Tide Motel

Yuna gets a summer job at the Tide Motel. During a night shift, an unexpected visitor makes her question how straightforward her role at the desk might be.

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1. Tide Motel

 

Everyone knew the Tide Motel had the simplest summer job you could get. At least on this side of Jun Island. There were few perks but little hassle. The motel had eight rooms, each simple and made up of sparse white and wooden furniture. The rooms were small and easy to clean. Tide's manager was always busy and often away from the hotel. This was the perk for anyone minding the front desk. They held the keys to the eight-bedroom kingdom.

Yuna had been hired for that very easy job. She couldn't understand it - the pay rate was good, it required no experience, and yet she had been the only one who had applied. Three days later, she now thought she knew why. Simple was boredom. Endless boredom.

It was not the kind of monotony she had experienced before. She had thought she would have adapted well. After all she had grown up here. All businesses, not just the Tide Motel, rarely saw much business in these winter months. Jun island was a small dot on the map, a few miles off the coast. Most agreed it was not worth the costly ferry trip.

Jun Island had a handful of locals stretched along the land. The locals were happy to keep to themselves. This bubble was only rarely distributed by a puzzled European tourist or teenage backpacker. The small crowd usually came in search for something not on the travel websites. What they found was this - hotels that charged extortionate rates for poor service and beaches lined with stones and sticky seaweed.

Yuna had been warned in advance about how to deal with hot and bothered guests. She thought at least a hostile complaint would be more entertaining to handle than pacing the empty corridor.

It had been boring, but tonight had a hope of being different. Tonight was her first night shift.

Yuna was not supposed to do night shifts. At seventeen she was officially too young for a start. She was not qualified either. Matthew, the manager, had been adamant he wouldn't have put her there if there had been any other choice. Moments later he had left the island with a family crisis. Yuna was now in charge with only a few days of experience to her name.

Honestly, she didn't know why he was worried. There were no guests checked in. She was a guard dog. Her job was just to make sure no one broke in and robbed the hotel.

The blue door creaked as someone entered the reception. Yuna glanced at the clock - 7.50pm. Yuna could have smiled with relief at some company.

The figure wore a thin blue beachdress. A large fur coat was draped on her forearm. It was silver with dark spots. For baggage she only carried a small metallic purse. The guest had big dark eyes, almost black in colour. The most prominent feature of her face was a long round nose with a stubby end. Although she seemed young, every hair on her head was silver.

"Room for one please." A flitting voice said. She cleared her throat deeply as if she was remembering how to speak.

"We have Room 8 available, a deluxe single." Yuna replied with her 'welcome' smile. The guest could have any room she wanted.

"That sounds perfect." The guest said. "It's a special night for me."

"Are you a tourist?"

"Oh no, I'm sort of local to here." The guest replied. Yuna frowned. She knew just about everyone on the island and she had never seen this women before.

"Oh really? Which part?"

"By the sea. We run in different circles..." She drifted off. "It's a whole different world there."
 
"Sign your name here please," Yuna said, gesturing to the form.

The guest signed under the name S.Harbor, but Yuna did not think this was real. The guest paid upfront with large bills and Yuna handed her the key, wishing her well for the night.

Who had a special night alone in a motel room?

The guest moved with such grace it was not until Yuna watched her walk away that she realised the guests had no shoes on. Small flecks of sand were left along her path of footsteps. Yuna sat at reception with her mouth slightly ajar. This was not the sunburnt tourist she had been taught to fear.

This was different; the guest was magnetic.

From her room the guest was silent.There was almost no hint of movement aside from a few slight noises: the mutter of the old T.V set and the shutter of blinds. The guest never left her room. The Do Not Disturb sign hung menacingly on the door handle.

Later the phone rang.

"Sorry to disturb you," The guest apologised through the phone. She was only a few feet down the hall. "I was wondering if I could trouble you for a little midnight snack."

"Of course," Yuna said. "What can I get you?"

"A glass of warm water, three sachets of salt, and... Number Two Meal Fish and Chips set. I'll have Herring for the fish, and no chips. No batter on the herring and please as lightly cooked at possible. I like it almost raw. Bones are fine."

"Coming right up."the guest hung up shortly after and finally Yuna had a task. It was part of the night staff's job to prepare any snacks. Yuna hadn't been tested yet. She headed to the kitchen and poured out the drink, laying the salt beside it. The food was kept in freezer as ready meals. She skimmed the breadcrumbs off the fish and kept it in the microwave until the ice had melted. Not a moment more.

"Thank you, it's perfect." The guest said as Yuna handed over the plate. She barely opened the door enough to show her face. The guest took the food sharply and retreated.

It was 4:30am, in Yuna's final hour of her shift. The sunrise would begin soon, light cracked through the slits of the blinds. Yuna woke up, her face had keyboard indents from falling asleep at the desk. The guest gently nudged her.

"Sorry to wake you. Thank you for everything. I had a wonderful time." The women placed down her keys and wished Yuna well.

"Actually, it's not our policy to-" Yuna began, worried it would bring her trouble. The Tide Motel had a policy of checkouts. 4am was hours too late. She stopped herself. Who was she to put up a fight? The women left.

Where did someone go at four in the morning? There were no street lights or another soul out in the cold Jun Island nights.

Yuna sighed. She would never know. Unless, Yuna thought, I follow her.

Grabbing her coat, she quickly locked up the motel and followed the figure in the distance - heading towards the shore. It was a ten minute walk to the water and Yuna followed cautiously. The morning was still dark and gave her a little disguise. The waves were riotous tonight.

Finally, they reached the sand. The guest still hadn't spotted Yuna. The figure paced towards the rocky face. When she reached a small cave, she stopped. The guest headed into the mouth, clutching her fur as she walked. She then tucked her purse underneath a small rock. To Yuna's surprise, the figure headed into the dark and stripped off her beach dress.

Then, there was nothing. Yuna did not know how long she waited. In the cold of the moment any time spent was unbearable squinting in the dark. The guest must have been a homeless women, or a lunatic. Yuna had been stupid to follow her.

She was just about to head back - her body had turned to face the motel - when out of the corner of her eye she saw a shape. It was no longer human. The body was large and rounded, and it moved in a slow motion along the sand.

Yuna saw what she thought to be the shape of a seal. It couldn't be. They were not native to the island. Still the figure headed into the rough sea.

In the last minutes of night, the guest was gone. The waves lapped lazily under a red sunrise.

***

Yuna's next shift was a Monday morning, and she pulled out her headphones as Matthew walked in, glowing from his time off.

"Hey, good to see you.We had the most random guest the other night. Cleared herself away by four in the morning. Isn't that crazy?"

As Yuna spoke about it, the more it felt like a dream.

"Oh," Matthew said. The smile slipped off his face. "So now you know, huh?"

"Know what?"

"Listen," Matthew sat down beside her, clearing his throat. "I guess there's something I got to tell you about our regulars... Or rather, the irregulars."

One thing was certain: Yuna would not know another boring shift at the Tide Motel.

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