Dissections logo scissors body by Deena Warner


Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner





Artwork: A Gathering of Sisters by Will Jacques
Artwork: A Gathering of Sisters by Will Jacques

Friday at the Nightmare Hotel
Paul Lubaczewski

Friday. Time to go to work. He just wasn't feeling it. It just seemed so...redundant, useless, a rut, same old same old, what was it really all about, kinda sad, in a word BORING. But we all have the cross we have to bear, he considered. This was just his lot in life, best to get on with it. Insert another cliché people use to make life bearable here. But still, you couldn't help but wonder some days, was there any point to this at all?

He had some time to kill, as it were, before his day began. He looked around his room out in the woods. The TV wasn't getting much out here, he was going to HAVE to find a way to get a satellite dish in this place. Or maybe some WiFi, something to fill the hours. He'd read just about every book he had at this point, and he'd never been much of a reader, to begin with.

He watched the sun move. Time to get to work. He went over to the closet and pulled out his sickle. These kids were not going to kill themselves after all. The big arrival was today, the Haskin hotel had guests coming. It was going to be a target-rich environment. As an afterthought he grabbed a butcher's cleaver. No point starting your day if you didn't have your tools to do your job.

He checked his manifest. Inheritor, always a good one, inherited the place from some crazy Uncle she'd never met. Tried and tried again. God, it was depressing how easily it worked to fill the place. He'd have to check on his transfer out of this place. He wanted to do a camp or something instead of this depressing old hotel, at least you got to dress casual that way, not period attire like here. But not only that, the stories were better. All he ever got was escaped criminals, distant inheritors, and kids breaking into party.

He re-read his back story as he scurried through the woods to the house. He'd done this house so many times now, he knew the woods like the back of his hand. It was his job really, you had to know where the roots stuck up to trip the unsuspecting. Same old, same old, little kid, tortured in the attic by his evil scientist father, geez, who writes this crap? How come nobody ever questioned the little kid being 6'6” now anyway? Oh well, ours is not to question why, ours is just to make ’em die.

When he got down to the hidden room in the basement of the hotel, he switched on all the interior and exterior cameras. He mused that this wasn't the first time he'd questioned the point of it all. Sometimes he'd humour himself, and tell himself he must have been a philosopher back when he'd been real alive. He really suspected deep down inside that he'd probably been some schmo on a factory line, doing something boring and monotonous that gave you lots of time to wonder, “what's the meaning of it all?”, “what is my purpose in life”, and “did I remember to screw down that bolt on that last one?”

As far as this job, he'd never gotten a straight answer. He'd gone to central casting a few times, but every time he'd tried to ask, the answer hadn't been satisfactory. One guy had given him a look that said for all the world, “What, are you stupid?” and told him, “Because the world needs horror stories.” Another time had been some old timer, a ghost carrying his head. This had gotten him a tirade on how lucky he had it, and how hard it had been “back in the day.” Nobody complaining about their job needs that, it's certainly not what they want. To make matters worse the old duffer had gone on and on, “Ye thinketh ye have it unsatisfactory? Why in mine own time, we had to fiddle wither portraiture to see what the mortals be about! So unless ye have been poked in thine eye by a smart arsed little youth, don't come weeping unto me!”

He leaned back in the office chair to watch and wait. An ancient old wooden thing, it wasn't comfortable, but at least it didn't break easily. He once requisitioned a new one from supply once. They sent some new fangled thing, all plastic and foam. Comfortable as all hell at first, but his head still hurt some days in sympathy from the memory of when the back had snapped off the cheap hunk of crud.

A car was coming up the drive now, he could see it on the monitor, but even if he hadn't, he'd have heard the tires on the gravel outside. It still amazed him, all these monitors, and cameras everywhere, but no damned internet. Maybe it was to keep his nose to the grindstone, afraid instead of him not getting his job done in a timely manner, like he'd spend the day instant messaging the Hacker from the Meat Locker, which he had to admit, is what he wanted to be doing right now. These things always started all the same anyway. Kids come in, say the place is a wreck, put their bags in the rooms, and go outside to find things to do or go into town to buy groceries while receiving dire warnings from the locals. He did not need to be paying pinpoint attention to any of that. Hacker told some funny jokes.

So, instead of just sitting around waiting he decided to go upstairs and check the place over after they left. Things needed to be just so, some easy-to-trip-over footrests here, a huge kitchen knife there, checking the gaps when the closet doors were shut to check for visibility, that kind of thing. It was the details that mattered, it was the difference between a horrid slaughter that would go down in infamy and lore, and a bunch of kids got killed by some nut job. The devil was in the details and checking them now.

