Soft whispers poke and protrude into a resting mind, a dissonance of sound so quiet it tingles the subconscious thoughts that form into a dream. A face nestled into the warm feathery pillow, a collection of moisture dampens the cloth with his saliva. He tosses and turns in his sleep, the snickering shadows looming all four corners of the room. The nauseating bell, the noise faint in his distant unconsciousness, penetrates his slumber as the sound continues three or four more times. Heavy eyes open and close, staring at the cracks in the ceiling that always seem to remind him of faces. Groaning, he emerges from his cocoon, sinking his feet into the denim jeans that fit tightly around his waist. A customer... He grumbled to himself as he buttons up the dapper striped collared shirt that only moments ago lay in a heap on the floor. He pushes the bidirectional hinged door with a shoulder, which swings behind him, and rubbed his eyes with closed fists. Leaning against the counter was an unsightly character, a pale gaunt face with a thin mustache and dark lines were formed under his eyes similar to a raccoon. An unlit cigarette hung at the edge of his wrinkled lips, his ghastly expression was clearly due to a lack of punctuality. The agitated looking man slammed his hand on the small bell once more, only a few yellow teeth left in his mouth he utters without restraint "What be takin' you so long, ah been standin' herr for over five minurtes, and the neon sign out derr says this here hotel is vacant!" A mischeivious smile spiraled along his cheeks, as the disgruntled man leered at the unfortunate customer. "Of course sir," He mustered to reply, a million distracting thoughts racing through disorientation, "I do apologize for the inconvenience and I-" before he could finish, the unruly man cut him off and continued in his broken hillbilly english "Now listen here," the dirty man stared at the name tag of the clerk, pronouncing the syllables under his breath. "Cor...Neil...ee..us? Cornelius? Now thats an awful strange name!" His brows pressed together for a moment, and the skin of his forehead overlapped each other. "I best damn don't give a fuck what yew got to say to me, boy. I jus' want here a good place to rest me head, and if you don't got that fer me then you be wastin' my time, so whats it goin' be Cornalius?" The room was silent for a moment, as Cornelius blankly stared at the man. There were so many things he could say right now, but managed to hold himself back- Not to many people came around these parts, and he didn't want to give up the chance of losing a new specimen.
Cornelius dragged his hand across his face, wiping the momentary lapse of a grimace into crude smile. His radiant blue eyes beamed at the puzzling man, turning around he grabbed one of the keys that dangled from a hook on the wall. "Room 34, sir. And that would be...." Cornelius stared at the imaginary piece of paper behind the desk. "56 dollars." The possibly inbred man snarled his lips back, bearing his brown gums, cigarette still in the crook of his mouth. He muttered something inculpable under his breath, and slapped three crumpled twenty dollar bills on the counter. He then snatched the key from Cornelius's fingers, twirled on his heels and headed toward the glass swinging door. "Your change, sir?" Cornelius called out, but there was no response- it was apparent that the man was in a rush for something. Cornelius plopped down on the swivel chair, smiling to himself as he slid the crumpled cash in his pocket. Cornelius... What a name. A name that didn't even belong to him. He had overtaken this identity for so long, it was difficult to remember who he truly was- distant memories warped into a brand new identity, all of the fond forgotten and the horrifying remain circulating like the Earth. Life goes on... He always told himself, fiddling with the fuzzy purple rabbit foot that was attached to his key chain. For some reason he found comfort in fondling the ornament of luck, his mother raised him to be superstitious. He knew he must be patient capture his prize, hours pass on like minutes, there is no time to lose when playing cat and mouse. Droopy eyes felt like they were cascading down his face, a wave of exhaustion ran over him. Cornelius glanced at his watch, 1:36 AM, he still had time to rest. Besides, you can't pounce on your prey the moment you lay your eyes on them... He thought to himself. Think like a tiger. Become one with your inner self. He set the alarm an hour and twenty four minutes ahead, precisely 3:00 AM. He moseyed into his dark pit of a room, and curled into the fetal position on his bed. Only moments after closing his eyes, he was sound asleep once more, dreaming of potential future events.
