Mar 14, 2022
3 mins read
Despite everyone arguing with the stuffed shirt from the front desk, I hear someone calling my name from outside the hotel. Not just "Erin" but "Erin Plumtree, come here!" There’s nothing sweet or attractive about it; it almost sounds like a schoolteacher calling for the worst kid in school. Not that it reminds me of any of the teachers I remember.
I listen and it repeats. Again and again. It's got to be a recording. The others have set me up in some way, though none of them are looking at me or waiting for a reaction. Or so it seems.
"Let's just go, eh?" I say.
Immediately, my big sister and our friends shut up. Well, more of a gentle turning of the volume as it takes one or two of them a while to realise we're ending the night.
We wobble to the lifts -- the voice is still calling me -- and I smile at how drunk they all are. I suppose I am as well, just not as drunk as they are.
"Erin Plumtree, come here!"
We don't all fit in one lift, so I watch five get in the opening lift and wait with the others for the next one. There are eight of us. That’s another two lifts journeys. It could be a long wait.
When the next lift arrives, I help Daisy -- fit to lie down on the floor and sleep -- into the lift. I mutter something and back out. I don't hear any replies. All I can hear is "Erin Plumtree, come here!"
I've had enough. I'm going to find out what's going on.
Outside, I expect someone, anyone, to leap out and yell "surprise!" or tell me how the video is going to look good online. They don't. The calling continues from the direction of the town centre. I don't even stop to think. I'm going to find whoever's doing this and… make them stop.
As soon as I step away from hotel, I hear footsteps behind me. I turn. There’s no one there. I'm not dumb or drunk enough to call out asking "who’s there?" That never ends well.
I hurry after the voice that's still calling for me to come "here" wherever that is. It's like it keeps moving. Maybe the person behind this useless prank is carrying it around. Maybe they're in a car. Not that I’ve seen one crawling in front of me.
As I speed up, so do the footsteps behind me. I speed up to get away from them. They speed up again. I’ve got to get away. I run. They run. I start to gasp for air. The footsteps are still there, echoing over my breath. I ought to turn and face them.
I try to focus on where I am, look for something to turn to my advantage, and I realise I’ve got turned around. I’m no longer heading into town. I don't know where I am and I don’t know how to get to the hotel from here. How am I supposed to get back?
I slow to a jog. So do the footsteps.
"Erin Plumtree, come here!"
"Oh, fuck off," I call out, to both the voice ahead of me and the feet behind. Neither do.
I stop and take off my shoes. The footsteps stop when I do. Whoever it is doesn't want to catch me. They just want to scare me. Well, it's not working any more. But I can’t move in these damned shoes any more and I have nothing else I can do at this time of night but follow that sodding voice. There's no taxis and definitely no cars driving around here right now.
I jog-walk towards the call. It leads me to the racecourse and changes direction again. This time I hear the change but it doesn't make it better. There’s no-one else but the footsteps around and they're not getting any closer. I doubt they'll help me back to the hotel.
We follow the road until we don't, the voice leading me into some scrubby woods. The perfect place to be attacked and left for dead.
The voice stops.
The footsteps stop.
There’s a flash of white light so bright it burns.