Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and Stephen King characters are the property of their original owners.
In the early 20th century, a man built a magnificent inn high in the Colorado mountains, seeking the wealthy, famous, and other noteworthy tourists visiting the American West. He succeeded in attracting these people that flocked to the elegant building with all of its numerous amenities inside this enormous structure, and with superlative scenery outdoors.
It was named the Overlook Hotel.
Time passed. The mountain lodge stayed in business through the rest of the century, with it finally being acquired by a corporation which emphasized the history and surroundings of their hotel in urging customers to stay there. The numerous deaths, murders, suicides, scandals, and some of the uncanny and terrifying experiences that happened to various guests and staff personnel at the Overlook were never, ever discussed.
Eventually, the corporation decided to close the hotel during the winters. Only a caretaker would stay at the Overlook during the off-season to keep an eye on the place. This year, the job had been offered to a former teacher named Jack Torrance, who accepted and moved into the hotel a week before it shut down for the winter. Jack brought his family along to the hotel, despite learning the last caretaker had evidently gone insane last winter, murdering his wife and children before killing himself. Well, that was a tragedy, but it had nothing to do with him, so Jack, his wife Wendy, and his eight-year-old son Danny settled in, with Jack being shown around his new job.
Danny was also busy. Without telling anyone, the little boy had learned he could see supernatural beings and occurrences that normal humans were blind to or totally ignored. At the hotel, a kindly cook named Dick Hallorann found out Danny’s secret, and quickly assured the child he hadn’t been dreaming or that something was wrong with him. Because Hallorann could see those uncanny things too, with what the cook referred to as ‘the shine’ or ‘the shining’, but not as well as Danny could. It was just part of the world, and like anything else, it could be good, ordinary, or bad. Good was fine, ordinary was okay, and bad was something to stay away from.
Hallorann was reluctant to leave Danny behind in the hotel with all its potentially dangerous strangeness, but the cook couldn’t stay. So, the man pointed out to the youngster that most people who’d visited here never had anything bad happen to them. As long as the boy kept away from the really nasty parts of the hotel, he’d likely be fine, and his mom and dad, too.
A few days later, the staff (including Hallorann) left the hotel. For the next few weeks, nothing seemed to be wrong at the Overlook, though Danny always had the feeling that something was watching him. Soon, the first snowstorm of the season brought down the hotel phone line and nearly blocked the road, with another, bigger storm forecasted to arrive the next day. Danny woke up in the morning with heavy snow and strong winds blowing outside. While playing in the building’s main lobby which seemed the safest place in all of the hotel, he’d often stare through the front windows at the blizzard.
Back at his play, Danny looked up in surprise at seeing lights moving across the windows. He dashed to these, peering through to gape at two cars there, their motors still running and their headlights on. Two separate people got out of their vehicles and headed towards the front door of the hotel. Backing up from the window, Danny thought of running to get his mom or dad. Before he could move, the main door opened, causing the boy to instinctively duck behind a lobby armchair and peek from behind this at the very strange people now inside the hotel and brushing off snow from their shoulders.
A young woman, not as old as mom, kind of pretty despite having a growly face, was looking hard around the lobby. She yanked off her knitted cap and slipped out of her leather coat, to then dump both of these onto the floor. The woman then said in a very disgusted tone, “Yuck. If Sunnyhell was a toxic waste dump, this place’s the elephant cage during the hottest day of summer after that big-ass bastard shit hisself to death in there.”
Danny’s eyes went as wide as saucers at hearing all those mouth-washed-out-with-soap bad words. The woman looked at the man at her side, continuing, “Red hit it dead on the money, Xan. Would’ve been a mistake havin’ her poppin’ straight in. Apart from settin’ things off right away and gettin’ the civvies graunched, she mighta gone black down to her toenails.” A concerned look flashed over the woman’s face, as she asked the man with the eyepatch (a PIRATE?!), “You gonna be okay, stud?”
Also looking around, the man absently answered, “Yeah, Faith. You know we learned that who’s here likes to take their time, draw the fun out. Somebody like that, they’re not gonna be expecting a blitz attack.”
“Guess so. Well, let’s get my job done, collectin’ the Cleaver family, includin’ that little booger behind the chair.” Without moving her head from looking at the man, a casual wave of the woman’s hand was made. It ended up with her pointing directly at the piece of furniture that Danny was hiding behind.
As both adults’ heads turned, a terrified Danny dropped to the floor and wriggled backwards, keeping the chair between him and those scary people. He had to get away, find mom and dad--
Snapping up his head, Danny saw them both now standing in front of the armchair and staring at him. The man who’d just addressed him in an unexpectedly kind voice looked a little bit concerned, which was a pretty strange expression with that really cool eyepatch-- Without thinking about it, Danny did the thing inside his head. He looked with his shining at his watchers.