The beeping sound of the alarm awoke Cornelius abruptly, peering at his watch it was already three minutes past. With a hand he pushed himself from off his bed, and with a imaginary comb stroked his hair while staring into the mirror adjacent to where he slept. He grinned at himself, unembarrassed at the fact of how brilliant he thought himself to be. Think like a tiger. Be a tiger. He lifts the mattress and pulls the white, blood stained cloth which contained his tools. He calmly placed the parcel into his satchel and draped it over his shoulder. I am THE tiger. He leaves his dark room and heads toward the doorway to the entrance of the office. The neon vacancy light shined brightly, the only color illuminating the dark night. He flicks the switch, instantly disabling the visible radiation. He steps outside, astonished of the humidity- for what time it was, it was incredible how much cooler it was indoors. The neighborhood black cat strides past him, its golden eyes mysteriously gleaming up at him. A bad sign. He thought briefly, but paid no attention as he made his way toward the stairwell.
Firmly grasping the railing Cornelius idly stood at the foot of the spiral staircase with tightly shut eyes, attempting to hone in on The Way as Cornelius would call it. Just then, a blinding light interminably belonging to a headlight of a unwelcome automobile, illuminated the silhouette of Cornelius. Parcel still in hand, he raised his free hand over his brow, protecting himself from seething shock to his vision. A hooded figure emerged from the vehicle and slowly advanced toward Cornelius. "Don't you see that the Vacancy sign is off? You need to leave immediately!" Agitated by the intrusion, yet strangely curious who this visitor might be. Perhaps it could be yet another feeble minded prey. The soft unsuspecting voice of a young woman replies "Look, I understand it's late... And you probably want to get to bed, and I'm really sorry..." She continued to walk toward Cornelius, a dark outline, the unfriendly light obscured her visible features, face still concealed beneath the darkness. "but if you think you could just help me out a little," she ranted on, a great deal of despair and desperation could be heard in her voice, She's afraid of something... Cornelius thought to himself. If not me... Then what? "I've been driving for hours down the highway and I saw the sign, this is the first place I've seen for hundreds of miles... I would really appreciate it if you could maybe tell me where I could get some gas, or tell me where I could stay, I'm so exhausted.. Wow, I've been talking for a really long time I'm so so sorry..!" Cornelius blinked several times, adjusting his wayfarer reading glasses firmly on the bridge of his nose. Blankly, he stared at the blurry shadow that stood before him, questioning if this was reality or his imagination. Perhaps he is in a dream right now, Why yes... A lucid dream. Thats where I am right now. A sadistic smile glimmered on his face, And if it is a dream, its going to be a good one. He turned to her and said "Listen, your just in luck. We do in fact have an extra room now that I think of it. I'm sorry I was stern, I'm just very tired, you see," Chuckling solemnly, he rocks his thumb back and forth behind him. "Just heading to my room to go to bed. Well anyways, go ahead and park your car anywhere you like. There's hot cocoa inside- and if you just follow me." Go with the flow. Without waiting for response, he turned and quickly walked toward the office. Behind him he heard a faint voice call out "Thank you so much! You've no idea how much this means to me!"
