The scratching noises came from the old hotel’s basesment. Every nerve screemed at him to run. His brain said no.
So what if the power had gone off?
So what if the landline was out?
So what if the car wouldn’t start?
Storm winds rattled branches against the windows. He wasn’t afraid. He was the star of the football team.
He checked his mobile again. Still no signal. Her text has said to meet here. After last night a storm wouldn’t make him think twice about standing her up. So where was she?
He switched the phone to his left hand, using it as a torch and picked the cue up from the billiards table. Wet footprints led across the dark wood floor. Something, or someone, had been dragged between them. He weighed the cue experimentally, swung it to build his nerve. By the pale synthetic light of his phone he followed the trail, slowly, quietly he followed the trail to the door.
He pressed his ear to the door. The scratching had stopped. He thought he could make out voices. Carefully he pushed the door handle down. Dredding a click giving him away. The mechanism was well oiled. He should have thought that strange for an abandoned hotel.
He pushed the door open and peered round. Listening again he was certain about the voices. Down the stairs he went. In the dark. One step at a time. Thirteen he counted before he hit the bottom.
Ahead a thin line of light shone under a door. So the power wasn’t out for everyone. Behind the door someone screamed. A girl. His girl? It didn’t matter he was running forward. His phone rang. The door burst open. The light blinded him. What he saw struck him dumb. What he was made his gut turn. The last sound he heard was his phone ringing.
"So is he coming?"
"He’s not answering."
"Yeh give em what they want and they vanish quicker than the invisible man."
"Let’s go and get a bottle of snake bite. You’ll not remember his name tomorrow."