Lucky appears in the book Walden and Hyde (and Other Short Stories) available on www.xenohemlock.com/walden-and-hyde.
Cover design photography by Marco Tierro.
Copyright © by Xeno Hemlock.
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means without the express permission of the author except for brief quotations embodied in reviews and articles or by permission in writing from the author.
Lucky. That’s what they called me. So I named myself that. My father, the owner of the hotel, he in the dark gray suit, said I should be that. My mother, standing next to my father as his business partner, reiterated I should be that. Their friends, faces I only glimpsed, for they kept twisting and turning, some yawning, some smiling, agreed I should be that. Two teenagers standing next to Mother, a brother and a sister, but siblings we were not, nodded that I should be that. The odd man in a white, billowing robe, splashing water on my bed, curtains, dresser, mirrors, and lamps, uttered a rigid invocation and prayed I should be that. They showered me with gold and silver coins, some clapping and some repeating my name, Lucky. I would bring them money.
Then they bolted through my door never to be seen again.
Later in the afternoon two women visited me, one tall and thin, the other plump, and both wearing identical dark gray and maroon uniforms with a name plate on the chest. They rummaged around stealing my gold and silver coins. When they headed out, they didn’t call me Lucky. They called me by a different name, 313.
I chanted my name while waiting for someone to come see me again.
My door opened. A father stepped in towing his little girl. He wore a suit, but not as nice as my father’s, and he called me by that other name, 313. The little girl, glowing like an angel straight from heaven, looked up at me and smiled. She hugged a plastic doll in one hand and held her father’s hand with the other. He pushed their luggage against one of my corners and dialed for room service on my telephone. Minutes later, a man in dark gray and maroon clothes brought a tray of spaghetti, garlic bread, and pineapple juice inside. The father surfed the television for cartoons while his little angel ate in my bed.
The little angel fell asleep after eating. The father kissed her forehead, pulled a blanket over her, and took the tray of dishes off the bed before stepping outside the room. Darkness from the sky poured through my windows when he returned. He asked the little angel, asleep no more and glued again to the cartoons, what she wanted for dinner. Chicken, she said. He switched off the television, picked her up, and went outside again.
He brought a bottle of wine when they returned. Then he gave the little angel a bath, dressed her in a pair of pink pajamas, set her to bed, and kissed her good night on the forehead. He walked to the veranda outside with the wine and sat on a chair, looking away from me. There was a pop and soon the man was talking to someone on his phone, taking a sip from his bottle every minute or two. He participated in a cycle of yelling, cursing, weeping, getting up from the chair, and sitting back on it for an hour, never letting go of the bottle in his hand. He slurred most of his words with the exception of a few he spoke with passion. Cheating. Best friend. Custody. Divorce. Then he stopped talking and stood crying for a minute. After that there was the sound of glass breaking as he threw the bottle to the ground.
He turned to my door and walked casually toward it. Behind him, a shadow of a demon slithered up from the floor, where the bottle broke, forming a silhouette of a man, then disappeared on his back. The man’s eyes were as dark as the night outside when he entered my room again, the little angel looking at him from the bed awakened by his ruckus.
She spoke his name with sweetness and sadness and that’s when he made a mad dash to her, leaving a black trail of scum on the floor. One of his fists landed on the little angel’s arm, another on her face. He grabbed her and shook her by the shoulders, screaming the words he spoke with passion a while ago.
Tears fell down from the little angel’s eyes to my white bed sheets. She cried and begged her father to stop but her real father was no longer in the room. The red demon kept swatting her face and arms with his scaly hands and long brown nails. She cried and cried and cried until tears couldn’t fall from her eyes anymore. Then the red demon disappeared, leaving an unconscious figure on the bed, the little angel’s father, lying face down.
The little angel hopped off the bed and flew out the door despite my calling of her.
Sun pierced my room through the open window, stirring the father awake. He called for his daughter, then looked around the room when he didn’t get any response. He called somebody on my telephone, went out, came back, called somebody on his phone, changed clothes, and left, taking their luggage with him.
