October 31, 2007

The Clickening

Back in high school, I had a friend named Adam. I've talked about Adam at great lengths here. In fact, I think I had a whole Adam-themed week a couple of years ago. It's not that Adam was such a great guy - although he was a good friend - that forced me to write about him. Instead, Adam was - how to put it delicately - about as bright as a lobotomized pigeon. As such, he did really stupid things which made him very interesting to be around.

One fall day, around this time of year, Adam and I decided to head out on an overnight camping trip. We packed our backpacks, rolled our sleeping bags and headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We'd picked what looked like a good camping spot about five miles away from the closest parking spot. We heaved our gear onto our backs and headed out around mid-morning.

During the first mile, we talked bout girls and the summer job we were going to get painting houses. During the second mile, Adam reverted to his normal daredevil self - bet you don't think I'll eat that bug, bet you don't think I'll climb that tree, bet you don't think I'll catch a live beaver and put it in my pants. That kind of thing. During mile three, everything went wrong.

We rounded the corner on what could barely be called a trail and came face to face with a black bear and her cubs. Both of us had spent some time outdoors. Both of us knew exactly what to do - back away slowly and don't ever run. So we backed away slowly until instinct took over and we ran like a pair of twin bats out of hell. I ran faster than I ever thought possible for longer than I thought possible. Eventually, we figured we were clear. We stopped, took stock. Neither of us had any idea where we were.

We'd left the trail with the bears and blazed one of our own. The undergrowth hid our own paths and there was no indication at all of where we were or where we'd come from. We stared at the sun until we realized that we really had no idea of what to do with that information. Then we started walking.

Two miles passed in virtual silence. We'd passed absolutely nothing of consequence, nothing that reminded us of civilization or indicate that any of its members had ever walked over that same ground. Mile three was different. Lewis and Clark-like, we picked up a trail. It started off as a scratch in the earth but quickly became more substantial. Eventually, there was a break in the trees and we made out a structure - the shell of an old motel.

It looked just like every other roadside motel. One building - an A-frame monstrosity that could never have been architecturally cool - stood along side a two story structure lined with doors. The motel itself stood in a parking lot, cracked, now half grass and weeds, half concrete. It was eerie yet we approached the A-frame building.

Silhouettes of people moved in the shadows. Before we could retreat, one of the shadows ran towards the opaque glass door. "Hello!" it shouted as the door was flung open to reveal a scruffy-looking hiker about five years older than us. There were others inside, each armed with sleeping blankets and backpacks.

We were immediately welcomed in and told that the "De-Luxe Coach Motor Inn" was one of the best kept secrets around. It had gone out of business nearly thirty years earlier but had never been torn down. Officially condemned, it was occupied throughout most of the year by hikers passing through. No one took especially good care of it but no one burned it down either. The beds had long since rotted away, the electricity and water long shut off. But it was shelter, and heavily occupied when it rained or snowed. We were offered a room and promised directions the next morning. We all pooled food, ran for wood to fuel the bonfire in what was once the swimming pool, and, eventually, turned in.

Around 1:00 in the morning, I awoke. The absolute quiet was more startling than waking up to find myself staring at a slightly moldy popcorn ceiling surrounded by decor popular before I was born. But the silence grated on me. The door to the room was open, odd since we'd shut it or tried on what was left of its hinges. And the things we'd left scattered throughout the room had been moved. And in the back of the room, where the bathroom was, there was a clicking noise. Click...click...click...like fingernails on bathroom tiles yet it was impossible since there was no one there. Adam was right beside me.

Instead of charging the bathroom, I crept along the string of rooms, walking from door to door. Each should have been inhabited. None were. The campers' belongings had been left behind - canteens of water, unrolled sleeping blankets, and, most disturbingly, their hiking boots. Coming from the rear of each room, I could hear that same clicking...the clicking of fingernails on bathroom tiles. And the longer I stayed, the louder the clicking became.

I retreated to what I assumed was the safety of our room. A wind filled the room, odd since it was still outside. Adam was gone. The clicking gained in its intensity and, between each click, I began to hear Adam's voice saying "Chris" quietly, echoing off the porcelain of the bathroom. Without warning or preparation, I kicked the door to the bathroom, the old door and lock giving way easily. There, amongst the clicking and quiet, strained cries for help, I saw, written in what could only be blood...

"Happy Halloween"

Posted by Chris at October 31, 2007 7:12 AM

I have some friends who could qualify as lobotomized pigeons too ;) Very creepy and apropos Halloween story...have fun trick-or-treating with the Bean!

Posted by: Heather at October 31, 2007 8:09 AM

Happy Halloween to you, too!

And, um, BOO!

Posted by: Alissa at October 31, 2007 8:12 AM

Hee hee, in the Wash. Post Express today, they seem to think you're a woman.

Posted by: Nicole at October 31, 2007 8:15 AM

Hooray! Thanks for the fantastic post.

Posted by: Betti at October 31, 2007 8:23 AM

Great post for Halloween. You always do it so well.

Posted by: Jamie at October 31, 2007 8:30 AM

Damn...you got me.

Posted by: DebbieDoesLife at October 31, 2007 8:31 AM

I was a-scerdid for a minute!!

