Chapter 29 – Bryan Wick


“I called, and I knocked. No answer. She must be at the diner.” Seth continued staring out the window.


“No, she’s in her room,” Bryan said, holding his arm. “There’s no other reason for it to be there.” He looked again. One of the Empty was banging on Aubree’s door at the end of the motel.


It figured. Just when he thought they were going to luck out with the gunshots from the diner.


As soon as Tara had helped him up from her floor, Seth knocked from Carter’s room. At least he had answered the phone. Before the four of them moved to Matteo’s room, a board snapped in the Morans’ window. One of the Empty was at their room.


The windows of the motel were too small for anything but a child to fit through, but were large enough for the monster to fit its head in and set its static-filled eyes on the group. Tara screamed, and Bryan urged everyone to get into Matteo’s room, slamming the door once they were all in.


Seth ran a hand through his hair and said, “Now what?” On cue, the door rumbled and a dark hand broke through the boards of the window.


Bryan scanned the room, trying to spot a weapon. He noticed the broken chair legs the Morans had clutched in their hands and told Seth to help him with a chair. Once the two of them had their makeshift batons ready, they went to the door.


The wood was thicker for the outer doors than the inner ones connecting the rooms. Still, it wouldn’t be enough to hold out the Empty People for long. In only a minute, a chunk of the door split open, revealing a void face on the other side. Bryan half-expected to hear, “Here’s Johnny.” Instead, it growled. It was the guttural murmur of a lion, not a man.


Bryan shoved his chair leg into the Empty’s face, and Seth did the same.


“We have to keep it from breaking more of the door,” Bryan grunted between shoves.


“Why don’t we just stand the loveseat against it,” Seth asked, also grunting.


“If they break down the door,” Bryan said, “I don’t think the loveseat will do much to stop them. Our only hope is to preserve the door for as long as possible. If they get through, we’ll have to move to the next room.”


Alexandra spoke up. “If they get in here, they’ll get in the next room. The connecting doors are flimsy. Even you were able to break one.”


Bryan tried to ignore the insult. He turned and looked at Alexandra. “We’ll deal with that when we get there.”


His arm erupted in pain as a talon sliced into it. The Empty at the window had joined the other at the door and was clawing at him through the opening.


Bryan put his chair leg against its shoulder and pushed. It was strong. It barely moved and continued swiping at Bryan, only an inch between its claws and Bryan’s chest. He set his foot back and leaned into the chair leg with everything he had. The arm receded a few inches.


As Seth continued shoving at the Empty above and Bryan dealt with the arm of the lower one, a large chunk at the bottom of the door split open. A third one had joined the fight and was punching from the ground.


It wasn’t going to hold. It would only be a few more moments before there was nothing left of the door.


“Tara, Alexandra,” Bryan yelled. “Grab the loveseat and bring it here!”


Alexandra spoke behind him. “But, you said—”


Bryan cut her off. “It’ll stop them log enough for us to get to the next room.” He and Seth kept shoving at their monsters while dodging the swipes at their ankles by the one on the ground. At once, the two Empty grabbed their chair legs and yanked them out of their hands.


With nothing to fight back with, Bryan and Seth stepped back and watched more chunks punched out of the door. They turned and helped the Morans move the loveseat. They propped it up against the door and ran to Bryan’s room, closing the door behind them.


“This one won’t last at all,” Bryan said. “We’ll have to keep moving.”


“And, what are we supposed to do when we get to the end,” Alexandra demanded.


“I don’t kn—”


Two shots sounded in the distance followed by a gorilla roar. Through the wall, Bryan heard one of the Empty in the next room roar in answer. Then, footsteps going out. Seth marched to the window.


“They’re heading back to the diner.”


It was too good to be true. Bryan joined Seth at the window. Sure enough, all three of them were running to the diner. Bryan sighed and slumped down on the wall.


Thank God. He had no plan for what they would do once they reached the end of the motel. Alexandra and Tara plopped on his loveseat. Bryan tried not to stare at Tara.


His arm hurt like a mother. His sleeve was drenched. He stood up and stepped toward the bathroom.


“Wait a minute,” Seth said. “One of them stopped. It’s at the end.”


Damn. Bryan went back to the window. Seth was right.


“Who’s room is that?”


“Aubree’s,” Seth answered.


The Empty started banging on the door. Bryan looked at Seth.


“Did you make sure she wasn’t in there?”


“I called, and I knocked. No answer. She must be at the diner.”


“No, she’s in her room. There’s no other reason for it to be there.”


Tara stood. “We have to go get her.”


“No.” Alexandra jumped up and put a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Sweetie, we barely made it ourselves.”




“Look, Bryan,” Seth interrupted. “Why don’t you go and bring Aubree here. Most of the doors that way should be open. You can make it there and back before that thing breaks the door.” He motioned to the Morans. “I’ll stay here with them in case it comes back this way.”


This was bullshit. Such a brave guy, offering to stay like that. But, there wasn’t time to argue. Bryan had to go save the bitch. He turned and went. Before he made it to the doorway, Tara called his name.


“Bryan.” He stopped and looked back. Her emerald eyes were filled with worry. “Be careful.”


“Yeah,” was all he could muster before turning and going.