When my door opened, a man and a woman in identical dark gray and maroon clothes walked in. They counted the things in my room, then changed the bed sheets, blankets, and pillows. They scrubbed the bathroom, wiped the wall, and vacuumed the room. But the black scum left by the red demon’s feet remained on the floor.
My door opened again, a man and a woman stepping in. She wore a black, slim dress and a pair of red stilettos. He wore a tight, black shirt and a pair of worn-out jeans. The woman called me 313 when he closed the door. He undressed and went to the shower per her request while she walked to the mirror to admire herself.
Her reflection showed a myriad of sad and disfigured small faces forming her head, in contrast to the pinkish cheeks and pearly white teeth facing the mirror. She stepped away from the object of vanity, stripped to her underwear, took a small, pink notebook and pen from her bag, and climbed my bed, covering herself with the blanket.
The sound of water falling from the shower ceased and the man emerged with a towel in hand.
She asked him where he worked as he wiped his chest with the towel, and wrote his answer in her notebook.
Then he joined her in bed. He asked if she was truly married. She was. The woman touched the gold ring on her finger. “Do you want me to remove my ring before we continue?”
He said he didn’t mind, then he plunged his tongue into her mouth, the entire room slowly heating.
Like two vines fighting dominion over space, their arms and legs intertwined with each other’s. She spread her legs and let him enter. Moans and groans bounced off my walls while my bed trembled with illicit ecstasy.
Floating above them, an uninvited party appeared. A creature with red skin and small, feathered wings. From its body sprouted two heads, one a man’s, the other a woman’s, and two pairs of arms and legs. In the center of its legs were an erect penis and wet vagina.
The man continued gyrating his hips while she kept moaning, entwined lovers unaware of a third presence.
The lovers made it into four rounds, never changing positions except for the blanket. After each round, the floating creature sprouted two more arms, two more legs, another erect penis, another wet vagina, and two more heads, a man’s and a woman’s.
When the couple was finally exhausted, the winged creature had eight arms, eight legs, four penises, each dripping with purple fluid, four vaginas, each swollen to a dark shade of pink, and eight heads. The eyes on each head rolled and the tongues lolled out of the mouths, sending gray saliva down on the naked bodies below.
The couple cuddled for a few minutes before the woman got up and dressed. She handed him a white envelope filled with money. He told her she could call him again whenever she wanted before she walked to the door. When she was gone, the red winged creature disappeared.
“What luck,” he said, counting the money he received. Then he spent an hour in bed commenting on his good fortune and if it was possible for him to fall in love.
When his stomach made some noise, he dressed himself and left. He came back hours later smelling like chlorine and alcohol, and plopped asleep in my bed. While he was asleep, a hooded creature appeared. He had no face, or at least I couldn’t see it. He stared at the sleeping man for a few minutes before disappearing, doing him no harm.
The man left the next day. Then two men wearing identical dark gray and maroon clothes visited me. They counted the things in my room, then changed the bed sheets, blankets, and pillows. They scrubbed the bathroom, wiped the wall, and vacuumed the room.
But the black scum on the floor remained along with a new purple stain in my bed.
My next visitor didn’t mention my name when he arrived. He inspected my every nook and cranny before sitting on the edge of the bed for hours keeping still. A rotten putrid stench emanated from inside his suit, which was not as nice as my father’s but nice nonetheless. The room’s light cast a small, glittering spot on his bald head.
Hours later, the door opened. A woman entered with a briefcase in hand. She walked in and opened the briefcase next to him. He took the brown envelope on top of a stack of money in the briefcase and poured its contents on the bed: a few pictures of a different gentleman, some documents, a key, and a few IDs.
She took off her sunglasses and eyed the barcode on the back of his nape as he checked the photos one by one. Then he read the documents, inspected the IDs, and nodded to the woman. She left without the briefcase and he sat on the edge of the bed until the following morning.
One man and one woman in identical dark gray and maroon clothes visited me once the bald man was gone. They made up the room in the same routine. But the black scum, the purple stain, and the rotten, putrid stench all remained.
