She watched as transparent whirls of smoke slowly danced in a crisp winter air upwards towards the sky, changing shapes and patterns like ghostly apparitions, until finally disappearing into eternal nothingness.
She took a drag from a cigarette, and heard a light crackle as the amber tip lit up and let the smoke fill her lungs. She exhaled, letting out a new batch of smoke. The moon emanated its cold mysterious glow, making the snow covered field drown in an ocean of pure white.
She stood there, spellbound by this creature that was looking back at her, and her only, with its featureless round face, so many light years and miles away, so distant and yet so close, keeping her company at this lonesome hour.
She could sense it sending its lunar incantations into the air, pulsating with waves and invoking the spirits of the forest that stood like an inpenetrable fortress along the shadowed edges of the field.
From the safety of the lit up entrance of the hotel, she wondered what creatures might be lurking in those woods, creeping up to the light in feeble attempts to cross over, and disappearing back into the safety of the darkness once touched by the moonlight.
She stuck the cigarette butt into a snow pile sitting on top of a large flower pot decorated with dead tree branches and more cigarette remains, and went back inside to claim her seat at the front desk.
The echo of high heels on a tile floor disturbed the ambiance of a dead silence, and she almost felt like an intruder in this silent kingdom. Dim lobby lights and long, endless zigzagging hallways extending in both directions gave her chills, and she tried to fill her mind with happiness inducing thoughts.
Learning from a previous mistake, she made sure to close the door as quietly as possible, as to not annoy any presence that could be in there with a loud noise. Finally she was in the safety of a high wood and granite desk, barricaded from whatever could be out there by the phones, boxes, computers, and stuff that cluttered the space. Landing in a leather swivel chair, she looked to her left and saw a monitor of a surveillance camera.
The uncomfortable feeling came back. The screens were changing, going from one camera shot to another. Staircase 1, staircase 2, electrical room, back rooms. She was captivated by the surreal lifelessness of each room, nervously anticipating for something to bring it to life, to show up unexpectedly on a bleak staticky monitor, crawl out from under the stairs, or maybe slowly creep out from around the dumpster. Nothing, just the rotating scenarios of the same several rooms, repeating over and over.
She almost felt a slight disappointment at the fact that there was nothing worth telling people about, proudly bragging to friends, and proving someone wrong. As she went back to checking reports, something caught a corner of her eye, and made her head jerk in the direction of the movement.
And again, nothing out of the ordinary. "The column", she thought. "It could be hiding behind the column, for all I know." These thoughts made her extend her neck and peak out from the desk, beyond the comfort zone of, and get a broader view of the main column that was supporting the ceiling.
Finally convinced that her overly vivid imagination finally took a hold on her, she became irate with herself for letting it tamper with her sanity and overall well being. As she sat back into the chair and picked up the papers, she was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of extreme drowsiness and sleepiness, which was onset either by the warmth of the heater next to her, or by something else.
As she tried to fight off the sandman, her eyelids became lead heavy, eventually closing and submitting her into a state of deep slumber.
It wasn't until early morning that the housekeeper, accompanied with a blood curdling scream, found a body- completely devoid of any signs of life and visibly disfigured- in the farthest emergency exit staircase of the hotel.
The body was that of a young woman- a pretty blonde in her early twenties, well groomed and once elegantly dressed, with delicate features and a porcelain skin that most likely came with a high price tag.
In a striking contrast to her immaculate features, her face bore a grimace of uncontrollable horror, her mouth still frozen in a latent scream, and something unknown but positively terrifying forever imprinted in her sky blue corneas. With a face frozen in a death mask but still intact, the same could not be said about the rest of her body.
Her torso was covered with deep wounds which, upon a closer examination, appeared to be lacerations from a sharp, knife like object. However, a theory that an attacker had used a knife was disspelled by a bizarre nature of these wounds. The skin appeared to be torn and mangled around the edges, with chunks of flesh protruding to the surface, as if something had ripped into it with an incredible force.
While extremely gruesome in its nature, the most disturbing sight was the woman's neck. A large gaping wound revealed a shattered trachea, a part of which was sticking out like a shard of broken porcelain, wedged into a mass of dried up brownish burgundy blood.
One could only wonder whether this was done in order to prevent any audible signs of struggle, leaving the victim voiceless for the amount of time that she was still alive and undergoing vicious torment to the rest of her body, or if this savage mutilation was done after the life has already escaped her.
In any event, whatever she experienced and saw was most likely beyond our comprehension and imagination.
