Hotel Midnight

Hotel Midnight by Simon Clark

Book: Hotel Midnight by Simon Clark Read Free Book Online
Authors: Simon Clark
When I swung open the door to step outside I realized the heavy scents of the forest were gone. Woody joined me to check out the garden. And it was just our old garden again. A lawn in need of mowing. Our orchard. A line of roses against the garage wall. Admar’s swing caught the warm breeze. It swayed gently. In the distance the first bus of the day trundled along the road to the village. This was a typical peaceful summer’s morning in Mill Bank Road, Thorpe Sneaton, in a county whose acres outnumber the words of The Bible.
    When I walked through the hallway I recalled what my grandfather had told me as we stood awaiting the onslaught: ‘… go home. Kill your wife and son. Burn down your house.’
    I began to climb the stairs to where Piet and Admar lay sleeping . I’d left my muddy footwear in the kitchen. So in the morning light I noticed my big toes sink into the carpet. My distinctive toes. My ‘silly-toes’ – which is, as I’ve already said, a corruption of Shillito. The skin of the big toes without nails was shiny, smooth; the regimental badge of my kind.
    Kill your wife … kill your son … burn down your house ….
    Slowly, I eased open the bedroom door. Then I whispered, ‘Piet? Are you awake?’
Thanks for the mysterious manuscript found in the house you were renovating. Of course it intrigued me as you knew it would, you minx, you. When I read in my local paper of residents in one suburban street being plagued by a phantom stone slinger I couldn’t help but think that all those broken windows and dented cars amounted to more than puerile vandalism.
Digression aside, I aimed to track down this James Shillito, the author of the document – or should that be confession? I couldn’t check details with you because you were at the conference. Nevertheless, I asked your site manager, Nick and he tells me the house in Mill Bank Road wasn’t damaged by fire – and no one, thankfully, was murdered there. My amateur sleuthing reveals that James Shillito and family, formerly residents of the house that you now have on the market, emigrated five years ago. To where exactly God only knows.
One odd detail emerged, though. Shillito was an archeologist , yet before he left the country he retrained as a nuclear power station technician. From the mystique of archeology to the dark arts of nuclear power seems to me an unusual, not to say a bizarre leap. So, to close on a philosophical note: You’re not thinking what I’m thinking, are you?

    When Jackie Vorliss saw the horse’s head that was as dark as death itself rise up behind her daughter she wanted to cry out to Caitlin to run for her life.
    Jackie held the mic in her hand, her thumb on the talk-button, watching her daughter on the closed-circuit TV screen. All around the teenager, the deserted supermarket formed a gloomy cavern that swarmed with half-seen shadows, while air-conditioning fans sent un-mouthed whispers murmuring and sighing across canyons of dead aisles to haunt those distant corners. Slowly, Caitlin moved along the aisle of a thousand cereal packets toward cardboard cut-outs that had become shadowy humped figures laced with menace.
    Jackie tried again; only the scream couldn’t force its way through her throat. Her vocal chords had knotted tight. She stopped breathing; her heart thudded with a doom-laden rhythm to slam inside her skull. Run, Caitlin! The words blazed inside her, but she could no more speak them than dig her hands into cold grave soil and raise her husband from the dead.
    On screen three her daughter was in close up. Her long hair tied back in a neat pony. Her eyes, catching what little light there was, looked as if they’d caught fire.
    Screen six. The overhead cam high in the supermarket roof looked down as if through the eyes of a hovering vulture. There’s Caitlin walking slowly. Behind her, a pulpy shadow, closing all the time. A dark horse’s head rising above the tiled supermarket

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