Chapter 3: Rosalie
I woke up and forgot where I was for a moment. I was sprawled out on a large bed, the comforter half off, staring up at an ugly beige ceiling. The wind from the open window had woken me up, my heart sinking as I realized that it was still dark out. I had no idea what time it was, or what exactly had happened, but one minute I was outside in the sun, watching kids play on the playground out back, and the next everyone heard screaming, gun shots, explosions, and we all ran inside. The building we were in was the Verthollow Hotel in Redvale, a few miles outside of Reyesent. It was run by the Nightshade family, who I'd heard were more or less trustworthy, not to mention extremely wealthy.
The vacation had been relaxing, up until this part. Afraid of someone or something coming in, I had pushed the small dresser up against it to keep them out. I hadn't heard anything come into the hotel, but being on the third and top floor, you could never be sure. I headed over to the open window, about to close it when I thought I saw a flash of something below. Squinting through the darkness, I tried to make out what looked like someone crouching near the gates. The Verthollow was a very grand hotel, so much so that it had multiple layers of gates that only guests were allowed through. I stood there for a while, letting the summer breeze blow my hair back a little, and staring at the figure near the gate. They didn't seem to be moving a lot, but a sudden shift in position here and there kept me thinking it was alive. No one would want to be out there alone.
Closing the window, I tip toed lightly over to the door, bending over the dresser to press my ear to it. Hearing nothing after a few seconds, I carefully pushed the dresser away and opened the door just a crack. The lights in the hallway were still on, which meant that whatever had happened (if anything had really happened at all) hadn't affected the electricity. I knew the only way to open the gates from inside the hotel was by pressing a few buttons on a control panel that was located in Jasmine Nightshade's main office. Careful not to disturb anyone, I began my slow walk down the hall. My heart was thumping in my chest as a light flickered from somewhere above me. A few minutes passed and all I could do was stand still as a cold sweat broke across my forehead.
Come on, Rosalie, you're being paranoid, At this thought, my heart rate began to slow down to normal and I was able to continue walking. It was when I came near the elevator that a loud crash that echoed up the shaft from below sent me at a sprint down the rest of the hall and around the corner, screaming as I nearly collided with someone. I nearly fell over, placing my hand over my heart, trying to catch my breath as I looked at the person I'd thought was a ghost. She had pale skin with long, dark red hair that was tied in a braid with brown eyes that had lots of brown mascara around them. She didn't seem all that fazed, just a little distracted.
"I'm so sorry," she said in a deeper voice than you might expect, "I didn't think anyone else would be roaming the halls, reflecting on the cruelty of life at this hour, except for me," I nodded, regaining my breath. "I'm Raven," she made a motion to stick out her hand, as if she wanted to shake, but then decided against it. "Where are you off to this late at night?"
I decided then and there that, although creepy, this Raven person wasn't going to be much of a threat. "I…" I trailed off, not exactly sure what to say, "I saw someone outside, near the gate. I didn't want to leave them out there, considering…" I made a gesture with my hand, as if that would explain the commotion from earlier. Raven nodded gravely, holding her hands behind her back.
"My friend Violet could help you open the gate," she offered, "Her mother owns the place, you know. She and her sister Poppy were supposed to be helping her out. But I guess they found better things to do," As if on cue, a giggle was heard from the other end of the hall.
"What was that?" I asked, suddenly a little scared of this woman.
Raven shrugged, a smile playing at her lips. "I don't know," she said, "Probably one of the ghosts," The laugh came again, along with a few words that were a bit muffled.
I walked over to the end of the hall, opening the door to the stairwell, and heard the laugh again, coming from somewhere further down. Not waiting to see if Raven was following me or not, I started to go down the stairs, taking them two at a time, as if something was calling me to come as quickly as I could. There were no lights in the stairwell, the only light coming from the small windows in the doors that led out to the brightly lit halls. The giggling grew louder as I passed the second floor, coming down to the first. I opened the door to the first floor, which brought me into the main lobby. Near the front door, a little girl in blue and yellow overalls was huddling, singing to herself, her back turned to me, "I saw the light, I saw the light, I saw the pretty yellow light, I saw the light…" she repeated this tune, rocking back and forth.
