The television was on, but the antenna was broken so the screen is nothing but static. There are mold spots in different corners of the motel room that she and her mother are staying in for a while. There is a large plastic trash sack of their laundry just sitting by the bed and their two suitcases are on the floor next to it. She knows that they are somewhere in North Dakota, but she is unsure of the exact location. She is bundled up in a large gray hoodie and wearing rugrats pajama pants with worn out gray slippers keeping her bare feet warm.
She twirls one of her brown curly strands of hair with her index finger and her green eyes glance around in the darkroom with only a lamp which occasionally flickers. She notices her small black feline friend huddling close against the wall with a nervous stare.
She hears a knock outside the front door. She opens the door to see the manager of the motel standing there. He is an old man wearing wrinkled jeans and a large thick coat. His skin is pale and dark circles underneath his eyes, probably from lack of sleep. He tiredly smiles down at her with a calm gaze.
“Hello, Danny. My name is Charlie. Your mom asked me to keep an eye on you.”
Danny only stares up at him with nerves giving her goosebumps seeing this tall stranger standing in the doorway. She closely watches him as he slowly kneels wincing as his knees pop. She sees a small tattoo of a bird on his left wrist.
“I am a personal old friend of your mom’s. I promise you, nothing bad will happen to you. Not if this old geezer keeps breathing. If you need anything-
He points to his left with his index finger with a serious gaze.
“I’ll be in my office down there and I will keep it unlocked. You leave this door locked; you hear?”
He sighs and he pulls out something from his pocket. It is a small flashlight and he hands it to her.
“Just in case it gets too dark, you use this. If you get scared, you use it. I had this flashlight ever since I was a kid. As a kid, something scared the shit out of me. Pardon my French. It was always the same thing during the dark. A woman with spider legs staring at me. As an old geezer, you think I won’t remember something so horrifying. I use that flashlight and she finally left me alone.”
Danny grips the flashlight tightly close to her chest.
“Thank you, sir. Do you think she is actually gone, the…woman with spider legs?”
He slowly stands up wincing and he softly smiles down at her.
“Certainly not from my mind, but the bitch is gone.”
He ruffles her hair with a wink.
“Well, this old geezer needs some shut eye. Keep yourself warm-
He glanced down and so does she, noticing that he is sees Shadow peeking out from underneath the bed.
“Both of you, keep each other safe.”
Danny watch as Charlie gives her a smile and pulls the door closed. She locks the door taking Charlie’s words seriously. She glances down at her feline friend.
“Shadow don’t worry. Mommy will come back. You’ll see. She always comes back.”
Shadow slowly crawls from underneath the bed with wide eyes cautiously sniffing around the room. The telephone rings on the small wooden nightstand by the bed.
Danny answers the phone holding it close to her ear.
“Hello?” She answers.
Honey, I left eight dollars by the television just in case you get hungry.
Danny can hear the low softness of her mother’s tone almost faint.
There is a long pause and Danny is unsure if her mother had hung up the phone or maybe her mother has finally let the void eaten up her heart, enough to never show love toward her daughter. Danny has a deep hatred for her father, abandoning them and taken their home away from them. He may have even taken her mother's heart and broke her spirit.
Honey, I am sorry that we are struggling and that I’m never home.
Danny can hear her mother’s voice choking and sputtering out her words. A deep sadness in her mother’s voice that Danny never thought she would hear.
I promise I will make things better. Honey, I love-
Danny cannot hear her mother’s voice no longer only static and whispering. She freezes up hearing the small multiple voices that she could not understand and out of fear she hangs up the phone. Danny sits down on the bed with her feet dangling and Shadow pounces onto the bed. He lays next to her curling himself up into a ball and Danny brushes his head feeling his soft fur. Danny always had a strong imagination, which is why she loves reading books so much and she lacks social skills including making friends in her school. She would always go underneath a tree to read while the rest of the children play among themselves. She glances down at Shadow and pets his head gently.
“You are my only friend. I want us to be friends forever, Shadow.”
Danny grabs the money and she slid into her thick gray coat. Shadow let out a small meow and Danny shakes her head with a small smile.
“No. You can’t go out there. I’ll be right back. I’m just going to get some food.”
