Strangetown Gothic: Part 001

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There’s a nail in the door
And there’s glass on the lawn
Tacks on the floor
And the TV is on
And I always sleep with my guns
When you’re gone (x)

Sand and gravel crunched beneath the tires of her old, beat-to-hell sedan as she turned into the unpaved parking lot of the Deadtree Inn, the only motel she’d seen since she’d passed by the rusted sign that read “Welcome to Strangetown”, population: [ bird shit ].

Even with the windows rolled down, the hot wind of the unfamiliar desert night had her boiling in her own sweat, and she was relieved to have finally found a place where she’d be able to stretch her legs and maybe, if she was lucky, sleep for a couple of hours.

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There’s a blade by the bed
And a phone in my hand
A dog on the floor
And some cash on the nightstand
When I’m all alone the dreaming stops
And I just can’t stand (x)

The bell above the door didn’t tinkle so much as it screamed bloody murder. Brandi felt her teeth clench together as she tried to force the door open enough to squeeze through into the office.

The girl behind the counter looked like she was up past her bedtime and was feeling it. Brandi could barely see the green of her eyes peering out at her between the tired slits of her eyelids. Though Brandi herself was decidedly on edge, the girl seemed unsurprised to have a customer at this hour of night.

Brandi began to worry, wondering to herself just what kind of place this squalid little hovel actually was; what kind of people stayed here? Was it safe?

Would they charge her by the hour? She couldn’t afford that.

“Welcome to the Deadtree Inn,” Counter Girl said, smothering a yawn. “What can I do for you?”

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What should I do, I’m just a little baby
What if the lights go out, and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door, he followed me home (x)

Brandi edged closer to the counter, squeezing the strap of her purse as if though Counter Girl herself might lunge at her and try to snatch it. “I’d like to rent a room, if you have anything available.”

“Oh, we have twelve vacancies,” the girl replied. “Twelve rooms, twelve vacancies.”

Brandi slightly loosened her grip on the purse straps. “And is this… um, for a full night, right?”

Counter Girl raised one carefully plucked eyebrow as she began to sort through a drawer full of keys. Brandi was almost impressed by the sheer level of disorganization. “Chloe sometimes gives certain customers certain special rates, but since I’m Erin, and you’re here alone, I think the overnight rate will be fine.”

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Finally, Counter Girl (secret identity: Erin Beaker, pseudo-psychic ingenue and younger sister of the local Frankenstein, Loki Beaker) located the key she had been looking for and stood up.

“Follow me, please,” she said, and lead Brandi back into the darkness that had flooded the desert.

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Well, goodnight moon
I want the sun
If it’s not here soon
I might be done
No, it won’t be too soon ‘til I say
Goodnight moon (x)

Outside something was howling. Coyote, probably. She wasn’t even sure Strangetown had coyotes, but it seemed to her that her entire life she’d seen movies and artwork and all manner of desert-related things insisting that coyotes were as rampant as cacti and tumbleweeds, and as piddling as her desert landscape knowledge was, she was pretty sure cacti and tumbleweeds didn’t howl.

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Erin lead the way to her room, number unknown. They passed two ancient candy machines glowing dimly outside of the office, and Brandi couldn’t help but examine what was being offered. She recognized a candy brand that had been discontinued since she was a child amidst a list of cookies and other sweets that she’d never known existed.

What the fuck are Nectar Cubes?

Better leave that mystery unsolved.

She was hungry, but looking at the machine’s inventory, she decided she’d be better off scavenging for crumbs in the backseat of her car.

As if though offended by her unspoken criticisms, one of the machines began to flicker and hum aggressively.

“That one’s always been temperamental,” Erin explained.

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“They keeping you busy?” She asked, an absurd, pointless question and she knew it, but she hated the silence. She’d never been one of those people that could just appreciate a good comfortable stretch of quiet time. She was lost without a constant stream of conversation.

