Serial Story: “31st and Blair Way” — Episode 1: Introduction

31st Street. The former playground for the upper crust of New Hendrick’s; a small farming town–turned–metropolis during the illustrious 1920s. Its five-star restaurants and chic boutiques attracted many wealthy figures to this location, but nothing was more attractive than spending a night at the crown jewel, the Golden Haven Hotel, located on 31st and Blair Way.

For three decades, this bustling boulevard prospered into one of the most splendorous spots in the country, but as we all know, where there is money, there is sin. Behind the glamor hid murderers and cults who indulged in their sick pleasures just out of sight from the public eye; it was not difficult given that they hunted easy targets. After all, who has time to care about a missing drunkard or a runaway harlot when there is a new cabaret performance every week? That all changed when the fiends grew bolder.

The fall started with a dead actress. Gloria Magnolia, a two-time Academy Award winner, was found in the Aphrodite Suite at the Golden Haven. She was well loved for her kindness and often hosted charity events for hospitals. However, she also had a “playful” side that got her roped in a handful of romantic scandals; the Golden Haven was a notorious spot for her escapades. 

Now, the murder shook 31st to its core, but not enough to scare them just yet. Celebrities attract crazy company; it was bound to happen with Magnolia’s behavior. However, another body was found outside a casino. This time the victim was a local real estate agent. Then a mother went missing after her shift at the library. Her body was dumped behind a restaurant, mangled beyond recognition. Then another kidnapping, another murder, and another, and another.

Eventually, people caught onto the fact that their peace was broken and fled for the suburbs. With the good folks gone, the monsters crawled out from the shadows to play. 

The most violent gang, Lucifer’s Men, took over the hotel and turned the shining gem into their den of debauchery. The group’s goons would kidnap innocent victims in broad daylight and drag them back to their headquarters to be tortured. It’s unknown what exactly took place inside those walls, or how many people they kidnapped, because not a single victim escaped alive. 

Luckily, in the late 1960s, federal police managed to eradicate the gang, and as a result, many smaller factions left the area as well. Upon their investigation of the former hotel, authorities only shared that they discovered evidence of satanic rituals and gruesome human sacrifices. Most of the details have been classified on the highest level. 

Despite the discovered horrors, the city was ecstatic to have the gangs removed and believed everything went with them. Sadly, that was not the case.

From 9th to 56th, locals told tales of statues coming to life at dusk to attack workers passing through on their way home; hulking figures prowled the streets at night for women and children. Some even claim to have seen ghosts wandering the vacant storefronts asking why nothing is open. 

The paranormal encounters instilled a new fear in the city. Even now, almost half a century later, no one dares to even drive through the street during the day. All newcomers are advised to do the same. Most listen. 

Except for this lad who didn’t get the memo.

 Zander Colt. A lively young buck fresh from the apple orchards with as much experience in the city as rocks have with walking. The brunette moved into 31st and Blair Way knowing it was the former murder hotel, but the rent is four times below the national average. 

If you asked him what the worst part of his housing choice was, he would say the two-mile walk to the nearest Walmart was annoying. The trek was fine, but he hated how people stared at him as he came to and from 31st street. The blogs he read online were unnerving, but nothing happened after three weeks of living there, which made him skeptical of the stories. 

Here he is now, kicking up pebbles as he jams out to Red Hot Chili Peppers blasting from his airpods, on his way home from another shopping trip. Unfortunately, he also becomes blind to his surroundings when he grooves to music.

As he passed the rusty archway to a small, desolate park, he failed to notice a statue of a well-dressed man sitting on the edge of the broken fountain. Nor did he notice the heavy clicks of footsteps following him moments later. He simply continued to bob his head to the music. 

The statue leisurely followed but stayed within arm’s reach of the oblivious Zander. It knew the lad would stop at the upcoming intersection. 

Zander did indeed pause to check for any incoming cars, which is when the statue reached out. 

A heavy hand suddenly grasped his shoulder. Zander released a shrill yelp and jumped away. He hastily spun around to see the statue standing behind him; he breathed a sigh of relief. 

“Jesus, Eddie! You promised you wouldn’t do that,” Zander said as his body relaxed.

 “Damn, you walked right past me. How did you miss it?” the statue “Eddie” asked with an amused yet water stained smile.

“I was spacing out. Got lost on a Californication.” Zander took a moment to remove his airpods and pause his music. “But anyway, you doing good?”

Eddie stepped beside the man. “No, the old hag is on my case about rent payment. She knows most places won’t hire me, but she’s been more bitchy than usual.”

“Is she going to force you to renovate the place with no pay again?”

Eddie shrugged his shoulders.

 “She should just hire you as her repairman and pay you with free housing,”  Zander replied as the pair continued walking. 

They gossip about their landlord for a couple blocks before discussing their work grievances. Zander had a passion for music since he was little and decided to be a DJ. Unfortunately, his tastes did not vibe well with the country culture of his home town, which pushed him to move to the city. He expected to be flooded with gigs upon his arrival, but he’s only performed three times so far.

Whenever Zander complains about his lack of offers, Eddie always laughs and tells him “he’s lucky to have anything.” Unlike Zander, Eddie has not worked in years, which is why his rent is often paid in favors.

Eventually, the pair made it to the entrance of their home. Per usual, Zander stopped to look at the yellow concrete exterior and imagine it back in the hotel’s prime. There were images online, but his artist brain was curious about what it was like to see its supposed beauty in person. 

Zander snapped back to reality when Eddie called him over; he was waiting expectantly with the door open. 

“Sorry, sorry,” he said and quickly entered the building. Eddie rolled his eyes as he followed. 

“If you stay in your head all day, something bad is going to sneak up on you.”

Indeed, something will.