“Everybody hum something,” the short chubby green skinned demon with the red horns ordered, as he opened the door before they could say anything.
Xander started humming 'Row your boat' and the two girls joined in.
“Stop!” the demon ordered and waved them inside his apartment.
The hallway looked seedy and run down with faded carpet and dingy white paint, but his apartment looked as clean and new as a doctor's office.
“Stand here, here and here,” he ordered moving the three to white taped X's on the floor in front of a sky blue backdrop. “Fluff your hair out a bit,” he ordered them again, “pictures taken at the DMV always come out horrible, so mess up your hair a bit and try to look disgruntled.”
Lorne's cousin quickly took the pictures, pausing between each shot to make sure they weren't ready.
Moving over to a desk he plugged a cable into the camera and started typing on his computer. He didn't ask a single question as he typed in the data and printed out the cards.
“Give me the checkbook the vamp left in the jacket's interior pocket,” he ordered.
Xander checked and found the jacket did have a checkbook which the demon snatched up, handed him three ID's and pushed them out the door. “You're paid in full; have a nice day!” the demon said before slamming the door in their faces.
“My new name is Jack Alexander … Daniels,” Xander said reading the ID.
The girls quickly retrieved their cards.
“Randy Sue Daniels,” Randy said, “this is an awful picture of me and do I look like a Randy?!”
“Yes,” the other two chorused.
“Lydia Ellen Daniels,” Lydia read, “Lydia Ellen … I like it.”
“Definitely worth the price of admission,” Xander said pocketing his ID.
“We just got ID's for free didn't we?” Randy asked, putting her new ID away.
“Just about,” Lydia agreed, “and we better hurry if we don't want to be late on our next appointment.”
“We've got hours!” Randy said.
“It’s across town,” Lydia replied.
“Bus,” Xander said, heading for the nearest stop.
“Better than walking,” Randy agreed.
“I wonder what the laws on squatting are,” Lydia said. “If you reside on unused property long enough you can claim it in some states,” she explained.
“I doubt we can squat a motel, but it’s something to think about,” Jack agreed. 11:59 AM
“I hate the bus,” Lydia said, “the smells are horrific.”
“We need a car,” Randy suggested.
“Among other things,” Jack agreed, “housing first though.”
The three crossed the street and entered the grounds of the Hyperion Hotel. It was built during the 50s and bore a striking resemblance to the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.
Jack found the front door unlocked. “Yeah, this isn't creepy at all...”
The lights were on inside and except for a layer of dust the place was … clean.
“Everyone that's a bit creeped out say aye,” Randy said.
“Aye,” they chorused.
“The doors unlocked, the lights are on but nobody's home,” Lydia said slowly, “have we just stepped into a horror movie?”
“Yes, yes we have,” Randy agreed with forced cheerfulness. “How do I know this? Because the front door is missing!”
Jack and Lydia turned and saw she was right, where the front doors had been there was now a stairway leading up to the second floor.
Randy and Lydia glued themselves to Jack's sides.
A telephone rang at the front desk.
“Someone has to get that,” Lydia said after a minute or two of staring.
“Yeah,” Randy admitted. “Dibs!” she called out and stepped forward, Jack and Lydia coming with her.
“You guys don't have to come with me,” Randy said.
“Yes we do,” Jack replied.
“No you don't,” she argued, taking another step.
“We do because you haven't let me go yet,” Jack pointed out as he took another step forward.
“Oops,” she said and gave a nervous giggle before releasing his arm as she braced herself to move forward alone the phone stopped ringing.
“Oh well, what a shame...” Lydia said, grabbing Randy.
The phone rang again and the three groaned.
Randy slowly stepped forward the other two coming with her. “If you guys let go I can do it alone.”
“Not a chance,” Jack said, “splitting up is the last thing we should do.”
They approached the front desk, noticing the guest ledger next to the ringing phone and the rack of keys in pigeonholes for the various rooms.
“Three feet is not splitting up.”
“The front door vanished,” Jack replied firmly, “we aren't taking any chances.”
“Okay,” Randy said thankfully, reaching for the phone and coming up short. “We have to move closer.”
The three shuffled forward slowly.
Randy snatched up the handset, listened for a second and then slammed it back down.
“What was it?” Jack asked.
“Hotel California,” she replied.
“Joy, not only is the Hotel evil it has a sense of humor,” Jack groaned.
“I don't want to die a virgin,” Randy moaned.
Laughter bubbled up from the corners of the room.
“That's not good,” Lydia said.
The shadows thickened into solid black shapes that flowed through the room.
“Are those tentacles?” Jack asked nervously.
“I've changed my mind,” Randy whined, “I want to die a virgin.”
“Ditto,” Jack and Lydia chorused. 0oOo0
Betrayed once more the young mage decided he'd had enough and despite everything that was done, he'd found it child's play to collect everything he needed to vanish and never be found.
Okay, a little grave robbing was needed and he'd stolen enough secrets that his name would be cursed until the end of time... If they'd ever figured out he was the one that robbed them anyway.
There was also a significant amount of alcohol involved at some point … possibly, he was a bit too drunk to say for sure.
A whisper of voices and what felt like cobwebs against his face and he was beyond their reach.
“Ahhh!” several people were screaming, huddled together in the center of the room.
Seeing the tentacles and the guy attached to them he could understand why.
A half dozen spells were lazily cast, increasing exponentially the amount of room the monster covered.
“That's a slight improvement,” the dark haired man in the center of the room said, spitting out a mouthful of exploded monster.
A couple more spells and the place and people were spotless. “Much better,” the young man said, the two young women still not releasing him.
“How much for a room?” the mage asked, noting he was in a hotel.
One of the girls considered that before replying, “You can have a room for life for 5000 gold pieces, but I'm afraid all the service staff were eaten.”
“What rooms are available?”
“All of them at the moment, just grab a key,” she replied.
The black robed mage pulled a bag out of his pocket and tossed it to her. “I had about that much set aside for bribe money; I'll look around and grab a key when I find a room I like.”
“Suit yourself,” the girl replied cheerfully, “if you need anything just let us know.”
The mage nodded and left. 0oOo0
“Five thousand gold pieces?” Jack asked Lydia with a raised eyebrow.
“Five hundred pounds of gold should be enough to buy the hotel and give him a room for life,” Lydia replied. “Well, if it’s anything like D&D anyway.”
“That doesn't look like five hundred pounds of gold,” Randy said.
“Bag of holding,” she said happily having peeked inside already.
“We don't know how to run a hotel,” Jack reminded them.
“We only have one guest to take care of,” Lydia pointed out, “we can run the detective agency out of here.”
“I don't know how to run that either,” Jack admitted.
“But we can learn!” Randy chimed, getting into the spirit of things.
“Run a hotel for a single client and learn on the job to be a detective,” Jack said thoughtfully. “I think I can handle that.”
“We owe Lorne a huge tip,” Lydia said.
“Definitely,” the other two agreed. AN: Typing by Godogma!