HORROR IN ROOM 323
At first, Jeannette found the vacation weekend to be as beautiful as they’d hoped. The sun shone, and the hotel sparkled like diamonds with fresh flowers that lined the lobby and fine furniture arranged in a clustered style for visitors to rest and visit with one another. She and Earl just knew this weekend would be heaven sent and filled with memories of them celebrating Mother’s Day and Earl’s birthday! For added memories they had taken with them the small Service Dog they had rescued from the Humane Society and which was still in training. They hoped Maggie would enjoy her first exposure to a motel and the beach.
Their room was warm and inviting, decorated with pristine linens and spread with large downy pillows. The mood was set with special lighting and a bay window, allowing them to view the beaches while admiring the clear blue-green waters and watching the moon set in the evenings or the sun rise each morning. The vanity even came with a large picture frame mirror that magnified images on one side.
Everything was perfect!
Before enjoying dinner, they savored their first walk that evening on the beach strolling hand in hand, sharing an embrace and watching Maggie romp in the sand. She even dove into the waves as they crashed upon the beach, and they all found such peace and restfulness. They were tired from the long travel so they returned to their room for the evening and had dinner served there. A special meal was even prepared for Maggie. After watching the sunset they decided to retire early so the next day would be fun-filled, enjoying what they loved most, playing at the beach and teaching their new dog how grand life could be together. They found the bed to be just perfect so they fell asleep almost immediately.
However, the night was not as restful as they had expected. Jeannette woke with itchy red spots that resembled mosquito bites and she wondered which of them had left the window open.
next night, the same thing happened to both of them. Even though Jeannette double checked to make sure the window was closed, both she and Earl tossed and turned and woke with itchy red spots over half their bodies. They were only mosquito bites they told themselves.
They bought insect lotion and poured it liberally on the bites, sighing at the partial relief it gave them. Then they checked out early and went home, grateful their dream vacation had been only partly marred and expecting the bites, itching, and the inconvenience to disappear when they returned home to friendlier and more familiar surroundings.
* * * *
That night, Jeannette basked in the comfort of her cozy and intimate bedroom. She watched Earl turn down the white, down-filled comforter and move around the bed to embrace her. They shared a long, warm kiss, and she leaned her head against his broad shoulder.
“Home again,” he said, his voice deep and reassuring.
“Yes,” she said. “Safe again, and now we can relax completely.”
He smiled. “Here it’s better than any vacation.”
He turned out the lights, and they slipped into bed beneath the covers. For a long time he held her close, stroking her temples as he always did in order for Jeannette to sleep. She felt safe, blissfully at peace and reassured by his manly embrace and eventually by his gentle snores. Home. Yes. Home and safe again!
Why she woke she couldn’t say. She imagined something moving up her leg. Then biting her arm. A foolish dream. Silly, she wasn’t in the hotel anymore. Ah, another bite!
Jeannette found herself standing in her bedroom near the magnifying side of the mirror. A flash of light lit one area of the glass, and to her horror she saw an ugly black and brown bug streak across its surface and drop to the floor.
She tried to see where it went, but it disappeared too fast. Refusing to believe what she’d seen, she decided to return to bed, but something made her grab her flashlight before she slid beneath the covers. It was probably just her imagination, but oh God, something couldn’t have followed them home from the hotel, could it? Though it was impossible, she would keep watch so none of the mosquitoes—or whatever they were—would harm her, Earl or Maggie ever again.
Eventually, being so tired, she drifted to sleep.
Later, she felt something bite her on the hand.
“Oh, my God, Earl,” she gasped. “Wake up…there’s something in bed with us. And it just bit me again!”
She felt something crawl on her foot beneath the blanket and what felt like tiny teeth. “There’s something crawling on my skin…it must have long nails—God, it hurts so bad!”
Maggie, being a Service Dog, growled, trying to warn them something was gravely wrong. Then she barked as though to say, “Get up!”
Jeannette leaped from the bed, blood streaking down her arms. She stumbled to the mirror in fiery pain and there, in the side partition which magnified, she saw an image of what appeared to be a hairy, six-legged monster with its two antennae sniffing for its next bite. She turned her head to see that this creature or one like it had already bitten and sucked the blood from her face. Feeling faint, Jeannette struggled not to pass out in fear and disgust.
“It’s happening again in our own home,”she cried. “Only worse! Earl, what are these things?”
In her terror, she turned and saw that Earl was still sleeping, peacefully unaware of the crisis in their own bedroom involving these new invaders. Maggie, though, was another matter. Jeannette could hear their pet cry and whine in her crate. She looked miserable.