Two guys walked through my door the next time it opened, one older, another younger. They ordered food I knew couldn’t fill their bellies. They watched the television and picked at their food, every now and then answering phone calls and speaking of my name to the caller. Another guy arrived, about the same age as the young one. Then another guy came in, a little older but not that old.
When the sun disappeared outside, seven of them occupied the room. They turned off the television, dimmed the lights, and took off their clothes one by one. The oldest guy grabbed the youngest. The other older guy grabbed the other young one. Two younger guys began making out with each other. And the seventh guy snaked himself in between the second pair.
They took advantage of each other’s bodies, giving and taking pleasure alternately, each pair breaking up to pair with another, and the odd guy inserting himself between the pair of his choosing. They lumped their sweaty and smelly bodies in my one and only bed.
Each time they made a new pair, their naked bodies morphed into something animal-like. The oldest guy became a humanoid pig with the youngest who turned into a furry bear-like creature. When partnered with the other old guy, he morphed into a bulky Doberman. Some turned into hybrids. The youngest partnered with another young one who had an upper body of a crocodile with the lower body of an ostrich, his partner a grasshopper and crab hybrid.
At some point a pair took ownership of the floor while another escaped into the bathroom. They defiled each other, their partners crying out, telling the other to stop and to not stop at the same time.
When they left, gelatinous goo of brown, yellow, and green decorated the room like splattered watercolors on my wall.
Two women in identical dark gray and maroon clothes came to do what others who wore the same clothes did before. But the black scum, purple stain, rotten putrid stench, and the gelatinous goo all remained.
My next visitor pushed the door, uttering my name in a slow, monotonous voice. “Three... One... Three...” She went straight to the window, rejoiced at the sight of the full moon proud in the sky, and drew a big circle on the floor with a piece of chalk. One by one, she placed candles and crystal along the circle’s outline, the thick collection of bracelets on her wrist chiming with every piece. She stepped in the boundary she built, sat Indian style in the middle, and lighted the candles with a match before withdrawing into a trance. The lights switched off and an eerie, wet atmosphere invaded the room with her soft incantation acting as a funeral march.
A gust of wind put out the candles, causing the woman to stand. She surveyed the room as if expecting another presence. But there was none aside from her and me. Then a red hole opened beneath her, gobbling her down into a sea of molten rocks and flames below, along with her candles and crystals. She let out a scream that nobody heard, and the hole closed, drawing a scorched orange circle on the floor.
Three days later, two men in identical dark gray and maroon clothes opened the door with a man from the security department. They searched the room, under my bed, in the dresser, and in the toilet, but found nothing.
Three days later, my door opened once more. A fat and balding man who looked older than his age walked in, his big eyes scanning me. “Three-one-three. This is room three-one-three,” he said, holding a small card in his hand.
A small woman appeared behind him and closed the door. “Of course. It says so on the number outside and the key worked.”
The man dived for the television’s remote controller and surfed the channels. The woman went to the bathroom, sniffed the soap and the shampoo, and shrieked. “Babe, there’s a bathtub!” She turned the faucet on, letting a little water fall.
“We have fruits, candy bars, and sodas in here,” the man said, his head emerging behind the small fridge door. He grabbed two Twix bars, gave one to the woman who joined him, and unwrapped the other for himself. “This is going to be a fun night.” He took a small bite of chocolate and gave her a quick kiss.
“It will be,” she said.
They slipped on their swimming clothes and left me, then returned by nightfall. They showered separately, changed into a new set of clothes, and went out for dinner. Just before midnight, they made love in my bed, sweet and genuine love. They didn’t possess the shape and size of the earlier couple who made love in my bed. Their bumps and rolls made deep dents in my bed, but when they kissed, crystalline hearts sprouted from the floor. A faint, powdery smoke of red gushed from openings on the crystals whenever they stared into each other’s eyes. When they both came, a song of a nightingale could be heard outside the window. They switched to a cuddle, his arms around her as she breathed right next to his skin.
“I wish Tabby was here,” the man said. “She’d love the pool and the slides.”
“And the pecan pie we had for dessert,” added the woman.
