Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Writing Prompt #5

Writing Prompt #5
During his third night out of town, a traveling business man discovers a voodoo doll in his bedroom.

Richard was exhausted. For the last three days he had been sitting through tiresome meeting after meeting, listening to the exact same words rephrased a hundred different ways. During the last sit-in today, he felt as if his head were about to explode. It throbbed with every heartbeat, causing his eyes to feel as if they were about to bulge from his head. As soon as the meeting had ended, he ducked out, disappearing down the halls before any other representative could snag him and trap him into dull conversation.

He hated these business trips. There was absolutely no reason for him to be there. The company he worked for just liked to look like it cared to the observing world. So once a year, they selected some poor sap and sent him away for the week, to sit through droning lectures and to come away with nothing but a dead brain and nervous twitch. This was Richard's third year in a row of being the lucky selected attendee.

Sliding the hotel card through the blinking lock, the door to his hotel room popped open. Richard stumbled in, careening forward as if pulled in by a secret lover. He collapsed on the newly made bed, barely noticing the mint rolling off of the flat pillow and onto the floor. Closing his eyes, he took in the silence. No monotonous hubbub. No fake laughter. Nothing but the buzz of the old air conditioner and rumble of distant traffic. This is what Richard loved: being alone in a dark room, silence surrounding him in an embrace of solitude.

Richard wasn't an unattractive man. In fact, in most women's eyes, he was quite a catch. Six feet tall, broad shoulders, flat stomach, his business attire always looked like it was made just for his perfect frame. His head was full of dark brown hair, slicked back and thick. Deep brown eyes peered beneath perfectly trimmed eyebrows, with long lashes that always gathered many adoring comments. In the last few years, he had had quite a few desiring women chasing after him. And in his own declared rights, he entertained their fantasies until he became bored. Then he would casually find a way to disappear. Richard preferred to be alone. He was now twenty-eight, and very happily content in his quiet, single life. Maybe it could be blamed on his ever-arguing parents, who through all the fighting and bitterness still insisted on staying together. Or maybe the blame rested in his greed, never wanting to share anything more of his than a random night. Wherever the blame resided, he didn't care. He was content.

Sitting up, Richard stretched his arms above his head, groaning as the aches of sitting all day popped and stretched. He made his way to the bathroom, splashed water on his face, then taking a moment to check his eyebrows in the small mirror. His stomach rumbled. Wandering out of the bathroom, he let his mind sift through the list of local restaurants that delivered, trying to decide which sounded most appetizing to him.

Before he realized it, he was idly opening and closing the empty drawers of the solid dresser. The top drawer contained the usual: a notepad and pen labeled with the hotel's name, a torn phone book, and an old bible. The next two drawers were empty, sliding open and shut with ease. As he knelt down to open the last, it stuck. Pulling harder, he managed to creep it open a few more inches, just big enough to reach his hand in. Some previous occupant probably left a random shirt or pair of socks wedged in the back. Richard reached his hand in, cursiousity taking him over. His fingers brushed against something soft. With a grunt, he shoved his hand forward, wrapping his stretched fingers around the object then yanking it out of the drawer.

Sitting back on the floor, Richard looked at the small object in his hand. It was a doll. Or at least, what was supposed to be a doll. It was more like a rag, sloppily stitched together, with stubs for arms and legs. A face was drawn on in what looked like charcoal, its mouth a straight line, its eyes wide open. Small tufts of hair were sewn on the head, varying in every color. Richard looked at it in stunned silence. It was a voodoo doll.

Richard remembered when he was younger, him and a few of his school friends had been running around in the woods, hitting everything they could find with long sticks. As he passed a tree, he wacked it with his stick, and heard something clatter down from the branches overhead. His friends and him stopped, looking for the source of the sound. Freshly laying ontop of a small pile of dead leaves, they found the doll. It was practically identical to the one in his hands now. They taunted eachother with it, daring someone to attach some hair to its bald head and see if the magic really was real. Of course no one acctepted the dares. Finally Richard had stepped forward, tired of the game, and ripped the doll from the nearby boy's hand. With a smirk, he tugged on the boy's hair, pulling out a few strands, then stuck them into a seam on the head of the small doll. Everyone laughed at the boy as his eyes opened wide in fear. Quickly, before anyone could snatch the doll away, Richard bent one of its small legs back.

The boy screamed out in pain, buckling over and falling to the ground. At first Richard thought he was joking. Then he saw the unusual bend in the leg. The blood starting to saturate the dirty jeans. He had thrown the doll into the bushes, his hands feeling as if he had grabbed a hot, deadly coal. They rushed the boy home, telling his parents he had fallen from a tree, all being too afraid to tell the truth. And over time, they blocked it from their memories. Richard never talked to any of them anymore. Most had families now, settled down and happy. He had no interest in feigning happiness for them.

Now he looked at the small doll sitting in his hands. Hidden along the seams was a long needle. Pulling it out, he ran it along the doll's side. The memory was still fresh in his head. He could still feel the pump of his then panicking heart. The knot of dread in his young side. It was years ago. He wondered how much of the story was just a made-up memory, taking place to confuse him of the real past. For all he knew, the boy had just fallen. They were young. A story passed over a blazing campfire could seem so real. Maybe that was all it was.

The doll's face stared up at him. Its eyes, wide as if in fright, bore into his own. He stared back, lost in thought. Idly the needle scraped along the dolls body as he let his thoughts wander. His stomach growled again.

Sighing, he looked up at the old electric clock. He better order some food now, before it was too late. Besides, getting lost in fake memories of magic was just wasting his only alone time he would have for another four days. He stood and moved to the phone. Placing the doll down on the table top, he mindlessly stabbed the needle into its soft stomach.

A scream, full of pain and utter agony, suddenly cut through the hotel walls.

(Word count: 1270)


Black-Kalico said...

This one was pretty good. Richard did pretty much what any of us would do when we first went into the hotel rooms. The drawer rummaging lol. I was kind of stunned when the end. In my head all i could hear is someone like four doors down or just some where very faintly screaming.