Burnt Out


Tyler Davidson

It’s kind of cold being inside of a refrigerator. Brrrrrr. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Davidson).

“Humans have always been afraid of what we don’t know. Aliens, zombies, and other paranormal activity strikes fear into the hearts of many, but I’ve thought about it, and we should fear ourselves more than anything. Most people you’ll meet are trying to take advantage of you or get something from you. But, often the worst part is those who really want to make an impact and don’t understand what is happening only make things worse. The fear of the unknown drives us to be impulsive, making decisions our rational self wouldn’t make. This is all to avoid the one thing that will never fail… death.”

-Reflection from Case 109, Recovering Agent 253


It was 9:30 in the morning at Norwood Motel when two investigators arrived at the scene. The Norwood Motel was two stories high and formed a ninety-degree angle. The building must have been built in the 50s because it had clearly aged. The paint on the building was fading and the roof was in poor condition. There was an outdoor pool that hadn’t been used in quite some time. Leaves and sticks lined the bottom of the drained pool. To the right of the building and the pool was the parking lot. The motel manager’s house was in front near the entrance to the motel.

One of the investigators was a man around 6’1” and he looked like he was in his mid-thirties. The man had a neatly trimmed beard and his black hair was slicked back. The other investigator was a woman who was average-sized and she looked around the same age. She had brown hair that was cut to her shoulders and she seemed anxious. The man, on the other hand, looked eager to start working. They approached the manager of the hotel, who was in his late fifties. His hair had turned to grey or least what he had left of it. 

“Can you give me the rundown on the meteorite crash?” asked the man.

“You need a security clearance to access that information,” replied the manager.

“I am Special Agent Alice Parks and this is Special Agent Howard Chapman. We were sent to investigate the meteorite crash that happened last night,” said the woman.

“Well, the crash site is over by the parking lot. We have secured the area around the hotel. Nobody will be allowed in or out until we determine if it is safe or not. My name is Gerrell Butler if you need anything,” said the manager.

“Approximately how many people are on the site right now?” asked Parks.

“Well, the cleaning crew is here, so that is five or so. We also have around nine guests staying in rooms at the moment. There is also a journalist who is here to write a story on the crash. If you count us, we have eighteen,” said Butler. 

The investigators thanked Mr. Butler and turned to the parking lot to start working.

“Wait!” cried Mr. Butler. “There’s one more man who snuck in here this morning. I think he saw the meteorite fall from the sky and came running. He’s one of those paranormal chasers.”

Parks groaned and Chapman shot her a look. They thanked Mr. Butler again and turned back to start working. As they started, a man walked towards him. He was a younger man who was probably in his early thirties. He was a heavier man who had a grizzled beard but his hair was combed neatly to the side. The investigators turned towards the man and Parks scowled again.

“Hello, my name is Sal O’Brien and you must be the government agents. I was hoping to assist you on this case,” said the man.

“We don’t want—” started Parks.

“Alice, show the man some respect. But honestly, man, if you stay out of our way, we’ll stay out of your way. We aren’t looking for any help,” said Chapman.

“I don’t believe you know what you have gotten yourself into,” replied O’Brien.

The agents were confused by the end of the first day. They had learned nothing, not where it came from or the potential effects it could have. Frustrated, the agents went to rest for the night in the rooms the hotel had given them.

Chapman was exhausted and immediately fell asleep after calling his family to tell them he was fine. He thought about how great his stories would be about the space rock. He couldn’t wait to be the one who proved there was nothing special. His boss had made a big deal about this dumb case, but it was nothing special. He didn’t believe in extraterrestrials anyway.  

Parks didn’t fare as well. Her mind raced about what she had seen. The rock gave her a bad feeling. She didn’t know what it was, but she didn’t like it. Her last partner had told her stories of the strange things he had seen while on the job. Worse was that paranormal chaser who the manager had mentioned. Paranormal investigators were always up to no good, tampering with the evidence and making a big deal out of nothing. She was just ready to get out of here.

