Authors: Alan Spencer
This book is dedicated to Tim Marquitz. Without his advice and direction early on in my writing endeavors, I wouldn't have made it this far. You the man, Tim!
The situation concerned room 313.
Any situation from that room indicated death.
Room service workers for the facility were equipped with simple devices resembling beepers that punched them in and out between duties. It’d been a full hour since service worker Joan Hetley reported her status. That was far too long by protocol’s standard. Ready to track down the woman, facility director Carl Brenner stalked the hallways that resembled those of a premiere hotel. It wasn’t long before he stopped at the metal pushcart parked in front of 313. The cart carried this evening’s meal selection: bloody rare steak. Imagining raw meat, Brenner knew Joan’s body was most likely hidden inside the room.
And in many pieces.
When will these people learn to defend themselves?
They know the risks involved in this line of work.
There would be no investigation into Joan Hetley’s death. The vampire responsible wouldn’t be punished. This resort for monsters was their playground. They could do as they wished as long as they didn’t escape the premises. The workers were trained to protect their own lives, and if they died, it was their own damn fault, he reasoned.
Brenner’s task was damage control. For the rest of the staff to see a fellow worker’s bloody corpse would dampen their spirits. The staff understood that people were slain on duty, but if the deaths could be kept discreet, it was all the better for productivity and morale.
Getting on with the job, he knocked on the door and waited for a reply. The voice was a knowing slither. “
“Mr. Sorelli, I’m coming in.”
“Wait. I’ll clean up the body myself. It’ll be a nice and tidy package. A gift from me to you. You work much too hard, Mr. Brenner. You’re underappreciated. You don’t need to come in here.”
“Forget about appreciating me. This is my job. I’m coming in for the corpse.”
Mr. Sorelli lost his patience. “Fine, take her away! I’m done with the bitch. Not a drop of blood left in her body. She screamed so much.
Oh, how she screamed
. It turns me on when they carry on like that. I just can’t hold back when they bay in agony. Oh, it’s so nasty.”
Brenner used his universal card key and unlocked the door. He was ready for an altercation, though he’d worked at the complex for twenty-five years, and there was an understanding between him and the guests. He protected the vampires’ best interests—namely the replenishing of the copious servings of blood and human game on a daily basis—and the rest of the ghouls’ needs at this resort. It’d be a mistake to bite the hand that feeds, and the monsters knew it.
Brenner edged open the door a fraction. His body was bent to become a battering ram if Mr. Sorelli shot out at him.
Before entering, he declared, “I’m coming in. Stand back.”
He raised his 9 mm pistol so it was the first thing crossing into the room. That sent the vampire into retreat. The vampire’s bedroom door slammed. Brenner briefly caught a naked back. The gleam of a shaved head. The blue veins streaking ivory flesh in twisted web designs. The almond-shaped nails protruding from its hands and feet. Mr. Sorelli’s eyes were completely black except a straight, olive-green line down the middle. Blood drenched the vampire up to his elbows, his belly distended with its fill. The vampire’s maw was caked with strings of flesh.
Mr. Sorelli shrieked, “Damn that weapon! Face me as you are! Coward!”
Scaring the vampires was his favorite part of the job.
“Go to bed. I have your mess to clean up. I’ll be done shortly.”
Mr. Sorelli panted in fever. The vampire knew Brenner’s weapon could deliver agonizing pain. It was loaded with bullets laced with garlic.
Assured he had a few moments to work, Brenner reached into his backpack and unfolded a thick yellow square. The fabric was rubber and polyester, what amounted to a cheap body bag. While setting to work, he admired the room’s fine accommodations: the bar, the five-piece, black leather living room set, the glass coffee table, the tiger-skin rug and the fully functional kitchen. There was also a four-person hot tub in the bathroom.
“Make it quick, Mr. Brenner,” Mr. Sorelli insisted, regaining his capacity to speak. “I have company coming over shortly.”
“Am I taking you away from this evening’s entertainment? You and your orgies. I’d be jealous, if I was a drooling beast like you.”
“Vampires come to lick the blood from my body. It could easily be you they lick.”
He stared down at the corpse on the floor. “No thanks.”
The vampire was hurt being turned down in such a direct manner. “You shun me. One day you may not.” Under his breath, he said, “One day may come sooner than you think.”
The time to chat had ended. Brenner began the irksome job. Joan’s body was slumped against a bar stool’s legs. She’d literally been chewed to death. The jaw had been broken, the eyes removed, Brenner guessed by Mr. Sorelli’s fingernails. Her throat was attached to the head by a single thread of gristle. The chest cavity had been excavated, the walls of the sternum broken into pieces and the heart stolen. That’s what the vampires really wanted. The life-giving vessel.
Joan’s final scream was forever etched on her face.
She had died suffering.
He shook his head in a weak attempt at mourning, then stretched out the body bag. Joan wouldn’t come back to life. She was far too destroyed to become a vampire. Otherwise, he’d have to cut her head off and burn the body in the incinerator.
The zombies would be disappointed if I had to burn her body. They never turn down anything that falls down the grub chute.
He fit the snug rubber gloves over his hands.
“You do a good job serving us,” Mr. Sorelli said with a bitter snigger. “Keep that in mind: you’re serving us. That makes you a step below us. You’re a shit heel.”
Yeah, but your hunting skills have gone down the crapper. Decades of room service has caused you to get fat and satisfied. I can easily take you.
