All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Author's note: I really enjoy reading and writing horror, although this is my first horror story I've ever completed. I know it's crazy, but Stephen King inspires me to some day write like a crazed, awesome fanatic of the well known and loved genre.
“Mamá! Mamá ”
A young girl’s shrill voice cuts through the cool air, catching the attention of a lone woman. She releases a handful of clothes, letting them fall in a basket as she darts underneath the taut clothesline.
“Sí, mija. Is something wrong?” Her whimsical accent veils each word.
She reaches out, grasping her two small children in her tan arms, awaiting an answer. Her eyes meet the girl’s in a panicked stare.
“Mamá, mira! Look Mamá, look at Mateus!” Fear is painted into the child’s expression. She sends a glance at the boy situated to her side, tugging tightly at the hem of her mother’s dress.
Kneeling, the woman looks her son over, gasping as her fear intensifies. The child’s skin has turned a flaming red with clusters of small bumps trailing alongside his ears. Blood drips carelessly from the more prominent welts, staining his skin a frightening hue.
A rash is forming down the side of his plump face.
“Mamá, it itches.” The whine leaks from the child’s mouth. His body shakes as if the sweltering afternoon air is non-existent.
The mother looks toward her oldest child, demanding an explanation for her son’s ailment.
“The river Mamá; he fell into the river,” she pulls a strand of her long black hair into her face, chewing it as she continues her story. “And I helped him when he crawled out Mamá, sí, I did. N-now he’s hurt.” Sobs burst from her mouth, shaking her as she tries to remain upright.
“Maria, hush mija. Help me get your brother into the hotel.” Taking both of her children’s hands, she leads them into the building, hoping she has not allowed her fear to show.
The young girl holds tight to her mother’s outstretched hand. Spitting her hair from her mouth, she focuses her attention at scratching an itch on the back of her neck, thoughtlessly irritating a small rash outlined in red bumps.
“Oh Chester, it’s absolutely gorgeous!” Lorraine’s eyes light up as she takes in the scene in front of her. The warm wind pushes lightly at her dress, lifting it in a whirl of light greens and blues. The tight fabric accents her small features.
Water rushes down a deep cliffside, ending in a pool of perfect, clear cerulean. Outlets of the crystal clear liquid shoot off in streams to the side, disappearing into the depths of the dense woods. Small birds with lush feathers dance in the air above our heads. A large building placed in a seemingly precarious manner on the cliff rests across from the waterfall. Already the morning sun is beginning to paint itself into the backdrop of the hotel.
My mouth curves up, a shadow of a smile playing at my lips. “Indeed, my love. Absolutely gorgeous. “
Taking Lorraine’s hand in my own, we watch as our driver takes the car down the lone road, sputtering out of sight. Pleasantries float to our ears, drawing our attention away from the disappearing Model T.
“Mr. and Mrs. Chester Boursaw! Welcome to Hotel del Salto.” The hint of an accent touches lightly at his words.
“I am Emanuel, the hotel’s concierge.” He extends his hand to me, his smile never faltering.
We shake hands, and soon after, he offers the same gentle gesture to Lorraine. He nods his head in the direction of the front doors, signaling us to follow. My gaze never leaves his small stature as we walk to the entrance.
Crinkle free jacket, reflective name tag in perfect position, and not a stitch out of place. He resembles the perfect employee.
“I am hoping you had a nice trip here. It was okay, sí?”
I barely have time to agree before the main lobby knocks me into a state of distraction. Cigarette smoke wafts through the air, mixing in an elegant pattern with the soft lull of multi accented voices. Girls adorned in straight dresses walk alongside men suited in pinstripe coats. Vibrant colors meet my eyes in every direction of the room.
“Here is your room key Mr. Boursaw, sir. Let me know if there is anything at all you need. I’ll have your bags brought up to your room.” His voice drops off as his attention is called elsewhere. Waving goodbye, he disappears around a desk, leaving us to fend for ourselves.
Lorraine fits her petite frame against my side. Pulling her closer, we walk up a flight of stairs, ending in a long hallway. It takes no more than a few minutes to find our room situated closely between two others.
