This story was inspired by a dream I had last night.  Enjoy!

I had been walking along this old, abandoned highway for hours. My feet were beginning to ache and my right shoulder trembled from carrying my pack. I knew that I would have to stop to rest soon, but where?

Ahead stood the dilapidated remains of a building. It had likely been here for decades, touched only by the elements. Its windows were long since gone, except for one round protector of what had once been the attic. It watched me with a blackened eye which had long since been imparted upon it by some high-spirited youth.

With a sigh, I knew that this place would have to do. While it’s true that I could see through the boards in the walls, and just because I could see the glowing eyes of an owl watching me from its perch inside a window on the second story, doesn’t mean that this was a bad place to stay, does it? After all, it does have a sturdy roof and judging by the ominous clouds rolling in, that would be very important in the next few hours.

I shifted my pack from my right shoulder to my left, groaning beneath its weight as I did so. It was a simple action, but it was also one that I had done thousands of times before.

“How long have I been walking,” I wondered to myself. Indeed, just as all dreams have that way of doing, I found myself unsure of how long I had been on this stretch of asphalt. For that matter, where the hell had I come from?!

A distant rumbling changed my line of thought and ushered me closer to this shelter from the past.

It was just a hundred feet from the road and I had to climb a few stairs to reach the top, but it was nothing more than I was prepared to handle. After all, I had come this far hadn’t I? However far that was, I had no idea, but this seemed as good a place as any!

This time I saw the lightning as it struck in the distance. It jigged and jagged out of the sky some miles behind the house, slamming angrily into landscape beyond.  It would be some seconds before the sound reached me, but by that time I would have long since forgotten it.

You see, the light had shown me the house, in all its unholy glory, and I suddenly found myself doubting my decision to stay here. My eyes darted to the right, searching for an old ice-machine, but there was nothing. Nor was there a small stretch of building with several rooms off of an empty check-in.

“For Christ’s sake,” I cursed. “That’s not even real!”

But the resemblance was uncanny. With the exception of some missing details, it could easily pass for the home that iconically stood over a certain motel in those black and white films from back in the day.

I laughed and proceeded up to the entrance. The door had long since fallen from its hinges and I had to walk over it as I entered. I gazed wistfully at the rotted staircase before me. There would be no climbing to the second floor, but it was just as well. I know that the moment I walked into one of those bedrooms at the top and saw the mummified corpse of an old woman in her rocking chair, I would lose my shit. Literally.

I quickly glanced down the hall to the left of the staircase, but the pile of rubble blocking off where the kitchen door used to be was all I needed to see. Not that there was any hope of getting anything to eat here anyways. Any food in THAT kitchen had long since become one with nature.

My only option was to go through the door directly off of my left and, if the layout of this house were as I remembered it, into the parlor.  The entrance was barred by two receding doors and with some effort I was able to force one open enough for me to enter.

A gasp escaped my lips, for even though the room was missing its picture window, it was completely untouched by time!  The walls were still covered in with flower decor.  The fireplace was full of logs just waiting to be lit!  My god, even the furniture looked new and inviting!  In the center of the room is a divan and recliner, both which are fung shui’d toward the fireplace.

Some things were obviously different from how I remembered them in the movies, but then again, this was MY dream here.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but you never do when you’re there, and I happily let my pack down onto the recliner as I opted to lay across the divan.  My poor feet!  They throbbed with every beat of my heart, reminding me that they needed to be released from their imprisonment.

As I removed my shoes, my eyes continued to roam over the room’s contents.  Some of what I saw, I had already half expected. Mounted on the walls are the preserved heads of various beasts; deer, bear, racoon, bison, bull…but I had my reservations as to whether the person who mounted them had actually taken down these creatures.

Something I didn’t expect was the partial bar across from the entrance.  There were even a few bottles stocked on the shelves behind it!  I shook my head in wonder as I pondered how this room could have remained so virtually untouched.  It just didn’t make sense!  Even as I sat here rubbing my tired feet, listening to the increasing storm outside and enjoying the cool breeze as it weaved its way through the wreckage around me, I couldn’t help but appreciate my newly found luck!

