It was not safe. We stopped at this motel because we had been roadtripping for 17 hours straight and we needed real rest in a real bed and a real shower, but it wasn’t safe here.
On the outside it looked great. It sat on a nice large plot of land and there were a few places to eat just down the street, but it wasn’t safe here. Why did we stop? We should have just kept going. But for some reason we had to wait. At least that was what Simone kept saying.
“No.” someone outside the door screamed, then I heard a loud thud. That was the first time I heard something like that tonight. It was just after everyone went to sleep.
I was lying in bed with my sister, Imani. Our other sister, Janae, and her best friend, Simone, were in the bed next to us. The adjoining room held our two brothers, B.J. and Justin, and two of their friends, Maurice and Jermaine. The guys just wanted to go to sleep, so we put them in one room while all the girls sat up trying to figure out what gift to take our parents.
Just after midnight we passed out, too tired to function any further.Plus, we still had another 26 hours to drive until we could see our parents for their anniversary party. Maurice, Jermaine and Simone had been family friends for so long, it was as though they were siblings, too.
We planned this trip as a way to hang out together again like we used to do as kids. Thought it would be fun to drive instead of fly. I really wish we had decided to fly.
Just after I had fully immersed myself in my dream, I heard Jermaine’s voice. It started the entire crazy night. I thought I was hearing things, but a commotion outside our room was definitely happening. But I only heard his voice.
“What the hell?” he said. “Dude, what are you doing? Come on. Let me go.” All four of us sat up and were looking at the door. It sounded as if it were literally happening right on the other side of it.
Then there was a heavy thud and footsteps got further and further away.
“What the hell was that?” Imani said. I shook my head and looked at the three of them just before a loud knock sounded against the door.
“Lisa, open up,” B.J. said. “Jermaine is hurt. Open the door.”
See, B.J. was the oldest at 28. Then came my twin brother, Justin and I. We were 26. Then our 25-year-old sister Imani followed and finally Janae at 23 was last.
After getting my bearings, I rushed over to the door, opening it to see Jermaine slumped against the wall with blood staining his shirt. He looked passed out. There was a bottle of soda and a spilled bucket of ice not far from him.
“Call downstairs. Call 911,” Maurice said. “We need to get him help. He’s bleeding real bad.”
Maurice was Jermaine’s older cousin. They were Justin’s best friends. Both of them had their hands on his stomach and they were covered in blood. I couldn’t look away. I was in shock. How did this happen? How could this happen?
“The phone’s dead.” Simone said.
Everybody sprang back to life. The girls started scrambling for their cells, but they had no signal. It was weird because we had been on our phones throughout the night and they were working just fine.
B.J., Maurice and Justin lifted Jermaine up as carefully as they could and brought him into our room because it was closer. I grabbed the overturned bucket and the soda, but left the ice. I didn’t know why I grabbed them, but it seemed like I shouldn’t leave a mess. I looked up and down the hall before walking back into the room, but I saw no one. How could no one else have come out of their room after hearing that? I know the motel wasn’t huge, but still, not one person came out?
“I’m going downstairs to get help,” B.J. said. “Y’all stay in here. Do not go anywhere.”
“No, you can’t go alone,” Imani said. “I’ll go with you. Everyone stay put.”
“No, we need to stay together. Get Jermaine good to go and we all leave.” Janae said.
“We can’t move him ‘Nae,” I said. “He’s bleeding like crazy. We need to get help and we need to stop his bleeding.”
“Listen to Lisa,” B.J. said. “We’ll be right back.”
There was no use arguing. Everyone in this family was stubborn. Once we decided to do something, it was going to happen whether the rest of us liked it or not. After the two of them left, I grabbed a couple of towels to try to clean up the blood from Jermaine’s body. Simone and Janae took the towels from me and told me to check on Maurice and Justin in the living room area of the suite. They knew I didn’t like blood and someone needed to make sure Maurice was doing alright.
