By Lynn Clement
a full-bodied Malbec
There was that fluttering again. She wasn’t sure if it was in the room, or her heart beating in her ears. She looked up to the loft space in the attic, not that she could see much, now the power had failed. Where was the proprietor with the promised candles? The only light was from her mobile phone.
This was just typical of the day she’d had. She’d given a crap presentation to the brewery company, the hotel she thought she had booked had no record of her reservation and now here she was in this ramshackle B and B in the middle of nowhere - with a power failure. She thought about checking her phone to make sure it wasn’t Friday the 13th .
There were footsteps on the stairs. Great, Mr Brown the owner must have found the candles. The footsteps stopped…but no knock at the door? She heard a latch being drawn back in the corridor and almost a whoosh as something dropped, but it didn’t hit the floor.
She felt almost blinded by the darkness. Now her other senses were heightened. There weren’t even any street lights to help. Her breathing became rapid and she struggled to control it. She decided to phone Derick and tell him what had happened and where she was, hearing a human voice would help.
Beep, beep…beep, was the only sound she heard - her mobile had run out of battery. Oh no, please no. She moved away from the window. The dark was now all consuming and she was disorientated. Hitting her leg against a chair, she cursed her luck again. She knew she shouldn’t have used the phone as a sat nav. If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have found this ‘god-awful’ place and the battery wouldn’t be out of power too.
The fluttering was there again, this time directly above her. She realised she must be under the loft hatch. Maybe a pigeon had got in there and couldn't escape?
Beads of sweat formed on her top lip. The salt worked its way into the corners of her mouth. The fluttering she thought was in her ears was now a pounding. She tried to find the door. Feeling for the chair she knew the bed would be next, her fingers touched the duvet. Okay she thought the door is opposite the bed. With arms reaching out, she slid one foot in front of the other, in the direction of door. It seemed like an age but she found it. Exhaling, she quickly turned the brass handle one way, then the other. She rattled the door, pushing and pulling it at the same time.
Behind her she heard the loft hatch being slowly slid back and that familiar whoosh from the hole in the ceiling.
Banging on the door, she yelled to be let out.
At the back of the room there was flapping, followed by the sound of feet landing on the carpet. She turned to the sound but could see only black. A warm trickle made its way down her legs.
She was sure she was still screaming but there was no response to confirm it.
She felt a cold breeze heading towards her. Her back was against the door. Her eyes wide, searching, but she saw nothing.
It was upon her in an instant. She put her hands up to her neck but strong talons prised them away. Its evil looked her directly in the eyes. The drumming in her ears became louder. The screaming stopped. She fainted.
There was a guttural gurgle, as its teeth tore at her throat, it opened her trachea and that hiss was her final sound.
Sated, it left her to be disposed of like the others. It unfurled its wings and ascended the loft ladder, pulling it up behind.
Mr Brown; its alter ego was practised at covering its tracks and playing the innocent with the police - if he needed to. They had done this several times before, and in a couple of months, they would move to another town, find a little county guest-house and bide their time; when he knew his urge would come again.