The lids of his eyes split open and a grunt escaped his lips. Through the grumbling pain only one thought occupied his mind, why did he have such a pounding headache? Carpet fibers wiggled their way between his fingers and brushed against the sides of his chest. Why was he laying on the floor? Groggily he got to his feet.
The last thing he remembered was that after a fifteen hour driving day, they had pulled into this tiny town somewhere in the middle of the Southwest. This little motel on the side of the road had vacancies and it was cheap. It had been a long day but the two of them were finally almost to California.
He ran his hand through his messy hair and his fingers snagged into something sticky. At the same he muttered, “Why is the carpet wet?”
He pulled his hand free from his hair and looked down. Sticky redness coated his feet but he also noticed a couple empty wine bottles lying haphazardly on the carpet. A chuckle burst out, “We must’ve had one hell of a night…”
With a long stretch, he made his way to the small bathroom. As he struggled to find the light switch, he scratched at his lower back and a brittle material broke under his fingernails. Once the light clicked on he glanced down and old crusted blood fragments were trapped in the crease of his nails. Bemusedly, he looked up into the mirror below the bright lights and stood there in absolute shock.
Old blood spattered the filthy t shirt that looked like he had been lying in it. His feet squelched as he dug them into the bathroom mat. He looked down in confusion, “What the fuck…”
Fear tingled down his spine as it began to eat at him. In a panic he ran into the main room and his eyes grew wide in horror. Blood sprayed the walls and the ceiling peeling from the weight of it. The bed sheets lay in ragged rust streaked piles. In the center of it all, was her. No breath moved her chest and she was as pale as if she had never seen the sun. Her freckles stood out starkly against the pallor of her skin.
The mattress was fair to bursting with her blood. On the cleanest corner of it, her internal organs were splayed out individually and placed in a perfect pattern of their placement in the body. Each of them had been meticulously cleaned of her blood before being placed there.
He choked on the keening that burst from his throat as he fell to his knees. Tears sprouted from his face as he crawled over to her corpse. As he clutched her unresponsive body, he shook. Grief ripped through him as well as a blind rage, who would do this to her?
Slowly, he let her slip from his grasp to fall back to the reddened mattress. He ground the tears from his eyes into his face. He got to his feet and looked for his phone. It took some doing but he finally found it lying under the bed stand. The battery was dead but the charging cord was right next to it.
It took a few minutes for the phone to boot up and its little chime echoed in the quiet room. He stared at the screen blankly. The date was wrong. It had to be. “We’ve been here a week? No way. It’s just not possible…”
He dialed the Police and waited for them to pick up. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a vintage camera lying on its side on top of a pile of black and white photos. The camera wasn’t one he’d seen before. While hold music blared in his ear, he wandered over and picked up some of the pictures.
Just then, a voice came over the line, “911, what’s your emergency?”
“I need to report a murder…” his dead voice uttered into the receiver. He sat on the edge of the bed and steadily answered the questions that he was asked. Idly, he sifted through the photos in his hand. Strangely the people in them looked familiar. They were of him and his wife at different stops along the trip. He flipped through them until he came across the first of the motel room itself.
The first one was the two of them unpacking. The next were the two of them sharing a glass of wine after they had showered. There was a series of photos as they made love. Each of the photos had been taken from inside the room.
The remaining few in his hand showed his back as he approached the bed and plunged a knife into her chest, repeatedly. The phone slipped from his fingers as he rifled through the pile of photos under the camera. Both he and his wife were in every single photo and the images grew worse. He shook as he went through them again and again while a tinny voice echoed in the background from his phone, “Sir? Are you there? Sir?”
“We weren’t alone. Someone was with us the whole time. But who was it?”
The door burst open and the police subdued him quickly. The entire time, he kept shouting, “Who was the photographer? Who was it?”