The Hotel Unicus (Part 18) – A Short Story Series

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~ PART EIGHTEEN ~

Our experience at the hotel wasn’t what we’d imagined it to be.

Have you read Part Seventeen? You can catch up *here*.

Part Sixteen

Part Fifteen

Part Fourteen

Part Thirteen

Part Twelve

Part Eleven

Part Ten

Part Nine

Part Eight

Part Seven

Part Six

Part Five

Part Four

Part Three

Part Two

Part One

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George awoke me by softly calling my name. I saw Pendleton beside him, but no Fred.

“Fred?” His name came out as a cry. I feared the worst.

“He must have took off onto the marshes – but it’s too dark to see your way round now. We’ll look for him at dawn.” George said, his voice grave.

The sinister words the Tall Man had uttered, came back to me –

“Black Shuck. The Hound of Hell. You better keep off the marshes.”

I shuddered.

 


 

There were Fred and Sedgewick. Or, rather, the body of poor Sedgewick, to think about.

Only when they had been found could we leave Hotel Unicus. The problem was, we had to venture onto the marshes – in daylight or not – it was the precarious domain of Black Shuck.

We slept fitfully in our room that night. Pendleton and Mary were nearby, ever watchful, like two faithful sentinels. They could have been inside our room and we wouldn’t have known, since they were invisible.

At six in the morning,  we packed our few things to leave, then, we went into Fred’s room. Mary showed us the way. I involuntarily let out a laugh, when I noticed the decor – of swags and tails, flounces and frills. In pastel hues, floaty fabrics and cupcake prints and kitsch furniture and ornaments, the sweet room declared to be eaten.

“Cupcakes!” I blurted out.

It was so absurd! Like a sickly sweet nightmare. The point at which the cake you’ve eaten was both too rich and too sweet, leaving you with an upset feeling.

George smiled, not unkindly. “Of course, of course. Fred would choose the room with the food theme.” It made perfect sense.

It was just sad he couldn’t be appreciating it now.

We gathered his few items, such as clothing and slippers, to put into his large overnight bag, also remembering to pack his toiletries.

On the floor, peeking out from under the bed was a card. I awkwardly bent down and retrieved it.

My husband, with his back to me, contemplating the view of the marshes through the window, didn’t notice it.

I went to him and he squeezed my hand. “Maggie, I thought for a moment, there was a slim chance he could be in here. And, not lost on the marshland.”

“I know George. Let’s see if we can find him.”

.

There were a distinct chill and a thick mist that covered the bottom four feet of Unicus, until it thinned out towards the top floors of the building.

As before, we followed the meandering earthen path eastwards; the mist, as if an alive being, curled and uncurled around our ankles like snakes. We were still able to find our way, by fixing our sights on the earthen parts of the path – it was just more work and slower going. We followed the path until the bramble hedge and stile, of which we climbed over.

As I rested atop the stile, before throwing my leg over, we heard what sounded like Joan’s horse neighing in the near distance. The intrusion stopped us momentarily; ‘Joan’, George muttered.

She can’t hurt us with me here.” Pendleton said.

“Thank you, Pendleton.” I said.

The little person shivered. We all knew, though, that he wouldn’t be able to protect us from everything.

In the cloaking and moving mist, the tree branches – long and knobbly – stuck out like arms and hands and searching fingers. Whether they were Silver Birch, Oak, Sweet Chestnut or Ash, they couldn’t be distinguished from one another. The earlier walk we’d enjoyed, for the most part, under warm and bright skies – until the sighting of Black Shuck’s claw grooves in the wooden seat – seemed a completely different place.

The weather and the darkness weren’t natural. It should have been light. It was as if the Tall Man had the power to colour them darker, to fit his own twisted agenda.

Was he really that powerful?

We passed the oak tree, where I’d noticed the small horses grazing beneath its boughs. The mist snaked around and about the tree as if presenting us with a magical illusion soon to take place. The three of us stopped on the boardwalk, mesmerised by the quickening and slowing display of the tendrils of mist.

Then, I recalled Elizabeth’s words: ‘The deceased Sedgewick: you will find his body buried on the marshes…Under a tree.’

“I don’t think that mist is from the Tall Man.” I said, just loud enough for the others to hear.

“I’ve never known a mist like it.” George interjected.

“I’m not saying it’s natural. It’s anything but. What I mean is, that I believe it’s just trying to tell us something.”

Pendleton, George and I stared at it.

“I believe it’s from Elizabeth.” Pendleton said.

Before I could voice my thoughts about what Elizabeth had relayed to me, in the distance, from out of the depths of the mist, a fearful scream arose. It filled the air, our senses. I held George tight to me. Pendleton whimpered.

“FRED!” George yelled.

The skip of a heartbeat, then: “GEORGE!”

We tried to move quickly along the boardwalk, in the dense mist, towards the sound of Fred’s voice. Fred called out again. We passed the wooden bench we’d sat on; the very one that was marked by Black Shuck. We heard the thundering gallop of hooves on the marshland and couldn’t keep our eyes off the dancing neon green illuminations ahead. The nearer we reached them, the further away they danced.

Where is he?” George said in exasperation.

We came to another wooden bench and I was forced by my own body to rest. I couldn’t go on.

