|The Last Motel on the Left Director's Cut
Author: coolbyrne PM
A dark motel. A killer. Tony and Carol. A lot of clichés. List of clichés listed at the end. This is the 3rd version of 3 that have been written. It involves commentary as if the story was being listened to on CD by the writer, Carol and Tony.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Humor - Dr. A. Hill/Tony & Carol J. - Words: 11,613 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 1 - Published: 12-07-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5565228
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: The Last Motel on the Left (Director's Cut)
Disclaimer: The characters of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan belong to Val McDermid. I write them because I love them, not because I'm making money from them.
A/N: A bit of a "what in the world??" story. Started out as a response to a cliché challenge, but instead of using one, I decided to use a fistful of them. As well, I thought I'd have a bit of fun with it and do something a bit different- I treated it like a written version of a movie, with a "regular" ending, an extended/alternate ending, and a version with director's (or in this case, writer's) commentary. Was also meant to be a ghost story, but sort of lost my way on that one.
Summary: A dark motel. A killer. Tony and Carol. A lot of clichés. (List of clichés listed at the end.)
Note: This is the third version of three versions that have been written, the "director's cut" as it were. It involves commentary as if the story was being listened to on CD by the writer, Carol and Tony. I purposely made the writer sound increasingly oblivious to how self-important she sounds, to reflect some of the director's inflated commentaries I've heard on DVDs.
Writer: Hello, my name is Cee Byrne and I'm here with Detective Inspector Carol Jordan and Dr. Tony Hill as we listen to the audio version of my book, "The Last Motel on the Left, read by esteemed English actor, Sean Bean. Throughout the reading, Ms. Jordan and Dr. Hill will provide insightful commentary.
Carol: I'd like to go on record as saying I'm here at the request of Assistant Chief Constable Paul Eden of the Bradfield Police.
Tony: I'd like to go on record as saying I object to Sean Bean reading the audio book. What?
Writer: Uh, right. Well, away we go.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Tony: Oh dear.
Helpless trees had the last leaves of fall pulled away by the howling wind, and their branches reached up to the sky, silhouetted by the moon like the limbs of a spider. Wet gravel crunched beneath rubber tires as the car came to a slow stop on the shoulder of the narrow county road.
Carol: You missed the wolf howling in the distance.
Tony leaned over in his seat, and seeing the fuel gauge remarked, "All this time I thought that was an excuse for enterprising young men to get their leg over unsuspecting young girls." He sat back and looked as if he was genuinely re-evaluating his assumption.
"Not funny," Carol replied as she tapped the gauge with an index finger. "Come on."
"Unless you can make petrol appear by the sheer power of your mind, Carol, I think we're out of luck."
"And out in the middle of nowhere."
He looked around and had to concur. "Mmmm."
"I knew we should have left the questioning until tomorrow," she chastised herself. "The witness wasn't going anywhere."
"But you wanted to follow a lead." She made a face at his comment. "I didn't say that was a bad thing," he clarified. "It was the key we had been hoping for. Anyone would have done the same."
She deflected his compliment with a grunt. "Would anyone have run out of petrol?" When he didn't immediately answer, she nodded, "I thought not." Brushing aside her annoyance, she sighed and said, "Right. We're here, what are our options?"
Tony pulled out his cell phone and made a face. He turned the screen to show her the 'No Service Available' greeting. Despite suspecting a similar outcome, she checked her own mobile and was proven right.
They both sat in a lingering silence until Tony twisted around in his seat. "Does this go back all the way?"
It took her a moment to understand his meaning. When the light bulb went on, she declared, "I'm not spending the night in this car in the middle of God knows where at night!"
"You said 'night' twice," Tony noted. "Are you scared of the dark, Carol?"
She waved away his question. "Really." To her chagrin, he seemed to wait for more. "No. I'm not afraid of the dark." She felt she needed to clarity things, so she added, "I just don't like the idea of being cut off from civilization."
"We're on an island with 60 million people," he reminded her. "I'd hardly call it being cut off from civilization."
She wasn't in the mood for pedantry. "Must you analyze everything?" she snapped.
Tony: I don't analyze, I… observe.
Writer: Don't worry, most of the dialogue is fabrication anyway. I could only base the story on the police report. The rest falls under 'artistic licence'.
Carol: You could call it that, yeah.
Tony sat back, suitably chastised, and mumbled, "Sorry." Hoping to make amends, he said, "I may have seen a B&B about 15 minutes ago."
She looked off to the side and replayed the last 20 minutes in her head. Nodding, she agreed, "I think you're right."
"Well that gives us two choices then," he said. "Stay here for the night and hope someone comes by in the morning, or…" he saw her face. "No, I suppose we have one choice."
She bent her head and glanced up to the sky through the windshield. "Looks like the weather has cleared."
"Good thing I wore sensible shoes."
Ignoring his joke, she reached back and collected her bag and coat. Opening her door, she turned to him. "Coming?"
They were exactly halfway between the car and their destination when the skies opened above them.
Writer: This, of course, is pathetic fallacy. The weather represents the dark mood Carol is in, as well as giving the reader a hint as to what may come.
It was hard to say which cut a more depressing image- the dark, six room motel set back in the trees, or the drenched pair standing at the head of the driveway that led to it. At least Tony and Carol had the advantage of being able to dry off and clean up; the building- 30 years old if a day- looked like it hadn't been tended to since the day it was completed.
"A car that's run out of petrol on a rainy night, and a rather disturbing looking motel nestled comfortably in Foreboding Forest," Tony mused. "All that's missing is the one remaining room with a single bed."
Tony: It's actually called the Tanbury Forest.
Writer: It's creative exaggeration.
Carol grumbled her response and approached the weathered door underneath the paint-chipped sign that read, 'Manager's Office'. The handle fought against Carol's grip and the iron hinges protested loudly as she pulled the door open.
'Office' had been a generous title. It was obvious that the door opened outward for architectural reasons if nothing else; had it opened inward, it would have hit the chest-high counter that greeted them. As it was, there was barely enough room for the pair as they stepped inside and closed the door behind them. The rusted squeal of their entrance didn't seem to catch the attention of anyone, manager or otherwise.
Writer: Here's where the isolation begins, with them coming from the wide open space of the outdoors to this cramped postage stamp of an office. Though the room they ultimately end up in is slightly bigger, it's not by much, so that sense of foreboding continues from this early set-up. There is only one way to escape this office, just as later on, we come to understand there is only one way to escape their fear.
"Hello?" Carol inquired as she needlessly peered over the counter; the 8x8 room didn't offer much in terms of cover. "Christ, there's barely enough room here to change my mind."