Happy Halloween, Chris. Hope you, Mia, Beth, and the fetus have a great one!! =D

Posted by: Secha at October 31, 2007 8:36 AM

You had me for a bit there! Great story!

Posted by: Lisa at October 31, 2007 8:36 AM

Nicely done!! Happy Halloween!!

Posted by: Jen at October 31, 2007 8:39 AM

Thanks for providing some Halloween Spirit... my place of work is SERIOUSLY LACKING!!!

Happy Halloween!!

Posted by: Stephanie at October 31, 2007 8:48 AM

::hiding under desk::

Posted by: Gwen at October 31, 2007 8:50 AM

::hiding under desk::

Posted by: Gwen at October 31, 2007 8:50 AM

Thanks for restoring my faith in Halloween... we're lacking it over here in Colorado!

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at October 31, 2007 9:07 AM

Mwah ha ha! And a Happy Halloween to you too.

Posted by: Fraulein N at October 31, 2007 9:15 AM

Nicely done, sir.

Posted by: Kelly at October 31, 2007 9:15 AM

And Adam is the odd one?

Posted by: daisy at October 31, 2007 9:19 AM

"He's got a real pretty mouth on him, don't he?"

Posted by: Allan at October 31, 2007 9:19 AM

"squeal like a pig for me boy!"

Posted by: SciFi Dad at October 31, 2007 9:24 AM

See, if you had picked up the black-bear cub, then started running, that would've been awesome.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at October 31, 2007 9:29 AM

Oh, dear lord. Happy Halloween!

Posted by: Arwen at October 31, 2007 9:34 AM


Posted by: Candy at October 31, 2007 9:38 AM

Glad I read this in the morning and not at night.

Have a wonderful time with Miabean tonight.

Posted by: ann adams at October 31, 2007 9:45 AM

hehe, thanks! Happy Halloween!

Posted by: Christina at October 31, 2007 9:47 AM

Lobotomized pigeons need love too! And also some common sense. Great story.

Posted by: wordgirl at October 31, 2007 10:29 AM

Lobotomized pigeons need love too! And also some common sense. Great story.

Posted by: wordgirl at October 31, 2007 10:29 AM

Loved it -- you got me again this year.

Posted by: Laura GF at October 31, 2007 10:32 AM

You tease! Thanks for that.

Posted by: Loth at October 31, 2007 11:18 AM

I once saw a ferocious, shaggy bear while out in the country, approaching our car quickly and with evil intent. I pointed it out fearfully (and also hysterically) to my friend, who in turn informed that it wasn't a bear.

It was a pony.

Posted by: GreenCanary at October 31, 2007 11:26 AM

I do love a spooky story.

I just spent the morning scanning in photos of our Halloween costumes from the past 8 years. Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday.

Posted by: Melissa at October 31, 2007 12:12 PM

And we didn't even get to make smores. Isn't that what you do when you sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories?

Anyways, Happy Halloween!

Posted by: Karen at October 31, 2007 12:33 PM

This was starting to feel a little Rocky-Horrorlike somewhere around the time it turned out the desserted hotel was inhabited. Nice job!

Posted by: kalisah at October 31, 2007 1:02 PM

OMG! I have been gone from your site for soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long!! Congrats on the new fetus!! I've missed Cactus-land :(

Posted by: Michelle at October 31, 2007 1:16 PM

Thats not scary, I've been married 3 times! Now thats scary.

Posted by: Jeff A at October 31, 2007 1:20 PM

Were you to write a book, I'd buy it... and enjoy it.

Happy Halloween to you and yours.

Posted by: Brad at October 31, 2007 1:23 PM

All I could think of as you were describing the motel was "Welcome to the Hotel California...such a lovely place...you can check out but you can NEVER LEAVE"

Thanks, you had me going there...

Posted by: zanie at October 31, 2007 2:11 PM

Yeah so what happened? Where did every body go? what did i miss :D hehe

Posted by: Regina at October 31, 2007 3:06 PM

Yeah so what happened? Where did every body go? what did i miss :D hehe

Posted by: Regina at October 31, 2007 3:08 PM

Got me!

Posted by: been there, done that at October 31, 2007 4:25 PM

Nice creepy story, Chris! Just what I needed.

Happy Halloween!

Posted by: Melissa at October 31, 2007 4:39 PM

great story!

Posted by: Dawn at October 31, 2007 5:45 PM

well-played good sir, well-played!

Posted by: ::c:: at October 31, 2007 5:54 PM

Most excellent, my friend! Well told...

Posted by: BananaToo at October 31, 2007 6:04 PM

You had me too!
Great story!
Happy Halloween!

Posted by: Dianna at October 31, 2007 6:17 PM

You effer! You totally skerred me!


Posted by: Librarian Girl at October 31, 2007 6:31 PM

Ha! Happy Halloween!!!

Posted by: suze at October 31, 2007 7:04 PM

SQUEEEL! You had me going! Raised eye brow! Brat!
But it was a good story! LOL

Posted by: Gypsy at October 31, 2007 10:35 PM

Great Story! :)

Posted by: molly at November 1, 2007 11:20 AM

You're ridiculous. I love it. :o)

Posted by: Emily at November 1, 2007 2:34 PM


Posted by: amaya at November 2, 2007 7:01 PM