The mist thinned somewhat. “I’m sure it’s Fred I can see, further up…”

“Isn’t that good, George?” I couldn’t understand the hesitation in his tone.

“There’s someone with him.”

The Tall Man? I thought.

No, we had been spared that awful fate.

The mist thinned further as if consciously making way for Fred – and his mysterious friend.

“He won’t hurt you.” Pendleton whispered to us.

“How do you know that?” I asked him.

He didn’t answer me. He just stood there, sort of relaxed considering the circumstances. George, on the other hand, wore a deeply puzzled expression.

In less than a minute they arrived at the bench where I sat and George and Pendleton stood.

“I screamed when I saw him come out of the mist.” Fred explained.

The slight, slim man beside him smiled sadly. He had on a long waxed coat and rubber boots. His fair hair stuck up in spikes from the unnatural elements.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes…at first.” Fred continued.

Then, we knew who it was, without his further explaining.

“Mr Sedgewick?” George said astounded.

“Yes, yes, it’s me; but please call me Tony.”

“But, I saw your body.”

.

 

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“I’m not alive – you’re quite right. Without locating my body, though, I cannot escape.” Tony Sedgewick said.

I smiled warmly at him. “But, I know where it is buried.”

.

 

 

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~ To be continued! ~

 

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Photographs and digital manipulation by me, 3rd May 2016, Great Yarmouth Row Houses.

💜

My day out at the Great Yarmouth Row Houses.

💛

Gideon Falls

💚

Words: 1,125

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.

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*

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 rights.

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About Oscar Dandelion

Hi, I'm Faith McCord, writer of the Oscar Dandelion books. I love reading, writing, watching films, looking at architecture and general design, embroidery (especially Elizabethan), spending time with my family. I used to enjoy long walks, bodybuilding, going out, however, since my injury my mobility is seriously impaired, so I'm more of a home-body now. I'm interested in meeting other indie / pro writers, so do say 'Hello' ! :)
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18 Responses to The Hotel Unicus (Part 18) – A Short Story Series

  1. I back tracked to part 15 and read from there.. Loving this story 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sue I have been in since part 1, it’s fabulous. We are just left hanging when we are about to find out something interesting.
    As usual I will return next week. :o)
    I am also browsing your other works. You have hooked another fan. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Patricia 🙂
      Thanks for dropping by again, I promise to make the ending a good one (or, I’ll give my very best). And, then I’ll feel sad about leaving Maggie and George and the rest of them.
      Gideon Falls is a novel I’m researching at the moment. I want to give it my best…
      I hope you had a lovely weekend xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your story is now my Sunday morning read with my cup of tea and what ever I decide to have for breakfast, which is usually a croissant or something delightful.
        I have my idea on how this is going to end but I am keeping that to myself to see if I am right. :o)
        I am sure Gideon Falls will be fabulous! I look forward to reading it, I hope it will be available on Kindle. I have so many books to read thanks to the wonderful storage Kindle provides.
        I too am writing. I am thinking about putting together a short story book but it will contain several different genres. I write mostly humorous memoirs that are true. My book ‘The Italian Thing,’ is a hilarious memoir of a trip we took to Narro, Sicily to visit relatives for the first time. We were there for over a month. You might want to take a look at it. I have dabbled in a short romance story as well.
        I tend to write humorous stories from my life of 73 years and counting. I dabble in poetry but do not consider myself a poet.
        I love mysteries like this but do not like blood and guts horror. I have read one or two books but it is a rough read for me.
        I also enjoy some of your other offerings and your blog is one of my favorites.
        Have a great week. :o)

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’ll write you a far better reply this evening, got this annoying thing to sort out with my disability payments…
        I keep coming across Italy; I almost went to work there at 20 as a nanny, instead of going to Germany. Patricia, your trip to Sicily must have been wonderful. 😀
        I LOVE olives! John is half Greek and his Greek grandparents have an olive (‘grove’, I think it’s called?).
        Thanks, have a great week yourself 🙂 xo – Faith

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, that’s so nice! I have a picture of you eating your Sunday breakfast reading my story – I am flattered 🙂
        I would love to read your memoirs, ‘The Italian Thing’ – is it on your blog?
        Me too, I don’t much care for the bloody violence – psychological tension does it for me! Love Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine; I am saddened that she’s passed on, that there will be no more books… I don’t mind the odd swear word, but when stories are littered with them, I cannot take them seriously. I’m calling my horror mysteries – cozy-horror-mysteries! I’ve seen/experienced too much violence and cruelty in my life, I can’t take the heavy stuff. I’m 43.
        I’m glad to have met you, Patricia. Please let me know where I can read your memoirs 😉
        Faith xo

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh yes! The olives, I think every one in Sicily has a olive grove. We did bring home olive oil made by his family and wine of course. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The story is great fun and mystery. I look forward to next week’s post. Hope you are doing well this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Hotel Unicus (Part 19) – A Short Story Series | Little Lord Oscar Dandelion Books

  6. “I love mysteries like this but do not like blood and guts horror” – I completely agree! This is such a wonderful read. It is full of suspense and mystery, but without gratuitous gore. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Hotel Unicus (Part 20) – A Short Story Series | Little Lord Oscar Dandelion Books

  8. Pingback: The Hotel Unicus (Part 21; Epilogue) – A Short Story Series | Little Lord Oscar Dandelion Books

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