For those of you who don’t know, I work in a hotel. This past month or so, everything has been breaking: the elevator, the coffee machine, the oven (its demise was quite spectacular I hear; apparently it blew up. There were flames and everything!) and the dish washer. Not only that, we’ve had a spate of break ins, too. We don’t seem to be having the best of luck as a hotel, to be honest. I was joking with a manager yesterday that we’ve been cursed by a disgruntled guest and that the hotel is slowly turning against us.
And so a seed of an idea was planted in my mind. If you have a spare few minutes, feel free to read the beginning of a short horror story I’m now writing 🙂 I haven’t written horror in years, so I’m feeling pretty excited!
The Maintenance Man; missing and missed
When the maintenance man ascended the stairs, armed with a screwdriver and muttering something about needing to get fit as he lumbered for the sixth floor, no one had any reason to suspect it would be the last time he would ever be seen. Like, literally, ever.
And why would they suspect such a thing? He’d been at Cosy Inn Manchester for…what? Seven, eight years? He had seemed happy in his job, very much enjoying the fact that being employed by the country’s leading hotel chain gave him a multitude of benefits; discount stays elsewhere, a box of out-of-date Dairy Milks from the vending cupboard once in a blue moon and, the perk everyone stayed employed for, scraps of half chewed bacon and mutilated sausage left over by guests after breakfast.
Why would he want to disappear?
It was a question all of Emma’s colleagues were asking as they stood behind the reception desk, confusion etched across their faces as they watched the police sniffer dogs having an paint-spattered shirt pressed against their noses. The dogs sniffed gingerly, their sensitive noses apparently offended by the cocktail of paint, grease and drain cleaner dried onto the lime green, Cosy Inn issued shirt. As she watched them scamper up the stairs, handlers close behind, she heard the same question being repeated yet again, almost like it was a mantra that, if repeated enough times, would cause the maintenance man to crawl out from beneath the desk, laughing about how he’d fooled them all. Ha, did they honestly think he’d forgo overcooked, scrambled egg (fresh from the carton!) to disappear in unexplained circumstances? The maintenance man in Emma’s mind chortled, finding it inconceivable that they’d even suggest such an idea.
“Why would he want to disappear?” the guest service manager asked, shaking his head as he furiously tapped away at his computer, crafting an email to head office explaining their current predicament and pleading for a replacement to be sent immediately. There was a light bulb in room 712 that needed changing, for God’s sake.
Emma’s gaze slid to her manager, a man who had, if you were so inclined to believe his stories, single handedly manned the helm of Cosy Inn Manchester since its opening eleven years ago. His shirt, again lime green, was untucked and the garish yellow tie that signalled his managerial position was loose, its knot sitting a good few centimetres below his unbuttoned collar. Poor man had had to change the batteries in 503’s TV remote. His clean-shaven face was pale and sweat beaded his forehead, testament to the sheer effort it had taken to find two triple A batteries in the maintenance office.
“I don’t think he wanted to disappear,” Emma said softly, “The box of Snickers in the vending cupboard goes out tomorrow. He’d been talking about it for two days, Barry.”
Barry slammed his fists against the keyboard, snapping his head in her direction. His left eye was twitching. She’d hit a nerve, both figuratively and literally.
“What are you suggesting then? That something happened to him?”
She opened her mouth to express her theories, theories based on her observations of the hotel and its happenings during the past two weeks. First, the dissatisfied and ever so slightly creepy guest in room 613, then the malfunctioning coffee machine –
“Don’t be so stupid! There is nothing untoward about Cosy Inn Manchester. We’re a business hotel, for crying out loud. People arrive and eat and sleep and then piss off to their conferences. That’s it! Nothing sinister is happening here.”
Two days later, while lying upon the floor of room 613, paralysed with fear, his words would come back to haunt him in his final moments.