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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Dark · #1829756
An innkeeper and his family welcome guests.

Peter had been driving in snowy darkness for hours when a sign appeared.  "Stay A While Inn".  A sign to be put up and taken down easily; to attract business, or to avoid it.

"Only if it's presentable," Margaret volunteered.

Peter's eyes burned from peering through the snow.  His presentable would be different from hers.  He turned in.

The inn's front room had heavy pieces of furniture.  A tall slightly stooped man, and three women, appeared from the back.

"Welcome to Stay A While," said the apparent innkeeper, taking Margaret's hand.  His hair was thick, black and slicked down.

One of the women was blonde.  Two were dark haired, closely resembling the innkeeper.

"Yes, welcome," said the blonde, with a warm smile for Peter.

"We'll take your bags to your rooms," one of the sisters said, each picking up a bag.

"Rooms?" said Margaret.  "One's enough."

"Unfortunately, we only have two small singles left," the innkeeper said, placing his other hand over Margaret's.

"I didn't see other cars," said Peter.

"Reserved for regulars who visit every year at this time," explained the blonde, taking one of Peter's hands.  "You'll have a very warm night."

Peter was feeling warm already, but one look at Margaret told him that it was time to leave. 

"We'll push on a bit further," he said, withdrawing his hand from the blonde's, who reluctantly let go.

Peter and Margaret went out, but were back within a few minutes.  "The battery was dead," Peter said shaking his head from side to side.

"Good," said the innkeeper.  "You'll get to stay a while."

Later that night, he took the sign in from the road.  Two visitors were sufficient.

The blonde's prediction came true for both Peter and Margaret.  They were very warm before they ended up very cold.

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