I went to check on them and Maurice said Justin had gone to the bathroom to wash the blood off his hands. Maurice sat with his hands still bloody. I talked to him for a little while before heading back into the bedroom to see how the girls were doing. Justin had gotten him up to wash the blood from his hands.
The girls were going through towel after towel trying to staunch the bleeding. After 30 minutes, Imani and B.J. hadn’t returned and I was getting nervous. “I’m going looking for Mani and B.” I said, but before I could get out of the door, Justin grabbed my shirt.
“Wait. You can’t go out there.” he said.
“Why the hell not?” I asked. “Someone just tried to kill Jermaine and Mani and B have been gone too long.”
“Lis, no. Just wait. We need to stay together. Once we make sure he’s okay then we can go.” Janae said.
The sound of ripping caused me to turn and I saw Simone and Maurice had started wrapping one of the pillow cases over a towel around Jermaine’s torso. There were some blood stains and it was making me uncomfortable. I sighed out and shook my head.
“No, I need to make sure Mani and B are okay. What if something happened to them?” I said.
“We shouldn’t separate,” Simone said. “We should wait.” She sounded scared and I was the oldest in the room, alongside Justin, at the moment so I needed to calm them down.
“Fine, but if they aren’t back in 10 minutes, I’m going looking.” I said and plopped into the chair in the living room. Jermaine was still out cold and I was worried about him. After a few minutes, I went to touch his forehead, but the girls stopped me.
“He’s fine. Don’t worry. Remember my mom is a nurse, I’ve learned a few things over the years.” Simone said.
I nodded my head and went back to sit down. I had been able to calm everyone else, but deep down I was completely freaked. All the scary movies I watched and I let them convince me it was a good idea to stop at some random motel in the middle of nowhere. I had to have lost my damn mind, but I mean, everything looked fine. It didn’t look creepy and even the person at the front desk was a sweet, little woman maybe 15 years older than us.
That should have been the first sign.
Too late now. We just needed to get out of here. I couldn’t sit here while Jermaine was potentially dying from blood loss and my brother and sister were missing. I hopped to my feet and headed for the door.
“Wait,” Maurice said. I turned around to look at him. “I have a switchblade in my luggage. Let me go grab that right quick, then I’ll go with you to look for them.”
I deflated. I didn’t want anyone going anywhere by themselves, even though I was about to do just that. But that’s not the point. Since he was just going next door, I nodded.
“Use the adjoining door, I don’t want anyone alone.” I said.
He went through them into their dark room and the one for his room slammed shut behind him. The four of us jumped at the sound before running over to try to open it. It was jammed. We could hear a struggle. I yelled his name and tried to get the door open, but I couldn’t. Simone was trying to find something to open the door with, but we had nothing. “I’ll be back.” Justin said.
Janae tried kicking it, but that didn’t work either. After a minute or so the sounds of the struggle stopped and we heard nothing. Janae started calling for Maurice, but he didn’t answer. Then I heard loud bangs coming from the front door. I swiveled toward it but didn’t move an inch. The knocks kept coming, but I heard no voice.
Then banging came from the room where Maurice was and our heads shifted in that direction. Janae and Simone stood right behind me and we watched both doors. I quickly closed our adjoining door and pushed the chair underneath the knob. The pounding continued and then, just as suddenly as it began, it stopped. I breathed out a breath I didn’t know I was holding and the girls let go of my arms.
“We need to get out of here.” I said.
“No, no. Wait,” Janae said. “Someone is out there and all the guys are gone. We have nothing to protect ourselves. We need to stay here. Wait for the sun to rise.”
It was somewhere after 1 a.m., the sun wouldn’t be up for hours and it was down to three of us. Waiting wasn’t an option. Justin was gone, but just moments before he was with us. He was sitting on the couch. I saw him. It took a moment to remember he said he would be back.
“Where the hell did Justin go?” I said.
