"Please!” the doorman said from outside. “Please be quiet. The occupant was adamant about quiet.”
“What the fuck do I care about the occupant?” the belligerent drunk retorted. “Occupant? Adamant? What kinda words are those? What kinda fruit are you anyway?”
Their silhouettes were on the drawn shades now. Claire’s lovely body trembled in panic, unable to decide what to do. She kept trying to scream, her eyes darting around the room. Try to lunge toward the window? Throw herself back on the bed and kick over the end table?
Her head swung in that direction, spying the phone and lamp there, but that sudden motion made her dizzy. She felt herself tipping. “No!” she screeched, her bound arms waving in a vain attempt to remain upright. “No!”
“What’s that grunting?” the suddenly bemused drunk asked, turning toward the deskman as the latter took the former’s arm. “Is that you, fruity?”
Claire fell back and to the side awkwardly, her slim waist cupping the mattress edge, her head bouncing on her neck.
A soft “thock” filled the room and then she was sitting, slumped, by the bed, the phone clicking, the lamp doing a lazy little dance.
“Come on,” the deskman was saying, his voice getting more distant by the second. “We’ll get you a nice room all the way on the other end….” The voices diminished again as the lamp, seemingly in slow motion, tipped, seemed to balance on the edge of the end table like a swimming pool diver, then toppled over to crack open on the floor. Claire Holden never saw it. Her forehead had just grazed the end tabletop.
The heat woke her. She didn’t know how long she had been comatose, but now the curtains and wallpaper were on fire.
As she stared in stupor, the flames started roiling onto the ceiling and the side walls.
The girl screamed in terror, only to find herself still bound and gagged. She kicked and wrenched frenetically, but the bonds wouldn’t loosen. Sobbing hysterically, she threw herself on the floor and instinctively rolled away from the flames.
She hit the rear wall, under the counter next to the sink. To her astonishment, she heard a crack, and the wall seemed to give. Pressing even tighter against it, she realized it was merely a balsa wood panel – a makeshift repair to the already rundown motel.
Claire felt the heat at her back as she shifted on her ass, brought her bound ankles back, and kicked at the panel with all her might. To her nearly overwhelming relief, it gave way – revealing the back yard of the place.
TO BE CONTINUED