suicide and things still had not changed. Everything still seemed to be filler in the mundane vacuum that my life had become, everything from a walk in the park, a baby sitting in it's stroller, or a simple sunny day. Even something that to most other individuals would be considered a nuisance, like a priceless family heirloom falling of it's shelf and exploding on impact with the ground would incur a sense of subconscience meloncholia, but they all seemed as meaningless as a fly on the wall. The noise of the front door closing behind me was the first glimpse of happieness I had felt in what seemed like forever. However, if I knew what I was to learn and see, I would have never set foot inside The Pemberton Hotel and witness those ungodly horrors under the blackend sun.

The Pemberton Hotel was, at one point or another, a sprawling Victorian estate along the coast, but after several renovations brought on by mother nature and the hands of man, had been transfromed into a luxury resort. As I walked through the door, I was surprised to see a line of guests at the concierge's desk extending clear to the front door. Men, women, and children alike talking happily, smiling, and holding hands. How I wish I could be like them again. After waiting my turn in line and telling the woman sitting behind the desk my name, a tall man with brown hair dressed almost entirely in black and grey walked behind the desk and warmly shook my hand.

"Hello, sir, wonderful to meet you, sir." He had a look on his face as if he had known me for years, although I had never seen him before in my life.

"I'm Benjamin Auburn and this is my wife, Sophia. We manage The Pemberton together." The two exchanged a kiss and Mr. Auburn led behind the desk and to his office while Sophia continued her work.

Mr. Auburn's office did not reflect his cheery personality. Both sides were covered in corpulent bookshelves, both having wheeled step ladders that reached clear to the very top of them. Taxidermied birds punctuated shelves which loomed over a massive glass window, the likes of which I had never seen before, a marvel of gothic architecture.

"You'll have to forgive me if I seem eager to meet you. I'm sorry about Maria." I jumped in my seat at the mention of my beloved's name. My body was practically shaking with shock.

"How do you know Maria?"

"I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean to surprise you. I saw her name mentioned in the newspaper and saw that you and her had the same last name, plus the look on your face was a dead give-away that something isn't right." I must admit that since Maria's death, phsycial appearence has been holding less and less value to me.

"How long have you and Sophia ran this place?" I inquirted quietly, looking at his collection of literature and stuffed animals.

"Sophia and I have been running this operation for about three years now. We don't have any children of our own, but we treat this place like our baby. Sometimes I wish we could run this place forever." He stood up and walked toward his window. "There's something therapeutic about watching the waves crashing in on the rocks and into the caves we have along the shore."

"You're right," I muttered quietly leaving my plush chair, located only a few feet away from Auburn's desk. "It seems to me though that the beach is hardly an appropriate place to go during monsoon season, daily thuderstorms and rain doesn't sound like a recipe for beach weather." A quite, mournful, yet profound hum passed from his closed lips. "Not to sound rude, but I'd like to go to my room now."

"Absolutely, sir, right away, sir!" It was as if the prior Mr. Auburn had never existed, just a strange dream. "Sophia should've found you an open room by now."

"Thank you." I tried desperatley to forget about that surreal expierence as I spoke to Sophia, who did have a room available, room 217.

My stay continued about as well as I had expected it to be, abysmal. Little of previous emotions had passed with days I spent doing nothing but leisurely enjoying the serene almost vacant beaches and watching people enjoying themselves, hoping I could one day feel like them again.

One night, I heard a strange noise which woke me from my slumber. It was the sound of a little girl. She was walking down the hallway, weeping outside of the rooms. I looked out of my door, expecting to see other guests attempting to aid the child, but I was the only one. I followed behind her, calling out for her to return, but to no avail.

"Hey! Come back! I'm trying to help you!" I became worried that I had embarked on a wild goose chase. I suddenly noticed something strange about the hotel rooms, a green gas pouring out from under every third door. After deciding it was a hallucination brought on by lack of sleep, I continued. My journey stopped when I came to a numberless door left ajar. I was worried about her when her voice dissapeared and an eerie breeze took it over, so I entered. There were no electric lights in the room, just a dimly lit oil lamp. I did not notice much else in the room except for the oil lamp, which sat on top of an antique desk with papers strewn about it.

I could not make out what the papers specifically said, but I managed to make out something about summoning spells and and a strange myriad of words and phrases that made no sense at all. I felt compelled to take a piece iof paper that mentioned sacrifices and immortality and had a large, black, circular spot in the centert of the page, but I still wanted to find the girl.

Several feet away was a ladder tappering down into a pitch black hole, which was the source of the breeze. I ventured down into the crevice. It led to a narrow cave lined with torches. It was moist with mossy walls and vibrated with echoes of percussive water droplets that fell from the ceiling. Suddenly, I heard a scream. I had heard the sounds of people in fear before, but never to this level of cacophony. Suddenly, I found myself being dragged toward the little girl's cry to help.

The cave stopped in a grotto, a massive earthern room filled with moss, sand, and only one small hole at the top through which a simple, omnious beam of moonlight entered. I saw a circular mass that resmebled the one on the document I had "borrowed". It's pitch-black surface seemed to bubble and stir in the lunar illumination without so much as moving an inch, rays of blinding white light shot out of it in ever conceivable direction. I saw the little girl standing above the grotto's natural edge and below her a mass of people were being eaten by what could only be described as gelatinous black blobs with large yellow eyes, black pupils, and rows of razor sharp teeth. Although they were being eaten alive, they did not so much as move. I was so captivated out of fear that I did not notice that the little girl had jumped into the pits below, possibly following suit of her parents trapped below. He was scream was the only one of many.

I had to escape! I had to get out of there! As I ran out panting, I realized what had happend earlier: the gas released in the hotel rooms was neutralizing gas that left the guests unconscious while Auburn and Sophia quielty took them down to the pits below to be slaughtered so the two would gain immortality. Cover up is easy, just tell the guests checked out and errase the records. I turned around only once to see if those creatures had noticed me, but witnessed something worse, much worse: Benjamin Auburn was standing right in the mouth of the grotto were I was not two minutes ago, smiling a grin so profoundly evil it's impossible to describe. I ran out of there as fast as I could, hoping it was just some crazy dream. I drove home and pretended to forget.

Four years have passed since then and I have returned to see what is left of The Pemberton Hotel. The place has been bulldozed to the ground, another victim of the Ayers' Home Inspectipon Service. I have no idea what became of the Auburns. Whatever did happen to them, I know why they didn't kill me, to torture me. They could've easily ended me right then and there, but they know that not being able to tell anyone about their crimes would ultimatley drive me insane. I walked away from that place of terror and dread, feeling the same way. I drove away sighing, mourning for all those who lost their lives under the blackend sun.





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