I had set my shoes down on the small coffee table in front of me several minutes ago, but it wasn’t until now that I noticed the unusual detail on its face.  Leaning forward, my aches and pains forgotten for the moment, I moved them out of the way so that I could make out what it was.

An electrical outlet?

What an odd feature for a building inspired in the fifties!  I grasped the table and tried move it, but it didn’t budge.

“That’s curious,” I muttered.

Leaning down, I noticed that the outlet seemed to match up with a central support on the bottom of the table, a support which was also bolted to the floor.

“Huh…”  I could only shake my head and grin.  “Couldn’t be…” My words trailed off as they faded back into thought and I looked over to my pack thoughtfully.

It had been awhile since I opened it, but now seemed as good as any.  I seriously doubted, as I continued to sit here in the lengthening shadows, that there was any way it were possible. But then again, what the hell, right?  What is that stupid acronym that the kids are using nowadays?  YOLO?

Excitedly, I leaned over and grabbed my pack.  Setting it between my feet, I quickly went to work removing its contents and laying them carefully on the table.  Cooling fan, laptop, keyboard, mouse, power cord…in a matter of minutes, I was ready to work.  All I needed was a power source to give my equipment life.

“No time like the present, I guess.”

As I held the plug heroically before me, I couldn’t help but imagine that my expression must have matched Arthur’s after he’d pulled Excalibur from the stone.  With a chuckle, I thrust my hand dramatically toward the outlet with little expectations of anything happening.

Lightning slammed into a telephone pole outside at the exact moment that I made connection with the plug.  At first nothing happened.  Well, almost nothing.  I expelled the air I had been holding with a sigh and slumped back in my seat.  As I landed against the soft cushions behind me, a surge of electricity danced across the power-lines, splitting off in several directions while a smaller one rushed along the line leading to this house.

At least, that’s how I would have pictured it had I seen it.  The air suddenly reeked of ozone as sparks leapt from the outlet I had just used. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but it was enough to put the fear of God into me. My heart raced faster than it had that time I had nearly fallen from the tree house I’d had growing up.

The metal glowed white-hot around my plug and I immediately feared for the safety of my computer.  Power cords weren’t easy to come by, especially to a drifter, and I didn’t know what I would do if it were to burn out.  My fears were unjustified however, as I discovered the cord to be cold to the touch.  ICE cold, in fact!

“I’ll be damned,” I praised to nobody in particular.

With only a moment’s hesitation, I reached over and placed my finger on the power button.  At first, nothing happened. Of course nothing happened!  I’m in a rundown house on the side of a highway, which probably hasn’t seen life in over fifty years!

But I was wrong!  My thoughts were interrupted by a light fizzle that directed my attention back to the outlet.  It was so faint that I might have missed it in any other circumstance, but luck was with me.  I watched in awe as the lightning bolt’s electrical leftovers crawled over the end of the plug and buzzed happily along the cord to where it connected with my laptop.

The internal fans came to life and much to my amazement, so too did the laptop!  It didn’t take long for it to run through the booting process, but my mouth hung open the entire time.  It wasn’t until I was staring at my desktop image that I finally came to my senses.

“This isn’t possible…”

As if to mock me, a small window popped up informing me that the battery had reached full charge.

This was getting to be just a little too weird.  Here I was, in the parlor of a fictional serial killer, which just so happened to be the only room in the house that has been untouched by time and my computer is being powered by lightning.  Weird?  Try creepy. But, it just so happens to be the type of environment that I find myself most inspired.  I may have been tired…hell, I was exhausted, but my passion overrides all other pains.

With a sigh, I knew what I had to do.  I reached down with my right hand and placed it over the mouse.  A well-practiced movement placed my cursor over the file and after a couple of clicks I was in.

