Sunday, 9 July 2017

Hotel California

Chuck has had a dream (I know this sounds familiar, but stick with me), and he kept hearing/seeing 'There's No Exit' in the dream. He's asked us to use the phrase in our story.


"Just sign away your soul right there.” He joked and handed me the pen.
We laughed as I signed on the dotted line on the bottom of the lease, looked up grinning, capping the pen and handing it back, “Well, then, when do I move in?”
“Within the next two weeks.” He and I stood almost at the same time, shook hands and...

... my life started to end from there.

My friends helped me move into the most perfect condo we’ve ever seen. The whole place was picture perfect. The gardens were so neat and tidy, it looked as though it was straight from the brochure – and it probably was for all I knew.
The neighbours were too nice to be truly happy; I mean, they just couldn’t be that happy – could they? Always smiling, waving and cheerful, they always had such wonderful things to say. They were always doing something great in their lives.
There was never a down side to their existence.
I dismissed it from my mind and unpacked, settled in and had a small housewarming party with my mates. It didn’t go late, and some of my friends stayed over on the fold-out because they had a little too much to drink.
It was nice to have people in the house on the first week of my new home. It helped me feel less alone in this; as I had just been dumped by my girlfriend and she made sure a good lot of my friends took her side of the whole thing.
By that night, my friends had gone home and I was still unpacking the rest of my gear with the television going for noise and a bit of company. I put on a dvd of my favourite television series and pressed ‘play all’ on the remote and left it alone when I got a knock at the front door. On opening it, I saw a man there, “Hi, can I help you?”
“Yeah... I’d like to introduce myself.” He smiled in the light of my porch light, “I’m Luke.” He grinned, “I’m the site manager here at this place and would like to welcome you here.” He pulled out a clipboard and a pen - which looked very familiar - from his pocket, “You are, Devon MacIntyre, right?”
“Yes.” I nodded, “I’ve just moved in.” I turned, stopping the player, “Was my party a little noisy? I kept the music down until around 9pm and then we came inside.”
“Oh, no, you were great.” He grinned, “Everyone thought you were good about that. We just didn’t know you were going to have guests.”
“Well, Billy fell asleep on the spare bed upstairs, I didn’t want him driving home tired; and Andrew and Cissy took the fold-out in the lounge because they both had too much to drink.” I frowned, “But who stays in my house hasn’t got anything to do with you.”
“Sure it does.” He said, “Don’t tell me you haven’t read your lease yet.”
“My lease? Aren’t they all pretty much the same?”
He burst out laughing, put away the pen and stowed the clipboard under his arm, “Oh, never mind! You’ll get around to it eventually! You have a good night, Devon.” He turned and walked back down the path from my house, into the darkness. I heard the click of my garden gate and his footsteps echo away into the eerie silence of the complex before I closed the door and turned out the outdoor light – which I hadn’t turned on in the first place.
The first thing I did was open the drawer in the hall stand, pull out my lease, sit down and read it.
There was so much in it which I hadn’t seen in any other lease before; like for example the amount of people who are permitted to stay overnight in this place – no more than two souls.
“Souls?” I whispered wondering exactly what I had gotten myself into. I picked up my mobile and called my Dad asking him to come over and look into this for me – after all, he was a retired lawyer.

He sat back from it, looking up at me, “And this is the first time you’ve read this?”
“I thought all leases are pretty much the same.” I said, “And you told me they were.”
Dad ran a hand over his tired face, “I thought they were, right up until I read the thing about souls and damnation.” He flipped through the pages again, “And it keeps having ‘there is no exit’ at the bottom of every page. I want to know if you signed with anything in particular.”
I snorted, “You mean in blood, or with a particular type of pen.”
“Yeah.” He nodded.
“The pen... I saw the same pen in the hands of the real estate agent and the site manager.” I said.
“What’s the site manager’s name?”
“Luke.” I turned from making coffee, “Oh shit... Luke... Lucifer.”
Dad groaned, “You’re imagining it. You didn’t sign a deal with the devil.”
“Dad, this place is too perfect. The gardens are exactly like the brochure. The neighbours a so cheerful and wonderful, it’s sickening. I have yet to see any children running around here – and I’ve been here a week.”
“Why children?”
“There’s a pool and a playground in the centre of this place, but nobody makes a sound. I work from home and have been walking around the place and it’s as though I’m the only one here.” I leaned against the counter.
He looked at the bottom of the lease where the real estate agent also signs the lease, “What did you say the name of your real estate was?”
“I didn’t.”
He looked up at me, “Well, his name is Luke as well... but there’s a last name too.”
I sat at the table, looked down at the name at the bottom of the last page:

‘Luc Ifer.
Purgatory Villa Estates
666 Hell’s Highway
You’re Screwed
There’s No Exit’