Amelia pushed the double doors that connected to the motel lobby to her family’s living quarters open. It was quite now, she wondered why the screaming had stopped down stairs. Maybe she was too late. Straining to listen for something, anything, she only picked up the faint trickle of the rain that had started to ease up outside. Amelia started to feel the disappointment of another failed attempt at finding out what exactly happens down in the basement creep into her. She looked down at the waste basket that sat next to the check-in desk and kicked it, preparing to turn around and go back upstairs when she heard a faint yelp come from the direction of the kitchen.
“Heck yeah.” She mumbled triumphantly to herself as she continued to slip through the darkness.
Every footstep led her closer to the dining room and when she managed to reach it Amelia noticed that the small light above the service door was on. At least she knew now that her father and brothers were still down in the basement. Glancing at the clock behind her she finally noticed how late it was. The flashing 2:45 glared its red eyes at her, almost like a warning. She was so sleeping in tomorrow. Amelia made her way through the few tables that scattered the room and opened the kitchen door, a soft wave of the sweet scent moist dirt greeting her in return. The window above the sink was open, its curtains blowing quietly in the wind.
She loved the rain. The smell of it alone was intoxicating to her. When they were younger Amelia and her siblings would run around the parking lot out front, hiding behind cars and trying to scare one another while the cool water fell from the sky. They didn’t do it as much anymore. It was rare for them to have customers nowadays, they’d be lucky to even see one or two with a few months in-between. She’d wonder occasionally where they all went. Why no one came to the once bustling retreat. Amelia missed the people. Sometimes she cried to her mother about it. Begging her to let her go to the school in town now that they didn’t have any kids her age visiting them. But the answer was always ‘no’ or ‘maybe next year darling.’ Yet next year would come and go and Amelia would still be stuck here at the motel, alone, with no one to talk to but her siblings who always seemed to have something better to do than talk to her.
The sound of heavy footsteps on the basement steps dragged her back to reality. Reminding her why it was better that they didn’t have any customers. Reminding her why she was standing in the doorway to the kitchen in the middle of the night like a thief.
“Crap.”Closing the door swiftly Amelia pressed herself flat against the dining room wall.
She couldn’t let anyone see her. Not now, not when she was so close to finally being a part of the midnight boys club. Her heartbeat thumped in her chest. Amelia wondered who it was and why they were coming up so soon. It was only one person which meant that they weren’t done yet downstairs so why were they leaving. Maybe it was Christian. Seemed like something he would do, never had the guts to follow through. Amelia remembered the first time her older brother brought fresh fish home. They were supposed to clean them and gut them so mother could prepare a rarely eaten meal that night but Christian left halfway through. His face green with sickness. Amelia on the other hand stayed the entire time. The whole process fascinated her. She even giggled like a little girl when her older brother Xander placed the little fish heart in her hand, it’s muscles still forcing it to beat.
Amelia could hear some inside the kitchen now, their quiet grunts as they rummaged through one of the drawers. Her curiosity got the best of her again and against her better judgement she pushed the door open slightly, peeking into the crack. It was Xander. He looked tired, his eyes rimmed with dark circles. He was moving things around one of their mother’s cabinets, reading every label on the bottles. She wondered what he was looking for. There wasn’t much besides the medicine her mother gave them whenever someone got ill. Amelia watched him read a few more bottles before he found one that finally peaked his interest. Holding her breath she watched as Xander shoved a needle into the bottle, his fingers pulling back on the little stopper thing.
When he was done he put the bottle on the counter and turned back to the basement steps. Amelia watched him walk back downstairs, the door softly swinging shut behind him. She waited a few minutes just to be safe and then she stole her way into the kitchen. First things first she wanted to know what her brother was so intent on finding. When she reached the counter Amelia leaned down to examine the small bottle. She tried to make out the words in the dim lighting, afraid that if she moved it her brother would know that she had been here. After careful examination she was finally able to make out her mother’s small cursive writing: epinephrine. Amelia didn’t know what the word meant but she stored it away in her brain to look up later. Something was happening downstairs now and she didn’t want to miss it.
Curling her fingers around the doorknob Amelia placed her on the doorframe, hoping she could open it just enough to slip inside without it squeaking. That was the one downfall to her plan. The darn basement door squeaked so loud. She opened it about an inch, waiting to see if she could hear anything. When nothing seemed to happen she opened it a bit wider and slipped through, closing it gently behind her. Now Amelia stood on the top step and she could smell the familiar mildew mixed with something more tart. Was it vomit? She was pretty sure that’s what it was.
Amelia carefully picked her way down the stairs, her heart racing again. She finally made it, at last she was gonna be able to see what happened down here. Excitement drew her down the steps faster. When she reached the bottom she stopped and poked her head around the corner. What she saw wasn’t what she was expecting but it. Her father stood with his back to her, his stance relaxed as he kept talking to the lady in front of him. Even though the basement was small she could only get snippets of what he was saying. Amelia figured whatever it was was for the older lady’s ears only but she really wanted to hear everything. Besides, the lady didn’t seem to be listening that well on herself. She couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t listen to her father. He was smart and he knew everything you could ever want to know.
Quickly scanning the rest of the room Amelia saw her brothers standing against the table in the back. Xander looked amused, his smile stretching across his face but Christian just looked uncomfortable. Typical Amelia thought to herself, shaking her head at her brother’s queasy face. She also noticed the blood on the floor, some of it was older, already drying to concrete. That must be from last night. The fresh blood sat on top of the other bits and it glistened in the light. Amelia wanted to get closer, to look at the blood up close but she knew she couldn’t move from where she was least she was dying to get found out. There was something on the floor with the blood, it looked like clumps of string. She leaned slightly closer, just enough to realize that the strings were actually clumps of brown hair.
One quiet gasp parted her lips as her eyes jolted back up to the lady in the chair. She noticed now that there were missing chunks of hair from her head and Amelia stifled a laugh. How could she have missed that. The lady looked funny all bald in patches. She also noticed the blood that was slowly trickling down her face from her head, she thought it was cool how it carved its way down her cheeks. Maybe her father would let her get a closer look if she just asked nicely enough. No, don’t be stupid Amelia. You Know if you go over there you’ll get in trouble for being down here. Amelia sighed, she really wanted to but ended up shaking the curiosity enough away.
While she was thinking about the blood her father must have said something that upset the lady because all of a sudden she started sobbing again. The sound causing Amelia to jump back a bit. She wondered why she was crying. Then she realized why the lady was shrinking back, her father slowly raised his axe above his head. Amelia stopped breathing and she was pretty sure the lady in the chair stopped breathing too. A small smile crept across her face as her father brought the axe down with a hard swing, the movement swishing through the air before it connected with the lady in a loud thump.
Eyes widening in awe Amelia giggled a little too loudly. The lady screamed, her cries echoing off the basement walls. Victoria would be so jealous when she realized she missed this. Slowly her father drew the axe back again and when he did the lady’s hand rolled off the arm rest and onto the floor. Blood gushing from the wound while the lady continued screaming.