Carol: I will confess that was the smallest room I'd ever seen.
They waited for a response, but nothing answered them except for the drip-drip-drip of water pooling from their wet clothes. Tony picked up a magazine from the small stack on a tiny stand, the only piece of furniture in the room.
Flipping nonchalantly, he remarked, "This magazine is almost as old as its home."
"Maybe it came with the building," Carol said before repeating, "Hello? Is there anyone here?"
Glancing around his surroundings, which were one step above a closet, Tony took stock of the worn counter, the rickety swivel chair behind it, the dark 13" television with its turn dials, the peeling wallpaper. "Maybe he's given up the ghost."
Carol snorted. "Wouldn't blame him," she agreed, having cast the same judgement of her surroundings as Tony had, only about five minutes earlier. As she opened her mouth to repeat her inquiry for the third time, the familiar sound of a toilet flushing cut her off. Startled, they both looked at each other. "Where the hell did that come from?" she asked.
Her answer came when a young man seemingly stepped out of the wall at the end of a wooden rack of mail slots and key hooks.
"I'd hate to see the size of the loo small enough to hide behind that shelf," Tony remarked.
"Oh!" he jumped as he wiped his hands on the back of his jeans. He was quite non-descript to Carol's profiling eye- about two inches shy of six feet, roughly 11 stone, with shoulder length, light brown hair. The only thing that stood out to her was his unusually bright blue eyes. Still quite bewildered he asked, "Can I help you?"
"Yes," Tony spoke up, "we're looking for next week's lottery numbers."
Carol: You've got the sarcasm about right.
Both the clerk and Carol frowned, one in confusion and the other in admonishment.
"We need a room," Carol clarified.
"I'm sorry," he apologized, "we're all out."
Her eyes narrowed as she saw a single brass key glint on its hook to her left. "You've got one right there," she pointed out.
He followed her gaze and swallowed. "Oh, right. That's… that's only a single bed, I'm afraid."
Carol's sidelong glower stifled Tony's moment of victory and she said, "We'll take it."
The clerk shifted from foot to foot and brushed his long hair from his face. "It's… it's…" he stammered.
"It's what?" she harshly prompted.
"It's… being renovated at the moment."
Carol: I should have known then that something wasn't quite right. The key was clearly there and yet he flat out lied to me. Was he threatened to not let anyone check in?
Sighing, Carol took out her warrant card and snapped it open. "DCI Carol Jordan, Bradfield Police," she introduced herself. "Now, unless you'd like me to arrest you on some trumped up charge that will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, I'm cold, wet and am this close to setting the motel on fire in the hopes it would attract the attention of an emergency service that would get me out of this godforsaken place." She stopped, her ramble making her lose her train of thought. Opting for the direct route, she reached over the counter and grabbed the key before the clerk could react. "It it's being renovated, then we'll be back shortly. If not, I'll settle the bill in the morning." She pocketed the key and was out the door, leaving the two men, astonished, in her wake.
Tony: You know, now that I think about it, we never did settle the bill.
"Naturally it would be the room farthest away," Carol muttered, the cold wind chilling her damp bones. Her long legs had covered half of the stone walkway that lead to their room before she heard Tony's hurried footsteps behind her. Despite her frustration with the car, the weather and the chain of events, she still had enough compassion to pause ever-so-slightly for him to catch up. But barely. "Come on, you," she told him. "There's only one key and you'll be sleeping in the manager's office if you don't move your arse."
Tony quick-stepped past the darkened windows of the other rooms. "I'm coming, I'm coming," he assured her, then mused aloud, "I only see one."
She had grown so accustomed to his non-linear dialogue that his switch of topics didn't even make her break stride. Without turning to him, she asked, "What do you mean?" before arriving at their door. The lone light above her head gave little assistance, and she had to bend slightly to see the lock.
Writer: Here I wanted to really get the idea of isolation, even though all the rooms were attached. That lone light symbolizes not only the one bright spot of the moment for them, but a kind of loneliness, too.
Carol: I had a penlight attached to my car keys.
"Vehicles," he clarified. "Cars, lorries, mopeds."
The deadbolt clicked back with a dull thud and it took a hard twist of the handle and a short push of her shoulder to jar the door open. She glanced back. "Thank you, Mr. Thesaurus."
He shrugged. "I'm just saying, for a motel that was allegedly full, there's a glaring lack of evidence to that fact."
"Maybe there's a shortage of petrol all round," she suggested with no small amount of sarcasm.
Carol: It was the one single car in front of a motel that was allegedly full that set off my alarm bells. I recognized it as the same make and model of a car reported stolen by-
Writer: Can we leave that bit of information to the end? I don't really incorporate that into the story.
Carol: You don't really incorporate fact into the story, you mean.
Writer: Let's move on, shall we?
The door yawned open, inviting in what little light there was from the bulb outside. The meagre illumination made Carol's shadow look large and menacing as it crept along the decades' old carpeting. She hazarded a feel of the inside wall with the flat of her hand and met the familiar plastic of a light switch. In contrast to the candlelight offered from the outdoor bulb, the two lamps ignited by the switch were floodlights. Carol's eyes, having adjusted to the dark, now squinted in the light. Tony turned his head and lifted his hand to shield his face. No doubt the size of the room magnified the light's intensity.
Writer: I've always liked the idea that we often jump to the conclusion that there is something to be feared in shadows- that's where the bogeyman hides, the monster in your closet only exists in darkness, that sort of thing. I wanted to turn that idea on its head a little bit by making the light a bit jarring, a bit menacing, even for just a moment. Light can blind you and what can happen in that moment of vulnerability? I tried to warn the reader that nothing, nowhere is safe. Even sunshine burns if you get too much.
Carol: Is this a wind-up?
"When he said it was only a single bed, he wasn't joking," Tony dryly remarked.
This was an exaggeration…but only just. The room, no more than 12 feet by 10 feet, offered little more than the promised bed. That bit of furniture was pushed width-wise against the wall directly opposite the door. To their left rested a squat, six-drawer dresser six-drawer dresser on top of which sat a television, a tray of wrapped glasses and an ice bucket. To their right, taking up the majority of the wood-panelled wall, was a painting of generic nautical origin, and to their immediate right, along the entrance wall, a window looked out to the same bulb they had stood under. This discovery was made by Tony when he tentatively lifted the edge of the heavy curtain for a look.
Carol: I expected to turn on the T.V and see "Pennies from Heaven".
Tony: I expected my grandmother to turn round the corner! Had there been one.
