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"Tweeps" "[Riley Hamilton's] writing is impressive" - R.L. Stine She was hassling him again verbally on the phone. "Why don't you get away and write that novel you've been talking about for two years," she said. "It hasn't been two years, Mom. Are you trying to sound like an old, crazy woman?" He said, flexing his biceps. "I just want my baby boy to be happy. As much as you joke, Jonah, I am getting old. I can feel it all around me. I'm not as fast as I used to be. You should see how I walk." "Mom, you are still so fast, " Jonah giggled. "Remember when I was complimenting you about how fast you were running down the stairs last time I visited? I wasn't just making conversation. You were as fast as lightning. I've never seen a 55-year old woman move like that." Jonah pulled the phone away from his right ear because she had started to cry. He checked in a few moments later to make sure she was done and then resumed the conversation. "I think you're right. I can take this time to finish that novel. They gave me three weeks' pay as severance and that will go a long way around here." "A long time," she said, trying to hold back her tears. "I want you to be happy, Jonah. I've never heard you happier than when you were describing your little book to me. "The Beautiful Friends," that's what it was called, right?" Jonah giggled again. "Right, mom. "The Beautiful Friends." -After hanging up with his mother, Jonah took a long look at his apartment building. It looked like Satan had taken a big shit there. There were bare white walls and nothing that screamed, "This is Jonah's Home!" Even his multi-colored drapes looked like one of the most boring things ever created. He grabbed a two-liter bottle of soda out of the fridge and polished it off. "I love soda but it does not love me," Jonah said before sighing loudly. The sound soda makes when it goes down your throat was in full effect that day. The carbonated syrup swished in his belly and Jonah laughed loudly. A boisterous laugh that seemed rare coming from a sourpuss like Jonah. Something about the loud laugh reverberating off the walls gave Jonah the courage to go for it. To do the thing he had always dreamt about. To get away from the city of Juniper and try to write that novel. Jonah let out a high-pitched squeal at the thought. In a hotel, Jonah thought suddenly. One with a nice big view of trees and squirrels. A ways off in a small town. The words would flow like sweet honey. He had money saved up, three weeks' of severance pay and the rent was squared away. A change of scenery was what Jonah needed. A little getaway would make him become the superhero writer he knew he could be. And he went for it. -Jonah packed two bags and threw away some things in the fridge that would go bad while he was gone. One of his bags held his clothes and the other was for his toothbrush, hair gel and other hygienic products. He said goodbye to his apartment but left with a smile on his face. He quickly got into his car and started it up. Jonah drove. As he picked up speed, he stuck his head out of the car window and opened his mouth as wide as it would go. His blond hair dipped and dived with the wind. He quickly tucked his head back in
because he had lost full control of the car. Once he had been on the highway for around thirty minutes he started to look at his choices and finally made his selection. He had settled on a town called Prescott. Prescott almost rhymes with biscuit, Jonah thought. He immediately pulled over and wrote that down in his notebook. He would have to remember that. Jonah had yet to realize that this sense of inspiration and wonder that he had been feeling since he left his apartment and the town of Juniper would soon be replaced with a fear like nothing he had ever experienced. END OF PART 1 --BEGINNING OF PART 2 It was called the Sweet Sister Inn. Just off the main exit to Prescott. The Inn was nestled into a pair of giant trees that seemed to have taken the old structure hostage over the years. A sign near the front of the Sweet Sister indicated that parking could be found in the back of the building, up a wide drive-way that circled around the property. Jonah drove around into the drive-way and parked his car, noting that there seemed to be only two other occupied spots. That's strange for an Inn but who am I to pass judgment on an establishment I'm barely familiar with, Jonah thought, remembering his mother's teachings as if she was right next to him whispering them in his ear. He shuffled his feet towards the door of the old Inn, pausing to look out at the lush front yard that spread for acres around. It was absolutely lush out there. It looked like over a thousand animals had crawled through its high grass at different points in the houses' history. Jonah stopped and thought about how many bunnies had probably been in all of that grass. And as if God had been listening to Jonah, a squirrel darted in front of him and then scurried on its paws up one of the smaller trees that peppered the Prescott countryside. -A bell above the door signaled Jonah's entrance into the lobby. There wasn't anyone behind the check-in desk when he entered so Jonah used the time to take a look around and try to absorb as much of the atmosphere as he could with only one glance. He gave up eventually and ended up soaking up the atmosphere for longer than he had wanted to. If the rest of the Inn looks like this lobby then it is a writer's wet dream, Jonah thought, and then he let the idea marinate, until it gave his pale skin gooseflesh. The room was painted a pale green color that was so out of date it looked trendy. On the walls were black and white photographs that seemed to have been hung up decades ago and each one was sporting a thick wooden frame. There were over ten hung photos on the walls at various heights around the room and each one was of a close-up shot of person. Jonah took a closer and look and saw that each photo was of an old man smiling. But not the same old man. Each photograph had a unique elder in it. The one Jonah approached had a bald man in it with a wide smile. The old man was smiling as if the photographer had just told one of the funniest jokes anyone had ever heard. But the smile on the old man's face wasn't exactly pure joy. There seemed to be some hurt in there too. It probably wasn't a standard knock-knock joke, Jonah thought, and then quickly he covered his mouth before a rumble of giggles could escape his lips. He was having too much fun looking at this lobby to spoil it by having the Innkeeper hear him and rush him to his room. Once he had finished looking at the photo he went to the one to the left of it. The old man in this photo seemed more genuinely happy, the smile on his face came from natural causes, Jonah deduced. The man had bushy eyebrows that reminded Jonah instantly of his own grandfather, who had died over ten
His maternal grandfather was still a much talked hero for the family and not one holiday went by without his mother bringing him up. "My father was such a good man," she would say, trying to get attention from the family. "We're all well aware, Mom," Jonah would say back, nudging whoever was closest to him. Jonah was snapped out of his memory by the pearly white teeth of the man in the photo. What was it about this old man's face that gave Jonah such a strong case of the heebiejeebies? Jonah had been in this lobby for over three minutes since the ringing of the bell and he was ready for his presence to be known. Jonah cleared his throat loudly until he finally heard some rustling from a closed door on the other side of the room. The door opened widely and Jonah braced himself for the surprise of his lifetime. Before he could even properly prepare himself, the Innkeeper walked slowly into the room. The Innkeeper looked like nothing Jonah had ever seen and that was putting it lightly. He was six feet tall with a very pale complexion. He had scraggly facial hair that seemed to not have a starting or ending point. His clothes hung from his body loosely with not one thought about which colors went with which. And his shiny head was so smooth that it looked like hair had never touched it. Jonah grabbed his stomach because he felt instantly nauseous. "Well hello there," the Innkeeper said, in a crusty voice that reminded Jonah of a meat grinder at a sub shop. "Someone looks like they're ready for a long stay at the Sweet Sister." Jonah had already fainted before the Innkeeper could finish his sentence. END OF PART 2