I couldn’t take living in that house anymore. My mother is the biggest b**** I have ever met and she has no right to do what she did to me. Who publically shames their own child in front of the entire town during church? Who tells their child that they’re going to rot in Hell and that they should’ve been left on the doorstep of a firehouse? I ran out of the church into the brisk fall air and all the way home without looking back. Why would I? It’s not like anything was back there for me anyways. I had to get out before things got any worse, if that was even possible at this point. I walked through the front door and climbed the stairs to my room.
I rummaged through my dresser and my closet taking whatever clothing I could. I packed jeans, shirts, socks, a sweatshirt, and some other stuff. I went over to my nightstand and took out the picture of Cooper and I from a few summers ago. I stopped for a few seconds looking at the picture, remembering back to the summer it was taken. The sun was making his coat shine and the tennis ball he had in his mouth was covered in spit. I folded it up and put it in my pocket, reaching back in the drawer for anything else I’d want to take. I grabbed my copy of 13 Reasons Why and shoved it into my bag.
I walked downstairs and into the kitchen to pack some food for wherever I was going… mostly just crackers and a bottle of water. As I was walking to the front door, I saw Cooper’s collar sitting on the mantle of the fireplace in the living room. I walked over to it and ran my finger over the engraving of the tag.
“So long, buddy,” I said as I turned back to the front door. I closed it behind me and walked to the shed to get my hatchet. After I was attacked a year ago, it barely leaves my side when I go out places. Had I not had it with me that night I most likely would’ve died in those woods. I turned away from the shed and just started walking. I didn’t have any plans as to where I was headed, but I knew damn well I wasn’t staying there.
I had been walking for at least twelve hours with one thing in mind: getting as far away from that goddamn house as I could. Up until this point no one tried stopping me, and I didn’t try and stop myself. I stopped seeing houses about two hours ago. Stopped seeing a point in turning back. Stopped seeing a point in having a family if they don’t care about you. But now, nothing was stopping me. No, I had to keep on going.
The only thing ahead of me at his point was open road, with forests on each side of me beginning to turn bare as their vibrant leaves fell to the ground. A slight breeze picked up and I decided to take my sweatshirt out of my bag and throw it on. I didn’t know where I was or in what direction I was headed, but all that mattered was that that house was far behind me. The sun was beginning to set and I was debating whether or not to walk on through the night or find a place to sleep. I figured it’d be safer to sleep behind a closed door than out in the open.
I noticed a small back road off of the main one I’d been on and decided to take that, leading me into the woods. The walk wasn’t terrible at all. If anything, being in the woods actually calmed me. Being surrounded by nothing but trees and the sounds of nature, I was able to get lost in my thoughts and just think everything over. I still didn’t regret leaving. What I do regret is leaving my journal out where my mother could read it. Where she could see how I truly felt and who I truly was. There wasn’t anything I could do now but just keep on keepin’ on. .
After about two miles I came upon a small, rundown motel, the Vacant sign illuminated outside… Motel Fux. The building was one story and the rooms branched off from the lobby which was located in the center. All of the lights in the rooms were off except for one or two, and the lights from the lobby shone on the ground outside. I gave a slight chuckle and walked through the door into the lobby. The smell of mothballs and mildew hit me like a brick, and the front desk was empty except for a small silver bell that was beginning to tarnish in certain spots. I tucked my hatchet behind me since I knew first impressions mattered, and tapped the bell on the counter. The ring from the bell echoed through the still air for what felt like an eternity. After about thirty seconds of standing there, I gave it another ring, but once again to no avail.
I turned around and walked over to look at the pictures hanging on the wall whose paper was peeling in multiple spots. The walls were covered in this faded green that looked like baby barf, and some areas had stains that for all I know could’ve been. There were two armchairs in the lobby but the leather was worn and tattered. The motel didn’t give off a great first impression but it was better than sleeping outside in the cold. The temperature outside seemed to drop more and more each day as winter approached. My eyes skipped from picture to picture, and I felt like I was in a museum for the world’s most boring artwork.
However, there was one picture that stood out from the rest. It was of these three little kids standing outside a house in halloween costumes. Each one wore a clown suit that looked to be home made because of the patchwork. A sense of uneasiness fall over me as I kept staring at the picture. The masks the children had looked almost human like. The faces of the masks were slightly deformed and the eye holes were dark and deep. The weird thing about it was that it wasn’t a painting like all the rest of the junk on the wall. This was a legitimate picture and had this vintage tint to it. The longer I stood there staring at the image the more surreal and horrifying it became. I decided looking at the picture for as long as I had was more than enough and that I was going to try my luck at the bell one more time… anything to get out of that damn lobby.
“Beautiful picture, isn’t it?” I swung my body around and was face to face with an old man in a pale grey uniform. His hair was gone except for a little wisp and his eyes were sunken into his head, giving him this ghostlike appearance. The fact that he was dreadfully pale didn’t help his case.
“Y-yeah- its- a- um-”
“It’s my favorite one here. The kids in it are just so full of life and really know the true meaning of halloween. I’m the one of the right,” he said extending a bony finger towards the picture. “The kid in the middle disappeared the night this was taken.”
“Y-you knew him?” I asked, barely able to make the words audible.
