Out of Refills

By Shaylynn Marks

The yellow-stained walls accentuated the nicotine-filled air. Alicia groaned as she peeled her boots off the sticky, faded red carpet with each pace down the hallway. The State Line Motel was the only lodging option within a twenty-mile radius, and her 1987 Ford Ranger would lose a fight against the beat down of the snowstorm if she drove any further. She thrust her key into the lock for room 118 and twisted the bronze knob. As the door swung open, she gasped. “Who are you? This is my room,” said Alicia.

“I’m here for an appointment,” said a pale man in a suit. His slicked-back hair resembled mud with eyes of black tar. He was seated on a cream-upholstered chair with a cigarette clenched in his hand.

“Is this room 118?”

“Yep,” the man replied as he dangled a key with an olive plastic tag of the same number.

“This is literally the last thing I need right now,” she said as she slammed the door and stomped back to the main lobby.

The red-haired woman behind the counter scrolled on her phone in a daze.

Alicia pounded on the glass window.

The clerk bounced out of her seat and dropped her phone. “My apologies! How may I help you?”

“Yeah, you gave me a room with some man already in it. Room 118?”

“There must be some mistake. Room 118 hasn’t been occupied in days.”

“You’re callin’ me a liar? I’ll prove it.”

The clerk nodded and squeezed out behind the counter.

Alicia darted down the hall while the clerk trailed behind. She ripped open the door. The room was deserted.

“I don’t see anyone here,” said the clerk.

“This is impossible!” said Alicia. Wild-eyed, she ran across the empty room.

“Is this room still suitable, miss?”

“I know I’m not crazy. Are there any other rooms available?”

“Unfortunately, this is the last one.”

“Fine,” said Alicia. She bolted the door after the clerk scurried away. Alicia fell backward onto the mustard and pea green striped bed with her arms fanned outwards like a scarecrow. She pulled out an amber bottle, popped off the cap, and shoved a handful of blue pills into her mouth. With a sigh, she rolled over and extinguished the gaudy wall sconce. Engulfed in darkness, Alicia allowed the weight of her eyes to anchor her to sleep.

The roar of the alarm clock sprung Alicia back to consciousness. She scowled at the red glare and smashed the off button. The clock refused to stay quiet and pierced her ears with each scream. Enraged, she pulled the plug out of the wall. She knocked back the rest of her pill bottle like a shot glass—then froze.

Her eyes followed a smoke path that led to the tattered oak dresser across the room. On top, laid the same ashtray she saw the ominous man with earlier, which nestled a half-lit Marlboro. She crawled out of bed and approached the dresser. The moment she pinched the cigarette, the room erupted with a flash of white light.

Alicia was hunched over the patio table outside her room. Surrounded by green, the birds sang show tunes in the trees. The sun burned her skin as she snapped the cigarette gripped between her fingers.

“Dear, those things ain’t easy to come by on this spiritual plane,” said a deep, familiar voice.

“What is happeni-,” said Alicia. She dropped her jaw when she locked eyes with the muddy-haired man.

“Pills aren’t a magic wand. What did you expect?” said the man.

“My prescription? I must be dreaming.”

“Go in and look. Y’all never believe me,” said the man as he leaned back and exhaled a cloud of smoke.

Alicia crept into the room. Tears rolled down her face as she stared at her limp body on the floor, empty pill bottle in hand. She turned toward the man and dropped to her knees.

“Alicia, no one can beat time. Not even me,” he said.

“Is this some sorta ill fate? I don’t deserve this.”

“Destiny is just humanity’s coping mechanism. The choices you make are like handlin’ a sword. How you wield them determines your future. Blinded by your own hostility to the world, you’ve stabbed yourself for years. Tonight, the blood ran out with your bottle.” He stretched his arm down and held his cigarette out to her.

Alicia wiped her last teardrop, then snatched the cigarette from his hand and inhaled.


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)