As she pondered the case, Parks heard a strange sound. It came from a nearby room. A shiver went down her spine. The sound only lasted a moment, but the sound that followed it lingered: a faint beeping noise that came from a machine. But eventually, Parks fell asleep with what she had heard on her mind.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Parks woke up to the sound of pounding on her door.

“Agent Parks, you are going to want to see this,” exclaimed a man who she recognized as the hotel manager, Mr. Butler.

She quickly got ready and went to the scene where he directed her. She noticed the paranormal investigator was in the parking lot as she walked towards the scene. Her partner had already arrived at the scene. The room inside was a mess. Furniture had been thrown everywhere and groceries littered the floor.

“Double homicide, Parks,” said Chapman. “There is no sign of forced entry and the victims are both in their early thirties. They were killed by damage to their heads. It seems as though their killer took them by surprise.”

The victims were lying near a refrigerator. They were laying on their backs with their eyes looking at the ceiling. Blood had oozed out of their head onto the floor. Their blood was all over the wall nearby and also on the door of the fridge. All of the shelves had been removed from the refrigerator and were laying on the ground beside it.

“Are you looking at those shelves?” asked Chapman. “I was told they were removed because all of the hotel’s shelves started growing mold and needed to be replaced. It was done before the murder, according to Mr. Butler.”

The mouths of the victims had also been taped shut. Both of the investigators knew this was not uncommon because it was often used to keep the victim silent. Later that day the victims were identified. They were both doctors who were staying in the hotel on the way to a vacation. 

“Do you think there could possibly be a connection between the murders from last night and the crash?” asked Chapman.

“I don’t know Chapman, but something’s happening. What do you think?” replied Parks.

“I think that we need to keep our eyes open. We shouldn’t be too trusting of anyone. Want to take another look at that meteorite?” said Chapman.

There was nothing different about the meteorite. While they were looking, they noticed Sal O’Brien, the paranormal investigator that they had met earlier.  He was looking at the room where the murders had taken place. The strangest thing was that he was not alone. There was also a smaller man who was probably in his mid-forties. The man was slightly overweight with wide shoulders. He was balding and he had no facial hair. 

“That must be that journalist Mr. Butler was talking about,” said Chapman with his face contorted with confusion. “I wonder why he is here.”

Later that night Parks was reviewing the case when she heard a knock on her door. She opened the door to find herself face to face with Sal O’Brien. He was wearing a suit that was neatly pressed.

“I was wondering what you found about the murder. Do you think that it could be related to the meteorite crash?” asked O’Brien.

“That’s confidential,” replied Parks. “Who was that man you were talking to earlier today?”

“That was Martin Miller. He is a journalist who writes for a local newspaper. He was hoping that I had found out something interesting about the meteorite so he could include it in his article,” replied O’Brien.

After this, O’Brien quickly left saying he had to work on a lead he was following in the case. Parks sat down on her bed. She didn’t know if the two were linked. How could a meteorite crash cause a murder? The meteorite is just another rock, right? She was just ready to get home. She knew that Chapman wasn’t taking this case seriously, he was probably in his room taking advantage of the cable channels the Norwood Motel had. He didn’t even need his job and O’Brien was probably better at it than him. Suddenly she heard a scream followed by a crash.

She dashed out of her room to see a commotion in one of the other rooms through the window. Parks ran towards the room, but she didn’t know if she was ready to open that door. O’Brien was already at the door and Mr. Butler hurried up quickly after her. Mr. Butler opened the door quickly. The room looked like a tornado had torn through the room. Furniture had been knocked over and two victims lay on the floor facing down.

Parks gasped. The crime scene was similarly arranged to the other scene. Blood oozed from the heads of the victim. The door of the refrigerator was opened and had blood on the handle. Condiments and other groceries littered the floor. Opposite to the refrigerator a window had been smashed. The killer must have used it to escape.

“So what did I miss?” asked Chapman calmly. “Some more murders?”