“That too. If it wasn’t for Shirley’s family reunion, Tabby would’ve been here.”
She put a finger on his nose. “Hey, don’t ruin your mood by thinking about your ex-wife. We can talk about Tabitha, but not her. Besides, I’m sure we’ll get to spend special time with her like this.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Last month you got a new job. Three weeks ago your loan was approved. Two weeks ago we found a new place with lower rent. Then last week, you won this free three-night stay here at Astrapia Resort. You can’t even remember joining the raffle in the contest.”
“Yes. I still can’t remember.”
“Don’t you get it? This is the beginning of your lucky streak. Life’s bored of denying you opportunities and now it had a change of heart.”
“Maybe soon I can get to spend more time with my daughter instead of settling for seeing her thrice every month.”
“You will. I believe.”
He pecked her on the cheek. “I think I should now call you Lucky Linda. Ever since you came into my life, good things began happening.”
“I love you too, Alastair.” She smiled, then kissed him on the lips.
They fell into a serene slumber, their warmth slowly purifying the room. The purple stain in my bed diminished. The black scum on the floor melted and dried. The gelatinous goo on the wall hardened to brittle powder before a cool breeze blew into the room to cleanse the air, getting rid of the rotten putrid stench as well. The scorched orange circle in the floor disappeared too. I looked just like how I was, when I welcomed my first visitor.
The couple spent most of the following day outside, hanging by the pool. By afternoon, they returned to watch some television while eating candy bars and drinking soda. They showered together, made love in the bathtub before going out for dinner. I wanted them to stay in my room, forever, and never go away.
My door opened again. Only Linda returned, smelling a little of alcohol. She went to bed and slept for an hour before somebody knocked outside the door. Linda woke up and opened the door. A man in a red shirt was waiting.
“Herbert!” Linda exclaimed.
“Hi, Linda.” Herbert made a half-empty smile. “Is Alastair here? We were supposed to meet a while ago.”
“I thought he was with you when I left you two.”
“He was but he left to follow you here in your room. He said he had to get something and that he’d be back. He hasn’t returned. I haven’t seen him since.”
“I texted him and even tried to call. No response. I just wanted to check if he’s okay after our conversation a while ago.”
“No. He hasn’t returned yet. I wonder where he went. Let’s find him together.” Linda stepped out of the room and locked the door.
A sinister vibe crept into the room.
I didn’t know how they got in, not through the door and not even through the windows. Surely I would know. But Alastair appeared in my bed next to Herbert, except he wasn’t the man Linda went out with but someone who looked exactly like him and in some unexplainable way felt like the same man before.
The man stood up and pulled aside the curtains of the windows. He wore a red shirt too. “Don’t worry. You’ll soon join Gina, Sarah, Arthur, and Wilma where you all belong. In hell,” he said very casually.
“You killed them?” Alastair tried to get up but his head plopped to the pillow.
The other man took some small, red fruits from the pocket of his jeans and threw them inside his mouth. “Yes, Alastair. I killed our friends. I killed Gina, Sarah, Arthur, and Wilma. You’re next. Your lucky streak ends tonight.”
The entire room turned red and that’s the last thing I remembered. I was back in silence.
Linda returned to the room past midnight with the first man in red. The other Herbert. She found Alastair’s body in the bathroom, his head inside an overflowing toilet bowl. Herbert caught her as she fainted to the floor, a blank expression on his face, looking at Alastair’s corpse.
Men from the security department came bustling in. Later, the police. They took Linda and Herbert away. I thought of Tabitha who would never see her father again, then tried to cry even though I had no eyes to draw tears from.
They took pictures of me and lifted Alastair’s body out of sight.
One man and one woman in identical dark gray and maroon clothes visited next. They counted the things in my room, then changed the bed sheets, blankets, and pillows. They scrubbed the bathroom, wiped the wall, and vacuumed the room. But the purple stain in the bed, the rotten putrid stench of the air, the gelatinous goo on the wall, the black scum, and the scorched orange circle on the floor, and Alastair’s hand prints on the toilet bowl, they never cleaned them.
They couldn’t clean them at all.