The Hawthorne Inn: Riley
Riley hated flying. She had a terrible experience on a plane once. She was on her way home from her mother's funeral when the plane dropped ten feet without warning. Riley was glad it didn't happen on the way there, but swore she would never get on another flight again.
She was driving down Mabel Lane one night, looking for the inn she had booked a night at. She was on her way home from another funeral. This one was much less personal--more of an obligation to her brother. His wife's father had passed away and he asked Riley to watch the children as they mourned. Because she didn't fly, she had to stop and sleep at three places on the way down from Seattle to San Diego. The Hawthorne Inn, her third and final stop, was supposed to be cheap. She called and confirmed her stay the night before.
As she drove, the heavy gusts of wind yanked her car as she prayed she would get to the inn before it threw her off course. The glass on her windshield began to fog up and since the air conditioner had been broken for a year, she had no choice but to roll down the window. With the cuff of her sleeve, she wiped the sweat off of the glass and hunched over the steering wheel. As her hair blew in the wind, she noticed that a fog had rolled in, consuming everything,making her struggle against the wind much riskier.
Through the fog, two, bright headlights made their way toward her. She hoped there would be enough road for both of them to pass, but the lights were coming so quickly that she didn't have time to plan.
Riley slammed on her breaks an pulled to the side of the road on the dirt. The headlights veered in her direction. She unlocked the door and struggled to open it, but the latch had always been a little tricky. As the silhouette of a large truck began to appear through the fog, the latch on the door popped open. Riley started to leap out, but her seatbelt, still fastened, pulled her back. The truck was now fifteen feet away, ten, five. She looked up and noticed the sign in front of her car: The Hawthorne Inn.
The truck slammed into the driver's side of the car, pushing it through the wooden fence guarding the property. When Riley took her last breath, she was thinking about her funeral. Who would come?
Mr. Hinton, the current owner and manager of the Hawthorne Inn, looked out from his window as a dark figure crawled out of the truck. It's piercing, green eyes stared up at him for a second. It made its way up to the car, making sure the body was on the property. Mr. Hinton pulled away from the glass clutching onto a rosary in his palms. He said a simple prayer and proceeded to call the authorities.
"There has been an accident outside the Hawthorne Inn. A hit and run."
Riley awoke from a tap on her shoulder. "Can I get you anything?" a handsome man said.
Riley was surprised by the male flight attendant. She rubbed her eyes and tried to remember how she had gotten on a plane. "Huh? No thank you."
The man walked down the empty aisle as Riley noticed she was the only passenger on the plane. She believed that the only reason she didn't die of fear on her last flight was due to the kind words of the retired air force pilot that sat next to her. Now she was completely alone minus the attendant.
She tried to remember how she got there. The last thing she remembered was driving to the inn.
She pressed the call button above her head. Promptly, the attendant made his way to her seat near the emergency exits in the center of the plane. "Actually, can I get some water?" Riley managed to say this despite the fact that she was panting like an asthmatic child after P.E. class. She was sweating from an unbearable heat and reached for the air conditioner vents. When she turned the knob, hot air blew on her face. She close it and turned it away. Nausea began to overtake her as she noticed there was nothing with her. The floors were bare and her pockets were empty. The attendant appeared beside her holding a plastic cup full of water.
"Here you are, madam. Unfortunately, you will have to finish it quickly as we are expecting quite a bit of turbulence soon." The attendant was handsome and blond with beautiful, emerald-colored eyes. He spoke in a clear voice, one that reminded Riley of her favorite talk radio host.
"Where am I?" she demanded. "How did I get here and where are we going?"
"You have a lot of questions," he said.
Riley gulped down the water. She looked straight at the silent attendant in the eyes. "Tell me. What am I doing here? I don't remember getting on this plane. Did you drug me?"
"No, madam. I didn't drug you."
"Can't you tell me anything?"
The plane rocked back and forth vioently. Riley gripped the tray table and began to cry. This was her worst fear and she sobbed as she was jerked around by the turbulence.
The rocking stopped when her cup fell onto the floor. She opened her eyes and looked up at the attendant. His face seemed to form new wrinkles than it had the last time she looked at him.
"How did you know that was going to happen?" she said.
He leaned over her and opened his eyes widely. "You really don't know where you are, do you?"
"Please just tell me," she begged.
The plane jerked around, picking Riley off of her seat and slamming her back down as the seatbelt dug into her waist. "Please!" She looked over, seeing the attendant standing solid in the aisle. Even though the plane rocked like a mechanical bull, he seemed to float there, unaffected by the shifting and swaying. Riley thought this was a horrible joke--a prank on tv that she would have laughed at in the past.
The man's hair was now a light grey and his eyes became a much brighter green like that on a golf course green.
Riley screamed, "Please! What is this? Some sick joke? What did I do to deserve this?"
"That isn't the question you should be asking."
"The question you should be asking is, Where did you die."
The plane smoothened out and Riley wiped the sweat and tears off of her face. "What are you saying? I'm not dead." She touched her face and looked at her hands. Everything seemed to be the way it was.
"Miss, this is flight 666. It's a non-stop flight."
"Nowhere. It's non-stop. You still don't get it, do you?" The man smiled, revealing his sickly yellow teeth. He was growing older in front of Riley. His face became wrinkled and worn as his back lunged him forward, hunching him over. His voice was loud and low like thunder when he announced, "Madam, this is hell."
Riley couldn't talk. The plane continued to shake and wobble. Riley sobbed. She looked around for any camera crews, but from what she had seen in this flight attendant convinced her that they would never come. "No, please. I have been a good person. What did I do wrong?"
"Sometimes it's not about that. You may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have a deal for you, though. Would you like to get off of this plane?"
"Yes, please. I'll do anything," she said as the overhead compartments popped open. An intimidating ticking sound was coming from the floor and she worried that this flight could get even worse--not that she had a life to lose.
"I have some things I need to do and I want your help. If you promise to do everything I need you to do, you can live on land and never have to see this plane again. However, if you disobey me, I will put you back on this flight and that time no one will be here for you to bargain with."
Riley flinched as the gas masks fell from the ceiling. "Fine, yes, I'll do anything. Please just get me off this--"
And with that, the man shook her hand and they were on the ground, in Room 6 at the Hawthorne Inn.
This Story is Part 4 of a Series
- Part 1: The Hawthorne Inn: Elle
Elle is driving home late at night when her car breaks down infront of a spooky inn.
- Part 2: The Hawthorne Inn: Shawn
Shawn was fed up. He placed the small envelope on the end table next to their queen-sized bed and grabbed a few things for the night. Toothbrush, deodorant, shirt, socks, pants. He shoved the items into the plastic bag that held their dinner earlier
- Part 3: The Hawthorne Inn: Hector
The manager of the Hawthorne Inn was a scrawny, delicate, old man who had become a master at keeping secrets. It was a beautiful day in Southern California; the mountains hadn’t been this visible since the last rainstorm in June. The manager just fin
- Part 5: The Hawthorne Inn: Paul and Sally
Paul lived everyday like it was his last...