After she said that, she closes the door behind her, feeling the ice-cold air against her cheeks. The night is quiet, and the winter storm is so thick she can barely see the streetlamp across from her.
There are lights wrapped around dangling from the edge of the roof flickering on and off. It disturbs Danny when the lights were off for a second, she notices an outline of a person from the distance when the lights flicker back on the person is gone. Danny quickly stroll around the corner and found the vending machine. She feels comfort hearing the hum from the large snack machine. She stands in front of it feeling her nose and fingers growing numb. She suddenly hears footsteps from the distance stomping heavily in the snow. She freezes and her eyes widen in panic.
Crunch… crunch ...crunch.
Danny gulps and instantly she can hear a couple of more steps sounding like there is more than one person. The multiple steps start to get close behind her or possibly surrounding the motel stalking in the shadows.
Crunch… crunch… CRUNCH… CRUNCH…
She a dark shadow looming over her form and she feels fingers gently brushing through her strands of hair tickling the back of her neck. Her whole-body freezes and she holds her breath for a moment. She can only hear her heartbeat but as the moonlight shines behind her, the shadow looming over her vanishes into thin air. She slowly turns around, but she sees no sign of the figure standing behind her. Panic settles into her mind and she rushes back to her motel room.
She runs to her door opening it and closing it behind her.
She locks the door and she breathe heavily. She jumps onto the bed covering the blanket over her head closing her eyes tightly just waiting for the morning to come quickly. Shadow crawls underneath the blanket snuggling up close against Danny's chest sensing her fear and he let a small purr out comforting the cries in her head. Danny hugs her feline friend letting his small purr lull her to sleep. Danny wakes up still hearing the wind howling outside and the ceiling groans like it is about to be ripped off by the strength of the storm.
She pulls the blanket off her, feeling the cold air around her. She glances over at the heater in the corner of the room and notice that the small light of the on switch is off. She went over to it and wiggle the plug and she presses the on button, but no heat comes out. She realizes she will not be able to receive a call from her mom. She went over to the curtains and pull them apart to see out the window. Ice stiffens the trees around the motel even sharp icicles dangle from the roof.
Thick clouds are still blocking the moonlight and both snow and sleet rain down with the sharp wind blowing it in every direction. She can hear the pitter-pattering from the sleet hitting against the roof. She ponders whether to leave and find a telephone pole to call her mom's work or stay inside to wait. Danny's stomach growls in protest and she remembers a few hours ago she was unable to get food.
Danny stares at the door, her heart pumping faster and she hesitantly went over to the door leaning her right ear against the cold wooden door frame. She hears a low giggle from outside the door. She feels relieved hearing the familiar voices of children whispering and giggling behind the door. Without thinking she turns the knob and opens the door. There are three figures taller than she and they are wearing similar black jackets with hoods hiding their eyes. Their jeans are ripped and shredded, but she instantly notices that they are barefooted. Their skin is as white as the snow and their small lips blistered with dried up blood scars.
The tallest one in the middle grins, which she could see by their body frames that they are young boys. She frowns feeling a sudden uneasiness from the pit of her stomach.
“We are lost, and we can’t find our parents.”
Danny shakes her head.
“I am not supposed to let strangers in.” She answers nervously.
The boy pouts his lips and Danny’s eyes widen seeing his black voided eyes underneath the hood.
“Please, it's cold out here. You don’t want us to freeze to death, do you?”
Danny hears a low growl behind her, and she glances over at Shadow standing aggressively with fur high up from his back. She glares at the boy who seems to be coldly staring at the small feline.
“He knows that you are a bad person. So, go away.” She sneers.
The boy’s black voided eyes glance over at her and she feels fear in her heart. They all hear a door slam and a light shining right at the three children.
“Hey, you kids shouldn’t be out here!”
She can hear by the tone of voice that it is Charlie. The two children without hesitation went over to the direction of the light. The boy smiles lean in close with a glint in his eyes.
“You should have let us in. Now, someone is going to die tonight.”
Slamming the door behind her, panic overcomes her mind and she have a gut feeling that they are not children. The only light in the room is whiteness from the winter storm coming from the window. An hour passes by as she sits in the corner of the room with Shadow sitting next to her staring intently at the door. Suddenly she hears a distant agonizing scream from outside and she stands up, glancing around the window.
