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April 22, 2024

Patterns in Blood 40

By Lydia Manx

Los Angeles
The Present

The men on the other side of the door were still pounding, shouting and, of course, shooting. They certainly weren't trying to be discreet. Some of their stray bullets were beginning to ricochet around the suite with little *ping* noises and I hoped everyone on the floor in the hotel was busy elsewhere. Nelson and I weren't firing back because we had no desire to shoot some poor soul sleeping across the hallway with earplugs in because that would be the only way all the racket could possibly be missed. My ears were ringing slightly. Nevertheless I heard yelling outside the door and more shooting, but now it wasn't aimed at us in the room.

"Well, Alanna, I am hoping that's our reinforcements, not some hotel security. These guys don't seem the type to give up easily." Nelson had a point. The sounds from beyond the door were violent and I resisted jumping, and instead concentrated on watching the door, as if that would prevent them from coming inside and shoot us. The burning scents of gunpowder from our shots and the coppery aroma from the blood spray from the man's arm were drifting into my nose slightly, making me queasy.

A few screams and wet-sounding thuds ended the impromptu firestorm. Since Nelson and I had only shot at that unidentifiable hairy arm trying to open door, we knew that we hadn't done enough damage to cause the thuds and stomach-churning screams. My mind mentally sketched out the bloody gun battle outside the door unseen but never the less fully detailed in my vivid overactive imagination.

"Quick, stash the rest of my firepower, Alanna. Just keep out the weapon you shot the goon with," Nelson barked while tossing all his toys back in his satchel. I didn't have to be told twice and matched him stake for stake, knife for knife and so on down the row of carefully arranged weapons on the floor in front of both of us. Time had seemed to travel in slow motion. Neither of us wasted any time chatting, but worked to clear the floor of the rather incriminating hardware. I was pretty impressed that Nelson really did know how to pack a bag for any eventuality. The flask of holy water was clearly marked and I hoisted it up saying, "Hope you don't mind if I snag this for my purse."

"Nope, plenty more of that in the plane." Nelson grabbed the bag from me and both went up on a shelf in one of the many closets in the pricey suite. It still amazed me how much space money could buy. The pillows and blankets up on the shelf were shifted quickly to cover the satchels. Nope, there was nothing to see up on that shelf.

"Do you have a license to carry a concealed weapon?" He asked while putting his gun in plain view on the coffee table. I briskly nodded. He whipped the laptop around so that the web cam was able to cover from the sitting room area to the doorway. I put the fired gun next to his and tried to relax. Tension would just escalate if I grew agitated my years of 'fun' with cops and robbers had proven.

"So then let's say that we see who's outside?" It really wasn't a question as he went to the fully peppered door and flipped back the safety lock higher up on the door than the knob. Even if one of the presumably dead men had been able to reach the handle from the outside he wouldn't have gained entry. I was pretty impressed at how much damage they'd done and still not gotten inside.

Once the door was open, we both leaned out, carefully peered over the bloody bodies of three men slumped in the doorway, and looked down the hallway towards the elevators. There were three of them; that set me back a pace as I'd only figured that there were the two we'd heard. Even though my imagination naturally had added hordes of others in the wings waiting to pounce on us, which didn't help my nerves much, but it wasn't like I had much of a choice at the time. Besides there weren't just Nelson's men, but also the hotel security in the hallway, and I could see in the distance management type of suited employees walking briskly ahead of the police. The half dozen or so suits were trying to keep the cops from shooting any of their staff. The conversations were hissed and snarled at each other. Oh, this wasn't going to be pretty.

"Let me do all the talking," Nelson said softly, while putting an arm around me and pulling me back into the room. I had no objection.

Once freed from Nelson's grasp I moved off a bit to the side to see what was going to happen. I welcomed letting someone else take charge because nothing was making sense. Three men just tried to shoot their way inside the suite and I didn't recognize any of them. They weren't vampires.

Having seen vampires die, I knew that simple bullets didn't do much but piss them off. At the Las Vegas massacre there were a more than a few vampires with guns and they used them to shoot the humans like fish in a barrel. Once they turned on each other, they shot other vampires with deep laughs and as I saw, other than putting holes in pricey clothing, there wasn't much in the way of damage done until the fangs and knives came out. That clued me in that vampires weren't exactly the easiest creatures to kill with much but stakes. They broke apart chairs like I had done and staked each other while some had wickedly sharp knives which they used and severed the limbs and heads off other vampires while slicing through their victims chests and yanking out bloody purple-black hearts. I figured that wasn't healthy for vampires but didn't exactly take notes. Later I was curious what did and didn't kill them but couldn't find anything helpful at the library or online. It's not like there are some good reference books out there to help teach me how kill vampires, which was why I pretty much have been avoiding Las Vegas and the rest of the huddled masses in the city, and I should know because I really did look.

