Lucille returned to her room to prepare for her departure. She bolted the dead bolt behind her and took inventory of her belongings to see what might be useful. She had the sickle, hand axe, a spool of dental floss, toothbrush, travel size toothpaste, shampoo, and hairspray, mid-length bridesmaids dress with formal sash, pantyhose, undergarments, and other summer clothing… Dismayed that she didn’t have a normal leather belt or heavier-duty clothing (damned low-key summer travel), she decided to rip the side seams of the bridesmaid’s dress to create a sort of armored bodice so that she could utilize the sash as a belt, since the sash was built in and she was afraid she would compromise it if she tried to rip it out. Thank goodness this isn’t a floor length dress and the resulting movement is reasonable, Lucille breathed a sigh of relief. I can do this…
She wrapped the handles of the sickle and the hand axe in dental floss to cover the grimyness and improve the grip, working in a tiny bit of shampoo to smooth over the floss so that it wouldn’t chafe so badly and made a more even surface. She then fashioned two belt loop holsters using pantyhose and more dental floss to secure the sickle to the sash at her right hip and the hand axe to her left. She shouldered her purse like a satchel to limit its movement and keep it close. She nestled the travel-size hairspray bottle, cap off, in the front of her bodice between her breasts like a can of mace, ready for action. She rummaged through her other belongings and decided that there wasn’t anything else she really cared much about.
She stood at the mirror studying her movements as she unsheathed each of the weapons in turn and swung them about to get a sense of their weight and her speed and accuracy with them. She practiced drawing and aiming the hairspray, careful not to actually spray it so she wouldn’t waste any. Just in case.
Lucille lost track of time as she outfitted herself, and the sun settled into the horizon as the afternoon made way to dusk to evening. She was startled out of her preparations by the sound of swirling shuffling feet working their way up the path; a sense of impending doom lumped in her throat as her heart raced full of dread and anticipation. She had intended to leave sooner…
As Lucille crept to the window to peek out, she made out the sounds of a scuffle outside. From the folds of the dingy drapes, she watched as the tall man shoved the bearded man into the desk clerk, who shoved him back into the tall man with enough force to nearly knock him off his feet. The smaller man from the flea market slunk behind them a slight ways off, snaking back and forth in the shadows at their backs. Her stomach sank as she realized that Tom Jones was not with the entourage.
“C’mon out,” the bearded man started to call towards her door as the desk clerk smacked him upside the head with a hissing,”Ssshhh!”
The tall man shoved him again, shouting, “Nota’gain.” The desk clerk ssshhh-ed him also and thrashed towards him as if to make her point even more heartfelt.
The bearded man and the tall man glared at each other as if fueled by their rivalry and dismay at the turn of events of the night before. The desk clerk stepped between them, glowering with her pinpoint black eyes. She gestured towards the door.
This is it, thought Lucille.
A crash came through the underbrush and Tom emerged following the same fetid brown deer-like creature that she had seen both nights prior. The stench was even worse than the night before and Lucille nearly threw up a little. The animal, if it could even be called that anymore, was shedding bits of fur and flesh as it heaved itself up onto the parking lot. The areas beneath the rotting surface gleamed a sickly pearly pallid gray color that seemed half decayed and yet vibrantly alive. Although it was in far worse shape than the night before, the beast actually moved with more grace than it had previously, its head snaking back and forth daring Tom to come closer. It’s once terrified brown eyes were now just dark black pools, deep and distant.
The contingent of pale hollow-gazed figures slid towards the fray from Lucille’s door as they sized the creature up and gathered as if to bowl it over again. Lucille slowly opened the motel door behind them and slunk out along the outer wall. She gently nudged the door shut behind her. The desk clerk flared a large nostril and shot a harsh glance in her direction but continued to take her place among her comrades.
Instead of hobbling awkwardly in their midst, the once-deer-like animal lunged and thrashed at them. Its muzzle wound around the tall man as it ripped into his head with unnerving agility, tearing open the flesh where the bulging vein had been so visible only the day prior. His skin oozed grey and melded over it, leaving the pulsing vein exposed again, throbbing at his temple. The man threw up his arm to block the creature’s descent only to be trampled instead. Once he was downed, the beast began ripping into his arms with rows of jagged teeth as he threw them up to protect his face.
Lucille continued to sneak along the wall. She had crept her way past Room 2 now and was almost to Room 1. Halfway there, she thought to herself. Just a little more ways to go.
Tom leapt upon the creature from behind and dragged it down the shallow slope as they slid down into the ravine, trailing mud and grass. The diminutive hunchbacked man followed after him, eyes alight and mouth wide, sharp teeth gleaming. The tall man lay on the ground in a haphazard mess of flesh and bones jutting out at all sorts of unnatural angles. Yet, despite the apparent damage he had sustained, he began to rise, jerking his body back into orientation and stretching and cracking his jaw and joints back into place.
The bearded man and desk clerk had remained. Lucille had just made it to the door of Room 1. The desk clerk elbowed the bearded man and motioned towards Lucille with a quick jerk of her head. Lucille bolted for the car as they turned and lunged towards her with lightning reflexes. Their eyes were wide and vibrant, fixated upon her with a terrifying dark brilliance that she hadn’t witnessed directly before. Their nostrils flared wide and their lips curled, their mouths agape revealing a horrifying vortex of three rows of razor sharp pointed teeth curved inward.
Lucille managed to grab the hairspray from her bodice and sprayed the desk clerk fully frontal in the nose and eyes. The desk clerk withdrew, scratching at her eyes with her thick fleshy hands, as the bearded man continued his approach.
Lucille was at the ready with the hand axe and struck him in the shoulder as he thrust himself at her. The force of his assault threw her down on the pavement next to the white Cadillac and she lost her grip on the axe, which slid out of her reach towards VENDING. The bearded man crumpled beside her, his shoulder oozing silvery pearlescent pus. His nostrils flared, his eyes refocused, and he lunged at her again, grabbing onto part of her dress that had billowed out from under her as she shoved herself out of his path. She struck him in the face with the sickle, tearing a large gash across his right eye and ripping open his wide nostril, and he toppled clutching his face.
Lucille threw the Cadillac door open and jumped into the car, grabbing the keys and trying to fit them into the ignition. The bearded man rolled over and began to claw towards her, gaining momentum as he hefted his body forward. Lucille turned the key in the ignition as she slammed the door shut, almost in one sweeping motion.
The white Cadillac lurched into being, as if animated by some unseen bolt of lightning. The radio was blasting static and the lights were on bright, shining like beacons against the wall. She shifted into reverse and backed into the desk clerk, who had regained her footing just in time to be bowled over by the automobile as it sprang into action. Lucille wished the thud and crunching sound were more satisfying, but it just made her feel sicker to her stomach. She shifted into forward and drove over the bearded man with a resounding bump-a-thump as she pulled out of the parking lot and turned towards town, gaining speed.
She flashed through town, jolted every which way by the uneven pavement, trying to forget the images etched into her memory of the grisly figures, their black eyes, their jagged teeth, and the deer-like animal that seemed to become like one of them. She just kept driving, unsure of where she was or how fast she was going as the evening replayed itself over and over in her mind, cringing every time she heard the crunching sound as she backed over the desk clerk.