All checked, he went back to the control center. This was where the silent elevators were, the back stairs, the tunnel to the outside for when one of them tried to escape. Nothing to do, but wait like a spider in his web. He mused that you'd like to think the waiting was the worst part, but face it, that wasn't true at all. No, the worst part is when one of the little bastards impaled you with your own meat hook, and then you were expected to pull it out of yourself and wallop them with it. Or when they set you on fire; that was pretty bad too. Getting pushed out of the top floor window was no picnic either; now that he thought about it. Most of this job sucked really.

Which begged the obvious question, why was he doing it at all?

It wasn't like he was getting paid for this after all, unless you counted his body healing after all the abuse it took. But frankly, he thought it was unfair to count that as payment as much as it was workman's comp, since he'd never TAKE all the damage to his body if it wasn't for panicked kids reaching behind themselves and finding butcher knives in the first place! Nobody was even bothering to tell him WHY!

This was his frame of mind when he saw the car pulling up carrying tonight's meat. Speaking of meat, they had packages of it, and of course, beer. They always bring beer. Beer that came in cans with really prominent labels. He'd always wondered about that; it wasn't like decent beer in bottles cost that much more, and then they'd have a weapon too. Not that he was wishing they had any more weapons.

He was already wondering which one of them would have the weed; it was practically written in stone that one or more of them would. Took weeks to air out the place of the smell, otherwise, the next group in would get suspicious. It's weird if the old abandoned hotel smelled like the inside of Bob Marley's lung. He wondered to himself if that many kids in the real world smoked it, or it was just one of those quirks for kids that ended up in houses like this. Well, as a plus, it made them slower and easier to catch.

He sat watching the monitors, watching as they broke out a portable MP3 player and ungodly powerful speakers that made him turn down the monitors. He was in a rut, that was all there was to it. Same things, every time. If only they would do something different! Not DIE different, that was obvious, the easier and more predictable there the better. But maybe just come in and start remodelling right away or something. Have a Bible study and go to bed early with nightlights. Anything but this repetitive derivative BS!

That's when he had an idea. Maybe if the KIDS wouldn't do anything different...maybe HE would! But what? There were only so many death traps you could set in an old house, and he'd done them all. Only so many disembowellings, so many ways to stab somebody....

What if he didn't kill them at all?

Maybe he could warn them? Help them escape! That'd show those pricks at supply!

Yeah, sure, he'd probably get yelled at, but even that would be more entertaining than just being a boring yes man. Stab this! Hang that! Chase them! To hell with it, he didn't have an onsite supervisor anyway! Who in the hell was going to stop him?

He'd just go to them and just tell the kids individually, “Get the hell out!” He had immediately written off just going up and telling them as a group. He didn't want to have to go back in for repairs having NOT killed anyone, and a group of kids might take his huge frame and disfigured face the wrong way. Individually was going to be tricky, but he figured he could hold them off that way until he could explain it sufficiently. He'd grabbed many a hand with a knife in it with his iron grip over the years, so he figured he could just about do it.

As he'd guessed, one of them broke out a bag of weed, everyone passed on it but the kid who had busted it out. He tried to talk them into it, but no takers. Off he went to go smoke some, well, at least he was polite. That left two couples, one of which were making out like they were auditioning for a soft-core porn, and the other who sat next to each other chastely, with one other girl with glasses who was alone talking to the prudes.

The make-out couple also left the room. So it presented him with choices on who to approach, but he saw it as an easy one really. He'd most definitely be interrupting something with the couple, and stoners had slow reaction speeds; it might give him a chance to reason with the kid first before he found a weapon of some kind.

He watched the stoner go into his room. He was almost stunned when the kid opened up the balcony and stepped out on that before blazing up. Man, that was just courteous, they never actually went OUTSIDE to get high. No airing the place out of weeks to get the smell out. No way was he killing this kid now!

There were stairs and elevators to most of the rooms, this one had stairs. It often struck him weird that nobody ever noticed all of the unused space. They'd always “check this place out”, but apparently the youths that came here had no sense of spacial relations. It was certainly a mystery. One small click and the door slid open. There was his intended vict-...no wait, NOT victim, that was the whole point, he wasn't killing them. Old habits and all. He came up slowly, his mind racing as to what he was going to say. He'd never even tried to talk to them before, this was all new to him. How do you convince somebody that you were supposed to kill them, but had decided not to? He had to think of something good here, something really honest and reassuring.

