The Ophidian Motel

📅 Published on June 23, 2020

“The Ophidian Motel”

Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.27/10. From 11 votes.
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I didn’t plan on staying at a motel that night.  My apartment is normally a perfectly nice, pleasant, and comfortable place to stay.  Unfortunately, the notice on the door of the building said we had to make other arrangements for the next two days.  Why, the note didn’t say, but I heard a neighbor had overheard the super talking about termites or something.  It was especially upsetting, because with everything else going on out in the world, travel wasn’t exactly the greatest thing to be doing right now.  Chances were he was even lying about it, that he just wanted the building to himself so he didn’t catch anything.  But, choosing between having to shore up somewhere, and having bug spray in my nose and on my toothpaste, I’d take my chances with the unknown.

I don’t have family close by, and all my friends were huddled together with their families and didn’t have the space for me anyway, so I started driving around.  Most hotels were dark, save for a few cars in the parking lot, and had signs up saying they had no public rooms available.

The Ophidian Motel was the only place I could go that was open, and by the look of it, not too many people were interested in taking them up on the offer.  I couldn’t blame them; the place probably hadn’t been properly sanitized in months.  It was one of those single-level places that try to look quaint on the outside, but you know nothing quaint happens behind those closed doors.  Still and all, it was the only game in town for me, and with it being a few blocks from the interstate and my apartment, it was convenient enough that if things went bad, I could go back to my super’s apartment and sleep in front of his door if I needed to.  Hell, even if he made up the bug spraying just to get everyone away from him until this all blew over, maybe this would make him change his mind.

I went in the see the front desk clerk.  Bored, young, looking at his phone and sighing.  I went up and handed over my card.

“Two nights, please.”

He looked up at me, and then at his phone.  “You know, you should probably be home.  This stuff affects the older population way worse than the rest of us.”

Dick.  I’m not that old, and even if I was, he didn’t need to be talking that way.  Not the time.  “Two nights…please.”

He handed me a bunch of paperwork, and while I filled it out, I nearly jumped as the big green phone at the desk rang.  I looked at the clerk, who ignored it.  I wondered if he even knew what it was.  “Aren’t you…going to answer that?”

He shook his head.  “This time of night, it’s always robocalls or prostitutes.  One tries to take my money, and the other one I can’t afford.”

Cute.  I finished my paperwork and waited until he swiped my card and gave me a room key.  An actual key, not one of those keycard things everybody uses.  He sprayed it with disinfectant and handed it over.  He held up the bottle.  “Want me to spray you, too?”

I looked at him, and then at the bottle, which was a bleach-based Lysol knock-off.  “No, but I recommend you keep spraying yourself if you need to.  Don’t need to catch anything from an old fart like me.”  I left, watching him shrug, then spray down the counter where I was.

I didn’t expect much from the room, but then, I don’t think many people ever do.  Still, it was more pleasant than I expected, with a microwave, mini-bar, widescreen TV (though one of those cheapie ones that sell for $50 at your local retail store with no name brand on it), a round table and chair, and a queen-sized bed.  I was surprised it didn’t have a quarter-operated “magic fingers” machine attached to the bed, though some bolt holes in the frame and headboard suggested it might have had one years ago.

There were only two doors in the room besides the entry door: the one to the bathroom (big enough to fit half a person comfortably) and the door to the adjoining room, next to the head of the bed.  Not even space for a closet.  I tossed what clothes I had brought onto the chair, turned on the TV, and settled in on the bed.  After a few minutes, I remembered there was a vending machine outside and figured I’d grab a snack and a drink.  When I left the room, I could hear the TV set, almost clear as day, even as far as ten feet away from the room.

Paper-thin walls.  Figured.  I was at least glad there didn’t seem to be anyone else here, not only so I wasn’t bothering anybody, but hopefully I wouldn’t be hearing anyone…well, ‘enjoying the company of each other,’ would be a nice way of putting it.

I went to the vending machine, situated on the wall next to the office, and was about to put in my dollar when I heard the desk phone ring again.

Geez, even in the office the walls were thin.  But I heard the clerk pick up.  Funny, I thought he said it was all robocalls this time of night.

I held off putting in my dollar for a moment.  If I could hear him, chances are he could hear me, and I kind of wanted to hear what kind of call he was getting.  Might be worth a chuckle, if anything.

“Hello?  Yeah, sorry, couldn’t answer earlier.  Taking a reservation.  No, no, no, wait, I know, I know, but trust me, you’ll be fine.  Look, you know me. I wouldn’t let it bother you.  It’s just one guy, it’ll be fine.  Ok, see you in a bit.”

The phone clicked.  I began to wonder who that was on the other end of the line, but then it clicked: he said robocalls and prostitutes.  Even if they weren’t for him, he probably had some kind of side arrangement with people who did.  Who knows, maybe I’d catch sight of a local celebrity?  TV anchor?  City council?  My super?  Anybody was possible.

Guess I would be hearing loud, obnoxious noises through the wall tonight after all.  Even if they took a room all the way at the other end of the motel, I’d probably still hear it.

I waited a minute or two before I bought my stuff, acting like I hadn’t been standing outside listening the whole time, then went back to my room, climbed into bed, left the TV running, and called it a night.

Even with the infomercials playing, I was still woken up by the sound of a car door slamming, and footsteps.  Now, I expected to hear two, maybe three pairs, but the scuffling I heard outside was a lot more than that.  It had to have been a group of six, seven people, easy, but definitely not the sounds of a john and his lady going off to spend the night.

I also heard more than that.  It was muffled, but I could hear someone sobbing, moaning, like they had a gag in their mouth.

I almost rushed to the window to look out when I heard voices in the parking lot.  It was the front desk clerk, and another.  A deeper voice, but hoarse, like he had done a lot of coughing or yelling lately.

“The room is ready?”

“Just like always, man.  I’m telling you, there’s no better time than tonight.”

“And just the one guest?”

“Haven’t seen anyone else, and it’s just been his car in the parking lot.”

“Then take care of it in the usual way, and keep it quiet.  And this is yours.”

I heard something change hands, and as one set of feet shuffled away, the other stayed in place, and I could hear something flicking, like someone digging through a roll of money.

This was not some typical sex-related side business going on.  I was wondering what I had gotten myself into when I heard keys jingling, and my doorknob started to unlock.

I pretended to be asleep.  It may not have been the best thing for me to do, but it was all I could think of.  I think part of me was just scared of what was happening, and the other part wanted to see what was going on.

With one eye squinted, I watched in the hazy light of the TV as the door opened, and the clerk came in.  He kept an eye on the bed while moving to the table, where he took my car keys and put them in his pocket.

If it had stopped at stealing my car, probably with the intent to chop shop it, I could’ve lived with that, just gone on my merry way and ignored the weirdness going on here.  But after he pulled out the switchblade and popped it open, I knew no matter what, I wasn’t going to be killed over it.  Not without a fight.

I snored, slightly, and shifted a little.  Those made him hesitate, and take a step back.  I took the opportunity to flop my arm over the bed.  He waited a minute or so longer, and then moved closer, holding the knife low.  It looked like he planned to hold my mouth and plunge the knife in underhand, stabbing me as much as possible before I could react. Had I actually been asleep, he may very well have succeeded.

He’d done this before, I could tell.

He came in close, ready to cover my mouth.  He leaned up against the bed.

With my free arm, I grabbed the back of his jeans, finding his hamstring, and squeezed.

He was so surprised that he yelped for a moment, loosening his grip on the knife, and he tried to drop to one knee.

Letting go of his leg, I grabbed his head, and slammed it into the headboard as hard as I could.  He fell to the floor.

I went into his pocket and got my keys, took the knife from the floor, and left him there.  I didn’t know if he was dead, and I didn’t care.  I had thankfully slept in my clothes, so all I had to do was grab my bag of stuff and get out.

I went to the car and was about to hop in when I looked over at the other rooms in the Ophidian.  I saw one that had lights on in it…not lamplight, but a flickering, low light, like a roomful of candles.  There was a low sound, like chanting, several voices all speaking at once.  And in the midst of it, the terrified sobbing I had heard earlier, sounding like it was getting more desperate.

I looked out at the street.  Even at this late an hour, cars would be bustling by.  But now, nothing.  Everyone was terrified as it was.  I doubt the police would even be able to come in time.

I really wish I knew what came over me.  I’m no hero.  But maybe I was just a little pissed off at almost being murdered while I slept that I didn’t want it happening to anyone else.

I went over to the room, and with all the strength I had, I kicked the door.

The chain on the inside had been pulled to prevent entry, but the hinges were so old and rotted that it didn’t matter; the door flew open the opposite way, leaving the door hanging from the security chain alone.

Inside were a group of figures, all in black robes.  One stood and moved toward me, and in the middle of the circle I saw a young girl, maybe twelve or thirteen, bound, gagged, nearly naked, and absolutely terrified.

The one who came toward me placed his hand over my mouth and, with very little effort, pushed me up against the wall.  The hand holding me was gray, wrinkled, almost mummified, but strong enough that I could feel my jaw ready to crack against the pressure.  If he had squeezed any harder, it would have broken for certain.

“This isn’t for you.  You have seen too much.”

It was the same, deep, hoarse voice that had spoken outside my window.  The hood of the robe fell back, and what was underneath was worse than I imagined.  A gray, wrinkled head, shriveled, bald.  If it had once been a person, it was barely one now.  I tried to pull his hand away from my face, but as strong as he was, I could barely manage anything.

I could now see, in his other hand, he held a strange, intricate dagger.  It had a blade that zigzagged, like a snake, and on the handle was a bottle, screwed into it, like the bottom of an airbrush gun.  In the blade itself, there were grooves, as if it were designed to collect blood…or something…in the bottom of it.

As I fought, he seemed to be slowly lowering the blade to a spot near my stomach.  He turned to the others.  “Not as fresh as hers, but will anyone here mind an appetizer before the main course?”

The others laughed.  They all had similar, raspy, coughing voices.

As he looked away, I tried to dig into my pocket for the switchblade I still had there.  I felt it, and pulled it out, keeping it hidden as best I could.

He turned back, and pressed the blade into my stomach…not far, just the tip of it.  While it was painful, the smile he gave me was what panicked me the most, and forced me to act.

I clicked the switchblade, and sliced at his wrist.

I expected blood.  I expected a grunt of pain.  I expected just about anything, except what actually happened.

His wrist severed completely from his arm and fell to the floor.  He looked down at it, with his yellow, rheumy eyes, more surprised than anything.  But where you’d expect to see bone, blood, anything at all…there was just a void.  Underneath the gray, wrinkly skin was an empty shell.

Or, maybe not quite empty.  For a moment, I thought I saw something, greenish-gray, thick, oily, writhing, like it was going to push its way out of the arm like tube of a toothpaste.  The mummified man quickly gripped his wrist hole closed, and reached down for his hand, as if he meant to keep something from emerging.

I saw my chance.

With my jaw aching and the puncture wound on my stomach stinging, I ran forward and grabbed the young girl off the floor.  The others reached for me, but I slashed out with the knife, and I saw a finger fall here, a hand there, and the ones so injured also grabbed their arms, fighting to control something that wanted out.

The escape itself was a blur.  I barely remember anything beyond that until we were both in the car, the keys turned, and peeling out of the parking lot.

Nobody followed us.  I didn’t know why, and frankly, I didn’t care.

I found a brightly lit street corner, right off the interstate, where I could finally see a few lazy cars drifting by.  I tried my best to calm her down, and between my hands and the switchblade, was able to remove her gag and her bonds.

I talked to her, asked her name, where she was from, where she wanted me to take her.  She gave me everything she could.  She had been kidnapped almost a month ago; she had no idea what was going on in the outside world.  She’d been locked in a room, by herself, after somebody had grabbed her while waiting at the bus stop for school, with only occasional bits of food shoved into her ‘cell.’  Then, today, somebody in a robe…she wasn’t sure if it was one of the ones in the room or not…gagged her, bound her, and put a bag over her head and threw her into a car.

I wouldn’t have believed she didn’t go without a fight, but after a month of little food and the strength of the man who attacked me, I didn’t doubt one person could have done it.  I asked her if she knew anything about the people who had taken her.

“All I know…is they wanted me scared.  Fear makes it stronger, they said.”

But she didn’t know what that ‘it’ was.  They never said any more.  She assumed they didn’t need to.

After we gave our statements to the police, they were able to call her family, and she was reunited.  They questioned me for a while, and I told them everything…except the fact that the kidnappers were some kind of hideous alien freaks.  That I knew they would never believe.  They asked if I saw a vehicle, to run a license plate.  I told them I hadn’t bothered, because I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

Don’t want to believe my story?  That’s fine.  I don’t blame you.  Anybody can make up anything online.  But I can tell you this.  I’ve learned a few things since that night.  First, I found out what ‘it’ was.  Adrenochrome.  It’s a substance everybody has in them, made by the adrenal glands.  It’s out there, if you want to buy it, but rumors say that there are certain people that get off on the high it produces, that it can extend life, and the only way to produce the best is to induce fear…and the best fear comes from younger people.

Well, based on what I saw that night, maybe something tempted people, powerful people to sample this stuff, and now that can’t get on without it.  They need it to keep their existence a secret, to go on with their horrible, extended lives, snatching health and joy from the lives of people, especially children.

Is it any wonder why there’s a market out there for the slave trade?

I’ve since moved out of my apartment, and I’ve sold my car.  Front desk clerk has my credit card info, and probably my license plate.  If I killed him or not that night, chances are someone has my information, and I need to hide it.

But I haven’t even gotten to the best part.  See, I did see a local celebrity that night.

I’ve been to his website.  He’s running for re-election, local city council, just as I guessed.  And he just put out a video.  Looks like a perfectly healthy 37-year-old.  Thing is, his Dad was a city council member, too.  I’ve seen pictures.  Funny how both of them look exactly the same.

They’ve been doing this for a long, long time.  I saved one, but how many haven’t been?  How many have had been drained by that awful knife?

But I still think the most horrible thing is what tried to escape from that wrist that night.  Something saw an opening, and was trying to force its way into this world.  Something so monstrous, even they tried to keep it held within.

Something held back, protected by only a paper-thin surface.

Rating: 8.27/10. From 11 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Seth Paul

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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