PART 3 OF 5
The beds are just too damn hard, I dunno how Jared and Denis managed to snore through most of the night, over all that persistent thunder and annoying pattering against the walls. It’s still dark and windy outside and from all I can tell from the sound is that it’s getting worse. Swell, just swell. Just hope this storm blows off sooner than later, it feels like it’s been at it for days now and I ain’t paying this old crook for another night. I sit up on my bed, if I can call it that, thing feels like its stuffed with damn straws, but I doubt this crook could even afford those. No one probably ever rents a room into this depth of the hunting grounds, poor sods who do gotta pay up some high greens for crap services.
No electricity either, peachy, damn crook couldn’t afford to invest in something to withstand the storm, having his own customers crawling and tapping around his floors to find the matchsticks to his old candles. I’m bored, tired and fed up now, so I get up and look over at the two guys sleeping, all cuddled up in the chill of the night, turning over in their little hen nest of a bed, and I grin. These morons look so stupid when they are sleeping. Dunno if they sleep walk or something ‘cause Denis is on the wrong bed and Jared is half on the floor and one of those morons decided to move the damn candle next to his nightstand, casting a shadow over the rest of the room.
I get down and tap around the floor lightly, hoping to find the match box that I’m sure one of ‘em had kicked over, but it’s pretty hard to see in this lighting and I consider for a moment to kick Jared off onto the floor completely, till he finds it for me. As the idea came, lightning struck in the lonely window behind me, in the room, and lit it up for a good few seconds, giving me a fair idea of the match box next to Denis’s bed’s leg. I now get up and walk towards it, as the lighting dies out in the room, and light a match to get me to the wardrobe where they told us they’d have put a few spare candles for the night. Crooks probably knew that they couldn’t afford electricity in such weather. We should’ve listened to Jared, the guy told us he’d been here last season and the crook kicked him and his folks out for telling him to get his act together and giving ‘em their money back. I swear if Jared had some lead with him then, he would’ve given the crook a reconsideration and gotten a proper refund back.
I open the wardrobe, badly carved, wrinkled in the poor light and heavy wooden door for both halves. I bring the candle in there to see better, but it’s just some filthy towels and a back scratcher that I almost set aflame, but blow out fast, almost taking the match with it. I poke around this shelved section for a while but it’s just got old books and china. Honestly, this service is crap. The guys and me got our little hunting stuff with us, maybe we ought to set this crook straight about how to treat his customers. This section is useless, so I close the door and open the other half. I mean, we all got rubber bullets, except for my gun just in case, but these suckers don’t know that, and that’ll get our stuff done. There’s some thick jackets and coats in this half, totally lining it, but I notice that there is a little shelf above ‘em in the back. Yeah sure there’s the other two guys here too, but the way we been treated, I’m sure they’d join us, I know the big guy would and maybe we could even score a few extras outta the little scaredy-cat. I raise the match up and notice three open sticks up there and immediately light one of ‘em up as the flame starts to burn my fingertip. I step on the wardrobe to get a better reach to pull the candle down and then I see it, halfway as I’m bringing it down, in the back of the dark wardrobe, draped in shadows, but plain features standing out, of a face.
I jump back from the wardrobe, swearing loudly, and drop the candle inside, immediately setting the clothes alight. Denis and Jared wake up in a flurry of gasps and “What the hell Tom?” scamper in their sheets and fall off onto the floor, hastily getting up, tripping, and running towards me.
“What the hell did you do Tom?” Denis yells at me, but I’m too shocked to look at him and keep my eyes on the wardrobe, as the wood starts to catch fire and the coats begin to smolder, and open up like curtains, to the figure hanging behind them. I point at it and yell wildly “There’s something in there!”
The two guys look up and stare at it as well in horror, till eventually the floor starts to blacken and Jared yells at Denis “Put it out! Put it out!” and they both lunge at the now rising flames with their blankets and start suffocating the flames on the floor, moving up to the wardrobe, where they look up, past the burning fabric, at the figure, which I could tell now to be dangling in a shirt that was hung up to the backboard. Jared grabbed at it, I’m sure burning his hands to some extent and yanked it out, along with some burning jackets, onto the floor. Now I got up, and pulled down the blankets from my own bed and pounced onto the figure on fire and started punching the blanket to snuff out the flames under it. In a short moment, those damn flames were out and Jared and Denis managed to make the coats fall onto themselves and burn themselves out.
