Inside Room 107
Her voice trickled
out of Room 107. Soft and pleading, but still loud enough to catch Johnny's
attention on his way to the motel ice machine.
Then a slap. A
muffled cry. And what sounded like a mallet hitting a piece of raw steak.
Johnny knew that
sound. He’d heard it every day as a kid while hiding in the pantry, listening
as his dad beat on his mom. He imagined the woman on the other side of the
door, huddled on the dirty carpet as some biker or gangbanger stood over her
with a clenched fist. Her face swollen. Lips bleeding.
curled into tight balls. He glanced around. His Camaro and a jacked-up
Silverado were the only vehicles in the parking lot. A pair of streetlights threw
dirty tungsten on everything, but it was still pretty dark. And there wasn’t
anyone in sight.
He pressed his ear
against the door and listened.
pointed. The way you’d hiss I warned you or I fucking told you at
someone. Johnny recognized that sound from his childhood, too.
Another muted cry.
He grit his teeth
and adjusted the giant skull ring on his index finger. He raised his hand to
knock on the door just as the woman screamed, “Please, no!”
The door flew
open. Johnny jumped back. A rail-thin girl stumbled out of the room, tripped
and fell on the concrete. She wore blue jeans and a black crop top. Mascara ran
down her face like inky tears.
She looked up at
him but didn’t say a word. Didn’t ask for help. Johnny’s mom had never asked,
He stayed to the
side of the door, just out of sight. Fists raised, ready to fuck up the bastard
who would walk out of that room. Ready to unleash the pent-up fury from a
childhood hell full of beatings and days spent in hiding.
from foot to foot and wrung out his massive hands. Cracked his neck.
But he couldn’t
wait. Fuck the sneak attack.
He lunged through
the doorway, his skull-clad fist drawn back, ready to throw the hardest right
cross of his life.
The room was
Johnny dropped his
hands to his side and wondered if the guy had slipped into the bathroom.
from behind. Johnny spun around.
The woman stood in
the doorway with her arms folded across her chest and her face scrunched up like
a crumpled roadmap.
“The fuck you
want?” she said. Her voice thicker and stronger than before. “Sticking your
goddamn nose where it doesn't belong, looks like.”
She walked up to
Johnny and got right in his face. Her eyes had a hardness to them. And a
distant, empty gleam.
“I heard you cry
out . . . I wanted to help.” Johnny turned toward the bathroom for a second,
worried the guy might jump him from behind. He turned back to the woman, just
as she stuck a butterfly knife into his gut.
“Who’s the big
tough man, now?” She smiled before pulling the blade out of Johnny’s abdomen.
He slumped against the wood-paneled wall and clutched at his wound. Heart
racing. Cold sweat streaming down his face.
The woman wiped
the knife on his jean jacket and slipped it back into her pocket. She put her
hand on the doorknob and looked back at Johnny. “Everyone’s a fucking hero
Johnny’s legs gave
out and he collapsed onto the carpet, hand still pressed against his spurting
She turned off the
light and closed the door, leaving him in darkness.
“Get in the truck,
bitch.” Her voice carried into the room.
Then a slap. A
Dustin Walker is a former newspaper reporter
who specialized in
writing feature stories about addiction, homelessness, and other social issues.
He now uses those experiences as inspiration for his fiction. His work has
appeared in places like Dark Moon Digest and SilverBlade Magazine.
is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines.
She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous
Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals
such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s
Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous
anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night
to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales
from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror
anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big Easy, Thuggish
Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She
appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus
Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France,
Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern