Chapter XXXV: That which thrives in chaos
The motel was a cheap and nasty looking place, dollar rooms going for those with nowhere else to go. I opened the door, walking through the reception room, ignoring the man behind the desk. He furiously read over a large sheet of papers, scribbling enthusiastically, a smile on his face. Rapturously, he read a line in a raspy voice, making another mark with his pencil. I walked through a second door, and up some stairs to reach the rooms.
I took the key from my pocket, about to open the door. Inside was a strangled cry, and the brief sound of struggle. I wrenched the door open, looking in surprise as the body of a man was thrown towards me.
I looked at the body. He'd been killed quickly, the intruder panicking at the sound of the opening door. A hideous beast, with long, muscular arms ending in claws looked at me, screeching, before it jumped through the bathroom window.
On the desk was the card for a business in Santa Monica. I had a feeling that I'd be wrapping this case up soon. The body must have been Muddy. Well, he was of no use to Kilpatrick now, and even less to me. I rolled the body away from the door with a toe, leaving the room, locking the door behind me. I left the motel as quickly and quietly as I entered, and made my way to Ground Zero.
'This better be quick and painless', I muttered, opening the door.
Just like Muddy, the voice responded, with a cold laugh. I paused. Was this the first time it had seemed cogniscient of the fact I existed? Shaken, I stepped inside.
The building was nearly deserted at this time, a few hardcore gamers using computers in the corner, a man walking across the floor, coffee in hand. I took a look around for an unused computer.
'This'll do', I said to no-one in particular, grinning. Seemed almost like old times. Logging onto the system, I used the username and password Isaac had given me.
Meet me behind the Fast Buck at the end of the town. I want out of this shit.
The message had been sent about an hour ago. I logged out of the system, walking briskly towards the Fast Buck. This should hopefully be wrapped up quick.
The building was closed, but I heard muffled coughing coming from the side alley. Walking down it, the sound of ragged, panicked breathing became clearer. I stepped forwards, looking at the man. He was wide-eyed, flinching at every noise, his back pressed against the wall. I called out from a distance, alerting him to my presence. Despite my open movements, he jumped, giving a terrified gasp, before he calmed down enough to speak.
'Calm down man, it's ok. Isaac sent me.'
I looked at the man, raising an eyebrow. He was spooked. Very spooked. Seeing ghosts in your cornflakes spooked. Whatever he was involved in, he was so terrified he couldn't think straight.
'Jesus, I said calm down', I snapped, hoping to bring him out of his terror. 'It's ok, Isaac sent me. Got that? Isaac. He sent me for the tape.'
That's it. I hissed at him, anger rising inside me.
'What the hell is wrong with you? What's got you so scared?'
'It can't be that bad can it? It's just a tape. I mean, assuming no long haired girls come out of the TV after you watch it.' I joked, trying to relieve the man's discomfort to some extent. It failed miserably, his eyes darting to the shadows, his voice a strangled moan.
I had that same sinking feeling I had felt with the plague bearers. This didn't feel good. This felt wrong, sinister. It explained why a high-ranking vampire would be interested in it.
'Ok, tell me about the tape.'
'Mate, you're losing it!' I gave him a slap across the face, light, yet enough to get his attention, bring him back from the edge of hysteria.
'Sure, sure, you're out of it. Just give me the tape and you never have to worry about it again.'
'Wh-? The...the tape? I don't have it! Think I'd carry that around with me?', he almost shrieked, spittle flecking his lips. 'If you want it, find Ginger Swan. I'm fucking out of here!' The man shoved me aside, running down the alley. He disappeared from sight.
But not from sound.
'Shit! Oh sweet Christ...NO!' His terror echoed through the alleyway, yet there was another sound, more worrying. Underneath his voice was a reptilian hiss, like a throat gasping from air yet mad with rage. Then the sound of the man being dragge bodily, and the sound of a manhole cover being dropped. I ran to the alley, just to see the manhole cover fall into place. I didn't like this one bit.
'Better tell Isaac.'
'Isaac-', I began to say as I entered, yet he cut directly across me.
'You made good time...hand me the item'.
'Love to Isaac, really would, but unfortunately, he didn't have it with him.'
'Yeah, he belived his life was in danger. Funnily enough, he was right.'
Isaac looked at me with startled horror. 'You didn't.'
'No, I didn't. Cut me some slack, do I look like a remorseless sociopath?' I gave a brief overview of what I'd been told, and the man's disappearance. 'So', I finished. 'Who is Ginger Swan?'
'What a lovely story. Now, where do I find her?'
'You're a born comic, Isaac. I think I'll go see my medium, she what she thinks.'
I left the building, deciding that my eyes were playing tricks on me. There was no way that the refined, self-possessed Isaac had just given me the finger. Just my imagination.
There was something unpleasant here in Hollywood. Something that thrived on chaos, something more evil than your typical vampire. I could feel it, felt it resonate in my veins.
'Might as well fit in. Time for a spot of graverobbing.'