The year was 1991.
Nate Sinclair entered the lobby of the Motel Astor and the worker from behind the desk kept his eyes on the small TV monitor. The employee was watching the episode of All in the Family where it’s Edith’s 50th birthday and, without looking directly at Nate, he said, “Hello, welcome to the Motel Astor. How many I help you?”
“Yeah, I need a room for the night,” he replied.
The lobbyist glanced at Nate and, lacking any enthusiasm in his voice, said, “We have an opening in room 213." The worker pulled a room key from under the desk and slid it across the tabletop.
After paying the deposit, Nate said, “Thanks, I’ve been driving from Delaware to Georgia and, lemme tell you, the highway can take a toll on you.”
A facial expression of not really giving a shit remained evident on the lobbyist’s face, and he replied, “This place can take a toll on you as well.”
“Long night?” Nate asked, with a happy-go-lucky smile on his face. However, his attempts to spark a sense of humor in the worker’s face failed.
“Hmmm, something like that,” the man behind the desk replied, paying more attention to the programming. Meanwhile, the fluorescent light above them flickered and lobbyist added, “It seems as though I can never leave this place.” A short silence fell between them and he concluded by saying, “Enjoy your stay.”
Nate then left the lobby with a key in his hand and proceeded to room 213.
Before reaching the steps that headed to the upper-level of the motel, he noticed a beautiful woman at the ice machine. She was blonde and rather angelic looking and her hips fit into a pair Daisy Dukes. Nate found the woman rather attractive, approached her and asked, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Farrah Fawcett?”
She blushed and replied, “Yeah, I’ve been told that before.” The woman batted her blue eyes and asked, “I assume that’s supposed to be a compliment, right?”
Well, of course! Nate exclaimed in his mind. Instead of verbally replying, he let out a small chuckle and nodded his head. After a momentary silence and savoring the connection between them, the woman told him that her name was Sandy. He extended out his hand and said, “Nice to meet you.”
She returned the favor by lightly grasping his hand and cordially shaking. “And your name is?” Sandy asked.
“Nate,” he replied.
“Ah, and what brings you here?” she asked.
“My sister is getting married down in Georgia,” he informed her. “I figured I would just, you know, stay the night and rest.” Nate paused and then asked her the same question. There was a silence and Sandy’s warm smile faded to indifference. She didn’t say much other than she needed to get away.
“Life just gets crazy, you know?” she told him. “It feels like every day is exactly the same.”
Not knowing how to respond to that statement, Nate decided to change the topic of their small talk and asked, “What room are you staying in?”
“201,” Sandy informed it.
“Oh, cool,” he replied. “I’m staying in 213.”
She laughed and began to walk up the steps. As Nate followed shortly behind her, Sandy replied, “I wish I could switch rooms – 201 smells terrible and the water is really nasty.” When the two reached the second level, they turned left and she added, “I’ve complained numerous times, but nobody does anything about it.”
Nate and Sandy passed a couple of doors and he said, “Yeah, the service here seems a little shitty. Hell, that guy in the lobby didn’t even act like he wanted to do his job.”
“His name is Mitch,” Sandy informed. “Apparently he has worked here since the early 70s.” She flipped her gorgeous rainbow of blonde highlights and added, “I couldn’t really imagine anyone being happy with working here. I mean, it isn’t really a five-star resort.”
This became evident to Nate when he passed the door of room 215 and could hear arguing from the other side.
“Apparently that’s a couple who lives in there,” Sandy said, keeping her eyes away from the door. “They’re drug addicts who never come out unless their dealer pulls up in the parking lot.”
When Nate arrived to room 213, he unlocked the door and he asked the woman, “How long have you been staying here?”
There was a short silence. A look of reluctance grew on Sandy’s face and she replied, “Not long, about four days.”
Nate could sense that she was lying, but decided to let it go.
“Well, it was nice talking to you,” he said while opening the door.
Sandy smiled and replied, “Oh, absolutely, and I wish your sister the best of luck with getting married.” She paused and added, “I hope I get married one day, but I doubt that will ever happen.”