Charlie. She thought.
She remembers the boy’s voice clearly in her head.
Someone is going to die tonight.
She opens the door feeling the cold breeze against her cheeks and Shadow slowly follows her sniffing the air. She glances over to her left seeing the small office sign flickering, but the lights were off from inside. She hears a loud banging noise coming from inside and went over to it with Shadow closely behind her.
“Charlie? Are you in there?”
She leans in looking through the window glass, but all she can see is darkness. Then a large hand slam against the window and she jumps back distancing herself. The hand was covered in blood and Charlie's face come out of the shadows with a distant gaze staring directly at her.
Charlie's face instantly decays until his skin turns into hanging leather and his eyes roll back with a gasping noise, his lips gulping for air. His face slid down against the glass and it vanishes back into the shadows engulfing the hand and face. Shadow growls sticking close by Danny's side. Danny feels a scream building up inside her and tears slide down her cheeks.
The glass breaks and shards fly onto the ground as a hooded boy crawls upside down on the ceiling, spider-like. She starts to shake completely frozen watching as the boy crawls his way quickly toward her. He turns his body hearing bones shifting into an odd angle showing off his deformed round mouth with sharp-edged teeth circling inside the gums. His sharp tongue slithers out and in a second he pounces from the ceiling about to land on her, but she quickly rushes back toward her motel room as fast as her legs can carry her. She continues to run quickly then recognizes the two figures ahead of her, she halts to a stop. The two hooded boys with similar grins start to slowly stalk toward her.
“You didn’t have to kill him! He was my friend!”
The two boys instantly stop, and she hears a low chuckle behind her.
“A friend? I told you someone was going to die.”
She slowly turns around seeing the boy’s black liquid eyes and showing his sickening sharp teeth, stained with blood.
“I can be your friend. You don’t belong. I felt your pain and I heard your cries.”
Danny’s bottom lip quivers and she takes a couple of steps back.
“Your monsters. Why would I want to be friends with you?”
He pouts and he put his hands over his heart.
“That really hurt my feelings. Why would you say something so hurtful?”
Danny shakes her head as a flame starts to build inside her.
“I don’t want to die. I didn’t want Charlie to die. You have no feelings.”
The boy slowly stalks toward her with his arms spread out, with that large demented grin.
“I know you do. We can give you a life without pain. You will be youthful. Come with us. No mother, no father, no responsibility, no pain. You can play games, stay up all night, and we will be your friends forever. Don’t you want that?”
All three of them start to creep closer and closer surrounding any possible escape routes. Shadow stands protectively in front of Danny with a low growl.
Fresh tears slid down her cheeks and she closed her eyes ready for the pain about to be inflicted upon her before death swallows her soul. She hears a high pitch scream and she opens her eyes seeing Shadow’s small body clinging claws around the boy’s head. The feline hiss and nips his sharp teeth onto the boy’s face causing deeps cuts and bites within the skin. The boy rips the feline off of his face shoving Shadow’s body onto the ground. Danny leans down and pull Shadow’s small form close to her body.
Black ooze slides down from the boy’s fresh cuts. He grits his teeth and he storm toward her with a dark look.
Then moonlight peeks through the clouds shining upon his form. His skin starts to blister, and sizzle and he scurries away quickly into the hidden darkness of the trees. She glances over at the two other boys and she sees the fear in their dark voided eyes staring intently up at the sky as clouds move to let the moonlight shines through. They instantly vanish into thin air as the moon becomes in full view in the night sky and she sees no trace of them. She can only see thick snow covering the ground and feel snowflakes hitting softly against her skin. Shadow's ears twitch still glancing around with sharp eyes.
Is she the only person who lives through such a night? She sees a familiar blue car and the headlights blaring straight at her form making her squint her eyes. She picks Shadow up gently holding him close. She sees her mother shut the door behind her rushing toward Danny with fresh tears in her eyes. Jenelle embraces Danny wrapping her arms tightly around Danny's small form and Danny feels the feline's soft fur against her shoulder instantly forgetting the horrors that she had witnessed.
She still hears the distant screech from the horrid creatures from the distant void of the night and she wonders if they are safe for now.