My wife Shannon and I stayed at an Airbnb in FL over the weekend. The place was on the affordable side, a small room rented out by a stranger on the Internet whose house backed up to the train tracks. We arrived late in the evening, went around the back of the house, and grabbed a key from under the mat as instructed.
The lock was a bit tricky. Shannon had all the heavy suitcases and bags, and my hands were full with the blue Hawaiian shirt I was planning on wearing to a party Saturday night. Holding its hanger nearly took up one whole hand, so I had a hard time opening the door. The lock was one of those weird bolt locks where you have to use a key on both sides. Even when I opened the door and Shannon squeezed through the door with our giant suitcases, it took another two minutes to lock out the outside world.
When that was finally resolved, we looked around. We've used Airbnb quite a bit, so we're usually pretty good at picking places out. But for this one, the photos were clearly taken from very specific angles to make the place appear nicer than it was.
We were in a tiny room and a half in the process of being remodeled. A single bedroom and bath that had blocked off from the rest of the house by a door with a metal panel where the handle should go. The carpet had recently been pulled up, the bathroom was clearly installed in a former closet by the homeowner. It wasn't entirely unpleasant, just a bit small, weird, and noisy.
It had been a very long drive, so after taking out our contacts and brushing our teeth (good hygiene is important) we immediately went to sleep. At that point in the evening, I could have slept in a puddle at a concert.
About an hour later, I jolted awake. I could hear footsteps in the other part of the house. It was then, groggy and unable to see, that I suddenly realized...
We're in a serial killer's house.
The door with the metal plate, the missing carpet, the bathroom with an oddly industrial shower-- it all made sense. Between the noisy ac unit and the proximity to the train tracks, no one would hear our screams. All it would take is a well-timed train, then the door with the metal plate would burst open, a giant madman in a hockey mask would run in, hack us to bits, and then try on my blue Hawaiian shirt (I assume).
There would be no escape through the keyless bolt-locked front door. It would all be over in seconds. No more us, no more comic, no more blue Hawaiian shirt (he'd probably stretch it out, too).
Just then, in the distance, I heard a train coming.
I had to think fast... What could I do? Should I make a weapon? Do I block the door with a suitcase? I tried to wake Shannon, but she was out cold from the exhausting drive.
My eyes darted around the room. The train was getting closer, and closer. Louder and louder. Without my glasses, I wasn't even able to see clearly. I needed to find a something, ANYTHING to defend ourselves. Where were my glasses?!?
The train blew its horn.
Why couldn't I find my glasses?!?! If I can't find my glasses, that serial killer will do his thing, dismember our bodies, take my nice Blue Hawiaan shirt as a trophy and undoubtably stretch it out.
I reached all around the floor on my side of the bed. Blindly grasping for my glasses. Where were they? Think, Jeff, think! Just then, I spotted my frames on the nightstand on Shannon's side of the bed.
I could hear the rumbling now. The nearby railroad crossing sign started to chime.
My glasses were too far away to reach. I would have to get out of bed or climb over Shannon to get to them. I would have to move and move fast.
The train blared its horn again, longer and stronger.
The glasses seemed an infinite distance away. My mind was racing, what could I do? Even if I had my glasses, what good would that do? Even if I had a weapon, the serial killer probably has a great deal more practice at killing than i do at defending myself. I would only prolong the inevitable. We were unprepared, and he's been planning this. He would murder us, take my shirt and stretch it out. My beautiful shirt gets stretched out and the two of us murdered quickly and efficiently due to his planning.
The horn continued. The windows began to shake.
If I did get up, and there wasn't a serial killer, I'd undoubtedly upset my wife who was absolutely exhausted. Plus I was really really comfortable at that moment. Fighting back would be useless. So when you think about it, by staying put and going back to sleep, I'd be doing everyone else a favor, one way or another. I was so comfortable... So very very comfortable...
More rumbling. The horn was almost unbearable.
So very comfortable...
I assume the train continued on its journey. I don't know for sure because that was the point that I fell asleep.
I awoke in the morning to discover that we had survived the night. The place was actually significantly nicer by the light of day, even if parts of it were going through a renovation.
I was afraid to tell my thoughts to my wife because she'd undoubtedly make fun of me. This was further reinforced on our way out when we managed to meet the person renting out the unit: an incredibly nice young woman who probably weighed less than one of our suitcases. I felt like a fool, so I wanted to put the whole evening behind me an just go to the party.
When we got there, I was finally relaxed enough to tell people the story. Everyone thought it was incredibly funny. That is, everyone except my wife who looked a little pale.
I asked Shannon why she wasn't laughing.
Without saying a word, she pointed at the sleeves of my blue Hawaiian shirt and walked away.
I looked down, and saw to my horror... My shirt had been stretched out.