He then proceeded to enter the room, said his goodbyes in the threshold, and Nate shut the door. Inside 213, he peeked from behind the curtain of the window and watched Sandy walk away.
What a beauty, he thought, sitting on the foot of the bed. Despite finding the woman physically nice to look at, Nate couldn’t help but feel a sense of mystery to Sandy. For someone who had only been staying at the motel for four days, she acted like she knew the place very well. And another thing, why did Sandy look so hesitant when he asked her how long she had been staying there?
Whatever the reason, it didn’t really matter. Come morning Nate would be leaving and knew he would never see her again, so it didn't really faze him.
After taking a hot shower, Mr. Sinclair stepped out of the bathroom and noticed something on the floor underneath the bed. Wearing only a towel around his waist, he bent down to examine the object and noticed it was a VHS tape. On it was a strip of masking tape with the words PROPERTY OF ROOM 201 written on it in black Sharpie.
A feeling of curiosity peaked inside him, for Nate recalled Sandy telling him earlier that she was staying in 201. His first thought was to put on some clothes, head down a couple of doors down, and return the tape. But then he thought, Why would I do that? It isn’t like Sandy would know anything about it.
So instead, Nate figured he would stick it in the VHS player and watch the contents on the tape. After feeding the tape into the VCR and pressing play, he turned on the room’s television with the remote control.
At first there was only static, but eventually that cleared up to reveal a recording outside of room 201. The person holding the camera could be heard breathing and a hand off-camera knocked on the door. A couple of seconds passed and eventually the door opened.
Standing in the threshold was Sandy. It was obvious she was trying too hard to act and she said into the camera, “Oh, hello. How are you?” The cameraman didn’t reply and, in a semi-seductive voice, she added, “Of course you can come inside, baby.”
“What the hell am I watching?” Nate asked himself. It was then he noticed the date at the corner of the screen read: 06/15/83. A bizarre feeling of confusion covered him and he thought, 1983? What is this?
The scene’s tracking then became extremely terrible and it cut to the inside of presumably what is room 201.
The camera was aimed at the bed and on it appeared a drug induced Sandy with a naked midget by her side. In the mirror above the headboard appeared the person holding the camera in the reflection, however, the identity of the cameraman was hidden by a plastic goat mask. Meanwhile, a crappy audio recording of Soft Cell’s Sex Dwarf could be heard in the background.
Sandy, the beautiful, blonde woman Nate had met earlier, was also nude and drooled at the mouth. Through thick slobber she muttered – something – and the midget said to the cameraman, “She’s a little disco dollie, isn’t she?”
The goat man could be heard breathing heavily behind his mask and, in a deep and unsettling voice, instructed the small person to pleasure her. After making an obscene gesture with his tongue, the midget began to fondle Sandy’s nether regions while seductively saying, “Isn’t it nice, sugar-n-spice?”
Sandy moaned in both pain and unwanted sensation. When she tried to make the small man stop, he punched her in the face with his small fist. After the woman stopped struggling, the midget leaned to her face and yelled, “We’re gonna make you a star!”
The scene then cut to the miniature beast giving the woman oral sex and exclaiming how wonderful she tasted. Nate wanted to look away, but couldn’t bring his eyes to refrain from watching. It was a combination of disgust, mortified fear and shock.
“That’s right, eat her good,” the goat man instructed. “Lure her to a life of vice.”
Nate couldn’t move. All his colors seemed to flush out onto the carpet floor and sink beneath his feet. A dark tide of repulsion churned in his stomach as the midget turned to the camera and gave a wicked and perverse smile. “You know what they say about small boys…” he growled, licking his lips and inserting his stubby middle finger into her ravaged lily.
The tracking then became worse and it was hard to make out what was happening, however, Nate could hear Sandy attempt to scream. After about a minute of poor quality and the sound of the tiny monster mouthing harsh profanities, the scene cut to room 201’s bathroom.