They both got some burns on their arms and hands, their blankets burned into black holes, but their attention, like mine, was on the figure beneath my bed sheet. They crawl in towards me and I wait for them to get close as I slowly start peeling the cover off the face. Suddenly, our room’s door flies open, and I see the big guy standing there, with the old man standing next to him and the little guy peeking over their shoulders.
“The hell are you doing to my cabin?” the old man yelled at us, as the smoke from the ash started to thicken as it ventilated out. For a second I was scared of him, but then I realized, this was his doing.
“Oh, Oh you tell me pops!” Jared hollers back at ‘em. Yeah, what was he hiding in that damn wardrobe of his.
“Yeah ya crook, what the hell is this crap?” Denis attacks em, pointing at the figure beneath me.
We had the old crook in a corner now, now he’s gonna learn what it’s like to mess with us, we’re gonna use this thing he was hiding from us to tear him apart.
“What in the blazes is that?” the big guy grunts at me and I start to uncover the face, slightly burnt. I look up to see the old crook nudging something behind his back and a little girl running away in the background. I didn’t know there was a kid in this cabin. The big guy gasps and the little one looks like he’s about to faint. I look down at the face and realize why. It’s a woman’s face. No, no, it’s her face, the young girl who opened the door for us. Isn’t she the old guy’s daughter? What’s she doing in a wardrobe?
As I throw the sheet away, eyes are drawn towards her neck, a small but just conspicuous enough cut on her throat, sticky with thick lumps off blood, but not oozing because it probably got a bit cauterized by the fire.
What? What the hell is this? I look up and see that the old man is gone, the little guy is knelt on the entrance of our door, sobbing but unable to look away and the big guy glaring at the guys and me. His eyes seem blood soaked.
“What’d you do?” he grumbled and we all look away from the body and at him now.
“WHAT’D YOU DO?!!” he yelled as he lunged at Denis and pushed him all the way to the wall, choking his neck, lifting him up and intensely glaring him down as he tried to mumble something.
“Get off him!” I scream as I pounce at the brute and pull him back from the shoulders in a neck lock to set Denis free. The big man is stronger than me, than all of us and gets down on one knee and jerks me over his shoulder and on to his front side, where he starts to pummel my face, each hit of his heavy fists hitting my cheeks like a sharp rock. I try to push him off but he’s too strong, until Denis strangles him from behind and they both fall onto the ashes of the wardrobe. I kneel over, almost vomiting, but throwing up blood from my mouth, feeling my cheek bones vibrate as my head starts to spin, keeping me from getting up.
I look over my shoulder to see Denis, his right arm being forced over his neck by the brute and hear a shout from the other side of the room, “STOP!”
Jared is standing there on a bed with a rifle pointed at the big guy, who starts to pull Denis in front of him. I try to look at the rifle which Jared is holding.
“Let him go,” Jared ordered.
“Why? He killed ‘er”, the man grunted over Denis’s shoulder, whose face was now red and getting worse.
“Why you think he did it, huh?” Jared went at ‘em, as I try to focus on the rifle, as my vision starts getting steady. “You were the one getting at her, for all we know, you killed her. You!”
“Liar! Your room, your closet, you did it, one of you!”
“She wasn’t there before, you put her there, only you could’ve hung her!”
Jared, what is he saying? We never opened the wardrobe before in the night. Wait…Did he? The candle, the match box, Jared definitely got up sometime in the night. Jared, that’s not your rifle.
“Jared don’t!” I yell at him, but he fires.
My eyes fly straight to the brute, who lays on the floor, still tightly grasping Denis in front of him, whose own struggle seems to have lessened.
The brute lets go of Denis, and his arm falls straight on to his own face, slapping it hard, but he doesn’t say a thing…He can’t.
“AAARRGHH!!” I scream in misery, “DENIS!!”
My eyes, probably red now with fear, tiredness, and anger, turn to Jared. “You…You murderer.”
“Tom,” he speaks back, the nerve of him, “stop, don’t make me.”
I get up and take a step towards him.