Part 9

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Tehran's Old Ghosts

A short story set during the Iranian Revolution in 1978. Eight westerners find themselves trapped in their hotel. Little do they realise that the trouble on the streets is the least of their problems.

(Part 9)

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Ruth left on the helicopter and Gary wasn't at their usual get together that night.

"I never had a clue until I heard Arvid shouting at him." Said Cliff.

"No, I don't think any of us knew." Rachel had lied.

It had gone badly, with Arvid screaming insults at Gary, while getting his wife ready to leave the hotel. Gary hadn't replied or defended himself during the entire piece of unpleasantness. Ruth hadn't even shouted a goodbye to any of them, before climbing into the helicopter.

"She'll be safer in the embassy." Said Rachel. "Though I'll miss having another woman in the group to talk to."

"You can talk to us about anything." Said Victor.

"What do you take to relieve period pain Victor ?"

"You're a bad girl Rachel, but point taken."

"Now, we'll never find out what she might have seen." Said Harrison

"I think she saw far too much of Gary." Said Cliff.

A rare joke from Cliff, which they all laughed at out of politeness. Gary joined them quite late, still clutching half a bottle of vodka. It appeared they were having their 78th game of Monopoly, someone had kept a list. The Ouija board had come out twenty seven times, but not recently. No one would admit it, but he was sure they were all scared about what it might tell them. About one in the morning he left, Rachel waiting a few minutes before joining him in his room.

"Do you think they know ? I'm sure they must have noticed something." He asked.

"Of course they know, we don't hide it as well as Ruth and Gary. Victor actually asked me yesterday, right in the middle of the lobby."

"Crap !"

She kissed him gently on the lips, while her hands undid the belt on his trousers.

"Don't worry, no one in London will ever know." She said.

~ ~

The next morning started well, with Rachel waking him for early morning sex. He was still enjoying the afterglow, when she began to moan about the soap and shampoo he had in his bathroom.

"How can you use the stuff the hotel provides, it's total crap." She yelled from the bathroom.

"Sorry. I guess it's a guy thing. We'll use any old soap."

"Well I'm fed up with it ! I'm going to my room for something decent."

"Fine, take my room key."

"No need, I'll leave the door ajar and run there and back."

He saw her in bare feet, with just his dressing gown wrapped round her. Supposing she was seen ? Before he could object she was gone and he was still feeling sleepy after their early morning exertions.

"I quite like the hotel shampoo."

He muttered, before falling into a deep sleep. He woke and was surprised to see the bedside clock saying it was just after nine. Still, there wasn't much to get up for. Just another day in their four star luxury snow globe.

"Why didn't you wake me ?" He called. "We can still go downstairs for breakfast."

No answer and when he got out of bed, the door to his room was still slightly ajar. He opened it and as he'd thought, she'd hung the do not disturb sign on the handle. Well, if she was still coming back, she could bang on the door. He removed the sign and closed the door.

"Mind like a butterfly." He muttered. "She's probably giving herself a pedicure."

Full blown panic set in, when he saw her clothes were still in the bathroom, neatly folded up on a chair. Her panties were hung over the back of the chair, ready to go on after she'd dried herself. Maybe the police had taken her off for questioning ? He had no idea why they would, but there had to be a rational explanation for her vanishing. She had plenty of other clothes of course.

"Don't get in a panic you idiot... Get dressed and knock on her door."

He did it quickly, pulling on his dirty clothes from the night before. No shower, not even a comb through his hair. He walked at a crisp pace, stopping outside the door to her room. It was ever so slightly ajar. Such a small gap that he had to push the door to be certain.

"Did you decide your room was nicer than mine ?" He called.

The door slowly swung open, revealing the gown she'd borrowed, folded up on a chair. Good, she hadn't been waylaid by something ghastly on the way to her room. He closed her room door.

"Are you still dressing ?" He asked. "Is it alright to come in ?"

He'd seen her naked and had spent a long time tasting her most intimate female area. He still felt the need to get permission though, before moving further into her room. He looked around, seeing her room key on the coffee table. She had to still be there... Or locked out.

"Rachel... I'm worried now."

She was still in the shower cubicle, or the blood would have spread. His mind had played tricks then though, making it hard to decide what he'd noticed first and when he'd begun to scream. Most of the blood had drained away, but she still seemed to be sat in about an inch of her own congealed blood. Her back and been ripped into by claws of some kind, he could see the ragged deep grooves.

"No, not Rachel...... Why Rachel ?" He yelled.

Her left leg was just a bone bellow her knee, the flesh pulled back and shredded. He felt her shoulder, just about the only part of her not covered in blood. Still slightly warm, but well below normal body heat. Her head was facing into the corner, showing him nothing but her beautiful long hair. It took effort to turn her head, something seemed to be sticking her face to the tiles.

"Oh no, no............. NO !!" He screamed.

He didn't stop screaming, as he saw her face was gone. They'd taken those beautiful hazel eyes, leaving nothing but bone and sinew where her face had been. No sound, but he saw something before his mind fled into the safety of unconsciousness. A vaguely female shape made of nothing but grey mist.

~ ~


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