Chapter VII: The Tale UnfoldsI stood gripping the railing, looking down at the double-door exit from the property. My wounds were quickly healing, much to my relief.
Just jump over the edge. Run for the door. Get the hell out of this madness.
The thought was a tempting one. I didn't want to do this anymore. Of course, that meant failing Therese. Which meant that Tung would remain in hiding. Unable to fulfil the obligation to Lacroix...well, I knew that this wasn't an option. My new unlife would not last long if I failed.
You're a big bad vampire, kid. Big shiny fangs. Grrrrr. It's just a fucking ghost. It can't hurt you. Well, not seriously. It's probably more scared of you than you are of it.
Well, maybe not. Convincing myself wasn't doing much good. Sure, I was a big bad vampire. And I was still scared out of my wits.
I straightened, turning to my left. I squinted into the darkness on the other side of the corridor.
It was hard to tell from this distance, but it seemed that a pale ghostly figure hovered. Watching me? I couldn't tell. I made my way over to where it stood, picking my way carefully to avoid the odd thrown vase. Where the ghost had been sat a small ornate table and two chairs. On top of the table was another newspaper.
'Lovely', I muttered. 'Look's like I'm dealing with a real charmer here.' At the end of the hall were two doors. Stopping at the first, I slowly turned the handle.
A child's room. Old toys still littered the floor, games and crayons. Like a hotel room at any family holiday anywhere. This room was quieter than the others, more serence. Protected somehow. I stepped inside, investigating further.
My eyes settled on a drawing, the edges of which were oddly burnt. The burn marks looked fresh, but no source of fire was apparent. I sniffed the air. No smoke, or the odd scent of burning paper. I picked up the picture...
...and just as quickly dropped it. Something was very wrong here. From the newspapers, two children had been murdered. And this representation of two children, and two adults...all normal, save for the demonic, wrathful male figure. The story was beginning to form...
I stood. If this was the childrens room, then next door must have been where the parents stayed. I closed the door behind me, hoping that at least that room stayed serene, protected. Wonder where those poor kids are now...
The door to the next room opened as I stopped at it, the handle moving away from my hand. Where the last room had felt serene, this room felt chaotic, malignant. Hulking menace, just waiting for the mouse to enter it's lair. I was no mouse.
I walked in resolutely. No bastard ghost was going to stop me from doing what was necessary. My freedom would not be impeded by...by a fucking sprite.
At once, the lights flicked off and the door slammed shut. The sound of distant, angry yelling filled my ears, the words a wasp's buzz. I waited as the lights began to glow once more.
The words were carved deeply into the wall. I stepped forward to touch them, feeling inside the gash. It must have been at least an inch deep. I couldn't help but chuckle. Some of what else had happened, that had been unnerving. This was bad horror movie material. I spat disdainfully on the floor.
'You think you scare me, you pitiful bastard? With your cheap parlour tricks? I've seen worse at a kid's halloween party!'
The feeling of malignancy in the room abruptly stopped. I smiled, wondering whether my words had been a slap in the face to the brooding evil in these walls.
I took the key, and left the room, giving it one last scornful glance as I did so.
As I emerged, I once again had the feeling of being watched. Turning to my right, I saw the female spirit once more. She hovered in place, raising an arm to the door at her right. She flickered for a second, then disappeared.
I paused to think about this. It seemed upon reflection that there were two forces at work here. One was hindering me, forcing me away, trying to harm me. The other was pressing me on, clearing my way, assisting me. There was something here that one party wanted me to find...and the other wanted to protect and hide from the light of day. I had a sneaking suspicion which was which.
The room was trashed, scorched and smelt. Upon investigation, a large wooden board was covering a hole in the floor. I pulled it aside to reveal the bar. The first room I had tried to enter. For...investigative reasons. I dropped down, landing on the floor with a solid thunk.
Another newspaper was folded neatly on the countertop. By now, it was just filling in the blanks. Children dead, parents also dead, presumed suicide. I looked up as a light in the corner blinked at me. It was the service elevator, the return light flashing. Seeing nowhere else to go, I opened the door.
I crouched into the cramped space and drew the door shut. It snapped into place, locking the mechanism, and the elevator gave a low humming noise as it descended down to the kitchen.
As I left the elevator, the book on the kitchen bench caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a diary. Curious, I opened it towards the end and read the last pages.
I closed the diary, feeling disgust and sympathy welling up in equal amounts. I hoped that when Therese exorcised the place, the husband was sent somewhere he deserved.
If there are vampires, and ghosts, does that mean that there's a heaven? A hell? Hopefully that's where Ed is going...then again, once we die...where do we go?