Cornelius flicked the light switch on, hopping over the front desk he tucked the hand bag behind the counter on the bookshelf. He tried to make it appear like he was busy for when she would walk in, but really he scribbled gibberish on a piece of paper, his eyes frequently glancing up at the door, watching her park, watching her as she made her way toward him. Without the hood hiding her face, she was a shockingly beautiful individual, but obviously in a weathered condition. She had flowing blond hair, and voluptuous pink lips, her green eyes of emerald were both stunning and unique. These types of dames don't just show up around here. Cornelius placed both elbows on the counter, and rested his chin on his hands. He beamed up at her, with a twisted smile he said "Now how could I help you?" She smiled without bearing her teeth and walked to the counter, placing her suede brown purse on the table. She pulled out her wallet, flipping through each pocket, in a frantic search. Mesmerized by her beauty he fondly gazed at her, snapping out of it he soothingly said "Don't worry miss, you can just pay me 56 dollars, no questions asked." She looked up at him, and smiled broadly. She opened another compartment in her wallet, extracting precisely folded bills so that it could fit in the small pocket. Unfolding it slowly she murmured "Well, I really hope I have enough..." She counted out the bills one by one, "Oh no!" she cried. "It looks like I only have 47 dollars..." She sadly looked at Cornelius, awaiting his response."Well.... I guess we're just gonna have to make do." He grabbed a key with a tag labeling it room number 4, handing it to her with a grin. "Coffee?" He gestures with his face, raising his eyebrow and eyes toward a coffee machine toward a large hot water tank sitting on a table in the corner of the room. "There is packets of hot cocoa in the container over there." She glanced over in the direction, shrugging her shoulders she retorted "I think I'm okay... I'm just gonna go to bed. Like I said, I'm really tired." She bluntly turned around, while pushing the door open she turned her head and smiled. "Good night," she said as she cooly strolled out.
She held her cell phone in front of her as a flash light, the only thing guiding her in the dark aside from the moon. She gazed up at the star speckled sky as she trotted up the stairwell, the faint and familiar sound of snoring as she drifted down the hall. Room 4... Great, my lucky number. She smiled amiably, everything seemed to be working out, despite her current circumstance. She tried to shrug the chill that lingered down her spine, crawling up her back like the touch of a stranger. Turning the key slowly, she paused before opening the door trying to imagine what the appearance of the room will be for such a crummy hotel like this. I can't believe he didn't even check my ID... How odd. She pulled the string attached to the lamp on the table which greatly brightened the room. It was quite simple really, nothing different than any other average hotel. A bed, television, and tiny bathroom. Relatively clean, no cockroaches or anything. She sat on the bed and tried to relax, when she lay down an awkwardly placed spring poked her in the back. She was so tired, she rather ignore it, her mind circulating with constrained thought, going over and over again on how she managed to ruin more than just her life. How can I live with myself? I am so ashamed to be alive. Were the thoughts that transcended in her mind, it felt like days, even months ago all this happened. However, it was only a half a day or so, only 24 hours ago everything was normal. By her standards of course.
She lay in her bed next to her husband, Robby, once upon a time they were in love. She was curled up in a ball, wrapped herself up like am mummy in the sheets. Robby fondly stroked her hair, putting his face to her ear he whispers I love you... But she didn't love him. She couldn't stand his scent, the way he talked, the way he looked- he had no redeeming qualities. He was lost in his imagination, actually believing that his wife has reciprocating feelings for him. The only good thing he created in this world was Calvin, and all of his traits consisted of her good genetics. Years have passed, and unfortunately their story of high school sweet hearts concluded into a bitter nightmare. After they had a child together, Robby completely changed, instead of being a full time mechanic, he became a full time alcoholic. He preferred lounging on his couch drinking whiskey and coke then pay any attention to her, or his child. Calvin was her hopes and dreams, the one and only thing left in this world she truly loved and adored. Calvin was twelve years old now, twelve long years, a very long time to endure the wrath of the incessant arguing and yelling between his parents. No matter how loud the music was that resonated from his earphones could drown out the crying of his mother every night. He was slapped by his dad from time to time, nothing ever severe however, Robby reserved that kind of treatment