Writing Sample - Story Intro
Within the long-stained walls of a motel, a receptionist, Peter, stares worriedly at the phone on his desk, as he has been doing for the half hour. He stands behind a glass barrier on the front desk, and for a few moments, his hand hovers over the phone. With a frustrated whimper, he tears his hand away.
Without warning, the front door opens, and he is confronted with a tall, gangly, pointed mass. Before he can say anything, it comes for him.
Pointed feet scratch against the stained carpet as spindly legs jerk in strange angles, holding up a tangled mass that staggers from one side to the other. An arm juts out, and a pale hand drags across the torn, yellowed wallpaper for balance.
“Welcome to the Lovely Estate”, Peter recites. Despite his perfect retail-worker voice, the discomfort is clear on his face. His eyes are locked on a mess of blue, black, and red. Is it the thing’s chest, he wonders? Its torn, weathered, covered in scars. In the dim, sickly yellow light, it all moves in sloppy, exaggerated motions, impossible to focus on, to make out, this lurching mass now in front of -
Snap. Bony fingers, like claws, clasp the desk, and Peter jumps with a shout. His breath is short, but to his credit, his voice is still the pinnacle of normalcy.
“Here, we will assure that you’ll have a Lovely E-stay!”, he announces, as if nothing was wrong at all.
The stranger’s hand is inches away from his, and his eyes trail up its fingers, its arm, up to where a mess of long black hair, tangled and muddied, shrouds a face with the grinding teeth of a wide grin and just above them -
Those eyes. The fluorescent lights overhead, dim and yellow, shine in them. Peter’s own eyes are fixated on hers, and when he tries to recite his next sentence, he stutters.
“...May I have your name?”
The question is asked with a polite daintiness, but Peter looks as if he heard an unwelcome sound, like a knock on the door at 3 AM.
The last syllable drags on, as if she suddenly forgot what she was saying. A woman’s voice, but it sounds like rocks gnashing against each other, throaty and painful. Peter’s eyes clearly widen with recognition at her name, but he puts on a fake smile and a faker laugh to hide it.
“Ha. Ha ha. Is that with all of those a’s, or...?”
The hum of the AC reverberates throughout the empty hallway. Something creaks. A vague noise from within the walls. The hum again. Above, something clicks.
“Karla it is. How long -”
Peter’s own lips are almost touched by her finger pressing against the glass. The glass? Ah yes. Peter’s worried face melts into relief as he remembers the glass barrier on the receptionist’s desk, something any well-secured motel would have. Confidence begins to creep up his face through a smirk, but he flinches when Karla comes closer.
At that, her face changes, the corners of her mouth tilting ever more upward as a low giggle tumbles from her mouth.
“Shush shush, little toothpick. I just need the key for Isaac's room, okay?”
“Uh, uh, oh. Oh! Did Isaac send you?”, he stammers, like a scared kid trying to think up of what to say.
“In a way. If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be talking right now”.
“Is he okay? He left so suddenly. Where is he now?”, he questions, knowing full well where he is.
“Oh. Uh. Yeah, okay. Do you have any proof that he sent you?”, he asks eagerly, hopeful that it’s all normal.
The AC keeps humming. Something in the wall creaks and moans. Thuds shake the ceiling, and muffled shouts are a reminder that there are other people in this building besides these two.
He blinks, he looks left, he looks right, as if someone else is going to come in and explain her answer, tell him it’s a prank, but no. It’s just her, standing there. Grinning.
“I'm sorry ma'am, but I can't give you the key.”
The indecipherable shouting from above grows, louder, louder, until it fades as quickly as it came, and once again, it’s only he and her.
“Are you sure?”, she asks in a playful tone traced with mockery, like an adult talking down to an infant.
“Really sure?”, she asks again, an insult right to his face.
Karla leans towards Peter, dragging a finger along the glass as she does so.
“And I suppose I can't just break through this little box you're in?”
Peter’s body tenses, until he looks at the glass. A reassured smirk flashes upon his face, and he looks back at Karla with slightly less fear than before.
“No. You can't. Ma'am, I highly doubt that someone like you is associated with Isaac. Please leave.”
A screech like knives on metal makes Peter jump back and dissolves what little confidence he had. What is that noise? He looks around, only to see Karla’s chest heaving, her mouth open, with that guttural, painful noise – a laugh? - crawling out and wriggling into his ears.
“Aw, sorry toothpick, but no. How about this though!”
Her tone is so gleeful, so playful. On her face, that amused smile still stretches out.
“I find a way to convince you that I need to go into Isaac's room.”
Buh, wha, uh, are the noises spilling from Peter’s lips like crumbs of language, making Karla seem eloquent as she goes on.
“Besides, the storm outside is so terrible! Surely, you wouldn't throw me out into the dark?”, she whines, though there is a teasing tone to it, as if she already knows the answer. Peter manages to give an indignant scoff.
“You can stay. But, uh”, and he raps the glass with his knuckles, “But seeing as you can’t break past this glass, there’s nothing you can do to get the key to Isaac’s room.”
“Yay. I love a challenge.”
The shadowed form skulks off under flickering lights. With her joyful gaze off of him, Peter looks again at the phone nearby, now full of urgent panic rather than hesitant concern. He bites his lip, he taps his fingers on the desk faster and faster until he tears his gaze away, muttering, “Damn it, Isaac”. Through short breaths, he blurts out a last question.
“Karla. Who are you?”
Karla stops. She turns towards him, and on her face is an ecstatic grin. Peter looks at her like one would look at a car crash, with his expression uneasy but his eyes fixed onto that shambling mess of a person.
But for all his fear, her face is that same implacable glee. Unmoving. Uncaring. Or perhaps, caring more intensely than what could be thought possible.
“That’s for everyone here to find out.”