After the police was called and the crime scene was cordoned off, the hotel was evacuated and the police started questioning guests standing outside if they have seen or heard anything, but all to no avail. Everybody was shook up and freightened, and it became obvious that no of them were involved.
The majority of the people opted to check out and look for rooms elsewhere. Every nook and cranny of the hotel was inspected, but no signs of breaking and entering were discovered, nor were there any bloody footprints or any other evidence that the attacker ever left this locaton without a trace. Reviewing of the security cameras did not end in success either, since the grizzly murder took place outside of the view of the lens.
When finally the police got a hold of Her, she was visibly shaken up. The whole idea of being alone at night while this scenario was being played out made her sick to her stomach, and she wondered if that could've been her in a place of that young woman, be the latter in a different place at a different time.
She was terrified and puzzled at the same at the thought of a nature of the killer, at his ability to appear and vanish without a trace, and his brutal ways. After all, while they searched the whole place and have found no signs of the beast being there, they also did not find any signs of it leave the premises, and she thought of a possibililty of it being a master of disguise, doing what is has been doing best to avoid being captured.
It has been almost a month since the crime took place, and the hotel went more or less back to its normal routine, with extra security cameras installed in those blind spots where they weren't before. The employees have calmed down and there was almost no more talk about it, especially since a notion of an unsolved murder could have done some damage to the hotel's reputation. The matter was swiped under the carpet, which no longer had the blood stains on it after being carefully cleaned by an unsuspecting housekeeper, which was hired after the one that discovered the body had quit the same day.
However, the lack of satisfaction from the fact that the creature was somewhere out there on the loose and even possibly watching her every move was gnawing at her soul, making her grow progressively uneasy and fearful.
A thought of leaving has crossed her mind, but she needed this job, and knew that succumbing to fears and paranoia would be an irresponsible and childish move on her part. So she stayed, and she waited.
The darkness behind glass doors was now even darker, every movement from shadows falling from trees and bushes made her heart skip a beat as she felt that a grotesque creature might be ready to leap at her with full force. Every growl of an ice machine generator in the hallway, or the on and off humming of the heater in the back room made her jump. Every corner and turn now harbored something dark and ominous, watching her with its invisible eye and ready to assault when she was the most vulnerable, at the times when she was not paying attention. No matter how much she tried to convince herself that it was just her mind playing tricks on her,triggered by an already overactive imagination, the ever-seeing stalking eye was occupying her brain like cancer. She could not prevent herself from following the patterns of survival in this place. There was no way she could go to the back past the darkened office with menacing half opened blinds to get printing paper, or far down the dimly lit hallway to the main bathroom. She just knew that something might be waiting for her at any of those places, wanting to take advantage of her loneliness, and causing the same trauma it has caused to the previous victim. She had to be prepared to avoid it getting her.
Almost crouching at the front desk, she was scanning the surroundings around her, letting not even a minute detail escape her peripheral vision. Enveloped in waves of terrifying uneasiness, day after day she was being submerged into an ocean of deep and deafening silence.
Every night she was patiently waiting for the dawn, when the sun would break the spell of darkness with its rays, spilling its light into every crevice, exposing every nook and cranny that seemed so ominous and haunting before.
This time was no different, and she was sitting behind her granite fortress when suddenly a strange sensation came over her entire body, making every hair stand on end. She felt as if an electrical current went through her every limb, engulfing her in a sense of numbness and euphoria and eliminating any sense of discomfort and fear she once had. She felt the warmth run through her veins, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, and felt her entire body relax for the first time. As she rose from her seat, she started walking slowly, as if in a trance, towards the front door, which swung open, exposing her to the dark and cold space of a clear winter night. The amplified sensation, which came somewhere from above, made her lift up her head and look up.
There it was, looking at her straight in the eye with its pale, round, emotionless face, and emanating its glowing loneliness. Hanging like a solitaire, all alone in an endless cosmos, it has found its soulmate yet again. As the lunar halo spread its lucent glow across sky, it was sending her its pulsating waves, trying to reach her core to reconnect and become one. They were looking at each other once again, two complete strangers, so far and yet so close, so silent but so understanding.
Suddenly she felt an extreme sense of hunger, and as she clenched her fists, she felt her nails dig deep into the flesh. The pain made her cringe and she bit her lower lip with her canine. As a thin trickle of blood ran down her chin, she licked it off with her tongue and smiled. Slowly turning around, her gaze fell on the lit up comfort of the lobby. Walking back inside, she felt the lunar glare with the back of her head, guiding her...