An ex-cop turned traveling salesman tries to ignore a gift absorbed into him during a violent confrontation with an inhuman criminal, and after checking into a seedy Kentucky motel, finds it overun by terrifying creatures from a world beyond our own. He must use his powers against them and perhaps realizes that life is worth fighting for after all.
Dylan Stone always travelled with a gun in his pocket. Although he had retired from his original profession two years ago and began the difficult, lonely road of the travelling salesman, he still felt the need to carry it.
On a cold September night in the middle of a tired Kentucky town, Dylan checked into the first shabby roadside motel he came across, hoping to brood about where life had taken him until he came up with a conclusion on whether it should end. But where he sought escape from the wear and tear of it, Fate found him.
He was a tall, husky man with wavy black hair and eyes an unusually vibrant shade of blue, and his features were blunt, bold. On the Force, his friends had known his often stoic exterior and apparent coldness masked a heart filled with dedicated concern for others. People always thought of him as a gentle presence. His smile warmed even the most distant introvert, and his laugh had once charmed and comforted back in those days when life seemed meaningful.
Rain rapped on the hood of his hunter green Maxima like a visitor demanding entrance, and trickled down the windshield like teardrops. Idling in the motel’s parking lot, he watched an elegant, bird-like woman in perhaps her thirties lift grocery bags out of the trunk of her car and hurry into the motel, rain battering her blonde hair. He had good vision and from here her otherwise lovely face looked contorted, troubled. Then again, so did everything he saw these days. But he wondered what circumstances could lead someone like her to a seedy place like this.
As he entered the lobby, the smell of old coffee filled his nostrils and the night attendant peered up from a risqué-looking magazine, eying him with watery gray eyes.
“Can I help you?” he said in a bored, creaky voice, putting his magazine under the counter and standing up.
His gaze relaxed when Dylan pulled out a wad of tens from his wallet. “I’d like to book a night. Please tell me your cockroaches are discreet.”
The man raised an amused eyebrow. He sheepishly accepted the appropriate cash without question.
In places like this, no one cared who you were or where you came from. And they pretended not to notice when the shady-looking, strung out crackheads and junkies slunk down the halls in search of the room where they could get their fix.
Dylan didn’t care either. He just wanted out of the rain.
It had been a long, unsuccessful day of fruitless prospecting, and the car seat had made his back sore. No one wanted to buy these days, in this depressed economy, and in truth it wasn’t his positive effect on people that made him quit the Force and pursue sales. Since one strange night in a New York suburb, he had been clinging perilously to a precipice that threatened everything worth saving.
As he headed down the hall towards his room, Dylan’s gray mood matched the drabness of this lodge. The carpets were thin, the wallpaper a sickly shade of green and an eye-stinging orange. It was evidently meant to serve as good decoration, but it only inspired further feelings of resignation in the worn-out businessman.
The door creaked miserably as it swung open, and the room smelled dusty. His senses were dulled from fatigue, and all he wanted to do was escape to the land of dreams for a while.
Setting his duffel bag and suitcase on the floor, he sat down, testing the double bed, which sagged beneath him, the springs twanging.
He removed the Glock pistol from his brown leather jacket, and set it on the nightstand, where it gleamed with sullen wickedness in the lamplight.
For some reason, he felt like it ought to be in easy reach. One could never be too careful.
Dylan pulled down the covers and searched them briefly before lying down and as soon as the lights went off, the nagging thoughts that he struggled constantly to keep at bay came flooding in, welcomed by the darkness. Images of his estranged wife Kelley flickered through his fatigue-dulled mind, smiling as though in a photograph, and then frowning as though in a moment of sadness that life never failed to deliver.
His despair had faded into a depression that he couldn’t shake. But the only thing that kept him going was the thought of reconciling with his wife and going back home, where an empty child’s room waited to be cleared of memories, and where a light of hope remained to be fed.
Tragedy should have brought them together, but instead it tore them apart.
Eventually, he slept. His dreams were strange, full of fog-hidden figures that beckoned sweetly to him from the murk, whispering of an escape from pain. Somewhere in the back of Dylan’s mind, he knew who they were and where they came from despite their mysterious nature, but he awoke in an icy sweat, uncomprehending.
Restless, he paced back and forth in the tiny room, knowing that it wasn’t just the dreams that troubled him out of sleep. The place held an atmosphere that he hadn’t felt before. Something that was expectant, waiting.
Trying to shrug off this notion, he flipped on the TV and surfed channels for a while, finding nothing but news channels running the same cases of murder and decay into the ground, reality shows that were themselves a distorted image of reality, and a cheesy horror movie.
Thoughts came and went, and they seemed to intensify and have cruel intentions of their own.
What are you even doing here? You washed-up loser. Do something with yourself or end it.
Dylan tried to amuse himself with a late-night stand-up comedy, but none of the jokes seemed funny.
As he prepared to change out of his business suit and into a pair of boxers, someone outside the door screamed. A woman.
Her shriek was full of such terror and volume despite the muffling door that he nearly jumped out of his skin.
Dylan’s dulled instincts flared with new life. He wasn’t a cop anymore, but tides of concern and anger surged, commanding him to act.
Call the front desk, a weak voice piped up within. They’ll send someone else to stop it. You’re not equipped to handle this anymore than you can handle anything else.
After a moment of hesitation and another dreadful scream, he defied the voice, snared his gun from the night stand, and flew out the door.
Weapon held out in a shooter’s stance, his head swung back and forth, scanning the hallway for possible attackers.
She screamed again, and the shadows that flourished below the meager fluorescent light seemed to throb with excitement.
Curious people were opening their doors and peering out at the commotion. A scrawny man in a white tank top. A girl of perhaps nineteen. A man in a western shirt and a Stetson. When they saw the gun clenched in his fists, they gasped and ducked back into their rooms.
The screams were getting more desperate and raw, punctuated with stuttering miseries, animal whimpers of terror. Dylan ran down the hall in their direction, feeling like a self-righteous, washed-up hero wannabe but unable to help himself.
He was bracing not only for a fight but for something far more meaningful. And when he turned the corner, his eyes were at first unable to register what they saw.
The woman he had seen in the parking lot was perhaps four feet up in the air, pinned against the wall next to a pair of soda machines by something…something huge and writhing and gray.
Dylan’s heart shuddered inside him, and stark terror took hold because he could plainly see the woman’s attacker wasn’t human. No, it was something out of a nightmare.