I dismissed that thought. Unimportant for now, and not pleasant. My eyelid twitched as I heard another noise. I groaned, as several of the large cans on the shelves began to rattle, shaking violently.
The first can caught me by surprise, pinging me above the ear as it slammed into the wall, crumpling and falling to the ground. The next I ducked, watching it whistle by.
Looks like Ed is taking the gloves off.
The second I finished that thought, an entire shelf detached from the wall and toppled over where I was standing. Managing to duck and roll, I narrowly avoided being crushed as it hit the floor with a tremendous crash, spilling liquids of varying hues onto the ground as the cans punctured. I stood, and ran towards the door.
Searing heat burnt the left side of my head as the stoves all simultaneously caught fire, the flames reaching to the ceiling. I felt the skin of that side of my face begin to bubble. I hissed in pain as I wrenched the door open, and slammed it shut behind me to ward off some of the heat. I groaned, feeling the mess the left side of my face had become. I reached into my pack and drew out a bloodpack, hoping an energy boost would increase my healing rate. I drank deep, gulping the claret down, feeling my wounds begin to knit, the scarred and burnt flesh regaining it's usual shape. Relieved, I scanned the room. I was in some kind of pantry, which was also beginning to heat up. The only exit I could find was a small grate covering a vent; I smashed it open and crawled in.
I crawled through the ventilation system, the sound of various metallic objects being thrown against the vent, creating dents where my hands and feet had just been. Obviously Ed was getting vexated, for this prolonged attack. I wondered how long he could keep it up. I pushed open the grate at the end of the vent, and stepped into a small square room. A ladder led up the side, up to a high ceiling. Must be the elevator service access.
I looked up in alarm at the sound of a snapping cable.
The elevator came hurtling down where I was standing, accompanied by the screeching of metal and bright sparks. I pressed myself flat against the wall by the ladder, and watched as the elevator crashed into the floor, cracking the nearby wall and sending the cable lashing out in an arc like an angry viper. Shuddering, thinking of the fate I would had suffered had I been a little slower, had I had my mortal reaction speeds, and climbed the ladder.
The only open elevator door was the very top one, opening into a corridor situating the smaller bedrooms.
I walked down the corridor until I came to a dead end, the roof having collapsed, preventing access to the room beyond. I turned, following a side corridor, reaching a room with another newspaper outside.
Murders unsolved? How ineffectual were the police investigating? I've been able to wrap this case up in half an hour of being here! Maybe I should call myself detective...
The room I had entered was the same as the one where the beams had collapsed. I didn't know why it had two doors, but it did. The beams provided a convenient walkway, allowing me access to the floor above. I scrambled up, levering myself up onto the floor with my arms. I stopped, looking in awe at the wall in front of me.
'Oh. Oh SHIT!'
Spectral flames burst through the wall, spreading out to cover the room. Compared to this, the kitchen had been like sitting in a blizzard. The heat should have been enough to melt the very stone, yet the stone was untouched. Only I seemed to feel the heat, but boy did I feel it. I jumped up, sprinting towards the door at the end of the room.
'That all you got Ed, you miserable piece of shit?'
I kicked the door open, running down the corridor. Flames burst out from either side of the corrdior, searing me where it contacted skin. Bizarrely, my clothes were not affected by the heat, only my flesh. I continued to run, coming to large double doors at the end of the hall. The flames joined in front of the door, seeking to prevent my access. I roared my anger as I ran, my head down.
I dove through the flames, crashing through the doors that splintered as I fell through them. Once again, in this room, supernatural activity was at work. This kind, however, was of a much different kind.
My vision distorted, the air shimmering in front of me. This must have been what the hotel looked like many years ago. Was this the female spirit's work?
I walked in dazed amazement towards a table at the end of the room, feeling as though someone had taken me by the hand and was lightly guiding me there.
The pendant. Somehow, I knew this was the person possession Therese needed. I picked it up reverently, silently promising the woman that she would be freed from her covetous husband. As my hand closed around the delicate chain, the room returned to normal, a burnt out husk. A roar of impotent fury echoed around me. Ed knew he was finished. I turned and ran from the room, making my way back through the corridor, jumping down the liftshaft, and prying open the door to the lobby.
The hall seemed more brightly lit, more friendly. As if the vengeful spirit was losing strength, and the prisoner becoming the warder, keeping the vileness at bay. I vaulted easily over the railing, and ran to the doors which swung wide for me. They closed as I left, the lock clicking.
It had begun to rain. It felt oddly...purifying. I had a feeling that the poor woman's torment was soon to be over. I only hoped Ed's was just beginning.
Right, time to deal with Therese...