He knew the vampire could read thoughts.
“The hell with you! I’d have you dead in seconds, and I wouldn’t drink your blood. I’d let your body go to waste. I’d throw your corpse into that infernal ocean with the rest of the bureaucrats and let the sharks devour you!”
Brenner lifted up Joan’s body with a grunt. “Go ahead and kill me then. You’d be doing me a favor. I’d be off this island.”
Joan’s head teetered backward and snapped off the neck. He hadn’t fully sealed the body bag. The head bounced under the bar stool. During each bounce, blood audibly sponged from the neck’s opening. “
Mr. Sorelli crowed, “How delightful!”
Brenner gathered the head, shoved it into the body bag and tied it off at both head and feet ends. The job was finished.
“I’ll leave it to you and your buddies to clean the blood…oh, I mean lick up the blood.”
“The offer to become one of us still stands. It always will.”
“No thanks, but good luck with recruitment.” Brenner hoisted the body and carried it in his arms. “The island would fill up pretty fast if you had too many vampires, and you know what that means. Survival of the fittest for the freaks like you. You’d be dead in a week. Maybe days. Maybe by tomorrow.”
The vampire was silenced.
Brenner lugged Joan’s corpse from the room. He shut the door behind him with his foot. He carried her down two halls, passing a vending machine equipped with blood bags marked by blood type and date derived. At the east hallway, a locked metal chute awaited him. He used his key card to gain access, placing the body on the carpet for a moment. The grub chute channeled down three stories to the sublevel. The zombies resided in that tomb. The stink was putrid and eye-watering.
He shoved Joan’s body through the square slot. She thumped, rattled and rolled during the long journey down. Brenner listened to the bag crinkle and be torn to shreds within seconds.
The zombies had their evening treat.
He headed back to his station two rooms down to clean himself up and await another service call from any of the three floors. He’d do anything to keep the monsters satisfied.
That was his job.
Dirty coverlet and sheets.
Empty bottle of Whiskey Moon thrown on the floor.
Wadded pair of stockings.
Discarded syringe in the trash.
Addey Ruanova pieced together room 16. The pigpen of cheap sex compliments of cheap prostitution. She slapped on her plastic gloves and began disposing of the evening of lewd fun. The Sunshine Motel on 32nd and Brewer Street merited this caliber of patrons. The prostitutes in Camden, New Jersey, were working hard tonight. The items were a firm reminder she was working the evening shift, what Junior Alverez called “bump and grind time”. He once told her, “People are screwin’ and the meter is tickin’. That’s why I started offering hourly rates.”
Hard work was ahead of her, jobs that included vacuuming, bleaching the bathtub, disinfecting every surface and making the bed to the standard befitting of an army recruit’s bunk. But the routine was disturbed when a question rang out from the parking lot, shot from cupped hands around a mouth. “Addey—hey, Addey, are you up there?”
She immediately recognized the voice. Deke Ruanova, her brother, waved her down from the parking lot. “Sis, come on down here! I need to talk to you!”
When she saw him, he was wearing that “I’ve been running several blocks and finally stopped” expression. He was dressed in a gray, oversize sweatshirt, the hood conspicuously drawn over his head. Judging by the number of times he’d bummed money from her or been in hiding from the police, she knew he was in trouble again, and it had to do with drugs or the selling of drugs.
Aggravated, she called out to him, “You better not be running from the police again. I don’t want anything to do with your gangbangers. Or do you need money for drugs this time? It’s drugs, isn’t it?”
It’s always drugs.
Deke’s frazzled face shaped despair. He was sweating in copious amounts. Withdrawal was setting in. His lips were too white, and his skin was chalky. She imagined his track marks were puckering open, begging to be satiated.
She tromped down the second-level steps to the parking lot. She was sick of him visiting her at her jobs and begging for cash. She scanned the parking lot and was confused to see her brother had vanished. “Where are you, Deke? Come on, I have work to do.”
A door was half-open on the first level. A crescent of light filtered onto the sidewalk. Guessing he was inside the room, she entered. She fired questions at Deke. “Do you want twenty bucks? Is that what you’re going to ask me? I don’t have more than ten bucks on me. Let me guess: I should write you a check for more? Well, screw you. I don’t have my checkbook on me.”
Was this how family treated each other? Carlos and Norma Ruanova were wonderful parents. Norma was an elementary school cafeteria worker, Carlos a security guard. They were native-born Mexicans who’d gained citizenship into the United States and started a family. Even good parents couldn’t shield their child from the local Camden gangs who corralled neighborhood kids by their promises of easy money. This neighborhood was one of the poorest, most violent cities in the United States.
Expecting to scold her brother, she was spring-ejected into a moment of horror by what she saw next. “What are you doing, Deke?
Deke, you shouldn’t be in here
The room was hotel manager Junior Alverez’s office. Deke was hunched at the steel safe underneath Junior’s desk. He was pouring sweat. He wore a pair of leather gloves, his fingers busy trying to crack the safe’s combination. “Watch the door, Addey. That’s all I want you to do. I’m not bumming money this time.”
He worked at the combination. Each time it failed, he cursed the box, punching the safe. His patience was growing dangerously thin.
“You really want to drag me into this plan of yours?” A sob snuck into her voice. “You’d do that to me after everything you’ve put me through? I’ve bailed you out of prison. Your gangbanger friends hit on me. Those idiots even cost me that office job a year back, and you’ve never apologized for it. Not once, Deke.”