Parks shot him a glaring look. She didn’t have time to deal with him. The cause of death was the same as the other murders. A blow to the head killed both of them. Chapman later told her that the victim was an important businessman who was staying at the hotel on his way to a conference. 

“The killer ran out of time. The fact that he wasn’t able to finish the job is going to annoy him,” said O’Brien.

That night Parks couldn’t sleep. The murders disturbed her. She ran background checks on all the people who were currently at the hotel and none of them had a criminal record. All of them seemed like good people. Maybe this was related to the meteorite after all. Tomorrow she would call somebody who was more qualified. Maybe they could get the perimeter around the hotel lifted so everyone could leave. She drew the curtains and turned off the lights and went to sleep.

The next morning, Parks woke up and the room was dark. She stumbled out of bed and flicked on the lightswitch, but the room stayed dark. She went over to where she had left her phone to charge. When she checked the battery, it hadn’t charged. She quickly got her flashlight and got dressed. She stepped outside to a frigid cold wind. Clouds had filled the sky and it looked like it was going to rain soon. Parks hurried over to where she saw a group of people had gathered.

Almost all of the people had gathered around the manager’s house. A disgruntled Mr. Butler was answering their questions. As she approached she looked at each person carefully trying to remember who they were from the background check she ran. She noticed that Chapman, O’Brien, and Martin Miller were all missing from the crowd.

“Now listen folks. I’ll start up the power generator and this will turn the heat and some emergency lights on. I’m sorry for the current inconvenience,” said Mr. Butler to the crowd hastily before going into his cellar. 

The sound of thunder boomed as the rain started to fall on the hotel. The gathered people quickly dispersed to their rooms not wanting to get wet. Parks then noticed that O’Brien was standing on the porch of Mr. Butler’s house. 

“What do you think caused the power outage?” asked O’Brien.

“I really don’t know. I read somewhere that some people think meteorites can affect electronics,” said Parks.

“Maybe. I haven’t been focused on the meteorite. Those murders have been messing with everyone at the hotel. I think paranoia is starting to set in,” said O’Brien. 

“The killer has been strategic. His movements aren’t erratic. The murders have been planned out and thought through. I’m guessing he is burnt out and looking for one last thrill,” said Parks.

“Well I am going to look at the meteorite one more time,” said O’Brien “Be careful around here. It could be anyone.”

Parks headed back towards the hotel. She then realized that Chapman wasn’t up yet and it was nearly noon. Bam Bam BAM! A tired-looking Chapman answered the door.

“Where have you been?” demanded Parks “There has been another development in the case.”

“Slow down, Parks,” said Chapman groggily “We have been up late the last two nights and I don’t work as well without sleep. Why is the power off?”

“Well you would know if you had been there this morning, but we don’t really know,” replied Parks.

“Okay, let’s get back to work,” said Chapman.


O’Brien studied the meteorite once more. It was roughly the size of a car. The meteorite was colored grey with hints of silver. It didn’t look like the other meteorites O’Brien had seen before because of a thin gold line on it. He began to take notes.

After hours of work, O’Brien was approached by Parks and Chapman who looked worried and frustrated.

“Do you know why the power isn’t back on? Mr. Butler said he would get that backup generator working didn’t he?” asked Chapman angrily.

“I don’t know anything about that,” replied O’Brien calmly.

“We should probably go check on him,” suggested Parks. “Chapman, you should go back and review the reports from earlier.”

“Fine,” said Chapman.

Parks and O’Brien headed over to Mr. Butler’s house. The door to the cellar was still open and no noise came out of the cellar and the lights were off.

“Mr. Butler, do you need some help?” called Parks down into the cellar.

No one replied to the question. Parks and O’Brien headed down the stairs into the cellar cautiously. They pulled out their flashlights to look into the cellar. The light brightened the cellar. A body was lying on the ground motionless. Blood poured from his head. Parks and O’Brien rushed over to the man. It was Mr. Butler. 

“He’s still barely alive,” cried Parks.

They propped him up and thunder boomed outside. The rain began to pour and the roof began to leak onto the floor of the cellar. 