“It’s beautiful.” Lorraine’s voice slips out the compliment, losing itself in the air around us.
Closing the door, I sigh contentedly, happy to close ourselves off from the others for the night.
A wave of cool air floods into the room as Lorraine pulls open the small window above our bed.
“It really is beautiful out there.” Lorraine whispers, staring intently at the river trickling through the woods.
“Almost as beautiful as you.”
I take her in my arms, holding her tiny body against mine. The small bump of her stomach touches lightly against me. Her light brown hair, barely reaching her shoulders in length, flairs slightly at the ends. Dark brown eyes adorn her pale, freckled face. Her soft pink lips inch up at the corners to reveal her radiant smile.
“I love you.”
She pulls my face toward her own, kissing me lightly.
“I love you too Ches-“
A shrill scream draws our attention away from each other and instead to the hall. Sobs shadow the shriek, just barely loud enough for our ears to catch. In reaction, we walk into the hallway, searching for an answer to the noise.
A blood splatter trails along the forest-green carpet. Loud coughs alert us of the man sprawled at the end of the hall. He clutches roughly at his side, leaving red marks imprinted on his skin. His shirtless torso is paper white, lined with crimson scratch marks. Popped blisters ooze puss down his neck. Sores dripping blood cover his face in ugly patterns.
“Ay dios mio!”
This sudden intrusion startles me. Turning around, I see Emanuel running toward us, fear evident on his face. He comes to a halt when he sees the man lying on the floor.
“Mr. and Mrs. Boursaw! We must go! Let us move quickly!” Panic is etched into his words.
“What? But sir, that man needs help!” Lorraine’s voice comes out rushed. Sweat glistens against her skin, the heat taking its toll on her already.
“No, no! You do not understand. He is no bueno, we must go, please!”
I risk a glance back at the dying man, gasping as I see him rise. A scowl forms on his welted face, adding to the sickening features of his appearance. He opens his mouth as he lurches forward. A low, guttural growl escapes from his throat. Blood begins to pool at his feet, spreading as he steps through it. His wounds seem to be forgotten as he attempts to run at us.
Emanuel takes off down the hall, disappearing around a corner before my feet have moved. Lorraine’s sweaty palm finds mine and I grasp it as hard as I can. We run off after our concierge with fear pushing us faster.
“In here!” A voice pulls at our ears, drawing us to a cracked open door. We veer to the right and enter the new room.
The man chasing us runs into the door just as it slams shut. His wordless moans seep under the door.
Our breathing slowly returns to turn normal pace. Pulling my wife close, I hold her tight, scared not only for her, but myself as well.
“What was...wrong with him?” I manage to pant my question as I stare at Emanuel.
“It is a sickness. Many of the residents seem to be getting it, and I am not sure why.”
Thuds sound from outside the room, causing us all to jump.
“What happens when someone gets sick?” Lorraine squeaks, terrified and exhausted.
He glances to the door, as if the gasps slipping through the cracks should be answer enough. We look at him unsatisfied. Emanuel shudders before finally relenting to confide in us.
“Red skin, many rashes. Blood, ay dios mio, so much blood! They hear better it seems, smell and see much more too my friends, from what I can tell. Then their cabezas go loco!” He stops to breathe, taking a long break before slowly continuing, “Some go crazy fast, others are slow, and a few never get it at all.”
“Well what do we do? Have you called the police? Doctors?” Annoyance is prevalent in my voice.
This was not how I was supposed to spend my honeymoon.
Emanuel’s face drops, his eyes shutting fast. He brings his hand to his face and rubs at his temples.
“No, no. The government has come.”
At this, Lorraine’s face lights up, hope drawn into her expression.
“That’s good right? They’ll help us get out!”
“They have not come to help us; they have come to make sure this enfermedad, this sickness, does not get out.”
A large lump forms in my throat.
This can’t be happening.
“Wh-what does this mean?”
He shakes his head, avoiding my gaze.
“It means they are going to kill us.”
Emanuel grasps his head between his hands, his body shaking with an aura of fear.
“I do not know what we can do. We stay inside, and the sickness will get us. But we go out and we get shot.” His voice is a mere whisper laced with terror.
