Author's Note: I'm taking part in the October Spooky Writing Challenge 2018 (OSWC2018) on Tumblr, and I thought I might as well post my entries here too :) You can find the prompts on Tumblr. Come to think of it, you'll probably need to read them to understand what these short stories are about ¯\_()_/¯

Don't Open Till Morning

[OSWC2018 Prompt 1: Vacancy]

DON'T OPEN TILL MORNING.

Just four words. But what do they mean? Why shouldn't I open the door until morning?

I stand there with my hand outstretched, frozen in the act of reaching for the doorknob. Minutes tick slowly by. I stare at the writing. DON'T OPEN TILL MORNING. Why not?

Tap-tap-tap. The person outside knocks again.

"Who's there?" I say through the door.

No answer.

Is it the boy from the front desk? Is it the woman who told me to leave? Is it another guest?

"Who's there?" I call again.

Tap-tap-tap. The knocking is the only answer I get.

"I won't open this door until you tell me who you are."

Tap-tap-tap.

I back away from the door. DON'T OPEN TILL MORNING. That writing is there for a reason. No matter who – or what – is outside, I won't open the door until morning.

Tap-tap-tap.

They haven't gone away.

Is there anyone there at all? Have I fallen asleep? Am I talking to a figment of my imagination? Am I even in a motel, or am I asleep somewhere in my car?

I lie down on the bed. At least it's real. I couldn't imagine the mattress dipping beneath my weight. I couldn't imagine the warmth of the covers when I pull them over my head.

Tap-tap-tap.

Still the knocking continues. Hours pass. I toss and turn, chasing sleep that constantly evades me. The knocking goes on… and on… and on.

Will this night never end?

Tap-tap-tap.

The urge to open the door and face whatever is on the other side grows stronger and stronger.

DON'T OPEN TILL MORNING, the writing says.

But why not?