"Um, hello? Are you lost?" I came over to the girl, bending down to get a better look at her. She looked up at me, smiled, and got back to her singing. "Where's your mommy?" Not missing a beat, the girl pointed outside into the darkness, continuing her song. I got up and pressed my face against the glass, squinting, trying to see something, but failing to. "Are you sure?" I looked down at the girl again. She nodded, still singing her tune. "Could you please stop singing for a moment?" I asked as gently as possible. That song was starting to send shivers up my spine.
She looked up at me for a moment, then went back to rocking, humming the tune instead. The little girl stopped again, looking up at me, "Could you go get her, Rosalie?" she asked.
"Your mom?" She nodded. "How do you know my name?" I was trying to hold back my fear, thinking that this must be a coincidence, or one of Raven's tricks.
"I saw your name in the book," she replied without looking up.
"What book?" I asked, my fear inching its way up again.
"The guest book," she replied, "You signed your name, hearts and all," Before I could reply, she looked up and said, "Please go get her."
Biting down on her lower lip, I took a step forward and pushed the rotating doors slightly. "Come on," I felt a small hand in mine and looked down to see the girl, looking up at me with expecting eyes. Putting on a brave face, I took a breath and pushed the door harder, holding my breath until we got outside, as if I was plunging underwater. Neither of us could see anything, the only light coming from the two porch style lights bordering the entrance. I snapped my head to the right as headlights came around the corner, a car stopping near the base of the stairs. A woman came out, looking tired and flustered. "Poppy?" she looked up at us. "Sweetie, you should be in bed!" Another girl came out from the passenger side, a goth by the looks of it.
"Come out side and play, Mommy, don't back to bed," it was Poppy's voice, but it wasn't coming from her mouth. The voice had a strange echoing sound, like the sound I had heard in the elevator shaft earlier. "Come out side and play, Mommy, don't go back to bed," One by one, the gates slowly opened, and one by one, I watched in horror as these things came crawling through. I recognized them as the thing I had seen earlier, thinking it was a person. They all seemed like deformed skeletons, crawling around on all fours, claws scoring the earth, surrounding us. Mrs. Nightshade, to be exact.
Poppy sat down on the steps that led up the Verthollow, resting her chin on her hands and watching, as if she were watching two of her friends play a game of tag. Violet was standing next to me, I just realized, wringing her hands together, unable to move. Mrs. Nightshade looked up at me in confusion, and then realized the circle that was slowly closing in on her. "Mom…" Violet's voice came out like a whisper as I suddenly registered what was going on.
With a screech the things fell upon Mrs. Nightshade, tearing chunks of skin and eating at her flesh. "Mom, no!" Violet screamed, breaking out of her trance, rushing down the stairs.
"No, Violet, no," Poppy's voice came from behind me. I turned around to see her hold out one hand, and for a few seconds a string was visible. One that was connected to Poppy's hand and tied around Violet's neck, pulling her back. Tears began to stream down the older girls face as what had once been her mother was revealed, the things backing up a little, content with a job well done. Her head had been detached from her neck, one of her arms was lying near the bottom of the stairs, and one of the creatures had an entire bloody leg in its mouth, complete with foot and high heel. The rest of her mid-section had been entirely spread out so that it must've covered two whole feet of the pavement. Flies were already starting to buzz over to the exposed flesh. I didn't want to, but I looked closer and saw that the heart was clearly visible, and it looked as if it was still beating.
Poppy calmly walked down the stairs, reached inside her mother's remains, and pulled out the heart with one hand. Not waiting a second, she through the heart as far as she could, out the gate, and the creatures ran after it, making weird strangling sounds of pleasure. The gates closed behind them, and Poppy turned back toward us, wiping the blood on her overalls. "There's enough of us to play now," she ran past us and into the revolving door, "Come and see my flower garden,"
A few minutes later Violet and I were standing in a bathroom on the second floor, right up against the counter. Poppy was there, too, playing with the flowers in the vase on the small table next to her. None of us had said anything since we'd gotten there. I had thought about offering Violet one of the mints on the counter to distract her from her mother's demise, but thought better of it. The girl hadn't even tried to fix her eye liner, which was still running down her face, despite the large mirror. The door opened behind us and I whirled around, expecting to see more creatures, but it was just Raven. "Oh, goodie, we're all here," Poppy clapped her hands happily.