For the most part, 30 year old décor notwithstanding, it was pretty much what was to be expected from a roadside motel stuck in the middle of nowhere. It was this that prompted Tony to inquire, "I wonder why the clerk didn't want to give us the room?"
Carol wasn't so inquisitive. With a thud, she dropped her bag on the small round table in the corner between the window and the painting, and draped her drenched coat on the back of a chair- one of a pair- that made up the last of the furniture. "I'm getting ready for bed," was all she muttered as she made her way towards what she hoped was the bathroom, hinted at by what was the only other door in the room.
He nodded absently at her, his mind yet to dissect what her words might imply. While they settled into his subconscious, he placed his bag next to hers and gave the room a second look. Not that it warranted it. The walls, the carpet, the décor, all generic if not downright outdated. A short four steps to the bedside table satisfied his curiosity, and he picked up the book, a staple for motels everywhere, and leafed through its rice paper pages. He slipped the Bible back into the drawer and slid it shut.
Writer: Your standard, everyday motel room. So standard it's a cliché, really. But that's where the undercurrent of menace often lies, doesn't it? In the standard, in the mundane. A simple cliché can become a monstrosity of horror. Our imagination takes a seed of normalcy and it grows into a blossom of terror. Here, even the Bible offers no protection from the evil that lurks not only in the hearts of men, but in every darkened corner of this seemingly ordinary motel.
Carol: What evil lurks in the hearts of men?
Tony: Apparently a bonsai tree of fear and foreboding.
His distorted reflection in the curve of the dark television screen caught his attention and he passed the length of the bed and sat at its foot. There was something out of place yet oddly familiar about it. His eyes darted about the silent box as he searched for something to jumpstart his synapses. He opened his mouth and breathed a soft, "Ah," when it came to him- the television had no remote control. It had a chunky turn dial that he hadn't seen since he was a child.
Tony: Never got the chance to see if you were right. About "Pennies from Heaven", I mean.
Carol stepped out of the bathroom, and the space between the door and the foot of the bed was such that she nearly tripped over his legs. She stopped abruptly at his right knee and he looked up. Immediately, he frowned.
"You look the same as you did when you went in," he commented. When this got him nothing but a cool stare, he realized his mistake and stammered, "Of course, what I meant to say was, you look lovely, Carol." The stare remained unwavering, and he pursed his lips in an attempt to find a hand hold to get him out of the hole he seemed to have dug for himself. Not certain he could find anything that wouldn't sink him deeper, he tilted his head towards the TV. "It's got no remote."
Tony: It's why I always look shorter than her- I'm always in some kind of hole!
Rolling her eyes in response, she said, "That's great, Tony."
"Don't worry, Carol," he assured her, "I'll change the channels for –" Seeing a return of the stare, he "ahh'd" again. "I see. That was a bit of sarcasm on your part."
"Hallelujah," she deadpanned and stepped around his legs. "And for the record, the towels look a bit dodgy in there," she informed him, gesturing to the bathroom.
Sitting on the corner of the bed, she began by slipping off her shoes with a sigh. He turned his head slightly, and watched with interest as she flexed the arches of her feet and murmured in contentment. With practiced ease, she stretched out one leg and rolled the hem of her stocking down to her heel and over her toes, then repeated the same action with the other leg. Her voice startled him out of his voyeurism.
"Which side of the bed do you prefer?" she asked as calmly as if she had inquired how he liked his coffee.
"Sorry?" he blinked.
Standing, she said, "Look, Tony. Let's not make a bigger issue of this than we need. Do you normally sleep on the left side or the right?"
"I normally sleep in the middle," he replied as he stood. Before she could issue a retort, he decided. "I'll take the left. Against the wall."
She seemed to be at the ready with another retort, but instead chose something to ease the tension. "I'll try not to steal all the covers," she smiled.
It seemed to work, because he smiled in return. "If only I could promise the same." He let his light-hearted reply settle between them before he jerked his thumb in the direction of the bathroom. "I suppose I'll only be a minute."
Writer: I think one thing that makes this such a compelling story is that as the reader, you really begin to care for these people- as the story progresses, you worry about their safety and their lives. It's moments like these bits of humour that draw you into them, that gently persuade you to make an emotional commitment to them.
True to his word, he stepped out of the bathroom approximately sixty seconds later. It had barely given Carol time to settle under the thin blankets. "You're certainly a man of your word," she commented on his punctuality. Slyly, she added, "You look the same as you did when you went in."
"The towels were dodgy," he informed her.
He stood for a moment, caught in the space between the television and the foot of the mattress, between wishful thinking and abject terror, with Carol looking at him from the bed. A glimpse out of the corner of his eye gave him a clue to his next expected move- in addition to placing her shoes and stockings neatly under the corner table, she had draped her slacks on top of her coat. Taking that as his cue, he walked over to the table and hoped he projected more confidence than he felt. While in the bathroom, he had finally remembered to remove his wet coat and he now hooked the garment over the back of the empty chair opposite Carol's. With artificial ease, he kicked off his loafers and bent to remove his socks. The black cotton was even blacker where the rain had penetrated his shoes, leaving spots of damp around the toes and heels. The socks found a home on the bare arms of the chair and his fingers found their way to the buttons of his white dress shirt. Having a white T-shirt underneath, Tony felt less self-conscious, though he tried not to wonder if that had more to do with having his back to what he imagined were Carol's inquisitive eyes.
This piece of clothing slowly joined his coat as he tried desperately to avoid the moment of truth. It was all in vain, he knew, and as casually as he could muster, he reached for the leather belt around his waist and released the end from its loop. A hard pull to the left popped the metal bar from the sixth hole punched in the leather and the plain buckle slipped free. His hand settled on the waistband of his trousers and he tried to take his mind elsewhere, anywhere other than where he was at this moment in time. He undid the button, lowered the zipper and felt the degree of his awkwardness measured by the unpairing of each tooth. The dress pants fell unceremoniously to the floor, piling around his ankles, and he suddenly felt nervously bereft of the defences his plain suit, plain shoes and plain bag gave him.
Carol: Oh, for God's sake. And does Sean Bean really need to talk like that?
With a resigned breath, he bent down to retrieve the trousers, laid them across the arms of the chair and wondered if she'd notice if he sucked in his stomach. Honesty overrode ego and he turned- to find her on her back, eyes closed, and mouth slightly open. A soft snore came from the bed. He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, uncertain if it was in disappointment or relief.
It began as a low hum, so low that it took several minutes for it to seep through the thick cloak of sleep, and in fact, it wasn't until it increased in volume that the two bodies in the bed stirred.
