It was quarter past eleven in the evening when Pelle first heard murder. A choked howl-- and everything fell silent again. Pelle shivered and got up. He jumped into his clothes and opened the door to the corridor, where he met Nika, dressed in her pajamas, her knife held up before her.
About four hours earlier they parked Nika's old Lada in front of a wrecked swedish motel, crossed the parking lot and entered the foyer. The old gray-bearded man at the reception looked up from his reading - a hackneyed manual of an old Volvo pickup.
"Huh-?" he welcomed them.
"We need a room for tonight", said Nika and added "well, two rooms", as she noticed Pelle's side glance.
"Two rooms, huh?" he put the manual away and digged up a dusty book which looked like a booking schedule. "Let's see if we have vacancies--"
"By whom should the rooms be occupied?" Nika asked and looked around. "I can't see any other guest."
The old men grumbled unintelligibly, grabbed keys for two rooms and handed them to Nika and Pelle.
"Breakfast from 7:30 til 9 a.m." he opened the manual again and took no longer any notice of the two guests.
"As soon as he sleeps I'm going to set his beard on fire", Nika frowned.
"Don't mess up with old men", replied Pelle and grinned.
"I'll mess up with whoever I want."
"I know-- that's a big problem, Nika", Pelle was suddenly grave. "Your messing around nearly let us end up in jail."
Nika was still honestly ashamed of the way she put her plans at risk when they left Stockholm. Pelle noticed it with astonishment for it was the first time ever, he saw Nika regretting something she had done. And Pelle felt kind of guilty for his gratification for that.
They both had planned this for a long time now, and at first everything worked out well. They entered the superstore and were out of it with a bag of money before anyone really noticed them. They had no weapons - except Nika's diver's knife - and never thought of using some. They used a small alleyway to get away from the scene of their robbery and arrived at Nika's Lada before the police appeared at the superstore.
But when they had to refuel not far far beyond the city limits, Nika started a fight with a bald, blunt dork over something, Pelle didn't even remember. As she pulled out her knife, the filling station attendant called the police. Pelle dragged Nika back to their car and they headed for the next filling station. Pelle was glad they reached it before they ran out of gas, but Nika lamented for hours that she should had beaten the dork up.
After she entered her room, everything fell quiet. Nika walked over to the warped dirty window and opened it. A breath of cool air stroked her neck and she sat down on the edge of the as well warped bed. She felt lonely in her room but accepted Pelle's wish for an own room. Since he broke away from his boy-friend she always had the hope to convince him that she was a companion than any guy, but he closed himself to this thought in the first place and Nika wasn't up to risk another apporximation.
Nika believed she fell in love with Pelle the day she was born as Annika Lundström on the backseat of Pelle's father's car while stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the hospital. He was five years old and sat on the fron passenger's seat quivering and frightened by what was going on behind him. Since that day, there hadn't been any week they didn't get to see each other.
Another breath of a rising storm outside was blowing through her window, when Nika got up and changed into her pajamas. She had been awake since five a.m. and decided it would be better to get some sleep. But it was not until a few minutes to eleven she finally fell asleep.
When the choked howl suddenly woke her up, a vivid and scary dream fell off of her. She was at the door at once, quickly grabbing the diver's knife from the nightstand. The corridor was dark and empty. Nika felt for the light switch, her bare feet shuffled over the craggy floor. As the weak light of the nearby neon lamp lit up the scene, the opposite door opened and Pelle appeared.
Nika, who had risen the knife immediately, lowered the blade and regretted, that she wasn't wearing her fashionable gown instead of her old pajamas with the teddy patches. But another muffled howl called her attention to the door of the next room again.
"Heard it, too?" asked Pelle unnecessarily.
"Sure. Twice", Nika replied.
"D'you think something's happened in there?" Pelle lowered his voice.
"Are you serious?" Nika whispered with an ironically grin. "How about asking?"
Pelle tried to grab her wrist and hold her back, but he didn't even got hold of her pajamas' arm. Nika walked to the suspicious door and knocked.
She wanted to knock again but Pelle was quicker this time and held her wrist. He listened closely.
"Someone's wheezing in there", now it was he who knocked. "Hello?" he asked in a louder voice, "is everything alright?"
Pelle shrugged. "Perhaps someone's had a bad dream...?"
"I don't think so", Nika shook her head. "I'm not even sure there is another guest in this motel. I tend to believe there's not."
"But who is in there then?" Pelle hesitated, then slowly pushed down the door handle.
"We won't ever get to know if we don't have a look."
They would have never expected that
. The room was empty, but out of an old closet undulated fog. A dim glowing flickered through the mist. The doors of the closet stood open and a third time sounded a howl through the motel.
"Hey! Where are you going?!" Pelle grabbed Nika's shoulder.
"Into the closet", she replied.
"Are you crazy??"
"Someone is in there." Nika shook his hand off and leaned forward.
A thrilling curiosity took Pelle. He followed Nika into the fog. He had to admit he would have followed her even without the thrill. Nika was like his little sister. He couldn't have let her go anyway. At least not in her pajamas.
Behind the fog there was a staircase. They went downstairs for more than two floors. At the point the fog was becoming too dense to see a hand in front of their faces and they almost decided to turn around and end their strange expedition. It was this point when Nika suddenly said over her shoulder: "Here's a door!"
"Open it carefully!" Pelle warned and heard a creak.
The fog suddenly vanished. At first they looked at each other puzzled, but after a second they realized, they were standing in a dark chamber with brooms and brushes and other cleaning utensils.
"Where are we?" Nika asked and pointed to another door, just a few steps in front of them.
"I have no clue."
"Let me have a look", Nika stepped forward, opened the door and left it ajar. She turned around to face Pelle. Her face was pale as the fog that had vanished recently.
"What's up?" Pelle asked and approached her quickly, watching her concerned.
Nika shook her head weakly as Pelle arrived. The door behind her was flung open and Pelle saw the superstore. An officer aimed his handgun on Nika's back. Before he could even question himself how the hell they could end up there, Nika's hands were turned on her back and Pelle heared the clicking of handcuffs.
Then the officer hauled her off and the door shut. Pelle remained paralyzed on his spot in the chamber, finally noticing the flaw in their plan.
Publication Date: 06-20-2008
All Rights Reserved