The heavens threatened to unleash all their fury upon the traveler, but if he felt any fear, he didn’t show it.  His worn sneakers flapped softly across the concrete, punctuated by a light scraping from the peeling sole of his left foot.  His face was weathered by the sun, but he was by no means an ugly man. His was a rugged handsome….

The words poured across the screen and aside from the storm outside, the only sound to be heard was the rhythmic clacking of my keys.  It was easy for me to miss the sounds coming from behind the bar, but then again, I rarely notice anything when I’m in the zone.

The building stood atop the hill, lonely and forgotten.  It’s seemed to smile down upon the weary traveler, inviting him to enter, but each electric flash of anger from above showed him a different side of the wreck.  It was a rotten, evil skeleton of its former self and while he couldn’t see them, he could feel the anguish of the many souls which had been consumed…

From somewhere in the room, I could hear the light rustling of cloth.  It was a familiar sound, similar to one I may have just described in my story, but I couldn’t place my finger on it.  My attention was being pulled further and further into the story, as it always does when my fingers are doing the talking, and it would take much more than the scurrying of a mouse to take me away from it.  Was it a mouse?  Who the hell knows, I have other things to do at the moment.

The wood squeaked in protest as he stepped fully onto the porch.  The door stood before him, open and inviting, but at the same time, dark and foreboding.  A rat lazily climbed over the threshold, pausing only to consider the man before it, before turning and running off to his left.  It was a bloated, well fed creature and the fact that his presence did nothing to alarm it only further instilled his sense of dread.  He was tired, however, and if there was a chance that this place could offer him shelter, he was going to take it…

Something scraped across the surface of the bar, a long metallic scream that forced me back into reality.  I had returned faster than my heart, which came in a close second.  My face flushed, my hands trembled and I could do little other to hear anything over the rampant drumming in my ears.  Not that this was the most important thing on my list at the moment.  From behind the bar stood a tall figure, cloaked in shadows.  I could make little out of its details, whether it was man or woman, but what I could see chilled me to the bone.

A gloved hand was exposed by the dim light of my laptop.  In its hand was a rusted butcher knife.  It was walking towards the end of the bar, towards the small lift-up section that would allow it to enter fully into the room.

I was frozen.  Not by the cold air coming from the open picture window, but from a terror so pure that its grip had me chained to the floor.  There was no logic in what I was feeling, but then again, there was no way I could have missed seeing anyone back there either.

A bead of sweat formed just above his right temple and slowly ran down the side of his face.  The figure stood just out of range from the meager light his computer put off and for that he was thankful.  The musty scent of decay began to fill the room.  It wasn’t the pungent smell one would associate with a fresh corpse, but rather, the scent one would expect from an ancient tomb.

If my eyes could have opened any wider, they might have fallen out of my head.  My computer had decided that it’d had enough interruptions and was going to finish telling the story for me!  The words continued to pour across the screen, but I was no longer watching.  I couldn’t.  I had to find out who, or what, was sharing the room with me!

As if to affirm his thoughts, the room was suddenly filled with light as another bolt of lightning slammed into the highway outside.  Before him was a creature fresh out of his worst nightmares.  It stood over a towering six-foot, three inches, but it wasn’t the height which drew forth his screams.  It’s skin was mummified, shrunken and stretched tightly over its bones.  It wore a dark grey dress most commonly used for cleaning, over which was a yellowed apron.  Askew on its skull was a dark grey wig, which with each shuffling step toward him threatened to fall.

“Norman,” the creature suddenly croaked.  “Get that interloper out of my parlor,”   It’s voice was dry and inhuman in my ears and I had to mentally decipher each word in order to fully hear them. As it stepped into the light, I watched in horror as it lifted the ancient knife into the air.


3 thoughts on “ReBates

  1. The story seems to have simply flowed out of your head, R. I like the jigged and jagged. Something minor:

    “but it was also one that I had done thousands of times before now.”

    You don’t need the “now.” But take or toss my two cents.

    Thanks for the engaging read. And the faithful support. I don’t take it for granted.


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