Still a willing captive of slumber, Tony's eyes refused to open, choosing instead to shut more tightly as his head tried to burrow deeper into the inadequate pillow. Luring him back into the depths of sleep, a soft body shifted behind him and he felt the weight of an arm curl around his chest as warmth spooned against him. His fingers laced with those of another and he tucked the hand closer, revelling in the sweet feminine sce –
His eyes snapped open.
The darkness conspired against him and he struggled to make sense of time and space. The body behind him offered no clues beyond its gender, forcing Tony to tentatively whisper, with equal measure of hope and apprehension, "Carol?" Whether it was the noise from the next room or her depth of sleep, she didn't reply. He repeated his query with more volume and twice as much apprehension. "Carol?"
Carol: Have a lot of women spooned up behind you, do you?
Tony: Why in the world would I ask that? Of course it was Carol. And the only reason she was 'spooned' behind me was because the bed was so bloody small!
"Mmm?" came the reply at long last. Then, a shift in weight. He rolled with her as she turned onto her back and rubbed an eye with the heel of her hand. "What in the world is that noise?"
He propped himself up on his elbows. "It's from the next room."
Taking his vacant pillow, she covered her head. "Well the next room needs to shut it," she said, her voice muffled and low.
"What do you think the chances are that our helpful clerk could be of any use?" The grunt under the pillow was her reply. He sighed. "I suppose I could politely knock on the door."
She pulled the pillow away. "You'll do no such thing, Tony. Tell the clerk what the problem is and have him deal with it. Tell him to inform our neighbour there's a police officer in the next room." With that, she dropped the pillow back onto her head.
"Seems straight forward enough," he mused into the darkness.
Getting out of the bed, on the other hand, was anything but. Crawling into it earlier had nearly been a comedy sketch of Pythonesque proportions. He had decided then to enter from the foot of the bed rather than crawl over a prone Carol, which was easy enough until he realized the sheets were tucked so tightly against the bed and wall that he couldn't draw them back. So he had sat on his pillow and tried to fold his legs up in order to inch his feet under, thus sliding effortlessly under the blankets. 'Effortlessly' took four minutes, a litany of expletives and a newfound appreciation for yoga.
He now tried to imagine doing all that in reverse, and immediately came to the conclusion that there wasn't a ghost of a chance. Looking over at a still Carol, he tried to plot the best course of action. After a few failed mental attempts, he orchestrated what would hopefully be a seamless effort. There was just enough room on her edge of the bed for his right hand as he gently rolled onto his knee and swung his leg over her. It was then that the major flaw in his design was revealed- his leg wasn't long enough for his foot to touch the floor without pressing his body into hers. Quickly, he pulled his leg back under the covers. Had he been given a tableau of the scene, he would have been mortified. But as was his habit of analyzing first, thinking later, he paused briefly to catalogue the moment. Hands on either side of her shoulders, knees on either side of her hips, he looked down at her, happy he couldn't see her covered face, or perhaps more honestly, that she couldn't see him. The warmth of her body rose to meet his, and the soft scent of her skin flattered the dinginess of the sheets. As was his nature, a random thought popped into his head- she had spooned up behind him; hadn't turned away in embarrassment when he called her name.
Writer: This is such a key turning point for these two people. They're about to have something tremendously horrible happen to them, but they're given this opportunity to have a real personal moment. She's such a workaholic and he's so socially unaware that you wonder what they have in common, yet you can't imagine them with anyone else.
Carol: Hello, we're right here.
Writer: So they have this moment that most people would sort of laugh off, but for them, being so emotionally cut off from any other personal commitments, this is real intimacy. But again, I'm using it to lull the reader into a false sense of security- oh, look, these two socially isolated people have found each other… then the rug gets pulled out from under them, and the reader.
"You know, in some countries, this would be considered a proposal of marriage."
Her muffled jest brought him back to the present. "Sorry." Then, with a get-on-with-it approach he was sure she would appreciate, he quickly planted his foot on the floor, physical contact be damned, and swung his left leg out of the bed. He stood straight and noted she hadn't moved.
She didn't make a big deal of it, he thought as he put on his trousers and still-damp shoes. He got to the door and turned to look at her once more. What does it mean, he wondered. Then, in a manner that the woman in the bed would surely recognize as hers, he whispered harshly to himself. "Get a grip, Tony."
Tony: You do say that to me quite a lot.
The creaking of the old door wasn't enough to rouse the young man from his sleep, much to Tony's envious chagrin. In fact, it took several fake coughs of increasing intensity before the clerk jolted awake. Startled by the sudden return to consciousness, he very nearly tipped over the chair he had balanced precariously on its back legs. Only his quick hands and the small space saved him from the embarrassment.
Writer: In this case, the smallness of the room is something safe. I liked the notion that one thing can represent two opposing ideas. Like the light, which can be safe and assuring, then blinding and dangerous in literally the blink of an eye. The size of the room represents two sides of the same coin here as well. The smallness saves the boy this time, but will pose a dark threat to Carol and Tony later on.
While his reflexes returned, his manners still lagged behind. "Yeah?" was his opening statement.
"Yeah," Tony mimicked in the affirmative. "There seems to be a problem with the room beside us."
He scratched his head under the shag of hair. "Oh."
Tony waited for more, and when nothing was forthcoming, he asked, "Should I tell you the problem, or…?"
"Oh, right," he replied. "What's the problem?"
"He has his telly on much too loud." He received a blank look for his trouble, so he tried a different tack. In a booming voice that was dead with monotony, he repeated, "He has his telly on much too loud. It's 3 o'clock in the morning. Some people like to sleep at 3 o'clock in the morning."
Writer: Although there seemed to be a discrepancy with the time, accounts by both Carol and Tony seemed to indicate this was sometime either shortly before or shortly after 3 o'clock. I decided to go with that specific time not only because it was close to witness accounts, but also because, as most people interested in the paranormal know, this is considered "dead time". It added another sinister layer, even if only on a subconscious level. Then again, that's where our fears manifest themselves the most, isn't it? In our subconsciousness.
Tony: I thought it was in our imagination?
"All right!" the clerk shouted, hands over his ears. Content it was safe, his arms dropped to his sides and he reassured Tony in normal volume, "All right. Did you try knocking on his door?"
"No. I mean, I had intended to, but my roommate wouldn't let me." Thinking he needed to establish some measure of manliness, Tony continued, "You know how women are."
The young, barely-out-of-school youth looked back at the relationship celibate 40-something man and nodded in male commiseration. "Women."