Oh Christ. Here we go again! “E….Earl,”she whispered in a panic, “wake up!” Then she shouted. “Damn it, Earl, wake up!”
She took a deep breath as Earl finally opened his eyes and sat up in bed.
“Listen,”she said. “Maggie is crying and squirming in her crate and we have to get her out. She looks so sick. They must have bitten her too.”
Earl rubbed his eyes. His hair stuck up in tufts, the way it often did when he slept.
“What do you mean…‘They’ bit her?”
“The mosquitoes,” she said. “Only they’re not mosquitoes. They’re something worse. They’re monsters, Earl, and they have come home with us. I think whatever it is hitchhiked on our clothes or suitcases.”
Suddenly she saw blood from yet another bite running down her neck. How had she missed it? “This can’t be happening,”she said, barely suppressing a scream as she felt a stab of searing pain. They were all under attack, only this time in their own home where it had always been safe. Now safety was a thing of the past.
Earl rose and came to her. “Oh honey, you’re bleeding,”he said, lightly touching her skin. “And look, here’s another bite on your leg.” He held her close and glanced around. “What in the hell did this to you?”
“I’m not sure. I saw one on the mirror.” She did know she had been attacked from head to toe with puncture wounds, two to each bite.
All she could see in her mind were the cold eyes piercing into hers. She knew the repulsive creature wanted only one thing: their blood. There must be so many of them, and they were here for only one reason.
But what were these things? The pain they caused was so intense. It felt like red hot pokers burning through her skin and setting fire to her bones!
Then the loathsome visitors started to appear, to attack from all directions in the room.
At one point, Jeannette stood frozen in fear with Earl, unable to respond. She knew they had to fight back, to beat these monsters as they came at them from everywhere. All she and her husband could think about was surviving the night.
As Earl stamped and stamped and struck these invaders and Jeannette kept swinging her flashlight, she was all too aware that Maggie had no real way to fight and defend herself. They both kept checking her to make sure she was safe.
The night seemed never to end. Finally, with daylight the monsters began to melt away into their hiding places. If only they could find the tiny elusive things, maybe someone would know what they were.
Home! Suddenly, it did not feel so safe, and there was nowhere else they could go.
Trapped, Jeannette knew they had to find someone to look at Earl’s, Maggie’s, and her own bites, which covered much of their bodies. But Jeannette’s doctor was away, and she had wait ten days. That felt like an eternity, so instead they went to Urgent Care where she was told she had Shingles and to take pain meds until the sores stopped hurting. She did not have to be a genius to know the diagnosis was wrong.
Finally, when she got in to see her regular doctor, he told her he had no idea what the bites were…he only knew they were bites—not Shingles as he could clearly see two puncture wounds at each site. He prescribed enough medicine to avoid further infection for the three of them.
Two days later Jeannette phoned her doctor and reported her condition had worsened. Now she was swollen as if she’d become allergic from so many bites and was badly bruised as well.
Her doctor advised her it had become critical to identify these bites as her health was in jeopardy. He referred her to a Dermatologist, and another week passed while all three of them continued to be attacked.
Even after several weeks the scars from the bites remained. They proved to be tenacious, refusing to disappear.
Finally they were seen by the dermatologist, and his immediate remarks were: “No, this is NOT Shingles; No, these are NOT mosquitoes.” Jeannette asked him,
“Then what is this?”
He peered through his glasses at her. “Have you stayed in a motel in the last month?”
Jeannette remembered their vacation. “Why, yes.”
He followed by asking if the problem had started there. Again, she answered yes.
The dermatologist sighed. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but these are Bedbug bites, and you are highly allergic to them.”
At first, Jeannette was shocked, unable to react. Then she cried like a baby. She remembered being told that bedbugs happened to dirty housekeepers, and she was a fanatic about her home. The dermatologist assured her that these pests hitchhiked in luggage or on your body, so they were likely in the car too. Sobbing all the way back to the car, Jeannette told Earl they were not even safe in the car! After she informed him of the diagnosis, he pulled her close and kissed her cheek.
“We won’t let them beat us,”he said, and then he used his cell phone to call Orkin.
Within two days the pest company inspected their home and discovered they indeed did have bedbugs, but it was an early infestation of only about four to six weeks. This was the exact time since they had taken that special weekend vacation to the coast, splurging to stay at the grandest hotel there, the Bates Hotel (not the real name).
