Flash Friday 04/03/2016: Breakfast in Dread
Colin and Harry had stayed the night in many strange places before. None of them, however, ever managed to beat their stay in Hotel Sunshine, a small, off-the-way establishment that would only ever be visited by those silly enough to be driving down long country lanes late at night in the first place. Colin and Harry were ideal customers.
The design — from the architecture to the decor as the pair walked into the front entrance — looked as if it had travelled through time from the 80s. Old-looking, but immaculate, as if it were built yesterday. It was also dead silent. The only signs of life was the man in an aged tuxedo standing behind the front desk; given how he stood like a corpse in rigor mortis, even that was debatable. He had his aged hands clasped together, his short black hair receding from his forehead, his eyes wide, bloodshot, and bagged as if he never slept a night in his life.
“Good evening,” the man said, in a quiet tone. “I’m Alex. Welcome to the Hotel Sunshine. It’s a pleasure to have your acquaintance.”
“Good evening,” Harry said. “Might be rude to flat-out ask, but we’re tight on budget and need to know. How much are the rooms here?”
“Rooms are ten dollars a night. Room service. Breakfast. Lovely views. Air-con, television, and charging points around the room. Haunted. Rooms for singles, couples, and groups available. Plenty on offer right now.”
“Ten dollars?” Colin said. “Wow, what a deal. Yeah, sign us up for two–”
“Whoa, wait, hold on,” Harry said. “Did you say the rooms were haunted?”
“Well…yes. Every room. The whole hotel.” Alex glanced around himself, as if looking for spies. Then, he hissed, “it’s all haunted.”
Harry and Colin exchanged confused glances. “So if it’s haunted,” Colin said, “why are you still here?”
Alex looked down at the floor as he muttered. “Thought I was buying a deal. Only a few thousand for a lovely looking hotel. Invested all my money. Renovations. Staff. An opening ceremony. Thought I’d be rich.” Alex gave a short, cruel laugh. “Ancient Indian burial ground. Can you believe it? Under this hotel, of all places. They made a movie based on that sort of thing. Of course, the spirits didn’t make themselves known until the first customers arrived. Should’ve seen it coming sooner, what with the screaming, and the white faces, and the machete, and…” Alex swallowed, then looked up with a beaming smile. “Yes, ten dollars a room.”
“Excellent,” Colin said, digging into his pocket. “See, dude? Told you we should’ve stopped here. Place is cheap as hell.”
“No, no, hold on!” Harry said, stopping Colin from slamming notes onto the front desk. “I don’t wanna pay for any hotel room that’ll get me killed!”
“Oh, they don’t kill,” Alex said. “Not usually, anyway. In fact, they’re the only staff I have in this place anymore. Sometimes they offer good service, and sometimes — especially if you annoy them, somehow — they don’t. Had a couple come in only two months ago. Went to their rooms and found it clean. Great. Went for a lovely warm bath with soaps and oils. Great. One made a comment on how haunted hotels was ‘superstitious bull’. Then they went to use the elevator.” Alex made a motion with his hands representing rushing liquid, accompanied with a splashing sound effect. “Two weeks it took to get the stains out of the walls. I advise you use the stairs.”
“What’s the room service like?” Colin said.
“Bit of a gamble. Might find a neat room. Might find a transformed room fit for a king. Might find it’s turned into a portal into the afterlife. Might find your possessions and bed were used for a pig sacrifice. That one is nasty. Last person who saw that ranted forever. She didn’t last long enough to get her refund, though. But! I’m sure you’ll be just fine. After all, you don’t seem the…spirit-angering types.”
“Sure,” Colin said. “We’ll keep the music down.”
“If you’d like, I can get you one of the, ah, less infested rooms for your liking. Two single beds. Very comfy. View over the lake. Whether or not you want to view the lake depends on the moon cycle, but it should be fine for tonight.” Alex held up two keys on rings, one in each hand. “Do you prefer female whispers from the walls, or dreams that you’re drowning in an endless expanse of water?”
“Whispers please,” Colin said. “We’ve got earplugs.”
“Yeah,” Harry confirmed. “I can’t swim.”
“Very well,” Alex said, handing over the left key.”You’ll find it down the hall, on the third left. Breakfast is at eight. You’ll know by the burning hot plate being placed on your lap as you sleep. Nobody knows who cooks them. Not even the spirits. Sometimes, the ketchup isn’t ketchup. Here are your complimentary sleep masks, slippers, and–here.” Alex held out two crucifixes.
“Oh, don’t worry dude,” Colin said. “We’re not religious.”
Alex forced them into Colin’s hand. “Now is a very good time to start.”
“Alright then. Well, catch you tomorrow!”
With that, the pair left the front foyer into the hotel proper, leaving Alex by himself. Silence fell over the hotel once again, bar the sound of Alex’s rhythmic drumming of fingers on the desk as he stared into nothing. Somewhere in the hotel came a small ‘ding’ of an elevator finding its floor, followed by the sound of rushing liquid and two male screams.
“Honestly,” Alex said. He sighed, collecting up a mop and bucket from the corner of the room. “I ought to put an ‘out of order’ sign on that ruddy thing.”