Brilliantly glowing with a pure white light radiating from his metal armor covering his entire body, a knight worriedly peered through the open front part of his helmet, the man’s visor pushed up to his forehead. He easily held in one hand a long, sharp broadsword. In the other hand, there was a large shield which had on its face the goofy image of the Hanna-Barbera character Scooby Doo--
“Geez, Xander, half-pint’s settin’ off alarm bells in my skull. If I didn’t believe what that cook guy told us then, I sure as shit do now,” rumbled the enormous, pure-black cat bigger than any tiger that ever lived. She was at ease sitting on her haunches, with her tail daintily curled up around her rear legs and only slightly twitching at its tip. The blazing-golden eyes of the majestic feline steadily watched the amazed boy. “Kid’s gonna be hell on wheels in a decade, plus he’ll make every Slayer think ‘bout droppin’ their panties just to get him interested. We better plan to armor-plate his bedroom door.”
Danny blinked. His vision immediately changed back to seeing the two people there in their normal appearances, with the man next giving the woman smirking at him a very exasperated look. Shifting his gaze back to the boy still staring at them both, the now-sheepish man hastily said, “Danny, right? Mr. Hallorann got in touch with us and explained about you, which is why we’re--”
The adults in front of him didn’t even twitch at that loud shout, though the boy himself abruptly twisted his head around to look back in relief at his nervous parents striding forward through the lobby. Daddy stopped in front of the visitors, giving them both a wary look. Mom grabbed him in her embrace, leaning down to give him a quick kiss on top of his head which made him unexpectedly squirm away. He wasn’t a baby anymore! Besides, that woman there was now giving him a very slow wink that made him smile back at her.
During the adult talking between Daddy and the other man, plus the staring contest between Mom and what was her name -- Faith?, Danny prudently kept quiet, until Daddy started angrily shouting.
Another slow wink was then sent towards the boy. The brunette woman said under her breath that Danny still heard, “My cue, kiddo. Don’t worry ’bout a thing, I’ll getcha outta here.”
Danny and his mother at the boy’s side watched in puzzlement the female now striding over to where Daddy was really yelling at the other man standing there in his relaxed position, calmly regarding the furious father. The rest of the Torrance family abruptly became flabbergasted at what they saw. Though, not as much as Jack Torrance himself, considering what he was going through at this exact moment.
His kicking shoes dangling a few inches off the ground, the stunned father managed to turn his head slightly in absolute disbelief at the shorter woman who’d grabbed the collar of his flannel shirt and then had effortlessly lifted him up just by her right hand from the hotel lobby floor. She just as casually held him in the air at her full arm’s length without any strain whatsoever.
Jack unthinkingly jerked his left arm towards the woman, only to instantly stop at the other man’s deadly tone. “You even take a swing at her, you’re really not gonna enjoy what happens next. Okay, everybody leaves NOW!”
At that resolute command, the woman carrying Daddy stepped over to the rest of the family, unceremoniously bringing her spluttering burden with her. The other hand was used to make a shooing motion towards the front door. “C’mon, there’s coats and everythin’ else ya need in the car. Won't be no prob gettin' through on the road, ’specially since I’m gonna be drivin’.”
Despite herself, Wendy moved along, clutching Danny’s hand in her own firm grip, while still protesting, “But, our stuff--!”
The other woman herding the Torrance family towards the door said in an iron-hard voice, “Anythin’ but what’s your blood and family can be replaced. You damn well hear that, Xan?”
At that last statement, she’d flung her own glance over her shoulder, causing Danny to twist around while being hauled along towards the front door and also look behind himself.
The man referred to as Xan standing in the hotel lobby and rummaging through the pockets of his coat grinned at the departing people. Pulling out a large metal cylinder from one pocket, he cheerfully called after them, “Hey, no worries, Faith. I’ll see you and the others soon. Guys, everything will be explained to you in the meantime.”
The man’s gaze then fell upon Danny’s face peering around his mother’s left hip, as the door opened and a blast of cold air blew in. This time, it was the man who gave the little boy a confident wink.
Danny turned around to walk down the hotel entrance stairs, beginning to shiver in his light clothes. Faith at the back slammed the main door closed behind her.
The very last sound before this action which the child with the shining ever heard from within the Overlook Hotel was a gleeful, “HEEEEERE’S XANDER!”
Author’s Note: This is a prequel to the ficlet "An Unseen Presence" in my story "Yet Another Harris Hookup Disaster". I started it as an author's note along with all the others in the series introduction, but it just grew into an actual story.
Yes, the title of this story is a parody of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song, made into a R&B hit by Luther Vandross in 1981. The following is the property of their original owners:
A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sitting there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight,
And no one there you can kiss good night.
A room is still a room
Even when there’s nothing there but gloom;
But a room is not a house,
And a house is not a home
When the two of us are far apart
And one of us has a broken heart.
Now and then I call your name
And suddenly your face appears
But it’s just a crazy game
When it ends it ends in tears.
Darling, have a heart,
Don’t let one mistake keep us apart.
I’m not meant to live alone,
Turn this house into a home.
When I climb the stair and turn the key,
Oh, please be there still in love with me.