Bed and Breakfast
Stuart turned off the lamp and listened to the other guests of the quaint bed-and-breakfast shuffling to their rooms. A soft snore beside him signaled Gloria was already fast asleep. She had put her book away minutes before and pulled the covers up to her ears, hinting it was time for Stuart to turn off the lights and sleep.
Stuart closed his weary eyelids and waited for sleep while listening to the soft murmur of darkness. A gentle breeze swooshed through the open window, and crickets and cicadas buzzed their discontent at the sultry night. Guests whispered their goodnights and the thud of closing doors followed their heavy footfalls in the carpeted hallway. The night engulfed Stuart and soon he entered the silent world of deep sleep.
A door slammed, and Stuart jerked awake.
“Stu? What is it?” Gloria grumbled beside him.
“Listen,” he whispered, and Gloria sat up, rubbing her sleep-laden eyes.
Silvery moonlight streamed through the window, and the world outside rested in utter silence. But inside, sound reigned. High-heels clacked in the attic room above them; muttering voices trickled from the ceiling and down the walls.
Gloria squeezed Stuart’s fingers, and the moonlight shone on her stiffened body and ashen face. Stuart’s skin crawled; the noises roused in him a profound and sinister fear. He dreaded what was to come, yet sensed the worst had already happened.
“Isn’t the attic room supposed to be closed?” Gloria whispered.
Stuart nodded, “the hostess said it’s been unused for half a century,”
“So who’s up there?”
“I don’t know, Glo,” he pulled the quilted bedspread off and set his feet on the floor.
Gloria mimicked him on her side of the bed.
“Where are you going?” He asked.
“To see what’s going on,” she replied, “you?”
“Me too,” he said.
Holding hands, they opened the door and peeked into the dim hallway. Tiny night lights guided the way towards the attic door.
Stuart placed his hand on the attic door knob and turned it.
He gazed at Gloria with a puzzled expression.
Silence hovered in the hallway, and Stuart wondered if the owners slept up there as they crept back to their room. Gloria was closing the door when a gunshot shook their bedroom. Clacking high heels hurried down the hallway. Blonde hair in a white gown and shimmering diamond necklace gusted past their half-opened door. Stuart darted into the silent and empty hallway and hurried down the stairs, never gaining sight of the fleeting figure.
Gloria stood by the window that overlooked the cobblestone driveway, expecting the woman to burst through the front door. Only Stuart’s bewildered frame walked into the moonlight. He scanned the empty and quiet premises, then disappeared under the doorway. His footsteps sounded through the hall, and soon he entered the bedroom.
“That was weird,” he said, “did you see where she went?”
Gloria shook her head and pointed out the window, “I saw nothing and no one, but I heard her climb into a loud car and speed down that driveway.”