Tony: I'm 39.
"Indeed," Tony agreed. Jerking his thumb in the direction of the offending room, he said, "So…"
The clerk sighed loudly. "I guess I've got nothing better to do."
Tony contemplated remarking on the young man's lack of interest but was overcome by apathy of his own. "Right. Well, goodnight. Hopefully."
The air was cool but the clouds seemed to have moved on and allowed the full moon to illuminate Tony's path back to the room. If possible, the volume from their neighbour had increased, because Tony could hear it well before he reached the end of the building. He hesitated momentarily outside the door of Room 5, but remembered Carol's admonishment and moved on. It was the exact moment when his hand landed on the cold brass knob that he realized his mistake.
Writer: Temperature is often overlooked as a tool of terror. It's hard to bring that to the fore in film, but as a writer, I have more opportunity to use these techniques. A reference to cold or coolness of course automatically makes the reader suspicious about what is to happen next. What is the writer trying to lead you up to? The path for the reader now becomes more treacherous, whether the reader is fully aware of it or not. It's a fantastic narrative tool.
Tony: Interesting word, 'tool'.
"Carol," he whispered into the wood door. "I've locked myself out." When there was no immediate response, he called out again, "Car-" The door jumped open and he yelped backwards. "Jesus!"
She was unimpressed by the mistaken identity. Turning on her heel, she asked over her shoulder, "What did the clerk say?"
He hoped his voice had fully returned and he replied, "He assured me that he would take care of it."
Carol snorted and dropped unceremoniously onto the bed. She looked around as if contemplating a decision and finally declared, "If he doesn't take care of it, I will."
Tony didn't know what that entailed and looking at the stormy face of a displeased Carol, he wasn't sure he wanted to know. Instead, he chose to look elsewhere and noticed for the first time what Carol had worn to bed. Her coat and suit jacket must have been enough to keep her dry, because she was still wearing the thin white blouse that went with the ensemble. She had undone enough buttons for comfort that it most likely would have failed any work-appropriate test. In fact, he was certain that if he had looked long enough, he would have seen the delicate lace of her bra.
Carol: Oh, my God.
Fortunately for his well-being, he realised the self- preservative importance of not looking that long. Snapping his eyes up, he said, "Hopefully, that won't be necessary." Receiving nothing more than a grunt in reply, he motioned to the bathroom. "I'll be back in a minute."
When he felt the cool tile under his bare feet, he realized he had kicked his shoes off at the door. Grimacing at the habit, he hoped the soles of his feet were capable enough of fending off whatever dormant ick was lurking in the grooves of the decades-old tile. Of course, he was already in for a penny in for a pound, considering he had also walked across the shag carpet and its hidden surprises. Shrugging to no one, he twisted the small knobbed taps of the sink and waited for the slightly yellowish water to run clear before cupping his hands under the faucet. With his hands overflowing, he lowered his head towards the sink and splashed the cool water up towards his face. He tilted his chin up to acknowledge his reflection in the dingy mirror and froze.
Writer: A reinforcement of what I was talking about earlier, returning to the reference of temperature. In a way, even the word 'froze' takes it to its most extreme conclusion. It's the final phase of that particular end of the temperature spectrum. The reader very nearly shivers at the prospect of what they fear might come next.
There was someone standing behind him and it wasn't Carol.
It was a man of about 40, give or take a year or two. He stood roughly three inches taller than Tony, not quite reaching six feet. In the grime of the mirror, it was hard to decipher anything about his eyes, but Tony suspected they matched the colour of his dark hair and full moustache. The only feature that made him remarkable was the large diagonal scar across his chin.
Tony: Of course, there wasn't really anyone in the room. I mean, I thought there was… it appeared that there was… I would have sworn there was.
Carol: Was this before or after you hit your head?
Their eyes locked in the reflection for what seemed like an eternity until Tony suddenly spun around, and promptly slipped on the tile, cracking his left temple on the porcelain sink.
"Shit!" he hissed and immediately pressed his hand against the side of his head.
The sound of his fall, coupled with his exclamation quickly brought Carol to the door. Seeing him crumpled awkwardly under the sink, she crouched down in alarm.
"What the hell happened?" she asked as she scoured his body for signs of injury.
With her help, he sat up and leaned his right shoulder against the wall. Lifting his hand, he showed her the injury she sought. Though the skin hadn't been broken, a large bruise had quickly developed.
She gently brushed back his hair and asked again, though this time with less alarm, "What the hell happened?"
Rather than answer, he asked a question of his own. "Is there someone else in the room?"
"Is there someone else in the room?" he repeated.
She frowned. "Don't be daft. This room's barely big enough for the two of us." This didn't seem to appease him, so she answered directly. "No, Tony, there isn't anyone else in the room."
With shaky legs and a steadying hand on the ledge of the sink, he stood and looked around.
His behaviour, odd even for him, concerned her. Brushing his hair back once more, she examined the growing welt. Uncertain of a correct diagnosis, she tilted his chin up and gazed into his eyes. With a raised index finger, she asked, "How many fingers am I holding?"
"I'm fine, Carol," he assured her. There was no change in her composure, so he sighed. "One."
His answer was met by a loud thud from the room next door.
Carol jumped and turned. "What the hell was that?"
"Perhaps our neighbour didn't think he was making enough noise," Tony offered.
"Well the only thing left for him to do is to start playing drums," she retorted then added, "and I've had just about enough of it."
She turned to leave the bathroom but was stopped with Tony's query, "Where are you going?"
"Next door," she replied. "I may be getting only three hours sleep tonight, but I'm damn well getting that much."
"Let me handle it, Carol," he told her. Seeing her eyebrow raise in scepticism, he quickly added, "I'm already dressed."
She glanced down and saw the sense in his reasoning. "Fine," she agreed, and raised her finger again, this time as a warning. "But this is the last time." He nodded absently and trudged to the door.
Carol: Let me set the record straight, if I may. I was dressed. And, in fact, I was the one who had visited our erstwhile clerk earlier. He assured me he would take care of it. I then came back to the room and discovered Tony on the bathroom floor. When I heard the noise next door, I had had enough and decided to pay a visit to our neighbour directly.
Writer: There's some dispute about the chronology of events and –
Carol: What dispute? I'm telling you what happened. That's what happened.
Writer: Well, unfortunately Ms. Jordan, the sad fact is, no one wants to read about a female hero.
Tony: Heroine. Female hero.
Carol: I know, Tony.
Writer: Test audiences don't react as well to a female lead as they do to a male. I have to give the audience what they want.
Carol: You mean your publisher what he wants.