for his mother. It was Calvin from an early age who had to pull his own father off of his mother, overcoming the fear of his self endangerment to protect her. "Mom," he would often say to her, "Sometimes I wish we can just move away from here, go some where far far away.... Like to where Peter Pan lives, you know? Neverland... I want to go to Neverland." I hope you found Neverland, Calvin... she thinks, as she tossed and turned, swelling with anxiety in the unfamiliar bed. I wish I could be home right now... I wish all of this was just a dream. It was only around 6 oclock when she was making dinner for husband, Calvin was sound asleep in his room, he took a nap as soon as he had come home from school. This time would be the last her husband would enjoy her cooking she had maniacally thought to herself. He stumbles into the kitchen, completely wasted and reeking of booze. "Denise you best damn make me somethin' that actually taste half decent, you god damn horrible cook, didn't yer mama ever teach you anything when you's was a child?" He said, splatter of saliva rained on her face as he spoke in his drunken slur. "Don't worry babe, I'll make you somethin' real good tonight... Something extra tastey, alright hun'?" she replied, doing her absolute best to remain calm. After tonight, I will never be hurt again- neither I or Calvin will endure his tyranny any longer. Robby was bent over face in the fridge, revealing his plumbers crack as he rifled in the back grasping two beers in each hand. He closed the fridge door with his foot, and aloofly walked into the flickering blue room illuminated by the television. After promptly dropping two cans of beans in the pot, she added salt, pepper, some thyme and rosemary. She frantically looked under the sink cabinet for something toxic. She pulled out various assortments of cleaning supplies, and in the way back hidden behind the box of garbage bags, was the container with the skull and cross bones labeled Arsenic. She poured some powdered laundry detergent in with the beans for good measure, and unsure how much arsenic was necessary to kill someone she poured around half the bottle. She mixed the beans together, adding chili sauce to mask the bitter flavor of poison.
The meal was finally prepared, and a wave of relief already was passing through her. "I made you a burrito, Robby! Your favorite!" She placed the plate beside him, glancing at her he grunted and continued staring at the television. She scurried off back in the kitchen, opening the freezer she took the half drunk bottle of vodka as well as the ice tray. She knew she couldn't poison Robby's alcohol because he isn't dumb enough not to notice something wrong with his most prized possession, his liquor. A few clunks of ice in the cup, she poured a smidgen of the drink to soothe her nerves. She sat back in her uncomfortable chair and after a few minutes dozed off for what seemed like minutes. She awoke to Robby saying "The fuck you think yer doin', woman?" She stared at him, shocked that he was still standing, looking absolutely fine. She grit her teeth and replied, "Oh I'm just tired, its been a long day... Did you enjoy your burrito?" He snorts, grabbing the bottle of vodka from the table, and leaving the melted ice tray on the table. "Nah, Calvin ate it. He woke up a little bit after you gave me that pathetic lookin' thing you call a burrita." Robby staggered back into the parlor. It took a moment for the words to sink in. How could this be happening she thought to herself, trying to pretend that everything was normal. She rushed into Calvin's room, the lights were off. When turning them on, Calvin lay there motionless, looking so peaceful. She knew he was no longer breathing. "I have to go to the store, darling!" she yelled to Robby, slamming the front door behind her. When she got in the car, she just began to drive on the highway as far away from that place as possible. She didn't stop for hours until she got to where she was now. She still didn't feel safe.
A noise was heard from out side, like the shuffling of feet. She had been laying in that bed for an hour now, and still hadn't been able to drift off to sleep. She sat up abruptly, listening closely to the sounds outside. A dark figure slowly passed window, she stood up, wrapping the white sheet around her body and walked to the window. She peeked through the curtain, but to her avail could see nothing in the darkness outside. She heard a loud thump, and a faint scream perhaps. What is going on out there... A frequent knock pounded on her door. "Who's there?" she shouted. No response was received. She heard the sound of a key being inserted into the door knob, and quickly she threw all her weight against the door, there was no other lock aside from the door handle. The door unlocked, and someone tried to push the door open with all there might. But she wouldn't allow it, and stood her ground. "Just go away!" she screamed, but still there was no response. She sobbed as she stood blocking the entrance, afraid of what karma was going to dish out to her.