The sun was sinking low and just beginning to turn the sky a bright burnt yellow as Isaiah Miller pushed his horse down the path away from the only home he ever knew. Changing what happened was impossible, and he saw no other option than to run. He had been riding for two days now and had not had a proper rest or a decent meal in that same amount of time. Sleep was sounding very good at the moment, sleeping on the ground however was never Isaiah's first choice. He knew though that having to rest was not something he could just wave away, and neither was the rumbling in his gut. He had given the idea of stopping a quick thought, but decided to push on for a while longer, perhaps his luck would change, perhaps he would find somewhere to bed down for the night.
After an hour more of riding Isaiah was nearly ready to give up hope of finding any civilized life. Night was soon to fall, as the sky had taken on the gray pink tone of dusk. A sudden fog had also begun to roll in thickening and chilling the air around him. He was close to breaking down, giving up, and starting a fire to warm his shivering bones when out of the fog came a light. Picking up speed, a shape appeared, clearer and clearer the closer he got. The light was from a lantern hanging beside the door of a large dark building. A wooden sign beneath the lantern read 'Fairchild Inn' and Isaiah sent up a prayer thanking God for guiding him to this place. Curtains were pulled over the many windows on the structure, a balcony wrapping all the way around, and a small set of stairs leading up to the front porch. He jumped down off of his horse and pulled her over to the front railing, tying her to it so she would not be wondering off "Good girl." he said, patting her on her neck as he did. His boots clomped against the wood as he ascended the front steps, turned the door knob, and stepped inside. The interior was dimly lit with red carpets and dark almost black walls "Hello?" Isaiah asked as he closed the door behind him.
"How may I help you?" came a gravely voice from Isaiah's left.
He turned and found an elderly man standing behind a desk. The man had a long wiry beard, deep set eyes with dark circles beneath them, and his back was twisted into a slight hump, "I need a room and some food." Isaiah told the man, and approached the desk. His eyes trailed over the man's hands, his nails were dirty and cracked, and his fingers themselves bent and broken looking.
The man's breath was putrid and Isaiah nearly gagged when he said "A room is a dollar a night, meals are a dollar extra."
"Alright then." Isaiah said fishing his wallet out of his pocket, puling two dollars from it "Here you go." he told the man as he sat the money on the counter between them.
Nodding the man told him "Very good." He eyed Isaiah suspiciously and asked "Where you headed young fella?"
"West," Isaiah said "as far west as possible."
"You do not look older than seventeen." The man said scratching his head.
Isaiah cleared his throat, these questions and assumptions were making him uncomfortable "I am nineteen, twenty in three months." he hated it when people assumed he was younger, his twin brother Jonas had never had that problem, his features had been mature and chiseled, his personality more serious. Quickly Isaiah shook away the thoughts of his brother "I have a horse out front, can you be sure she's taken care of?" he took out another dollar and handed it to the man.
"Why yes sir." the old man pocketed the bill, turned, and grabbed the key for room thirteen "Here you go." he handed the key to Isaiah "I'll have your dinner sent up shortly."
With a sharp nod Isaiah said "Thanks for that." then turned and headed for the stairs, ready to make way to his room.
"Young Fella." The old man's voice made him pause and turn around.
"Yes?" Isaiah asked.
"Best not to wander into the halls after dark." his words caused a chill to run down Isaiah's spine "Some of our permanent guests don't appreciate it much." The way he said, permanent guests, made Isaiah's stomach turn, or perhaps it was the fact that he hadn't eaten in days. Either way Isaiah knew in that moment all he really wanted to do was get to his room, relax, and wait for his meal to come. He gave the elderly man an appreciative nod, then started up the stairs.
The hallway at the top of the staircase was lined with low burning lanterns, the carpet the same deep red as that in the room below. Isaiah had the strangest feeling that he was being watched even though the hall was empty. He shuffled forward, checking the brass numbers on each of the doors until he found room number thirteen. Pulling the key out of his pocket Isaiah slid it into the lock with a quiet clunking sound, and it clicked as he turned it. He opened the door, the room was barely lit by the last dying light of day coming in through the window. Throwing his bag down beside the door, he removed the key, stepped inside and closed the door behind him. Making his way over to the bedside table Isaiah lit the lantern that sat there casting the room in orange. He walked over to the window and closed the curtain, while the area around the Inn was rather deserted Isaiah was still concerned about the possibility of prying eyes.