Writer: Without the publisher, there is no audience.
Carol: I can't believe I was talked into this…
Such was the extent of the throbbing in his head that it wasn't until he was standing outside their neighbour's partially opened door that he realized he had forgotten to put his shoes on. The thought was fleeting, however- his brain was currently occupied with a much more pressing matter.
Though little more than halfway open, it allowed Tony almost the entire story. A trail of blood led from the entranceway of the door to the foot of the bed in the room that was a mirror image of Tony and Carol's. There, Tony could only see three quarters of the lifeless body on the floor, but he didn't have to see the face to know it was the young clerk. What Tony did see in full view was a man standing over the body. In his left hand was a tire iron, clearly the murder weapon. As Tony stepped forward, something sharp jabbed into the sole of his bare foot and he yelped. The dark haired killer turned at the sound, and Tony's face opened in recognition. "Ah," he whispered.
It was the face in the mirror.
Tony had little time to ponder this further as the man quickly moved towards him, and self-preservation trumped curiosity.
Carol: I'll admit I saw a body on the floor. However, I saw no killer and decided it best to return to the room as quickly as I could
Despite forgetting his shoes, he allowed himself a small congratulatory celebration at having propped the door open, before letting panic resume. Slamming it shut behind him, he leaned against the flimsy barricade and panted, "The clerk's dead."
Carol was sitting on the bed, cross-legged, waiting for his return. This wasn't at all what she was expecting. "What?"
"The clerk is dead," he repeated. "Our neighbour. With the tire iron. In the next room." He made a swinging motion and supplied the sound effect. "Thud!"
A sound from the other side of the door echoed his auditory description.
"And that's him now."
Carol laughed, but it wasn't as convincing as she might have liked. "What?" she repeated as she stood and walked towards him. Frowning, she said, "What in the world are you going on about?" and carefully pushed the edge of the heavy curtain aside to cast her gaze outside. The dim light offered no clues and she turned to Tony.
"Tony, you hit your head. You're obviously seeing –" A second thud cut her off. "Jesus Christ!" she yelped as a face appeared on the other side of the glass. Quickly letting go of the curtain, she looked at Tony again.
"It's him," Tony needlessly repeated. Whatever Carol was about to say in response was interrupted by the loud crash of something smashing through the window. It was only the heavy gaudy curtain that saved them from the shards of glass. She immediately went into survival mode and quickly scanned the room for an alternate exit. Her heart sank when she found none. She shared Plan B with Tony.
"We need to find some kind of weapon."
He stood frozen at the door and she snapped in exasperation. "Tony!" Her voice turned to one of alarm when a hand reached out from behind the curtain. "Tony!" she exclaimed as she hastily yanked him away from the danger. Taking whatever was at hand- in this case, one of the chairs paired with the table- she turned to him and revealed her plan. "I'll draw him into the room as far as I can. I want you to get out when you've got the chance."
"Don't be ridiculous, Carol."
"Tony," she said sternly. With a softer tone, she repeated, "Tony. One of us has to get help."
"At three in the morning? In the middle of where you yourself said was nowhere?"
She must have had the same thought because she tried a different angle. "There must be something in the manager's office. A weapon of some sort. I can't imagine the clerk would be left out here with nothing."
The light bulb went on above their heads simultaneously. "The telephone!" As one, they turned to look at the black object tucked in beside the lamp on the bedside table, as if seeing it for the first time.
"Shit," Carol whispered. "How could I have been so stupid?"
The sound of the cheap, door lock shattering nipped Carol's self-flagellation in the bud. "I don't know how much time you have, Tony," she told him as she tightened her grip on the chair and held it in front of her like a hesitant lion tamer.
Writer: This is a return to what I was saying earlier about making their space smaller and smaller, thus intensifying the fear. From the outside, to the motel, to the motel room, to the backing almost into a corner, if you will. Like a slow tourniquet of terror.
Carol: Dare I bother?
Tony: I wouldn't.
He nodded and turned, immediately picking up the receiver and willing shaky fingers into the holes of the rotary dial. It seemed to take forever for the numbers to roll back and he soon realized a much larger problem.
"Carol, it's de…"
The words died in his throat as he watched her fall to the floor. He stood motionless as he watched the tire iron arc from Carol's lifeless body once, twice, until it came to rest above the killer's right shoulder. Tony's arm dropped to his side, the useless receiver still clenched in his hand. Suddenly, their eyes met over the carnage and Tony let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. He discovered the phone was just as useless in blocking the blunt force of the bloody iron as it was in offering any earlier help. A loud cracking sound followed the downswing of the weapon, and Tony didn't know for certain whether it was the plastic receiver in his hand, or the hand itself. What he did know was that his very last thought wasn't about himself; it wasn't even about Carol.
Carol: We're right here!
Writer: I know, I know, but I was on a very tight word count by my editor. This was only meant to be a pitch for a larger project. I was told no more than 6000. I was lucky to be able to sneak in another 250. And anyway, despite being very keen on the sampler, no one liked the fact that the leads both died at the end, so I was allowed to submit something fuller and truer to what I wanted to be a part of.
Tony: So you compromised first, then when you were given the okay, you wrote what you really wanted to write.
Writer: There's no shame in that!
Carol: There's plenty of shame to go around.
Writer: I kept you alive, didn't I?
Carol: We are alive. With or without you.
Writer: Yeah, well. If the reader wants to know the full story, they just need to pick it up from where the window was smashed. Like this…
It was only the heavy gaudy curtain that saved them from the shards of glass. In one simultaneous move, she grabbed her bag from the table with one hand and pulled Tony away from the door with the other.
"There's a small window in the bathroom above the toilet," she whispered sharply. "I don't care how you do it, but get it open."
"What are you…"
Shoving him towards the bathroom, she told him, "Go!"
She reached into her bag and quickly found the two items she sought- a small bottle of mace and a short collapsible baton. With the snap of her wrist, she smoothly extended the weapon. Baton held out in one hand, mace poised in the other, she called out towards the door. "I'm a police officer," she warned. "Don't make this any harder on yourself." She waited for a reply, but none came. All senses were on alert and her ears strained for a sign, a hint of what was to come. In the end, it was her nose that gave her a clue.
Petrol. He was dousing the open window with petrol.
Quickly abandoning the idea of standing her ground, she ran into the bathroom to assess Tony's progress with the window. Progress- which was to say none at all, as he struggled mightily with the flaking wooden frame.