“It’s the man,” said Mr. Butler feebly. He coughed up blood. They tried to get Mr. Butler to say something else but those were his last words. 

They stepped back to examine the crime scene. The door to the refrigerator was open again. The scene was almost identical to the other scenes. The water continued to drip into the cellar through the crack in the ceiling. That’s when they noticed the message on the wall. Written in blood, it said The Mission is Almost Finished.

Parks hurried back to the room where Chapman was staying. It was about time they left this place. O’Brien had hurried off to do something else mumbling something under his breath. First, she had to tell everyone else in the hotel to lock their doors and be on alert. She was going to tell them to leave in the morning. Something was here and it wasn’t playing nice. Parks knocked on the door. Chapman opened the door and let her in. 

“Something wrong?” asked Chapman.

“Yes! There has been another murder. Turns out there is a reason the generator wasn’t started. Mr. Butler is dead!” replied Parks.

“Well I’m going to leave as soon as possible!” exclaimed Chapman, “There’s no point in staying here, because I think we got our answer. I’ll call Director Hughes as soon as we can find a working phone.”

“We need to remain calm. The killer is still out there. But first, we have to tell everyone that they need to lock their doors and leave first thing tomorrow,” said Parks.

After telling everyone, Parks and Chapman returned to the room. Parks sat down on the bed and Chapman paced around the room nervously. Parks flipped through the files one more time. Chapman started packing his things. He was ready to leave. 

“Calm down, Howard,” said Parks, “We can’t leave until tomorrow when everyone else does.”

“I know. I don’t want anyone else to die. I want to leave,” replied Chapman. He swore under his breath. “Stupid rock had to fall. I didn’t even want this case.”

He walked over to the refrigerator to get a drink. Parks noticed something in the file.

“Howard wait…” exclaimed Parks.

BAM! The door of the refrigerator flew into the face of Chapman. Chapman stumbled backwards. Blood poured down his face. Out of the fridge stepped a man. He held a knife in his hand. Parks reached for her gun but felt nothing. It was still in her room. The wind howled and the rain beat down on the roof. The man dove at Chapman and slit his throat. The man’s face was covered by darkness until he turned towards Parks. It was the journalist Martin Miller. He grabbed Chapman’s gun. Parks hurled a vase at him. He dropped the gun in surprise.  Chapman, barely conscious, kicked it with all his strength. Miller grabbed it and fired it. Chapman’s scream pierced the air. 

Miller turned back to Parks. She screamed. Martin fired the gun again. Nothing. It was empty. He swore aloud. He unsheathed his knife from Chapman’s body. Parks stumbled backward. She hit the bed. Martin ran towards her. She felt a sharp pain in her shoulder. Then it happened again and again. She kicked him hard as she could. Blood poured out of her onto the ground. Lightning lit up the room and thunder followed shook the room. Parks went for the window. A sharp pain followed. The knife was in her back again. She pushed at Martin. She ran but fell onto the bed. Martin loomed over her. He had a crazed, excited look in his eyes. He smiled at her. Parks tried to run but she could move frozen in fear. He raised the bloody blade towards her. BOOM! The door flew open and a bullet flew across the room. Two more followed. Martin stumbled backward met with two more bullets. Standing in the door was Sal O’Brien. 

Martin was now the prey. He turned to the new threat. He was met with another bullet. Six now lodged into his body. Frantically he dove out the window into the rain. Sal hurried after and looked but could see nothing in the darkness. He went over to where Parks lay on the bed. He quickly bandaged her wounds.

The next day an ambulance took her to a hospital but O’Brien couldn’t find her there. The only thing he could find was a message that said, Transfer Agent 253 to 53129834 for recovery. Meanwhile, Miller’s story on the crash and the murders became a sensation. O’Brien tried to expose that the meteorite crash and the murders were two separate events but it was too late. Eventually, O’Brien got a job as an investigator for the Department of Homeland Security.


Two figures talked in the parking lot at the Norwood Motel. 

“The humans have left us alone now. What is our first move?”