“I can hardly catch my breath around here,” Erin replied, but her tone was friendly, not snippy and annoyed the way Skip’s was when she asked him stupid questions. “People come from all over the country to enjoy the fabulous accommodations of the world famous Deadtree Inn.”

tumblr_o7xmhgGtmE1sd16ayo1_r1_500There’s a shark in the pool
And a witch in the tree
A crazy old neighbor, and he’s been watching me
And there’s footsteps loud and strong coming down the hall
Something’s under the bed
Now it’s out in the hedge
There’s a big black crow sitting on my window ledge
And I hear something scratching through the wall (x)

“Not exactly the Ritz, is it?” Erin asked from the doorway. She sounded apologetic. Like it was her fault that the Deadtree Inn looked like the kind of place that even rodents would hesitate to infest.

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“Not quite,” Brandi replied, surveying the sparse furnishings and overwhelmingly beige theme. Two fantastically hideous lamps, one bed that was sure to be fitted with sheets that hadn’t been washed in the past month, a dresser, a phone, some tissue (no lotion). Another door that presumably led to some tiny bathroom that she desperately needed to use, having spent the past several hours fueling up on canned energy drinks. “It’ll do just fine, though.”

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Oh, what should I do, I’m just a little baby
What if the lights go out, and maybe
I just hate to be all alone
Outside the door, he followed me home
Now goodnight moon (x)

Erin Beaker, whose older brother had once convinced her that funnel clouds were sand demons that ate little girls who entered peoples’ rooms without their permission, lingered in the doorway of Brandi’s motel room that smelled vaguely of smoke despite being located in the non-smoking sector, and proceeded to make Brandi nervous.

Was she waiting for a tip? All she’d done was put a key in the door…

“It’s not too late for a refund,” Erin said.

“A refund?” Brandi repeated, dumbfounded by the suggestion.

“You can still leave.”

“I just got here?”

“Okay, then,” Erin said agreeably, and shut the door behind her.

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I want the sun
If it’s not here soon
I might be done
No, it won’t be too soon ‘til I say
Goodnight moon

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Well, you’re up so high
How can you save me

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When the dark comes here
Tonight to take me up

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To my front walk
And into bed where it kisses my face

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And eats my head

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Oh, what should I do, I’m just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door, he followed me home
Now goodnight moon
 (x)

Ordinarily she wouldn’t have dared to make a phone call so late at night, but she had her orders…

The phone rang twice before a gruff voice answered, sleep thick and full of indignant anger at being infringed upon at such an ungodly hour.

Erin waited patiently for his tirade to subside before attempting to speak.

“She’s here.”

“Ah,” said the voice on the other end, suddenly calm and friendly. “Well, now, why didn’t you just say so, Erin? I wouldn’t have yelled at you if I had known what you were calling about.”

“I’m sorry, I…”

“No, no,” the voice shushed her kindly. “You’ve done good. Really good. I appreciate your cooperation, makes my job that much easier.”

Erin felt her mouth go dry. “Yeah…”

He continued: “Now you go ahead and start getting ready to clock out, sweetheart. I’m gonna send Chloe down to relieve you for the evening, and I’ll take over in the morning. You’ve done your part here, perfect, just perfect, Erin, and you can rest easy for now.”

For now.

Click.

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2 comments on “Strangetown Gothic: Part 001

  1. KK says:

    This is so mysterious and intriguing! You left it on quite a cliffhanger for me, I hope I get to read more, I want to know what’s happening!! 🙂 I absolutely adore Strangetown stories. I want to know who’s on the phone and why they want Brandi too! I never read about the Brokes, so you’re doing something right, lol. The music lyrics also make it seem creepier for some reason and the writing’s really done well, you can see the characterization without explicitly stating it. Plus I love the photos and sim makeovers.

  2. Laura says:

    I love your story! I always loved Strangetown, and it’s so cool to see it so tenebrous and also the people of it. I’ll keep reading.

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