“Errrrrr...,” is what he came up with.

The kid whirled around dropping his joint. His eyes grew huge as he saw the enormous armed monster looming out of the shadows of the darkened room! “Noooooo!” he yelled as he lunged backwards away from sure death!

Damned shame that he went ass over tin cups right over the rail of the balcony.

He heard the sickening thump from below, and then silence. He carefully made his way to the rail and peered over. The kid wasn't moving. Judging from the red stain darkening the grass around him, he wasn't going to be anytime soon. How in the hell did he move like that? He was supposed to be stoned for the love of god! Stoners aren't supposed to move like that!

He picked up the bag off the balcony floor and opened it. Inhaling deep, he had his answer, this stuff had to be at least half oregano! God save us from god damned amateurs! Looking back over the rail at the body he thought, “Well something's going to have to be done about that I suppose. One for the walk-in freezer.”

As he went back to the stairs, he was musing to himself how these places must have AMAZING sound proofing considering almost nobody ever notices the screams.

Damn! Well, that could have gone better. Come to think of it, he was hard pressed for it to have gone worse than that. Big saviour, his intended rescu-ee was now cooling in the hotel walk-in freezer like a side of beef. He looked at the screen. Well, the trio that was in the living room were still in there, drinking beer and chatting revoltingly politely. Beer had been flowing, so that might get interesting later. On the other screen, the other couple were currently very busy, very naked. Him on his back, and her riding him face towards his feet.

Something caught his eye, though, other than the eyeful he was getting. Every time they rocked in rhythm together the bed frame was wailing into the wall. But that wasn't the thing he noticed. What he did notice was one of those old pot metal clocks on the shelf above the bed. Those things weighed a metric ton! And more importantly, every time they rocked the bed it rocked, and shifted perilously closer to the end of the shelf. OK, maybe he screwed up with the stoner, but he could save this guy! Because if that thing fell....

He ran for the steps to that room. He was GOING to be the hero this time, damn it!

He arrived through the closet just in the nick of time! To watch the clock fall, that is, perfect timing for that. He watched it clonk one more time on the shelf, tilt off top first, do one rotation in the air and then watched it land with a rather revolting sound if he had to say so himself. The thing is, she didn't seem to hear it, she was in her own world. When his body started twitching, in whatever world she was in, he was just giving it really good to her now!

Once his body stopped twitching, she finally started coming down from whatever cloud she was on. “Oh baby that was...” she had been saying, as she turned back to look at her lover who heard not a word. That was when she screamed!

She started to scramble off of him screaming all the way. Only to be impelled to further panic when she saw the hulking figure in the closet way. It was almost graceful what happened next. She launched, actually went from frantically trying to disengage, to going airborne with almost no tangible stages in between, aiming towards the door. It really would have been impressive if she didn't drill herself at literally breakneck speed, headlong into the ancient TV set by the door.

There was a hideous cracking noise, and a hiss as the shattered TV sent off sparks.

“Shit.... guess I better go get the ice hooks to move ’em.”

He went and got the two hooks out of the basement. They were gigantic sharp things, the kind once upon a time that were used to move blocks of ice, or bales of hay, or fish. Almost nobody used the things any more, but somehow these vicious things were always handy at times like this. They were always in houses like this, even the ones where gruesome murders weren't due to happen regularly.

He had to step over the carelessly thrown clothes to get back to the bodies. He looked down and noticed the girl’s underwear. Well’ if it was any consolation to the two of them, where ever they were, their relationship was already over. Because if that's what she was wearing now, in ten years it would be curlers and moo moos. Granny panties on a hot date to an abandoned house, sheesh. Life is wasted on the wrong people. He threw the underwear over his shoulder disdainfully, they took a while to land because their size caught the air.

Oh well, nothing for it, he swung down hard into the bodies with the hooks. They made a dull sickening thunk as the hooks dug into the flesh. Like he'd hadn't heard THAT noise a million times already. Christ, his life was boring. He slung the bodies over his back so their feet wouldn't drag the whole way.

