Sunday, May 29, 2011

24 Hours

Eric grimaced and groaned as he peeled his eyes open. His hand shot up to block the bright beam shining though a hole in the curtain. “What the…”

When he rolled to his side away from the light he felt the thrumming of a hangover. This seemed more than just too much Johnny Walker. Eric sat up and tried to focus though the haze in his mind.

The room wasn’t his. He looked around the cheap dive of a hotel room and immediately wanted a shower. There was no memory of coming here. He wouldn’t set up roaches to stay in the, he looked at the sticker on the front of the telephone, Fox Trot Motel.

The last thing he remembered was standing at the bar talking to a hot blonde with kissable pouty lips.

His foot brushed something on the floor. He reached down and picked up a black satin bra. Oh, I can’t have forgotten this?

Hand combing though his hair, he stood and followed the trail of female clothing to the bathroom door. From behind the practically closed door, he could hear the shower running. Puffs of steam hit his skin as he reached for the knob.

He noticed a square of white gauze taped to his arm. What the hell?

Eric yanked off the tape. He flinched as each hair pulled and stung, but not as much as what he saw. A tattoo in western style letters that read, “24 hours”. What did that mean?  He licked his thumb and rubbed at the ink.

It was raw and sore but the ink didn’t even smudge. It was a real tat, now he was angry as he grabbed the door and pulled it open. “Okay, I want some… answers.”

Eric stopped. There was a rancid smell in the steamy air. His breath stilled as his mind tried to accept the sight. The tub was half filled with bloody water and the body of a lifeless woman.

Her dark hair caked with blood rested over her paled skin, the color of the porcelain tub. Blank and staring her eyes locked on his and he was finally able to see the gaping wound on her head.

Eric recognized her as the bartender from the club. He stumbled back into the bedroom shaking his head. “No… no, no, no, this isn’t happening. I didn’t do anything… oh God what happened?”

His hand drug across the top of the dresser, a set of keys pushed to the floor with a clank that made him jump and turn.
Out of here, he had to get out of here. He searched the room for his things. His clothes had been neatly folded and placed in the top dresser drawer. His wallet was still tucked into the back pocket of his jeans. He checked it, all his cards and money were there.

Eric jerked the pants on and scanned the room. His cell phone was missing; maybe it’s in the car. He stooped to grab the keys from the floor then paused. They weren’t his keys.

Frantic he searched the room he shouldn’t be here. The maid would come and he would be caught. They would haul him off to jail for murder. He didn’t kill her, at least he doesn’t think so.

He doesn’t remember anything past drinks at the bar. What couldn’t he remember? He must have been drugged, that’s the reason he felt hazy. Eric dropped to his knees and looked under the bed. “Where are those keys?”

He stopped searching when he heard a cell phone ringing from inside the dresser. He began to pull open the drawers until he came to a cell phone still ringing and a photograph of him and the bartender kissing in the parking lot of the motel.

It was the same girl in the tub. No, this girl was smiling and her eyes had life in them. He remembers flirting with her when he picked up drinks for his friends.

The ringing stopped but Eric didn’t notice his eyes were locked on that photograph. He picked it up ripping it in pieces. He started to drop it into the trash. They can put it back together.

Instead, he crammed the pieces into his jeans pocket. He paced the room trying to think. He cannot leave any trace… he had just left his prints on every surface looking for his keys.

Eric ran into the bathroom and grabbed a towel to wipe down the room when the strange phone in the drawer rang again, this time with a text. He looked at the screen on the phone as it lay in the drawer. 

“Eric, answer the phone.”

They knew his name. He breathed a sigh of relief; it had all been a prank. Jerks, he thought. The phone rang and he answered this time. “You guys are in so much trouble. How much did you pay that girl to play dead? “  

The voice on the other end of the call sent a chill down his spine. “I know what you did last night, Eric. Help me and I will make sure no one else knows.”

Hand shaking he combed though his hair and paced. His heart raced, his eyes darted to the bathroom, nothing happened… nothing happened last night.  “Know what? You don’t know anything. Who is this?”

Breathing was the only sound he heard though the phone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I didn’t do anything. Nothing happened. Do you hear me? Nothing… happened.”

The voice was calm as it spoke low, the sound like gravel turned into words. “I know, the police will know, unless you do as I say for 24 hours.”

Eric looked down at the tattoo on his arm. He was trapped there was no other way out other than to call the cops. Then he has to hope they can find evidence of a real killer. Unless…

He had no memory of last night. What if whatever they slipped him made him do something? What if he is the killer? Coerced or not the rest of his life would be in a 10x10 cell.

He was boxed in, there was nothing he could do. Except buy time to try and remember. “What do you want?”

To Be Continued…..


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