I see her reading an article on her laptop titled, ’20 Teeny Baby Animals You’ll Want To Put In Your Pocket.’
The more tiny animals she sees, the wider she smiles: tiny sea lion, tiny sloth, tiny lamb, tiny meerkat, and so on.
“Looks like you have something in common with them.” I put my arms around Cassandra from behind.
She smiles, “Go back to bed. You shouldn’t be up so early.”
“Actually I’m still in bed.”
We’re in a hotel room. The bed is near the desk. She’s sitting on a chair in front of the desk and my arms are around her as I’m sitting on the bed.
She starts reading another article, ’15 Tiny Presents You Can Give Someone to Make Their Day for No Reason.’ Here’s some of them: wireless panda speaker, pineapple shot glasses, and matchbook manicure (tiny nail files inside a matchbook).
“Hey, I got a present for you that’ll make your day. It’s in my pocket. But it’s not tiny.” I squeeze her tight.
“Not tiny? I beg to differ.” She giggles.
I close her laptop, pick her up and put her on the bed. She snuggles into my shoulder.
“I was just about to start working you know?” She pouts. “Let me go back to my laptop.”
“Later. First things first.” I start kissing her.
I move the kisses down to her neck, breasts, stomach, and finally between her thighs.
And then her phone rings. The noise is deafening.
She puts it on silent.
I continue going down on her.
But then we hear loud knocks on the door.
I get up, preparing to answer it, but she whispers to me, “Get back down there!”
Hopefully whoever is knocking will come back later.
But the knocking doesn’t stop. The knocks are getting louder.
“Just answer it.” She says, sounding extremely pissed off.
I get up and put some clothes on. She stays naked and goes under the blanket.
I walk through the hallway and as I’m approaching the front door, the knocks get louder.
I look through the peephole and see the concierge that checked in Cassandra and me last night.
I open the door and wait for him to speak.
“Sir, I’m sorry about disturbing you at such an early hour.” The concierge says rapidly. “But we heard screams coming from this floor a few minutes ago and we’re going door to door to inquire if our guests are safe.”
“We didn’t hear anything. And we’re fine.” I reply.
“That’s a relief to hear, let us know if you need anything. Thank you. And once again I apologize for disturbing you.”
The concierge leaves and I shut the door. What’s strange is that the rooms in this hotel are pretty soundproof, every reviewer of this hotel mentioned it online.
“That was really weird.” Cassandra says when I walk back into the bedroom.
The front door isn’t far from the bedroom so Cassandra heard everything.
“Yeah I know.” I reply. “Anyway, he’s gone. Should we pick up where we left off?”
“Later.” She frowns. “My sister texted me. She still hasn’t made up her mind.”
Cassandra’s sister, Melisandre, is going through a rough time. Melisandre has a difficult and painful decision to make. Her infant son is going to die if he doesn’t get a heart transplant but she isn’t sure whether she wants to pursue a transplant. Even if her little boy gets a new heart, she’ll have to fund a lifetime of medical care. That’s a ruinous financial burden for a single mother.
She doesn’t want her son’s life to be defined by a transplant and the doctor said he has no chance to live past the age of 30 so what’s the point? She feels that in a way its better if he dies now before he’s old enough to know what’s going on, before her other children spend their entire lives with him, and before he gets married and has kids of his own. It would spare everyone the heartache.
“I need to call her.” Cassandra says before wearing one of my extra large t-shirts and going to the balcony.
Cassandra and I both think Melisandre should not pursue the transplant. The financial headache and emotional turmoil just isn’t worth it. Melisandre doesn’t know what to do yet, she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.
I feel like taking a nap for a while. But before I can fall asleep I hear a scream from the balcony. I rush over there but I don’t see Cassandra. Did she fall? I look over the edge of the balcony, expecting to see a body below, but I don’t see anything.
My hands are shaking as I call reception.
Before the concierge can speak I start talking fast, “My girlfriend was on the balcony and I heard a scream and now she’s not there anymore. I don’t know what happened or where she is.”