As he placed their bodies next to the stoner he mused, “Geez, I should try NOT to kill ’em EVERY time. I think I'm running a record time here.” He tried to cheer himself up a bit, a stoner and two 'lovers' that would probably end up hating each other soon, or worse, married and hating each other. Well that had probably made the world a better place overall. It had certainly prevented a lot of back and forth between the kids about what was happening after the first body was found. The victims always argued at that point, one of them would suggest calling the police, but then they'd have some reason not to. What did they THINK was happening when they found one of their friends with their head split like an overripe melon? God, the only thing that depressed him more than his own monotony was people's predictability.

Stepping back, he was shocked when a scream erupted directly behind him. He whirled to see who in the hell it was! He felt the hook in his hand hit something! He saw what that something was, the girl with the glasses, dangling now from the hook embedded in her, her feet dangling from the ground. Her breath came in quick gasps, blood burbling from her lips!

There was a new scream now from the doorway! The couple!

“It's not what it looks...,” he began. That was when the hook tore the rest of the way through the girl's torso, and her entrails spilled out on the floor in front of the freezer in a steaming pile!

“Oh, I guess it is,” he said to no one; they'd fled.

He heard the door slam. Well, they weren't driving off, not with them leaving the keys on the counter the way they did. He scooped them up. Maybe there was still time? No, to hell with it, he'd already killed all the others and it had been in commendation level time! There would be others coming here, he could try to be nice to, but for now, he didn't have so much as a nick on him, and everybody but the couple were snuffed! He might as well finish it now.

The only place they could go now was the boathouse, he thought, scooping up their keys. Plenty of things to snuff ’em out with there, plenty of ways to finish this. But to make sure, he still had the hooks. It was bad form to use the same weapon twice, to be sure, but they were coming up to the bloody end, weren't they? Allowances could be made, and if they made it to the boathouse, well, game over, they'd be trapped!

He stalked out the door after them; they'd be easy to find after all.

Once he got outside he squinted into the night. He could see the girl running off in the distance. As he predicted, the only way out of here if you didn't have a car. The boathouse. She had on a white blouse too, that was bloody convenient if he said so himself. If anyone would know, he would.

She was running for all she was worth but he didn't feel a need to hurry. The only boat tied up out there hadn't been started in ages. Even IF the damned thing would start, it certainly wouldn't be on the first try. They'd be just as dead if he walked as if he ran, and he wouldn't be out of breath for his troubles. He didn't see the boy; he had probably outdistanced her to the place. Guys were like that, they were all tough and chivalrous, but one little hook-wielding maniac shows up, they run right over the girl to get out of there.

He saw her go down even from here. Why do they always trip? I mean, always? You put Jackie Joyner-Kersee out there and she wouldn't be able to help herself, would she? Probably twisted her ankle too. He could hear her calling out for something, probably her boyfriend, who was probably already at the boathouse already looking for gas for the boat. It took no time to catch up the weeping and screaming girl. Looking down at her, her makeup in ruins, now resembling a howling raccoon. Well, he knew what to do with raccoons. He looked at the hook in his hand, oh yes he did, yes he definitely did know what to do.

He loomed over the girl now, her screams had gone full blown hysterical now, piercing the mountain night air, echoing over the lake. She stared in horror, and his mutated and hideous face gleaming with triumph! He raised his hook! As long as he found the boy fast enough, he was going to make record time tonight.

That's when the oar hit him in the back of the head.

He came to, face down, a few moments later. Ooh, that was gonna cost them!

He didn't hear the engine being yanked, so they both must be in the boat house looking for fuel. This was going to be bloody; he was gonna kill him first and make her watch! That was for damned sure! They were going to suffer for that! He had almost made it through this with nothing for central to have to fix on the body, and then that happens, somebody pays for that!

He lumbered onto the dock by the door. His boot thumped heavily on the dock itself. Any moment now! They had to have heard him, they were probably trying to get the windows open now to escape. Jokes on you dirtbags! The windows were nailed shut. No getting out that way unless you want to risk your precious skins by jumping!

He slammed the partially open door the rest of the way. They were gonna die! He felt something splash on him and something metal bounced off of his head. He was soaked in it. Oh criminy, it was gas! He saw the match splutter to life. He heard the window smash.

There were footsteps on the dock running for the boat. He heard the kid yanking on the motor, it kept sputtering, but it would catch. Oh well, if you're going to do these things, you need to do them right after all. Still burning brightly he got back to his feet and turned to lumber out to the boat.

He was within a few feet of them when the engine caught. He fell to his knees, a burning torch in the night. He wondered if they heard him as he called out to the night, “BE SURE TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS!” before collapsing in a heap on the pier.

Just the way these stories are SUPPOSED to end.

Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner
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