“Mhmm. I went to go to the house that was handing out these candies I loved: these little sweets called Smack Em’s. They would always get stuck in your teeth. I thought he was right behind me but I couldn’t find him. No one knows what happened to him but his mask was found in the French Broad with blood stains on it a week later...Poor lad. It’s coming up soon I think, Halloween. A few days maybe? I remember I would always get a head start so I could get all of the candy I could. I used to love these little sweets called Smack Em’s. They would always get stuck in-So do you want a room?”
“Y-yes please. Just for the night,” I said to the man, obviously still startled and a little turned off by his story. He led the way to the counter and I reached behind me to make sure my hatchet was still there. He pulled a key out of a drawer and handed it to me.
“Room 102. I think you’ll find the room to your liking. If you need anything just ask. I’m sure you’ll be just fine…” he gave a slight smile, revealing the pink gums from under his lips. “I told you those candies would get stuck!” He let out a laugh like that of a smoker as I walked over to the door leading outside.
I left the lobby and walked to my room in the darkness of the night. The numbers on the doors were barely visible so I figured I might as well check each one. I took a left and tried that wing of doors, but to no avail. Everything out there was silent except for the occasional hoot of an owl or the rustling of leaves from the wind. I walked back past the lobby and to the other line of rooms, and of course the last door I tried was the room I was supposed to stay in.
I put the key in the lock, opened the door, and turned the light on. The room was nothing special. The smell was the same as in the lobby and the lights flickered here and there. The bed was in the middle of the room and the linen was a pale grey. Nightstands were on both sides of the bed and a lamp sat on each of them, one with its cover crooked. There wasn’t a TV or anything, but after being in the lobby I didn’t expect anything but the bare minimum... Which is basically what I got.
I walked over to the bed and threw my bag down. I took the hatchet out of my belt and plopped it down next to it. I made my way over to the bathroom and flicked the light on, illuminating the room in pale yellow. I looked at myself in the grimy mirror and realized the dark bags under my eyes. I pulled open the shower curtain and realized the shower had this weird tint to it, and the water pressure in the toilet was nothing but a light trickle.
I walked out of the bathroom and back over to my bed. I rummaged through my bag and pulled out some crackers. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I ate them and just stared at the wall, getting lost in thought. Before long I finished an entire sleeve and threw my backpack on the floor. I put the hatchet on one of the nightstands next to the bed for safe keepings, and crawled under the covers. I shut the lights off from a switch above the bed frame and slowly dozed off, letting exhaustion finally take over.
I was suddenly awoken by a knock at the door. Not knowing what time it was, I flung my covers off and made my way to the door, peering through the peephole. All I could see outside was the ground. Well, I could barely see the ground. I saw mostly darkness because it was the middle of the night. I went back to the bed and layed down. Again, within 20 seconds. there was another knock at the door, but this time it was followed by a “Trick or treat?”. I walked back over to the door and flung it open, but there wasn’t anyone there. I walked outside barefoot and looked around, but all I could see was the illuminated Vacancy sign. There wasn’t a soul in sight for miles. Dumb kids, I thought to myself, making my way back inside to my room. I plopped down on my pillow but felt something under my neck. I reached back and pulled an old piece of candy out from underneath me.
I reached over to the bedside table and grabbed my hatchet. I stood up and turned the light on, watching the room slowly grow brighter. I looked at the candy in the palm of my hand. The wrapper was faded but I could just make out what the letters said: Smack Em’s. Someone was in there with me; I knew damn well I didn’t fall asleep on a piece of candy. I went over to the bathroom and flicked the light on. The shower curtain was closed and I slowly crept forward. I grabbed one side and flung it open, but nothing was inside. I made my way back to the main room and looked under the bed, but the only thing I found was a pile of wrappers that belonged to the same candy that was on my pillow. The same candy that the old man in the lobby would always eat.
Hatchet in hand, I walked outside and made my way to the lobby. When I walked in, it looked just as old and dirty as when I left. I went up to the counter and rang the bell a few times, knowing it would take a while for “what’s his face” to answer. I walked back to the wall with all the pictures on it, but noticed something was off. The picture with the three kids in masks only had two standing in it. The one in the center whose body was never found, was gone. It’s as if he was never in the picture to begin with. And there was a streak of wet blood over the old man in the picture. I made my way back over to the counter and was about to ring the bell when I heard a giggle from behind the door where the old man most likely spent his time. I stood there silent, not knowing what to do. I lifted the little door of the counter and walked behind it over to the door, putting my ear against the wood. Another giggle came and I reached for the handle.
“Trick? Or treat?” said the voice from behind it. Whoever was behind that door was the same kid that was knocking on mine.
“I don’t think you’re supposed to be back there,” I said to him, turning the doorknob slowly.
“...Trick? Or? Treat?” he said with a bit of a persistent attitude. I opened to door and stepped inside the room.
I froze. My heart got stuck in my throat and my eyes widened at the sight. The old man was laying there in a pool of blood, his throat slit and his abdomen cut down the middle. His grey suit was ripped open and the blood stood out against his pale skin. The child looked up at me and I felt nauseous. It was the same kid from the painting. The one that was standing in the middle. The kid that disappeared that Halloween night.
“Trick?” he said, taking the knife and sliding it across his throat suggestively. He reached to the old man’s stomach and put his hands inside digging around for something. He pulled out a handful of Smack Em’s, now stained in blood and intermingled with guts. “Or treat?”