Jeannette had always thought bedbugs were a bit funny until she heard the dermatologist’s diagnosis. The jocular line “Don’t let the bedbugs bite,”would never make her smile again.
Jeannette and Earl were informed by the pest company that whenever anyone sleeps, the bedbugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide one exhales. They only mate after feeding and mate quickly, spreading in every room and traveling through electrical outlets from one room to another. They hide under dresser drawers, splits in the headboard, crevices in the mattress, drapes, tight, snug places along the walls, folds of fabric and about anywhere else one would never think to look.
That night after fighting sleep as long as possible, the three of them fell fast asleep only to awaken with the bedbugs covering every inch of their bodies, sucking the blood from their flesh and leaving them sick and weak. It broke Jeannette’s heart to hear Maggie whimper in her crate, and she went to pick the bugs from her body as best she could.
But until their home could be treated, their suffering would continue. Each night it kept happening, and they fought the hairy, six-legged monsters. The way they were bitten was so vile and unfair. As for the bites, first, the bugs injected them with an anesthetic—as if that would make them hurt any less. Then they stuck them with another sharp pointer and drew out their blood, leaving them with wounds and blood-soaked night clothes and sheets.
Laundry waiting to be processed
Getting their home ready did not happen quickly either, as their work involved a long list of
preparations if they were to stand a chance to get rid of their most unwanted guests. Working one full week, day and night, they were finally able to schedule the treatment to kill these mangy pests that had destroyed their lives by creating wounds, sleepless nights, a crying puppy, a need for exhaustive medical treatment, and, last, nightmares that would linger for months or even years to come.
They had nowhere now to hide or ever feel safe.
THE HORROR OF BEDBUGS RAISING THEIR HEADS to bite them in their own home was a major shock, and suddenly the possibility of being safe anywhere in this world seemed gone forever.
Look around your home, Jeannette wanted to tell everyone she saw. Every shoe, drape, linen, dresser drawer and closet had to be taken out of the house and bagged; shoes were frozen for 24 hours, woolens dry cleaned or frozen; fabric and clothes—if clean already—had to be dried at high temperatures with a light load for 45 minutes and then re-bagged in contractor heavyweight bags and taken elsewhere to be stored until everything had been processed and then home treated before returning any of their belongings. Shoes waiting to be frozen
Jeannette had to dry and iron 800 yards of her expensive quilting fabric.
\Get the idea? Not to mention, almost 200 hand-knit imported woolens from Ireland had to be all dry-cleaned before selling them (which was an Import business for Jeannette and Earl). Yes, for Jeannette, Earl, and Maggie, life had changed. No more walks, playing with a new puppy or anything else but trying to stay alive for weeks and months to follow.
Even after the treatment, when returning home six hours later to air out the toxins so they could breathe, Jeannette and Earl had to strip their clothing outside—that is, strip down to birthday suits, folks, and then change into safe treated clothing and shoes only to try to put the house somewhat back to order. BUTwait! Toxins were everywhere. Now, every dish, piece of silverware, counter, pot and pan had to be rewashed and floors scrubbed before the home was safe for them to be in. Look around again, in your kitchen! Can you imagine how long it would take to do that much washing? Oh, did she tell you that she and Earl have also completed over sixty loads of laundry and have another eighty-eight loads to finish before they ever see the clothes or shoes again or begin to put their home back together?
Below is a bedbug full from a good feeding of blood. The picture clearly shows the six legs.
Now, imagine it crawling over your body every night.
Are you wondering what the response from the hotel was? The hotel’s response: they want to blame it on the Service Dog, Maggie, but if anything, she should be awarded a claim for her suffering. As they were informed, she is not old enough to have traveled to other hotels to bring home bedbugs…just the ones that came from their hotel! They did send an investigator out, and one of their requests was to photograph the pets in their home.
So, here is what is suspect in the eyes of the hotel:
Maggie … Sara, Parakeet
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I wish to thank two special people for their help with my story. I have never written a horror story, so I consulted and was mentored by John Rosenman, who writes on this subject extremely well. I’m sure he must have grown tired from so many endless hours of support, but he did so in order for me to learn and for you to have this story to read. We would also like to pay homage to his late dog, Tempest for being the same type of dog as Maggie. Most of you know Clayton Bye, publisher of this blog but perhaps do not realize the work he does for so many of us. His kind support and dedication go beyond what most publishers would consider the end of their day. He is always there to advise, support, and guide you should you need the help. Thank you, John and Clayton. Don’t forget to visit their web sites and read the horror that exist behind the pages of their books.
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