The front desk clerk looks at you strangely and why wouldn’t she? You look a sight. Long black hair that’s clearly a wig, big sunglasses covering your tired eyes, wrapped up in a big, shapeless sweater that hides the symbols carved into your body. You’re closer to a formless mass than you are to a person right now. Suspicious, she asks you how you’d like to pay for the room and you push a wad of cash at her. It may be enough. You can’t be sure. You grabbed what you could in the brief time you had. She takes pity on you, though, and accepts it before handing you a key. You have one night in an actual bed again.
In the room, which is small and dark and slightly dirty, you flop down on the mattress and feel just a tiny bit of your anxiety leak out of your body. This isn’t safe, such as it is, but certainly safer. You know you need to think of the next step, the next stop, the next run, but for the moment, all you want to do is rest and do something normal. Maybe watch some TV.
You grab the remote and press the power button. The screen blares to life, but it’s not the usual hotel informational channel. It’s the news and your stomach knots as you see them, standing in front of what has been your house, tears on their lying faces. The people that call themselves Mom and Dad are begging you to come home. They say you’re not well and that you need your medication. They say they just want you to be safe.
The gall of these animals! Their crocodile tears make you physically ill as you watch them lie to the world. They don’t want you back to keep you safe. They never have. No, they need you for what sits below the house. Of course, the country will never see that. They keep it so well-hidden that even repair workers don’t find it.
You’ve seen it, though. Experienced it. The chains and the table and the red candles. The knives and the brands and the profane chants. You have the marks on your arms and your legs and your stomach and chest to remind you. No, not marks.
You feel yourself trace the biggest cut on your arm as you feel the tiniest surge of victory enter your heart. They are on national TV, begging and sobbing, because you did the unthinkable. You escaped and have thus far denied them their victory. They need you to come back because they cannot complete the ritual without you. Until you return, they have lost.
What’s that? A knock at the door. Your blood freezes. Banging now.
They demand that you come out so you can go home.
The cold steel against your stomach weighs heavy in your hand as you pull it out, finger stroking the trigger.
Go home? Over your dead body.
Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.