"Have any of you had anything to eat since I've gathered you here to play?" I shook my head, unsure why she was asking that. Violet was silent, keeping her head down, while Raven slowly nodded her head. Poppy looked over at her, "And what have you had, Raven?"
Raven's voice came out a lot less mysterious and confident than it had before, as she replied, "I just had one of those mints from the bathroom upstairs. They're really good," she gestured toward the small bowl on the counter. Poppy's smile widened.
"Great," she said, "Then you'll get to demonstrate to Rosalie and Violet. I was worried I'd have to get one of you to eat one now and then have to wait forever for it to work," My head snapped up at this, as did Raven's. Violet remained still as a stone.
"Waiting for what to work?" she narrowed her eyes, leaning her head towards Poppy a little.
Poppy giggled again, "You'll see. If you ate it right before they came, I'm sure it'll happen at any time now." Raven's breath began to grow shallower, slowly at first, but then she was really gulping for air.
"Oh God," she was clutching her stomach now, stumbling over to one of the towel racks to steady herself. "What happened? What's going on? Help me!" I looked closely at the hand Raven had put on her stomach and saw that it was pulsing, almost as if there was a baby inside her, kicking to get out. But this movement was more rhythmic, and worse yet, the pulse seemed to be growing each time it came back.
I whipped around to race Poppy, trying to forget that she was just a child. "What did you do to her? What's in her!?" I nearly screamed. Poppy only brought her fists together, and then broke them apart, wiggling her fingers as she did. I knew exactly what that meant. I turned back to Raven, who was now gasping for breath even more violently, her stomach continuing to expand. "Run, Violet, run!" I ran for the nearest stall and shut the door, just as I heard a sickening "pop" sound and another sound that sounded as if someone had taken a bunch of juicy steaks and thrown them against the wall.
I opened the door to the stall and almost wanted to go back in to hurl into the toilet. The walls were splashed red, some pink, fleshy, things sticking to the walls, along with a few bones that still had them flesh on them. I saw a rib handing from Violet's hair, her black dress spattered with blood, a few pieces of an organ on her face and neck. Right where Raven had been standing was a few scraps of black cloth, some strands of hair, and a small necklace that was half buried under a torn kidney.
"Your turn, Violet!" Poppy grabbed a fistful of mints, took Violet's hand, and pressed them in. Violet began to raise them to her mouth, Poppy giggling, splashing the blood around with her feet.
"Violet, stop!" Knocking the mints from her hand, I pulled her arm toward the door as I tried to make a break for it. "Come on! Hurry!" But Violet wouldn't move. She just dropped to the floor, the weight of her suddenly pulling me down. I knew there was no time to drag her along. I made a break for the door, flinging it open, and shooting down the hall.
"Come back! Come back! I want to play!" Poppy began to cry, but I wouldn't fall for it, I couldn't. I came to the main staircase, tripped on the carpet, and tumbled down into the main lobby. I heard running footsteps behind me, along with something dragging. I glanced back to see Poppy following me, looking up at me with a playful expression, dragging an axe along with her.
"I can end you from the inside," she sang, "I can end you from the outside. You'll see the light, you'll see the light…" I ran harder, my blood pumping in my ears, knowing I didn't want to be like Raven. I found a door and pushed it open, running into the large kitchen, passing the knives and slabs of meat, all of which seemed to look like deformed images of people. I opened a closet door and screamed. "Cut you up with little knives," Poppy was sitting on a shelf, holding a small blade in between each finger.
I slammed the door and ran towards another one. It was heavy, but I managed to pull it open, get behind it, and slam it shut. The door had a little window you could look out of. I saw the top of Poppy's head as she fiddled with the door knob. I smiled in triumph when I realized she couldn't open it.
But she wasn't trying to open it, she was locking it. And it was at that moment that Rosalie realized that she had locked herself in a freezer.