On her knees Sandy could be seen with her arms tied behind her back. When the woman tried to speak, blood poured from her mouth and it was revealed that Sandy’s teeth had been yanked from her jaws. From behind her the midget smiled at the camera and said, “She won’t be biting anyone’s dick anymore.” Both he and the cameraman chuckled wickedly.
“Pweafh,” Sandy moaned through her sore gums. “I von’t want to do dis n’more.”
The small man then pulled out a black trash bag and put it over her head. He began to suffocate the woman as he pulled the bag tight – tighter. The plastic morphed around her revealing the structure of the woman’s face as she struggled to breathe. And then suddenly, the TV went to static and the tape ejected from the VCR.
Immediately Nate sprung from the foot of the bed and ran down to room 201. Hell, he was so terrified that he forgot only a towel hid his nudity. When Nate got to the room he began to frantically beat on the door. “Sandy!” the panicked man screamed. “Open up!”
There came the sound of a chain unlocking and the door opened. In the threshold of 201 stood Sandy and she asked, “What’s wrong?”
In a frantic state, Nate explained the contents on the video in his room, how she was being sexually abused, how her teeth were missing, and everything else. The woman gave him an odd look and, after three seconds of silence, asked, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Disoriented and flustered, Nate told the woman to come to his room and watch the tape.
Scared at the sight of a half-naked man who had just spoken about her being molested and choked with a plastic bag, Sandy shut the door in his face. Nate tried knocking again, but stopped when she yelled, “Go away or I will call the police!”
Well, somebody needs to! he thought loudly, as he made his way back to room 213. When Nate got inside his room, he slipped on a pair of pants, didn’t bother putting a shirt on, and grabbed the VHS tape.
He stormed down the lobby, slammed the video on the front desk and demanded that the motel worker notify the police. The lobbyist looked down at the tape and said, “Jesus, I thought I got rid of this smut ages ago.”
Nate paused and stared at the man from behind the desk and asked, “You know about this?”
“Sadly,” the worker replied. “It features that poor woman who doesn’t know she is dead.”
Mr. Sinclair felt a cold feeling in every single one of his bones and, after processing what the lobbyist said, sternly asked, “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Sandy Henderson?” the motel worker asked. “Room 201? Yeah, she’s dead. Poor gal thought she could earn a couple of bucks making a snuff film years ago.” He stopped, lit a cigarette and added, “She walks around this place every day, unaware that she can never leave. And what’s sad is Sandy isn’t the only one.”
Nate then grabbed the lobbyist by the shoulders and yelled, “Stop fucking playing around and call the goddamn police!”
The worker pushed him off and shot back, “Easy there, Mr. Director. You can call the police all day long, but this place won’t let you do it.”
Suddenly Mr. Sinclair felt as if someone had slapped him in the face and asked, “What did you just call me?”
The lobbyist took a drag of his cigarette, exhaled the smoke, and coolly replied, “Mr. Director. See, Sandy isn’t the only soul here who doesn’t know they’re dead OR that they’re a nasty little pervert.” He took another puff and added, “Back in 1983 you were traveling to your sister’s wedding. The tragedy is, the beloved bride down in Georgia has no idea her brother is a total sicko OR that he died from a cocaine overdose the night after filming this... timeless classic.” The man behind the desk looked down the VHS tape and back to Nate who remained silent.
After a momentary pause, Mr. Sinclair tried to find the words to formulate a question, but couldn’t bring himself to ask it.
“And as for that little heathen midget,” the lobbyist said. “God knows where he is. This motel is so crazy he is probably hiding in the laundry room.”
“This… can’t be true,” Nate replied, trying to grasp all of what he had just been informed.
“Well, it is,” the desk worker told him. “And the sad part is I’m stuck here with you nutcases until the day someone decides to bulldoze this place to the ground.” The Motel Astor employee leaned down behind the desk to grab something and it was then Nate noticed an exit wound on the back of his head.
When the lobbyist rose back up, he placed a Sony Betamovie BMC-200 camera on top of the desk and said, “It’s still in good condition for if you decide to make another dirty movie.”