“I was afraid this might happen. I’m coming up immediately.”
The concierge arrives in a few minutes. He inspects the room carefully and goes to the balcony.
“I’m afraid she’s gone.” He says mournfully.
“Gone? What the fuck do you mean she’s gone?” I ask angrily. “Where did she go? Did someone kidnap her? And what was that scream you were asking about earlier? Does that have anything to do with this?”
“There’s something you need to know about this hotel. It’s haunted.” The concierge isn’t making eye contact with me anymore. He’s looking at the floor.
I laugh sarcastically, “Haunted? Really?”
“This is no joke, sir.” He says. “We haven’t had any incidents in decades but this year we have… including your girlfriend’s disappearance.”
“Why is this place haunted? What happened?”
“The first owner of this hotel used to live with his 7-year-old daughter in one of the penthouse suites on top. The hotel first opened about two hundred years ago. He was a cruel man. He used to beat his little girl daily. One day he went too far and whipped her to death with a belt. The first few years after she died went without incident. Then guests began complaining of spotting a little girl in their rooms and the description of this girl matches the pictures of the first owner’s daughter. Then the incidents began to get worse. Guests began to dream of the little girl harming them and would wake up with cuts and bruises on their body. Then the disappearances started… our hotel was almost shut down because of it. Eventually things settled down and nothing bad happened for a long time. But this year, it seems like the ghost of that little girl has returned with a vengeance.”
The concierge pulls out an old black and white photograph from his pocket. It’s a picture of the first owner and his daughter. I look at it carefully. Both of them are standing in front of the hotel. The first owner looks stern. The little girl has a look of hopelessness and resignation on her face.
I’m not quite sure what to say. Even if I believe the concierge, why would the ghost of that poor girl want to cause so much misery? If she suffered so much at the hands of her father, why would she want to make other innocent people suffer? Why not instead become a ghost that protects the innocent? All these questions are making my head hurt. I just want to find Cassandra and get the fuck out of here.
“I think we need to call the police.” I tell the concierge.
“I already have. I am truly sorry.”
“You should’ve told us about the darker side of this hotel.” I say.
“Nothing had happened in so very long and I wasn’t sure of that the stories were even true. The incidents before this year took place before my time.”
“I believe you when you say nothing bad has happened recently. Otherwise it would’ve been mentioned on hotel review sites, social media, and the news. Everyone would be talking about it. But still, you should’ve told us what you knew before something like this happened.”
“I’m sorry, sir. Of course everyone is going to know what happened now. I wouldn’t hide this even if I could. The hotel might be shut down until this is resolved.” The concierge says, feeling quite ashamed.
“Let’s search the place inside out until the police arrive.” I suggest.
We search every corner of every room in the hotel. When the police arrive they search everywhere too. No sign of Cassandra. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air.
By the time we’re done searching it’s late at night. The police tell us they plan to search nearby areas as well. I tell them I’ll join them in an hour. I need to shower and take a short nap first.
As soon as I shower I jump into bed. My head is pounding. I’ve never had such a horrific migraine in my life.
I fall asleep immediately.
I begin dreaming. The dream starts of beautifully. I’m hiking in the Rocky Mountains in Canada. The weather is cool. The air is fresh. I feel motivated to climb to the top of as many mountains as I can.
But then the dream sours. I’m in a dark room. I hear screams. I recognize the voice behind the screams, it belongs to Cassandra. Then I see her in front of me. She’s being crucified to a brick wall. A little girl is hammering nails into her body. The little girl is the owner’s daughter, I remember her from the picture the concierge showed me. Her blood is dripping down the wall. I try to help her but I can’t move. I’m paralyzed.
I wake up with a jolt. I’ve never had such a bad nightmare in my life. My heart is beating faster than it ever has. Then I see something that I never thought I would. Cassandra’s dead body is beside me in bed. Her body has nails sticking out of it. The bed sheets are soaked in her blood.
How the hell is this possible?
Suddenly the door bursts open and several police officers storm inside. One of them yells, “You’re under arrest!”