Tony: Notice how the space has gotten even smaller still- from outside to motel to room to bathroom to window. The narrow noose of… of…
"Step down," she commanded him and stepped on the toilet seat in his place. With a sharp strike of her baton, the single pane glass broke on impact. She cleared the jagged edges as best she could with her weapon, and laid a towel over the ledge in the hopes of minimizing the damage any lingering shards might pose. A quick glance out the window allowed her to gauge the terrain below.
"I can't see a damn thing in the dark," she reported. "So be careful dropping to the ground, yeah?"
Realizing she had both hands full, she handed the mace to Tony and proceeded to carefully climb out the narrow window, head first. It took no small measure of care to make sure she didn't land that way. Her free hand was able to press against the outside wall enough to hold her balance as her legs followed behind and allowed her to execute something resembling a flip. She wouldn't have received any points for style, but she was able to stick the landing.
Tony watched and was admittedly a bit grateful for the dark, as he was certain his exit wouldn't look anything like that at all. Summoning up as much grace as he could, he pushed himself halfway through the window- and proceeded to drop the mace into the toilet.
"Shit!" he cursed to himself.
Apparently, 'to himself' was loud enough for Carol to hear, because she asked in alarm, "What's wrong?"
"Oh nothing," he tried to assure her. "Might need some help here, that's all."
"Come on," she encouraged him.
He felt her hands touch him and he gripped her forearms for support as he slid out the window. Together, they fell into an unceremonious heap onto the ground. Fortunately for Tony, his fall was broken by Carol's soft curves. Unfortunately for Tony, the look she gave him was much harder.
"That better be my baton," was all she said.
"Sorry," he replied, hastily scrambling to his feet. "I mean about falling out the window. It was your baton."
She stood beside him and brushed herself off. For the first time, Tony took in her attire. He had volunteered earlier to contend with their neighbour based on the premise that Tony was dressed and she was not. Her wardrobe hadn't changed during the melee that followed. A crisp white shirt that was now slightly muddied and sprinkled with twigs and leaves. And high-cut white panties. He would never admit it out loud, but when the skies opened over them again, there was a part of him that wasn't complaining. And he certainly wouldn't admit which part.
Carol: Oh. My. God.
Tony: Oh. My. God.
Carol looked up at the wet, black sky and cursed. "That's just bloody fantastic. Well, I suppose on the bright side, it will prevent the fire he seemed to be planning." When no response came, she strained to see him through the dark and when he came into focus, she rolled her eyes. "Oh, for God's sake. Hello, Tony, my eyes are up here."
His gaze begrudgingly obliged and he had the good grace to look moderately apologetic. "Sorry."
Writer: The editor loved that part.
Carol: I'm sure he did.
She let it pass with a sigh and continued, "We can't risk trying to make our way round to the front. But the road curves," she recalled from their trudge through the rain. "It can't be too far that way," she said, pointing into the dark.
He squinted into the inky forest. "If not for the trees and the rain, eh, Carol?"
She knew their chances were slim, but she couldn't give up. "If you've got any other ideas, Tony, I'm all ears." Nothing was said. "Besides, you're not the one without shoes."
Their quibbling was cut short by a loud male scream from the front of the building, most likely a yell of frustration from the man who was futilely trying to light a fire in the rain. They took that as their final warning and bolted into the dense cover. Sacrificing stealth for speed, Carol beat back the unforgiving thicket with her baton and Tony tried not to get hit with any sticks that swung back as he trailed behind her. The endless brush and infinite black made it hard to determine what, if any, progress they were making. Whatever it might have been, they would go no farther together.
"Ow!" Tony hissed and fell to the soft wet ground.
Carol spun at the sound. "What happened?"
"I fell," he reported needlessly. Realizing further information was required, he added through clenched teeth, "I think I've twisted my ankle."
At his side immediately, she said, "Give me your hand. I'll help you."
He shook his head then gave words to his action. "No, Carol. I'll only slow you down, and you're almost there."
"Tony, I'm not –"
"Go!" he commanded, more sharply than intended. Softer, he added, "Please, Carol. You've got a chance to find help. Take it."
Though she didn't like what he said, she knew it was true- if they were to get out of this alive, she was their only hope.
"I'll come back for you," she vowed.
"I know you will."
Writer: Despite the aversion to having a female lead, there was a real interest in a bit of a role-reversal here. Where it's usually the woman who twists her ankle and holds back the escape, in this case, it's a man. The editor thought it was ingenious.
Carol: Having the "male lead" in a wet, white shirt and panties would have been ingenious.
Tony: I wear boxers, thank you.
She tried not to think of the man she left behind, tried not to think of anything at all behind her. Only forward, she told herself. Just keep moving forward. This was easier said than done, as the tangled underbrush conspired against her, and even as she finally made it through, she still had to face the short but steep slope that led to the road. She couldn't quite see the road from her position, so she held her breath and listened for something- anything- and hoped it wouldn't be behind her. She needn't have worried. There was nothing but the sound of her own heart pounding in her ears.
It was difficult to determine whether the lack of shoes was a hindrance or an advantage as she clamoured up the slope. On one hand (foot?), she was able to gain purchase into the soft ground she suspected might not have been possible with shoes. On the other hand, there was no accounting for the amount of twigs and pebbles that jabbed into her vulnerable soles. Willing the matter out of her mind, she took advantage of a thin rooted sapling and used it to pull herself up the last few feet.
When she had told Tony of her plan, she had hoped he wouldn't press her for more information in regards to what they would do once they reached the road, because she'd had no idea. And she still didn't. The firm asphalt was cool and soothing to her feet, but other than that small comfort, it offered little else. It certainly didn't offer her any ideas. Or perhaps she had spoken too soon- around the corner came two headlights of salvation. She began to wave her arms frantically and hoped her appearance would generate concern, not fright. The lights momentarily blinded her until the car pulled over onto the shoulder. Almost fainting with gratitude, she managed to cross the road to the driver's side of the vehicle. Still acutely aware of the events that led her here, her eyes never stopped surveying her surroundings, whether it was the thicket behind her or the road that came from the direction of the motel.
Writer: This stretch of narrative will be difficult to translate onto film, but I loved the set-up of it. This strong woman, despite all she's been through, despite all she's seen, still moves forward, determined and motivated. Never giving up, never giving in.
As the driver's window rolled down, she continued her vigilant watch as she whispered hurriedly, "I'm a police officer. I need your mobile and your car."
"What for?" came the reply.
"Please," Carol said, "I need your mobile and –"
She gazed into the car for the first time. Shadows carefully hid the identity of the driver, but there was no mistaking the object resting on the passenger seat. A tire iron. One end, resting in a small pool of something dark and wet in the dip of the seat gave Carol no doubt this was no ordinary tire iron.
