After a brief stop at the gas station they were soon on the road again.
“How much longer ‘til we’re there?” The passenger asked with a sigh.
The driver dryly responded, “At least another seven hours.”
“Well it depends on how many times you decide you have to go to the bathroom.”
Ravenna relaxed back into the black leather of the passenger seat and stretched out her legs before glancing back at Rosalie behind the wheel. She looked tense. Rosalie always looked tense lately. That was the whole point of this trip, to get away. They’d both finally graduated, and were now each the proud owners of a bachelor’s degree from their esteemed university. Yay… Ravenna was a Psychology major and Sociology minor; her plan was to work with mentally-challenged children. She was pretty excited to break into her field and make a difference. Rosalie on the other hand was an English major, Classics minor. She was going to be a writer, which suited her personality to a tee—a little more doom and gloom, a bit introverted, and a bit haunted. Though really, they both were. Regardless of what their futures held for them, it was definitely time for a break. Four years was a long time to be constantly stressed about grades, money, and life in general. So it was off to Vancouver to party for the summer, starting with a badass concert and ending with an equally badass convention. It was going to be awesome.
Ravenna unrolled the window and drank in the night air. It was the beginning of May, that time of year when it’s no longer spring but not quite summer yet either. The cool night air felt good on her face; there was air-conditioning of course, but it just wasn’t the same. Ravenna rolled the window back up, it was one of those manual ones, not automatic, but who would ever expect a ’68 Charger to have automatic windows? Music played softly in the background. Rosalie’s music. Ravenna figured it was Angels & Airwaves or something like that. She itched to change the song to something more upbeat but she knew better. While normally she wouldn’t care what Rosalie said and would have changed it anyway there was something in the chill air that told her to leave it be. Plus she was feeling kind of lazy, too lazy to fight anyway.
An hour passed. Then two. Still, the car was blanketed in silence, its inhabitants not uttering a word. Finally, they pulled over for the night in a town called Deadman’s Flats. They drove up to the first motel they found, The Ram’s Horn Motel. Ravenna laughed silently to herself at the name while Rosalie got out and walked to the motel office. Ravenna watched her friend as she made her way across the blacktop; her mood was almost tangible. All five foot six inches exuded hostility, from the tips of her black combat boots, to her brooding dark eyes. She was dressed fairly casually in tight black pants, a tight black tank, and a thin beat up leather jacket that barely reached her waist. Her straight black hair was loose and hung down passed the middle of her back while the wind tried vainly to whip it into her face. She exchanged a few words with the clerk and came back to the car, keys in hand.
“Room 207.” Was all she said.
They pulled up to the staircase nearest their room and climbed out. Ravenna put her arms behind her back and stretched, looking very cat-like. Her shoulder length vivid red and blonde hair was having a harder time than Rosalie’s staying put and was being blown into her blue eyes because she hadn’t bothered to braid it or throw it into a ponytail for the trip. She was five-six, same as Rosalie, but dressed in tight blue jeans and an equally tight pale turquoise vee-neck shirt; she wore a black canvas jacket that came down to her tops of her thighs.
Rosalie watched Ravenna fight to pull her hair out of her face and shook her head before reaching into the back seat to grab her duffel bag. Ravenna reached in and grabbed a similar one, and then together headed up the stairs.
Their room was like every other motel room ever built, all decorated in the same cookie-cutter fashion. Two queen-size beds dominated the room on the left hand side with a bedside table located between them and a TV against the opposite wall so you could watch it while you lay in bed. On the other side was a plaid black and beige loveseat, a round light-colored wooden two-seater table near the draped window, and two matching wooden chairs. The color scheme of the pastel-colored couch continued to the bedspreads, the drapes, and the walls. It was a whole lot of tan and beige—it was vaguely unsettling. Ravenna began unpacking as she tried to ignore the beige. She had already decided to have a shower after sitting all day in the car and was eager to feel the hot water wash away the travel grime. Rosalie had thrown herself onto one of the beds and appeared to have fallen into a stupor, she gave no reaction whatsoever to Ravenna’s claim to the shower.
* * *
Rosalie woke with a start. She peered over at the dimly glowing alarm clock. Three o’clock it said, needling her eyes with its red light and her mind with the awareness that she should be sleeping. She hadn’t moved from her bed since they’d arrived, she’d fallen asleep on top of it fully dressed. She peered across at Ravenna who was sprawled across the other bed and snoring faintly.