“I don’t know. He was sitting on the couch a minute ago, then when the door slammed he hopped up.” Janae said as Simone went toward the wall separating the beds from the living room area.
“He’s not over here,” she said, turning back toward us after looking around. “What the hell is going on?”
“I don’t know, but we need to get out of here and find help,” I said. “I’m going. Y’all stay here and do not open that door unless you are positive it’s one of us.”
“Lisa, don’t go. Every time someone leaves the room something happens. We need to stay together.” Janae said.
“You’re right. And trust me, I’ve seen this movie too many times, my ass probably about to get jacked up, but we can’t just sit here,” I said with a deep breath. “I’ll be back.”
They pleaded with me not to go, to wait until the sun was up, but I didn’t have time for that. Jermaine didn’t have time. Maurice didn’t have time and, I hoped I was wrong but, neither did Imani, Justin or B.J.
I walked out the front door with only my phone as a weapon. I hoped it would get service back at some point, but I could use it to hit someone otherwise. After I made sure the door was securely shut behind me, I edged my way down the hall. I passed Jermaine’s blood stain on the carpet and wall. I saw a keycard on the ground in front of the guys’ room. I gulped and looked around. It had to be at least two people.
Justin had tried to help Maurice and someone got him in the hallway. That had to have happened. I kept my back close to the wall so I wouldn’t have to worry about someone sneaking up behind me easily. My heart was racing.
When I reached the stairwell, I decided to use it instead of the elevator. I figured that would probably be the better option. But even that turned out to be a bad idea. Just after I opened it to start down the steps, I heard a scream. It was a woman’s yelp. I wanted to yell out, but I didn’t want to alert anyone to my presence so I slowly backed out of the stairwell to search for another way down to the lobby. We were on the top floor.
“No, help.” I was sure it was Imani. I had to try to help. I couldn’t just leave her to be killed or hurt. I turned the flash on my phone and took off down the steps. Two floors down I saw her and a person in a mask struggling. The person had her by her hair and was dragging her down the last few stairs. I started down the flight toward her and the person threw something at me.
I ducked just in time and a knife landed with a loud clunk on the ground behind me. I looked at it briefly before launching down the stairs again as the person dragged Imani through the door and it shut behind them. She was screaming “no, help,” and I couldn’t reach her in time.
When I bursted through the door moments later, the hallway was silent. I heard a door close in the distance, but I wasn’t sure where. There wasn’t one person in sight. I slowly made my way down the hall trying to find Imani or any one else that could help. But not one person could be found.
I tried every door. Locked. I went to the front desk. No one. Just blood splattered on the wall behind the counter. It was eerie and terrifying.
I found a letter opener on the counter and grabbed it. I should have grabbed the knife in the stairwell, but I was too focused on Imani. As I turned to go for the exit, I heard a sound behind me. When I spun around, I saw a shadow disappearing.
“Nope, not going to look,” I said. “That’s how you die, Lis. Do not go look. Just go outside. Check for people outside. Find help.”
I coaxed myself into going toward the exit. I looked over my shoulder multiple times making sure no one was sneaking up on me.
“No, wait.” I heard a female’s voice behind me just as my hand touched the door. When I looked, I saw no one. The hall was horizontal to me, so unless someone entered the opening, I couldn’t see them.
“Don’t please.” It was definitely Janae’s voice. I told her not to leave the room. What the hell? I pushed on the exit door and it was locked. I tried it a few times, but it wasn’t budging. We couldn’t get out this way and I couldn’t find anyone to help. I turned around and stared around the lobby.
“Lisa, Lisa.” Janae screamed. I heard footsteps padding down the hall. I held the letter opener at the ready. I was not mentality equipped for this. Why did we stop at this damn motel?
The footsteps suddenly stopped and the light in the hall went dark. Great, just great.
I took a deep breath and went back toward the front desk, keeping my eye on the hall the entire time.
I forgot to check the phones, I could call the police from here. But both phones I picked up were dead. Not one dial tone. I shook my head and tried to steady my heartbeat. I had no choice but to go looking for whoever was taking us out one by one. I wasn’t going down easily.