"Oh, god," she whispered.
Carol: Oh god, indeed.
Her fight-or-flight indicator was clearly pointing to the latter, and she bolted back across the road, into the dense brush. She gave no thought to injury or harm and her carelessness caused her to stumble down the incline incurring the wrath of the twigs and stones she had encountered on the way up. Her baton disappeared into the night. She cursed her fate and her foolishness in equal measure, and like a form of punishment, she chose not to check herself for cuts or injuries. She had only one thought in mind.
Writer: Again, she never loses focus. Whatever the fates may throw at her, she soldiers on, through the trees, through the dark, through the fear.
And when she got to the place where she'd left him, he wasn't there.
"Tony!" she called out, no longer worried about caution. She was nearly on the verge of tears. "Tony!"
Her voice was successful in getting someone's attention- it just happened to be the wrong someone. Though her back was to her would-be assailant, Carol's instinct identified the presence immediately. Slowly turning to face her adversary, she raised her fists and drew on all the hand-to-hand combat she could remember from her police training. She knew if she could make him commit to making the first move- swinging the tire iron- she liked her odds.
Writer: I was really contemplating on giving her a gun, but I thought forcing her to resort to her hands really ratcheted up the intensity.
Carol: That and the tiny little matter of police officers not carrying side arms in England. But carry on.
She never got the chance.
Later she would wonder how he was able to sneak up on the both of them, but in the meantime, she watched in amazement as Tony cracked a large tree limb over the killer's skull. Both the tire iron and man dropped to the ground, the latter falling to his knees before landing on his face.
"Oh my God, Tony," Carol said, almost laughing with relief. She reached out and touched his face, as if not quite believing he was there. The feel of his skin sparked a memory. "You were supposed to stay here," she accused him. "I told you I would come back for you."
Rather than respond with words, Tony slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her in, silencing all her questions with a kiss.
Carol: There are no words.
It took them both a moment to realize the heavy breathing wasn't coming from either of them, and as one, they turned to see the killer stagger to his feet.
Perhaps the breathing wasn't from the duo, but a slightly feminine squeal of surprise certainly was. And it didn't come from Carol.
Carol: Well, that might be the truest thing I've heard in this entire story.
Tony: Thank you, Carol. It's comforting to know you've always got my back.
While Tony collected himself, Carol exclaimed, "The tire iron!" and chanced a glance downward to look for the weapon.
Tony, on the other hand, having regained a measure of composure, had other plans. With a swiftness that surprised them all, he produced a blue plastic bag, seemingly out of thin air and moved towards the man. Stunned by the blow to the head as well as Tony's audacity, the man paused long enough to allow Tony to wrap the bag around his head. The maniac clawed at the plastic Tony was pulling taut around his face, but his efforts were for naught, as Tony brought his hands together and, like a tourniquet, twisted the plastic ends. The assailant flailed and thrashed in his attempt to break free, and it took all of Tony's strength to hold on. At last, he felt the man weaken, and for the second time in the span of five minutes, the killer fell to his knees before collapsing entirely. Tony made no attempt to let go and landed on top of the man, his hands still twisting the plastic.
"Tony," Carol spoke softly. "Tony, it's over." She touched his shoulder, lightly at first, then with a gentle shake. Kneeling at his side, she pressed the fingers of her left hand against the neck of the unconscious man and raised her diagnosis to 'dead'. "Believe me, Tony, it's over."
He struggled to get to his feet, and with her help, he stood half upright before telling her, "I need to sit."
"Here," she directed him, back to the very spot she had left him what seemed like ages ago. They both sat down together, exhausted but alive. "Where in the world did you get that bag from?" she asked.
He shrugged and yawned. "I always have a spare with me. It's been a lifesaver at times."
She couldn't help but smile. "Really." Stifling a yawn of her own, she pointed into the distance. "Look," she said. "The sun's coming up. We lived to fight another day, Tony."
Rather than reply, he simply leaned back against the tree, smiled and closed his eyes.
Carol: Right. So now that we've heard this wonderful piece of fiction, let me tell you what really happened. Yes, our car broke down and we did come upon a motel in the middle of the woods. However-
Writer: With all due respect, Ms. Jordan, no one really cares what the truth is.
Carol: I beg your pardon?
Writer: This is a work of fiction. You take a nugget of truth and embellish it so that it becomes entertainment. I read your police report- the car broke down and you found yourselves at the Sleep Inn motel. Through boring coincidence, it just so happened to be the place that Dave Millwood- the Nightmare of the North- had found himself after escaping custody two days earlier. And yes, he did kill the clerk, which is how you caught him. But the truth, to be honest, would bore most people to tears. People aren't entertained by the truth, they're entertained by fantasy. Even so-called 'reality' television is by and large scripted. So I gave it a bit of embellishment, brought some excitement into it, tossed in a bit of a ghost story- it's my job to creating a world where they can suspend disbelief. If I can do that, I succeed in drawing the audience in, right into the palm of my hand.
Tony: And right into your bank account.
Writer: Of course! And if it's as much of a hit at the box office as we think it might be, even better.
Writer: Hasn't anyone told you? Paramount Studios liked the pitch so much that they've green lighted a full-length script for a major motion picture!
Carol: That's fantastic. Tony, you ready to go?
Writer: Wait. Don't you want to know who we've cast in your role?
Carol: Not particularly, no.
Writer: Scarlett Johansson.
[Long silence, then the sound of a stool being pushed back, shoes clicking along the tile, followed by a door slamming shut.]
Tony: You'll have to excuse her. She's a police officer- she deals in facts. She finds it difficult to see the entertainment value of police work.
Writer: You deal in the grey area of things, Dr. Hill. So tell me, what did you think of my story?
Tony: Depends. Who do you have cast as me?
Writer: Oh, you'll love this! Ready?
Tony: As I'll ever be.
Writer: Gerard Butler!
[Short silence, then the sound of a stool being pushed back, shoes shuffling along the tile, followed by a door slamming shut.]
-Car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere
-Raining in the middle of the night on our protagonists
-Creepy dark motel that seems to be stuck in time
-Only one room left
-Only one bed
-Letting out a breath he/she didn't know they were holding in
-Awkward moment in bed
-Seeing killer's face in a mirror
-Female + wet white shirt + panties running from killer
-The two survivors end up getting separated
-Loss of the only weapon at hand
-Thinking help has been found, only to discover it's really the killer
-Killer comes out of nowhere to attack the heroes
-Killer is thought to be dead, only to come back to life