“I say we run, and now. I am not letting my family die.”
Lorraine’s eyes catch mine as she nods in agreement. Neither of us will accept this as a possible outcome.
Escape is the only way.
A barrage of different thoughts seems to cross Emanuel’s mind before he reluctantly agrees.
We move toward the locked door in a bunched group. I place my ear against the rough wood, listening for the wails of pain we heard only moments before. Luckily, silence is the only thing to meet my ears. As I grip the doorknob, I notice Lorraine holding protectively over her stomach, maternal instincts taking over her actions.
The door slips open with ease, exposing us to the darkened hallway. We step out of the room with fear etched onto all of our faces.
Eerie shadows creep against us. The walls, some splattered with a crimson hue, guide us through the darkened hall. Lorraine’s hand digs into my arm as we stalk past rooms emanating screams of horror.
Coughs fill the small space as her body shakes by mine. A small rash has begun to blush her cheeks a frightening pink. My hand meets hers in a comforting embrace as I throw the possibility of what this could mean from my mind.
Not a moment too soon, we reach the spiraled staircase, torturously dancing down the wall. Rays of sun slip through previously elegant windows now covered almost completely in a black coating.
They’re blocking the outside from us.
Little light creeping in envelops a shaking, crumpled figure sprawled at the end of the stairs. Guttural moans seep from its throat.
“I will go, stay here until I say it is okay to come down,” Emanuel whispers in a worried rush.
I’m left with no time to protest as he works his way down the slick stairs.
He carries himself down in a cautious manner, his eyes never leaving the heap of a human below him. Emanuel reaches the last step just as the figure lurches out at him, pulling him down with a thundering crash.
“No!” Terror fills my voice as the brawl plays out below. Motioning Lorraine back, I attempt to shoot down the steps, but am faulted.
A hand grasps my shirt before I can make it down a step. I twist back in the direction to find Lorraine seething with anger. Red splotches fill her eyes in random spots. A line of bumps outlines her cheek, circling under her mouth. She lashes out with her hand, slicing my cheek in a burning scratch. The impact of the attack sends me sprawling down the steps. Lorraine’s weight pulls her down with me as she continues to claw at my face.
All air blows from my body as the ground hits me in a hard slap. Black spots freckle my vision. Struggling for breath, I reach out, searching for Lorraine. I sit up in a dizzying rush frantically looking for my wife.
Silence envelops me.
Lorraine, resting in a crooked position against the floor, lies to my side. Her hair splays out in a fan of light brown tainted with stripes of dark red. A metal rod sticks roughly out of her side.
“No. No!” My words come out in a harsh croak.
Crawling to her side, I stare down at her beautiful face. Cuts snag at her skin in crossed patterns. Her chest stills within seconds.
“Don’t do this to me! You can’t die!”
I blow air into her mouth in fast gushes, press against her chest with needful pressure, but she doesn’t move. Tears pour from my eyes, detailing the noiseless pain that clenches at my heart.
Our unborn child.
“I…I am sorry, my friend. I had to. She was n-she was no bueno.” Emanuel’s voice creeps up on me from the end of the stairs. Surprisingly, I had missed him when I fell.
“What are you talking about?” My words come out in a rushed whisper.
Emanuel shivers as the warm air continues to blanket us. The light that trickles through the cracked windows highlights the pain stuck to his face.
“The rod, Mr. Chester. I put it there. I could not let her escape. When she fell by you, I…stabbed her. It was the only way.” Guilt clouds his expression as he slowly continues. “She was a danger to us. I saw. I am sorry.”
Anger floods its way through my body.
He killed my wife. My child.
“I’ll kill you!” The scream rips at my throat as I launch it at Emanuel.
Red flashes before my eyes as I throw myself at him. A loud crack resonates through the lobby as his head bangs against the ground. My fist meets his face in a series of quick punches. Blood colors his skin, both from my knuckles and his nose.
“Mwister Ches-chephster pwease!” The hot, crimson liquid pools in his mouth, choking him as it slips down his throat.
But I don’t stop.
