"Now Evie, sweetheart, do you want to tell me what you all got up to in Kids Club?"
"We just played games and drew things."
"Well that sounds like fun," Kate said to her daughter. "What sort of things did you draw?"
"It's in my bag," said Evie looking around absently, still trying to get her bearings on their second day staying in the hotel.
"Oh, is this it?" Kate pulled a piece of A4 paper from the bright yellow backpack but before she unfolded it she heard the click of a card in the door and her husband came in clad in the brightly checked golf pants that she had laughed at earlier.
"You still look ridiculous," she said to him. "How was it?"
He kissed her on the lips, smiling. "I am absolutely and truly useless at golf. How was your spa treatment?"
"It was heaven. So you won't be bothering playing again?"
"Oh I most certainly will. Just because I'm useless doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. What's that you've got there?" Mark took the piece of paper from his wife's hand.
"Wow, pretty gothic for a five year old."
"Evie," called Kate. "Evie, what's this picture of? Why is the clown so sad?"
Without looking away from the cartoon on the small television she had just figured out how to turn on Evie replied:
"That's Mr. Stinkybreath."
Mark spluttered out a laugh. "Ha ha, I think I'd be sad too if I was called Mr. Stinkybreath."
Kate walked took the remote control and muted the television. She put the crayon drawing on the coffee table and pulled her daughter into her arms. "He looks a bit scary.
Did they not have any nice colours in there for you?"
"They did have some but I used them to draw the circus. Mr. Stinkybreath doesn't have any colours. And he's only scary sometimes. He's just sad because the circus won't let him join them.
He follows them around. They're here, near the hotel."
"There is actually a circus setting up just up the road," Mark piped up. "Would you like to go to the circus, Evie?"
"I don't know Daddy, I know they don't let him in but I'm still a bit scared of Mr. Stinkybreath."
Kate rubbed Evie's shoulders and gave Mark a concerned look. "Now, Evie, there's nothing to be scared of. We're on holidays. We're going to have a great time.
Who's been telling you these stories?"
"They told us in Kids Club. He follows the circus wherever they go but they won't let him in. He just stays outside when it's sunny but if it rains he comes indoors to get you in your bed.
They taught us the rhyme:
He can taste your death
When it's dry he stays outside
But he comes to get you when it's wet.'"
"Jesus Christ," exclaimed Mark.
"Evie, who taught you that?" Kate put her hands on Evie's worried cheeks.
"The Kids Club people," Evie answered quietly.
"What? Was it the other children or the minders? I'm going to kill them, stupid little teenagers trying to scare children. I knew it was a bad idea leaving her there.
They're probably not properly trained or anything."
"Shhh, shhhh," said Mark. "Look we'll deal with it tomorrow. I'm starving and tired. Let's just order room service and relax for the evening.
I'm sure Evie will be in need of an early night after her big day."
"That's if she can sleep at all tonight after them putting such things in her poor little head."
Mark came round to the couch and popped his daughter on his knee and into a hug. " It's ok, Evie. Now, didn't you say that this Mr. Stinkybreath stays outside when the weather is nice?
Well I had a look at the weather forecast and it's going to be lovely and sunny just like today for our whole holiday.
Isn't that lucky? Now what you you like to have for dinner. How about fish and chips, wouldn't that be nice?"
Kate stared at the air-conditioning unit on the wall and wondered if she should try again to adjust it or just put up with the oppressive heat of the hotel room.
They had left the window open but Mark had still kicked all the blankets off the bed while he snored on his back.
Kate looked towards the little annex room that housed the small single bed where Evie slept and wondered if she should go and check on her.
The air was so heavy that she could feel the pressure in her chest.
Just then there was a guttural rumble in the distance and the sudden release of rain into the atmosphere seemed to clear the air and allow her to breathe with relief.
Mark fidgeted out of his sleep mumbling "What, what was that?"
He sat up rubbing his eyes. "Ah, my head is killing me."
"That'll be the heat," Kate replied, "and the four glasses of wine."
"At least Evie went to sleep. I thought she'd never drop off. Poor little thing was so worried about that horrible clown story."
As if on cue they heard their daughter cry gently from her bed.
"I'll go," said Kate. " Hopefully she doesn't wake up fully. She might get freaked out that it's raining."
"No, no," said Mark. " I want to get a drink, I'll check on her. I have to turn that wine into water as well, huh, huh."
Kate watched him head into the other room and heard him whispering softly.
She was about to call out to him and ask if Evie was ok but decided that if she wasn't fully awake it was best to keep quiet.
She lay her head down on her pillow and savoured the coolness that the rain had brought through the open window. After a minute or two she could feel the air in her nostrils getting cold.
She didn't want to catch a cold with the change of temperatures. She should close the window, but the bed was feeling more and more comfortable so she just pulled the blankets over her head.
She'd get Mark to close it when he came back.
Kate felt the blanket drawing back from her face and her nose twitched as a foul eggy smell pervaded it.
"Euugh," she groaned sleepily, her eyes still shut. "That's rotten, Mark. Maybe we should call you Mr. Stinkybreath."
The blanket slowly crept down over her shoulder and she felt water dripping onto her bare skin. She winced.
The smell became overpowering and she was aware of a wet warmth beside her ear as a voice spoke with a hoarse pleasure:
"I can taste your death."