In all of his six years, little Robbie had never stayed in a hotel before. In fact, his family had never actually been on holiday anywhere before; Mum and Dad worked a lot, for not much money, and it was always expensive for the three of them to go and see his grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Robbie was so excited. The hotel was a huge place on the shore of a massive lake; the sort of place that had a kind of faded glory to it that one only found in big, old hotels. There were roaring fireplaces, leather chairs to get lost in, and sweeping views through large windows framed by heavy curtains that were never drawn. People would mill around in the lounge, getting quietly drunk on beverages that were a touch too strong while conversation murmured all around. The older people would all get dressed up in suits and dresses for dinner.
Robbie’s family didn’t have any posh clothes with them, but nobody seemed to mind. Robbie certainly didn’t. The whole thing was strangely like going back in time.
The days rolled by and the three of them had a lot of fun just being in each other’s company. Mum and Dad even seemed to relax a little.
As the weekend approached, Robbie noticed more and more people arriving. Couples, mainly, but a few families too. Robbie wondered if he might make a new friend, but he had no such luck. Not that it concerned him; he was too busy exploring the grounds and going to the swimming pool. He’d never stayed anywhere with a swimming pool inside the building before and the opportunity was too good to pass up.
The only downside, if he was being picky (which he never was), was the bed. The hotel had got their booking slightly wrong, and it was going to be busy, so Robbie was left to sleep on a small, metal-framed foldable camp bed at the foot of his parents’ bed. Dad had come across as a little disappointed to start with, when they were talking to the man on reception who had a strange, exotic accent (French, apparently – how posh!), but Robbie had told him it was fine by him. Everyone seemed pleased. Mum and Dad even seemed a little proud; Robbie knew they had just wanted to make the stay special for him.
While he was content with the fact that the stay was already special just by virtue of being there, Robbie did struggle with that bed. He would never complain about it, but the thin, old mattress wasn’t quite enough to stop the heavy springs from digging into his back and shoulders at night. He would find himself tossing and turning and generally drifting into a light sleep at best.
One night, he heard the murmuring of voices in room 92, next door. He rolled over and checked his Mickey Mouse watch – 3am. He had never seen 3am before.
He tried to block the noises with a pillow, but it was carrying too much. It was a man’s voice – deep enough that the wall didn’t do much to stop it.
There was a creaking and a banging noise, almost like someone hitting a desk or slamming a door. It repeated, again and again.
Robbie started to worry. Was something bad happening in room 92?
The noise didn’t stop. If anything, it got louder and sped up. A woman’s voice joined in.
She seemed to be yelling “Honda! Honda!”
Robbie recalled seeing a new couple in the lounge that night. They were young and kept themselves to themselves, but they were definitely talking about how bad their car had been on the drive over, and the fact they should replace it.
Robbie put two and two together. They must have carried on drinking and discussing. Now they were back in the room, the argument must have turned angry. Perhaps even violent. The man did seem to really want a BMW earlier on, after all…
Robbie woke Mum and Dad. He told them he thought something teerrible was happening next door. An argument getting out of hand.
They listened as the noise grew in intensity and reached a frantic pace.
“Honda! Honda!” More rhythmic thudding. A moan. That poor woman…
Mum and Dad looked at each other. Robbie could only just make the shape of their heads out in the dark. He couldn’t see their embarrassment. They couldn’t see his genuine concern.
With one final, almighty creaking, banging sound, silence returned to room 92. Someone’s gasp was muffled by the brickwork and wallpaper.
“It’s OK, Robbie,” mumbled Dad. “I think they’ve sorted it out now.”