What had woken her up? She wondered to herself. She was pretty sure she’d heard a noise, and it obviously wasn’t Ravenna, whose snores weren’t nearly that loud. Rosalie pulled herself out of bed and went to look out the window. Nothing. All seemed as it should. It had begun to mist outside, she could see the droplets collecting and running over the sleek black paint of her Charger. But there it was again, that noise. It was like scraping, followed by a loud thud.
What the hell could it be? Rosalie turned from the window and went back to sit on the bed. She waited. And there it was again! That damn noise. Wait, was that a muffled scream?!
Alarmed, Rosalie went over and tried to wake Ravenna. She whispered her name, shook her, lightly tapped her face…no response. No surprise there though, Ravenna slept like the dead. But Rosalie had been expecting this and had one more idea. After walking to the bathroom she filled a glass of cold water and returned to the bedroom. Dipping her fingers into the water, she began flicking drops at Ravenna’s face. A few moments and a half a glass of water Ravenna’s eyes finally fluttered open.
“Hey…W-what are ya doin’?” Ravenna mumbled groggily.
“I heard a noise. Get up.” Rosalie commanded.
Ravenna frowned. “You heard a noise? You sure? I didn’t hear anything.”
“Of course you didn’t. You could sleep through the apocalypse.”
“I just like my sleep.” Ravenna pouted in response to her friend’s accusatory tone.
“I know, but I’m telling you this noise was loud enough to wake me out of a dead sleep.”
“It was probably just a car or something. Go back to bed.” Ravenna rolled back over, refusing to be disturbed any further. But Rosalie reached out and grabbed her by the shoulder and turned her back over to face her, then reached to turn on the lamp. Her hand grasped at empty air.
“Ravenna, why is lamp on the floor?”
“What? Lamp... Oh, ya. Well I had to make room for my friend over here.” She answered waving lazily towards the nightstand on her right. Rosalie’s eyes followed Ravenna’s vague gesture to find an open six pack on the nightstand.
“You drank a six pack while I was sleeping?” Rosalie replied wearily.
Ravenna shrugged. “I was thirsty…besides I left two for you but you too busy being passed out to join me.”
Rosalie shook her head, now just wasn’t the time to deal with her friend’s drinking problem. So she pretended it didn’t exist and pressed on.
“I’m serious Ravenna. I think something’s going on out there. This noise… it sounded like someone was being dragged, and I could swear I heard someone calling out, like scream, except it was muffled or something, like someone was covering their mouth.” She said, her tone was hushed with suspicion and her eyes had widened slightly with the darkness of said suspicions.
“Dude, you were probably just hearing things. You’ve just been reading too much. That’s all.” Ravenna said dismissively.
A scream pierced the air. Rosalie rushed to the window and looked out. She saw a solitary figure standing in the middle of the darkened parking lot, staring up at the motel. Rosalie turned back to Ravenna.
“And what the hell was that then? My imagination? And if so, then who the fuck is that down there?!” Rosalie pointed emphatically to the figure outside. Ravenna paused, suddenly pierced with fear before shakily climbing out of bed and hesitantly walking to the window. She peered out at the ominous figure; he was tall, about six feet and heavily shadowed, making his features hard to discern. He wore long dark pants, a sweater, and a black trench coat. His hair was short, and his head was tilted to one side. He swayed back and forth like a tree in the wind.
“Oh, that guy?” She scoffed trying to hide the tremble in her voice. “That’s no one. He’s probably just drunk and trying to figure out which room is his…”
“He doesn’t look like any drunk I’ve ever seen, and I know my drunks.” Rosalie said, giving Ravenna a meaningful look.
Ravenna ignoring the look, and what it implied, continued, “Why, do you care so much anyway? Come on, we’ve got like another five hour drive ahead of us in the morning. Just get some sleep.”
“Ravenna, how can you say that?! There’s something going on here!” Rosalie insisted. She stared at Ravenna incredulously, in disbelief that her friend could so easily ignore the potential plight of others. “We should at least call someone!”
Ravenna’s response was firm. “Like who, the police? Because you heard a scream? For all we know it’s just some couple a few doors down getting kinky. I’m telling you no one is gonna bother even listening to us; it’s the middle of freaking night for Christ’s sake. Now maybe there is something going on, but maybe there isn’t. Either way, how is it really any of our business? Just go to bed, we have another long drive ahead of us in the morning.”
Rosalie gave one last look out the window, the figure was gone. Perhaps he was only lost… She waited for another scream but no more sounds echoed back to her through the darkness. At last she turned back to Ravenna, “Fine.”