~ PART NINE ~
Our experience at the hotel wasn’t what we’d imagined it to be.
Have you read Part Eight? You can catch up *here*.
“So, shall we leave in the morning?”
George’s proposal was sensible; it was the only wise course of action to take. Hopefully we’d have a good night’s rest – if nightmares of gargoyles, ghosts and devil dogs didn’t wake us – to be fresh and fit for the morning’s drive home.
George smiled. “What about it, then? We’ll leave in the morning?”
“No.” I said.
“No? Are you crazy?”
Despite George saying that – and his sudden insistence on leaving – I noticed the glint in his eye; the one that told me he was still very much interested in an adventure.
Crazy, most probably came into it.
Although this was an escapade of the most dangerous kind. And, evil didn’t just lurk on the marshland; it was here, at the hotel. With us.
I slept badly that night. I thought the exhaustion – resulting from the day’s strange happenings and my pain levels – would see to it that I would sleep deeply. That the exhaustion would outweigh the worry and excitement of what was taking place.
Surprisingly, we slept in until 9.15 am; we hurriedly dressed and found our way downstairs to the dining room, where we presumed our breakfast would be. There were used plates, bowls and cups in two of the places – the same places that, last night, Joan and Pendleton, had sat for dinner. Although, there was no sign of them now. Instead, the man – whose face we were not able to glimpse because of it being hidden under the newspaper as he slept – was enthusiastically digging into fried eggs, bacon and buttered toast. He was recognisable by the flamboyant neon-yellow and grey striped trousers.
He turned to us with a cheery grin as we furthered into the room. “Hello…Mr and Mrs Chester? I’m Fred – Fred Smith.” He said, waving a fork laden with dripping egg yolk.
“Hello.” I said, still not properly awake – and not altogether ready for the bright assault of the trousers.
The morning sun streamed through the window, casting its far-reaching rays over the table. Yet, the room was chilly for that late July morning.
“Morning Fred. I hope we aren’t too late for breakfast.” George said, affably.
“I shouldn’t think so. Mary said she’s expecting you both.”
We pulled out the chairs and sat at the table. I noticed that Fred had his plate surrounded by a rack of four pieces of toast, a dish of butter, and coffee paraphernalia. If he had been six years old he might have been told off for playing with his food, for a plethora of crumbs, and drips of egg yolk and coffee embellished the table cloth – quite reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock. He’d taken the seat at the end of the table so George and I were once again seated in the same spots.
“How do you know our names?” George asked, reaching for the coffee pot.
Fred’s brow furrowed. “Mary mentioned you both.”
“Ah; of course.”
Two more cups had been left out for us, so George poured us coffee. “How long have you been staying at the Hotel Unicus?”
“I arrived about six, and because of the long drive, fell instantly asleep! Completely missing dinner!” Fred chuckled, although it was obvious to see by the crinkling of his brow, he was annoyed by the fact.
“Well, at least you’re tucking into a good breakfast now.” George said.
Fred smiled. “Absolutely.”
Outside the window, we heard the neigh of a horse and a clattering of hooves. Oddly, the sound reverberated inside the room and there wasn’t even an open window to be seen.
I have never seen such a large bear of a man move so fast before. For some reason, Fred was up and gone to the window, in a flash. (No doubt leaving a trail of crumbs behind him).
“Strange.” He said, poking about with the curtain to get a better view. “I could have sworn there was a horse outside.”
George and I exchanged knowing looks. The weirdness was winding up again. And, we hadn’t even started our breakfasts yet.
Soon after, Mary made an appearance. Her serene face with her dark, sensitive eyes gave nothing away. Again, she wore the same rag-of-a-dress, the broken shoes and her hair in two long plaits. After enquiring, she then brought us porridge, muesli, fresh fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice, and tea.
“The police have been; and, the body’s been taken away.” She told us.
I spilt my tea. The poor tablecloth – once white and pristine – was now completely dirty. “Already!” I said.
“This may be the country, but things move around fast in these parts.” Mary replied, mopping up my mess with a tea-towel that conveniently emerged from somewhere.
“What did they say?” George said.
“There is nothing to say. Only misadventure on the marshland.” She stated. As she turned to leave with a tray full of dirty crockery and cutlery, she met Fred’s watchful eye. “It’s dangerous on the marshland at night. Don’t venture there after midnight.”
Buoyant Fred, dressed in neon-yellow stripes, a ready grin and a larger than life personality to match his figure, remained silent. I expected him to question what the hell we were talking about.
The door closed behind Mary. The muesli in my mouth felt like course sawdust.
“I don’t believe her.” George said quietly.
I could see that Fred was following our conversation.
Abruptly, he stood up from the dining table, “Well, I think I’ll take an amble on the marshland whilst the sun is out. I hear there are Terns and Natterjacks.”
The door closed behind him.
“Are we still staying now?” George asked me.
~ To be continued! ~
Photographs and digital manipulation by me, 3rd May 2016, Great Yarmouth Row Houses.
My day out at the Great Yarmouth Row Houses.
Writing prompt: Our experience at the hotel wasn’t what we’d imagined it to be.
Writing inspiration: A strange dream. And a little Hotel California.
What’s a Short Story Series?: A short story written over several parts, around 1,000 words for each part.
Copyright Faith McCord 2016
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide right