Titilayo Olurin continues her short story, Room 36, this week. Do read part one here. Enjoy! A rat, one the size of a small cat, scurrying from under her bed to the bathroom was what made her scream. The door was shut, but it somehow managed to squeeze itself underneath. Quickly, she jumped from the bed and ran to the door that led onto the corridor, then to the reception, in a huff. There, she demanded for another room. “I'm sorry, darling, but you were told when you came in that it was the last available room for the night. You’ll just have to make do with it.” The voice of the receptionist had the same effect on her as the sound of someone scraping a metal surface or dragging furniture on an uncarpeted floor would. He had used the word “darling” an uncountable number of times since she arrived at the hotel and this time, it took all her will power not to reach across the reception desk to strangle him. It was bad enough that his voice jeered on her nerves, but to use the term at will and with sarcasm too when she was in such a fowl mood, she absolutely resented it. She stopped herself from uttering the rude response already on the tip of her tongue and pleaded instead, “Please, I beg of you. I desperately need another room.” He continued to fill the log book in front of him for what felt like an eternity, before finally looking up to give her a pointed stare. “Woman, I said room 36 is the only available room. Do you want me to manufacture another one? Hian!” When it became obvious that her pleading wouldn't make a difference, she returned to the room cursing and swearing under her breath. At the door, she paused to make sure that there was no rat - or any other rodent for that matter - in sight before stepping in. Soon she was slamming the door and leaning heavily against it, after which she placed her head in her hands and began to cry. Everything had gone so horribly wrong, from a hard day at work with a difficult boss and the agonizing traffic to returning home to find all her things outside and an unfamiliar padlock on her door. All attempts to unlock it or plead with the landlord failed. “Pay me the three months rent that you owe and I’ll personally carry all your things back inside,” was all the man said. Just when she thought it couldn't get any worse, nobody would lend her money or put her up for the night. The ATM machine down the street wasn't working either and it was too late to go in search of another. So, with the little she had on her, she settled for the hotel room. Her phone, which was still in her hand bag on the bed, began to ring, bringing her thoughts to an abrupt end. She stopped crying, but made no attempt to move. Then, suddenly, just as suddenly as she had started crying, she began to laugh, its harsh, barely recognizable sound, along with the shrill persistent ringing of her phone, formed an odd mixture resonating in her ears. By Titilayo Olurin
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