This story was first published as part of a writing competition for hotels.ng years ago by Adewale Abati ♠. I did not win.
You hear that? It’s silence. Standing almost still outside these gates, I could only feel a cold chill running down my spine. It was dark. I was shortsighted and couldn’t see well at nighttime even with my glasses on. The building was like a castle with black thick gates that rose high and vines all over the fence surrounding the compound. I could barely make out a sign almost fully covered in vines that said “AUNT D TRAVELER’S HOTEL”.
Earlier that day, I had glanced at the Nigerian map and believed Ilorin was just beside Niger state and shouldn’t take long to travel. Which made me decide to get to the park around 5pm. To my surprise, there were no buses around ready to go the distance so I decided to break down the journey. I looked for a roadside bus popularly called “Sōle” in Yoruba to Mokwa which was just on the way to the state capital I was headed.
As the name implies, I was dropped off on the roadside but I had no clue where I was. The Here maps app on my Android had issues pinpointing my location. It was already past 8 and everywhere was very dark. I tried getting another vehicle but luck was just not on my side. It was getting really late and I was forced to ask a passerby for any hotel close by. He gave directions and there I stood.
It felt like I was standing in front of 12, Grimmauld Place, from Harry Potter. Remember? Like I was the only one that could see the building even though I was the only one around. As I approached the gates to knock, it swung open. Holy Shit! I looked around. Even though I could barely see, I was certain no one was there. I summoned all the courage I could and went in. After all, I had no other alternative. It was a long walk over a short distance from the gate to the reception as I took my time to look up “Aunt D traveler’s hotel” on hotels.ng to at least find out what amenities they had.
I wanted to somehow refine my search but as I got close to the reception, my phone lost its reception. “Really!?” I muttered to myself. The reception was empty. No one in sight. Yet there was a mug, with vapor coming out of it. No it wasn’t hot, it was icy cold and it had a funny smell. Okay, that’s it, I’m out of here. I turned only to face a pretty figure — I almost jumped out of my skin. “Hi, I’m Anita. How may I help you?”, “So-sorry, I’ll like your cheapest room please”, I stuttered. She replied that all rooms were the same price and they ALWAYS match the guest’s pockets. With emphasis on the “Always”. She was right… It did match my pockets. I took a key from her and she pointed me to the direction of the staircases. But not before she said with a smile “You’ll have a hell of a time here, I promise!” I could only smile back. Clueless.
First floor and 3rd room on the left she had said and I went up the staircase as fast as my tired legs could carry me. As I turned from the end of the staircase on the first floor to face the rooms, there she was standing in my front again. “Holy shit, Anita?” “How’d you get here so fast?” She smiled back and said “I’m Juanita, my sister stays at the reception, and I clean the rooms here. If you don’t mind, please excuse me”. She left me standing there. “But, but… Alright then” I said back to her. They didn’t just look alike, they are the same damn person. I was losing my mind.
I got to the room feeling dizzy — It must have been that funny smell from the drink downstairs. I locked the door, dropped my backpack and passed out right there on the bed fully dressed.
It was way past midnight and I woke up startled. I had felt a rat-like creature run over my legs across the sheets. I was fully undressed and the door was wide open. “How did I get here?” I asked myself. I looked around only to see a menacing dark shadow in the corner of the room. My heart started to pound in my ears. I tried to scream and to my horror, it was impossible. The shadow was moving closer taking the shape of a woman as it got closer. Anita? Juanita or whatever damn Nita is there? Who are you? I thought to myself. The shadow kept moving closer. My heart was racing. I jumped off to run out of the room but the door slammed shut just as I got close. I looked around, nothing. My glasses were off. I just stood there, unclad. Unable to run. The shadow kept moving closer and when it got close enough, I could see. She was beautiful. Dark… Best described as Hot, Milk Chocolate. She had a pretty yet evil smile etched on to her face like The Joker’s. If it weren’t for the situation, I could have called her a smile Queen. She was Queen though, although I was yet to find out.
She got close enough, too close in fact but I could only see her but not feel her presence. She placed her lips on mine and gave me a kiss. I felt life draining out of me except I wasn’t dying. I fell to the ground, still and completely petrified. She made a sound somewhere between a laughter and a giggle which I believe to be her calling out to her minions. About three of them came out from the shadows, they were like a breed between a demonic dog and the infected lab rat from The Amazing Spider-Man. They came and carried me back to the bed. Just before they chopped off by balls with their claws.
There was no pain. And I still couldn’t move. With a swipe of their claws, they easily had my chest open. And they plucked out my organs, one after the other. I was still very much alive and was beginning to feel life again in my hands and legs. They placed my genitals, liver, kidney and heart at the feet of the evil Queen and I could have sworn her smile got wider. She made another sound and disappeared into the shadows. Seems she had taken her share and left the rest of me with her minions.
Upon her disappearance, I felt alive again even though I was practically empty. Every part of my body seemed to be working on its own. I kicked off the minions again and ran to the door. Damn, it refused to budge. Didn’t take long for the minions to catch up and jump on me. They dug their fangs and claws into me and ripped me apart. I fought back as much as I could. Ears bitten off, eyes gouged out. Hands without fingers. I laid still and asked myself “Is this the end??”
I jumped out of bed terrified. What the hell!? My hands roaming all over my body. I’m alive? My body? I’m still fully dressed just as I had been when I passed out. Was it a nightmare? Then the pain came in… My eyes ache, my ears sting, same for the rest of my body. Felt like I was taken apart then assembled. I couldn’t stand the pain and I fell back to the bed. The pain disappeared just as quickly as it came. I looked out and noticed it was daytime. Got up slowly, picked up my bags and approached the door. Half expecting it not to open, but it did. I dropped the keys at the reception, unable to look into Anita’s eyes. Just as I got to the door, she said “Just as I had promised right?” I looked back with a forced smile and just kept walking. A few steps outside the reception and my phone started vibrating in my pocket. Notifications from social media and emails rolling in. Seems reception is back. The gate was slightly open this time and I squeezed myself through. Trying as hard as possible not to touch anything.
Getting outside, I looked around and everywhere was busy. Everyone going about their business. I turned around to give the hotel one last look and then I saw it. Amidst the vines, the sign was clearer and it wasn’t “AUNT D TRAVELER’S HOTEL”. It was the “HAUNTED TRAVELER’S HOTEL”. I stood there in shock as the hotel faded away into space like it was never there.
Here’s to more, probably shorter stories coming up. If you’d like to express yourself as well with short stories, don’t hesitate to reach out so you can join the publication as well. Don’t forget to share and rain down some claps down below. Cheers.