The boy walked over to his bed, and sat down. He closed his eyes, trying to clear his mind, but a sudden noise filled his ears. The sound of voices whispering, low, inaudible "Hello?" Isaiah asked with no response. The voices stopped suddenly when a knock sounded on the door. He walked over cautiously, and opened it, finding the hallway empty save for a tray of food covered by a white cloth. "Thank you." Isaiah said to the silence, then grabbed the tray and carried it inside, shoving the door closed again with the heel of his boot. He walked over to a desk which was sitting on the left side of the room and placed the tray upon it. Stomach rumbling once again in hunger, Isaiah took a seat in the chair in front of the desk, and removed the cloth from the tray revealing a large portion of pot roast, with boiled carrots, potatoes, and a large biscuit with a patting of butter on top. Folding his hands together he whispered a blessing over his food, and asked for forgiveness for the sins he had committed. After, he picked up his knife and fork, then began to stuff himself. In just a few minutes the plate was completely clean, and Isaiah was on the verge of falling asleep in his chair, but rather than doing that he quickly stood and walked over to the bed. Removing his boots only, crawled under the covers and in nearly an instant he was snoring.
In his sleep Isaiah saw the face of his brother, smiling widely while casting his fishing rod into the pond on their family's farm, saw him mount up on his horse while their father took them out for a ride. Jonas's voice rang out in Isaiah's ears, his laugh echoing through his mind. He tossed and turned while memories of his brother flashed before his eyes. Suddenly he shot straight up in bed, glistening with sweat, shivering, panting heavily "Isaiah!" he heard his brother's voice whisper from somewhere in the shadows. Isaiah scanned the room, then rubbed his eyes and scanned it again. He found nothing but emptiness and knew that was all he would find, Jonas was not here, Jonas was gone and never coming back.
He calmed himself down as much as possible and leaned over to blow out the candle so he could try to return to sleep, that was when he heard it. Someone was crying, loudly. He listened closer, it sounded as if it was coming from right outside his door. Creeping across the room, Isaiah pressed his ear to the door. The sobbing turned to whispering "Help me." said a woman's voice "Help me please?" she begged, and then screamed "Help!" causing Isaiah to jump back.
The crying began again, accompanied by a sudden pounding from the hall. Isaiah approached the door with caution and reached out to open it. With a faint creak it swung inward revealing the empty hall "Hello?" Isaiah asked as he peeked out, the light from the lanterns flickered "Is anyone there?" He stepped out into the hall, and as he crossed the threshold the door slammed shut behind him, and he was plunged into darkness as the lanterns all went out at once. A blazing white light flooded the hall, blinding Isaiah, and a sudden screeching noise drew his attention to the end of the hall. As his eyes adjusted to the unnatural light a twisted, backwards shape came into focus. The creature was human in shape, but had no eyes and a wide mouth full of sharp teeth. It suddenly began to twist around, multiple cracking noises rang out as its bones popped back into place, and it straightened up standing at nearly seven feet tall. Crouching down the creature screeched as it's jaw unhinged and mouth widened about a foot. It was now leaning forward onto its hands which ended in three long clawed finger like appendages. In a flash the thing charged towards Isaiah who up until that point was silent in shock. He let out a blood curdling scream and turned to run down the hall, but when he did, he found himself face to face with a second creature. Another scream tore itself out of Isaiah's throat, the first creature was suddenly on top of him, and then the second. His door flew open, and the creatures dragged him into it, their razor sharp teeth and claws tearing into his flesh, ripping pieces off of him and devouring them.
"Isaiah!" Someone shook his by his shoulders "Isaiah wake up!" He jumped up at the sound grabbing the nearest object and swinging it outward with a sickening crunch as it collided with something in the dark. A loud thud could be heard as whatever or whoever it was hit the floor.
Isaiah turned and lit the candle on his bedside table and as the light filled the room he realized it was his room, the one back in his family home. He turned around feeling a sudden twist in his gut, he knew what was coming next. Looking down at the floor Isaiah saw his brother lying in a pool of his own blood, originating from his head "Jonas!" he dropped down beside him, trying to wake his brother, but he knew Jonas would not be waking up "I am so sorry." he cried as he stood and then began packing his bag. When he finished he spared one more quick glance at his brother, then ran out of his room, down the stairs and out the front door.
As he stepped past the doorway Isaiah found himself back in the hall of the Inn. He looked up and down the hall finding it completely empty. One thought filled his mind, it was time to leave. Snatching his bag from the floor Isaiah did not bother even closing the door, he just ran and kept running until he reached the entry of the Inn. As he opened the door he spotted the old man standing behind the desk shaking his head when Isaiah stepped outside. When his foot landed outside he felt as if his stomach was being ripped from his body, and he was suddenly behind the desk, looking at himself standing in the front doorway of the inn. Isaiah looked down at his hands and found the broken twisted fingers of the old man who had checked him in. He looked back up at himself, his mouth moving, his own voice calling out to him "I did warn ya not to wander the halls at night." a wicked smile broke out across the face that no longer belonged to him "Have yerself a pleasant stay," the man paused "young fella." then he let out a dark cackle stepping outside with Isaiah's bag in hand and let door slam shut behind him, the sound reminding Isaiah of the clang of jail bars.