When I edged my way over to the hall, I turned the flash on my phone again. I wasn’t about to try to walk down it in the dark like an idiot. It was bad enough we were in this situation. This is not a situation folks like us usually found ourselves in. Psychotic murderers in a small town motel? Not my damn cup of tea.
As soon as I entered the hall I saw Janae not far off. She was stumbling toward me. There was blood dripping from a wound on her head.
“Janae.” I whispered as she kept staggering toward me. I moved the light around to cover each door as I crept toward her. When she was just two doors away someone grabbed her from behind and yanked her away from me.
“No. Stop. Let her go.” I screamed. I kept the letter opener in front of me and I started slowly toward her, remembering there were at least two people. A hand over was her mouth and an arm was around her waist wrestling her back down the hall. They disappeared around a corner and I moved quickly to catch up. I couldn’t see the person’s face, but I wasn’t going to let them get away.
I made sure to keep moving the flash around the hall so I could make sure there wasn’t anyone hiding in the dark. Suddenly, they disappeared into a room at the end of the hall with swinging double doors. Great. This was not good. There could be anyone behind those doors besides them. I sighed and nodded my head.
I had got to go in.
Damn, I’d seen this movie and I yelled at the dumb chick that kept walking toward the danger. I was the dumb chick and someone was screaming at me not to go in that room. Why did we stop at this damn motel? After another breath, I went to kick the doors open so I could see in before I went in.
I saw nothing, just glints of furniture. I shook my head. I was about to have an issue. I knew it, but I couldn’t just stand there. At that point, it was too late. I pushed the doors open again with my foot and slowly started walking inside. Just as the left door swung past my shoulder, someone grabbed me.
I went to swing the letter opener but one hand grabbed my wrist and another covered my mouth. I started fighting against the person only to realize it was two people. Both of them had me.
I couldn’t get free, but that didn’t stop me from trying to find some leverage to get loose. Moments later I heard laughter. “Wait, Lis. Wait.”
I froze. That was B.J.’s voice. What the hell? Then the lights flicked on and everyone yelled “surprise.” I looked around and saw all my siblings and their friends. I saw the hotel front desk person and the hotel manager from the photo on the wall in the lobby. I was confused. Then I was pissed.
Everyone that had been hurt or missing was standing there with a smile on their face. I turned to the side and B.J. was holding me from the left and Justin was holding me from the right.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked.
“Happy birthday sis,” Imani said. “You claimed we were never able to scare you, so when we decided to drive to see ma and pop, we planned this. Called the motel and asked if we could rent it out to do this and they were happy to oblige. You said you hadn’t had a fun birthday in years, sooooooo bam.”
“This wasn’t fun you damn psychos, you scared me shitless. People going missing. Folks stabbed. Fights in other rooms. People knocked over the head. Folks screaming no. I saw you and Janae dragged away in front of me. This some bullshit. This why I don’t like y’all.” I said. “This why Ima kill all of y’all.”
“My head already hurts from Justin pulling my hair,” Imani chuckled and rubbed her head. “Leave me be.” Justin looked apologetic but shrugged nonetheless. The fake blood on Janae and Jermaine showed clearly and I was super annoyed. I didn’t know how I didn’t notice the fake blood on Jermaine when I was right next to him.
“This is not how you ring in a birthday. This is how you get folks for real killed,” I said. “Try something like this again and see what happens.”
They all laughed and Janae walked over to hug me. I pushed her and pouted. That only made them laugh that much more.
“Next time, it’ll be all the better,” Jermaine said. “Just you wait.”
I shook my head as they pulled the cake out to sing to me. I was so angry, but the effort they put it was kind of nice. I’m just mad Justin was in on it with them. “I’m telling mom.”
Justin leaned over and kissed my temple. “Mom and dad helped us pay for everything. Happy birthday, twin.”