The room is dark, dimly lit by a flickering fluorescent bulb, straining to be seen behind the grimy glass of a sign outside. Most of the light comes from the glow of the full moon filtering through the flimsy plastic venetian blinds. Whose rows have twisted and bent from numerous hands, prying the bars apart, and peeking through to spy on potential neighbours in the car park. Moonlight washes the room in a pale grey-blue, and casts tall looming shadows onto the blank walls. The paint is old, decorated with dark stains and scorch marks, which come off in dry peels and olive green flakes like sun burnt skin. They float to the floor, moving in the breeze of the fan. Blades swing wildly, the fan pulling and tearing at the screws that cling to the ceiling; threatening to drop, and crash to the floor. It doesn’t though, and continues to spin and turn, rattling and whirring, moving dry, hot air around the room. This air is trapped within the walls, caught between the dead bolted, chain locked door and the window; too stiff and jammed to open. Noise still manages to seep through. Wailing sirens in the distance, the growl of cars rumbling into the parking lot, slamming doors and heavy, violent footsteps. Muffled shouts disappear into the moonlit night.
Inside the room the bed creaks. It’s springs groan and complain with every sleepy movement. The walls are paper thin, with little between the thin layers of flaking paint. Noise perpetrates through from both sides, a baby crying, and a couple fighting, sandwiching the croaking bed between them.
“I can’t believe you!”
“Honey… The baby…”
“… Isn’t it your turn?”
“Well, if it wasn’t for you!”
“…What does she want?”
“Me?! You can’t blame this one on me!”
Glass shatters with the ugly sound of a thousand cymbals crashing out of time, and there is silence for a moment. Only a moment. Voices are raised again in an instant, the baby continues to cry and the bed continues to creak. Its occupant, hot and sweaty, tosses and turns in the dry heat. The sheet is twisted around his legs, trapping him in its hold. The polyester blend is thick and itchy on his skin. He should have bought his own sheets. He hadn’t had time to pack properly. His suitcases hide in a shadowed corner, open, clothes hanging half in half out. They sit silently, waiting, soaking in that old, stale, musty smell that hangs about in every corner of the room. The scent of the air is dusty, and creeps up a person’s nose and mouth, terrorising airways and pricking at dry throats.
It comes slowly, the sound at first disguised by the continuing noise from behind the walls. A slow pounding, haphazard beat that enters the fray of sounds. Dark spots spatter the ground outside, and the beats become faster and heavier, louder even until they reach a crescendo; one massive drum roll. Rain. Rhythmic and smooth, drowning out all else. Slick beads roll down the roof, washing the leaf litter out of the gutters, and spurting out of down pipes like fountains. Inside, the movements on the bed are slowing; drowsiness finally giving way as breathing becomes soft and regular. Above him, the ceiling is growing damp, a dark patch slowly growing, until beads of water tremble with the effort to stay together. A single bead stretches, slowly, then drops. Straight down, course straight as a pin, until the target is hit. The sleeper is awake. The single drop of rain continues its journey, sliding slowly down the hill of the man’s cheek and settles into a damp spot on the pillow.
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