"Thank all the supreme creatures of us from above that you are here. We welcome your shining faces and pure hearts into this dwelling." Nelson had slipped back into his mad cult persona, Brother Georgie Elliott. His guru speak was annoying at best but I guessed he needed to keep up the appearance.

The threshold was nearly slapstick with everyone's mad rush to fill the doorway after carefully climbing over the rapidly chilling corpses. The air conditioning really was first rate. I could feel the air rushing out the door to cool the hallway. I thought of getting up and switching off the system but didn't bother, watching the grim comedy acting out in the doorway. Somehow I doubted that was proper police procedure but I wasn't going to say a word if I could help it. One of the cops must have had second thoughts because he said, "Hey, careful you're destroying evidence!" I think he was talking to one of the suited gentlemen rushing in to see that their guest was still alive and bullet free.

"Brother Elliott, we are so sorry and embarrassed this happened! We will have you moved in the hour!" The first man in the door was a thin, nervous man who was on his cell and rapidly barking orders quickly to accomplish this. Nelson must have some serious points with his hotel program to have such pull. Nothing in the faces of the hotel staff made me think they even considered Nelson problematic. Maybe gunplay was common on this floor but I sincerely doubted it.

Nelson, aka 'Brother Elliott', regally nodded his acceptance of the manager's groveling and his men fluttered to his side to make sure he was really alive. Since there weren't any bullet holes in him nor was he currently gushing blood, I figured it was safe to assume he was unharmed. I thought that it was pretty refreshing to be considered part of the scenery instead of the primary focus of an investigation for a change. Men flapped and skulked behind each other trying to establish the pecking order. Little old me wasn't even part of the main focus. That was amusing to watch.

One of the cops snapped on some latex gloves and began to root around in the pockets of the three bodies in the hallway.

"Hey, can he do that?" One of the underlings of the hotel looked towards the nervous man and he asked in a higher register than he probably realized. His heavy framed black reading glasses did not enhance his ferret-like features. His thin pink lips pulled back over an overbite that missed being vicious because of a visual tick near his left eye. He wouldn't last long in pseudo-management until he learned to stress less or stop twitching. I doubted medications would work since it looked like the young man was simply wired wrong. I didn't even know the man and he made me want to smack him. That couldn't be good in any sort of guest relations' job.

"I'm not sure," the manager paced back to the doorway saying, "Hey, stop that until your supervisor shows up. I am not allowing this to continue," he then he motioned with his head to the security guards to make it so.

Wide-eyed I waited to see who'd get shot first. These men were in full testosterone rage. Something in my face must have clued Nelson in on my thoughts because he shook off his men and stood up.

"God's creatures, what are you doing? Light above, you must stop with this distraction from the issue at hand. These men are dead and their souls no longer in their shells; we must be solemn and respectful." His tone was the solid tones of a minister simply preaching to his flock. Nelson's voice was a weapon in and of its own right.

To my utter amazement they all froze and looked sheepishly at each other. With shuffling steps and half hearted shrugs they were suddenly all making small talk about sports and stocks in their unending attempts at faking real lives and knowledge. Nobody had said a word to me. I might as well have been a statue. Which suited me and was pretty incredible given my past and all the different brushes I'd had with the law in Los Angeles in my memorable past. Fake ID aside, it was more than likely someone had a report on me from my previous life and would soon put two and two together. I really didn't want to be here when it happened. Nelson wouldn't be able to put a smiley face on that.

So I was perfectly willing to fade into the couch and let the 'men' take charge when I heard a hiss. I looked over to see one of the minions from the hotel tilting his head towards the spare suite with an obvious jerking motion, he then walked over there and through to the next room without saying anything directly to me. Looking casually around I didn't see anyone actually catching the exchange much less watching me. I stood slowly and wandered out of the room to where the man had faded while trying to appear bored.

Once I cleared the threshold the man quickly shut the door. I then saw he wasn't a man but rather a boy who was self-assured but well under the legal age to drink in California. I did a quick glance at him and saw a few more stray tidbits to fortify my belief. A tattoo was barely visible at his wrist and he had pierced ears but nothing in the holes. This was an edgy teenager who went mainstream to get a job.

What had I gotten myself into? I knew I just needed to shout and there would be a half dozen or men in the room with guns drawn but still I was curious why this boy wanted to talk privately with me. I never had seen him before and he was nervous but defiant.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-08-25
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