All of my thoughts seem to fizzle out; I can only focus on hurting him. His pleas turn into gurgled moans. A sick pleasure runs through me as I lift his head up and down, banging it roughly against the trashed floor.
I scratch at his throat, clawing away what little life he has left. As soon as his heart stops its thunderous beating, I roll off of him.
Exhausted gasps escape from my mouth as I hit the floor. The ground soon soothes me into a cradling slumber as tears cascade down my gore splattered cheeks.
A muffled voice lulls me out of my sleep, knocking me back into the harsh reality in which I reside in.
Cracking my eyes open, I peek around, searching for the intrusion.
Three suited men stand at the hotel’s front exit. White masks with gray tubing wrap around the entirety of their faces, cloaking their identities. Small tanks tied to their backs release a low humming noise into the air around us.
“Yes sir.” The reply comes from one of the men lingering near the door. If I could see his face, it’d probably be drawn with terror.
A fourth man, dressed in nearly the same attire, enters the hotel at a leisurely pace. He drags a machine behind him, pulling at a long hose as he does so. The strong scent of gasoline soon fogs up my nose.
Without a second glance, the suited figures leave the hotel, dropping behind bottles filled with a sloshing liquid. The machine continues to hum undisturbed.
Grunting, I manage to force myself into a squatting position, taking in my surroundings as I move. Bodies lay littered across the lobby. I catch sight of Lorraine and Emanuel resting side by side and I cringe.
Dead, both of them, gone forever.
No sooner than I have time to feel sorry for myself do I see flames licking under the door. They start off small, and soon progress to rising walls. Smoke billows up to the ceiling in slow wisps.
Kicking off from my position, I dart towards the nearest window. The glass shakes as I pound my fists uselessly against it. Sweat lines my forehead while the fire continues to heat up my space. Ideas pound around my head in quick succession.
Then it hits me.
I dart back as far into the lobby as I can get, giving myself a generous amount of space. My sight narrows in on my target, and I run to it.
My feet hit the floor in heavy thuds. The smoke clouds my vision as I shoot forward. Leaning with my shoulder, I wait for the impact of crackling wood to crumble around me.
Heat covers my entire body as I hit the wood. The door, weaker than I expected, cracks like a whip as I slam into it. My arm goes numb from the crash.
Fresh air wraps around me as I fall through my newly created exit. I stumble to the ground, not able to catch myself in my escape. Blurred movement ricochets far ahead of me.
Men in suits scream as I move to run.
The forest taunts me with a welcoming invitation of sanctuary. Aiming for it, I push myself to run as fast as I can. Trees fill in the space all around me.
Shouts echo around me. Twigs break and voices screech. People run after me, following my footsteps into the woods.
For the second time today, I wish that I was dead.
The cracking of feet to fallen branches finds my ears. Noises of my chasers continue to sound off as I dart through the trees. My steps get sloppier, slowing me down while I stumble through the dense woods.
Rushing water can be heard over the monstrous sounds of gunshots bulleted in my direction. A tree’s leaves blow out in hard gusts as it takes a shot. They’re getting too close.
I ignore the command, my survival depending on my resistance. My destination stretches out ahead of me.
The cliff jumps out at me sooner than I thought possible and relief floods over me. This is my ticket to safety. My life is moving in a slow countdown, everything else becoming near nonexistent in my fight for survival.
The shots are louder, stinging my ears as I catch the intensity of their sound.
The waterfall is shooting down the side of the cliff, guiding the path I have to take.
I just have to jump.
My legs push hard against the ground, launching me into the air higher than imaginable. I feel like I am soaring as my body is no longer on ground. The crisp, cerulean pool soon to be below will hit me hard when I splash, but I will live. I will get help. I will save us all.
Only I don’t get the chance.
Silhouettes appear at the top of the cliff. Their arms lift as they point their guns at me, bullets not hesitating to leave pound into me as I fall backwards.
All traces of color and light disappear from my vision. Sound evaporates into the air around my bleeding self. My body goes numb, the pain of being shot wisps away. Water blankets around me as I smack into the river, my life dripping away with the fast seconds that continue to tick by.
My body sinks.
The bottom of the river meets me in a deadly embrace.