Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 22

Jefferson and Temperance arrived at the door to room thirty-two, and again Jefferson was struck by the silence in the hotel. No guests in the carpeted hallway, no housekeepers at their work. A nearby rumble of thunder made him jump, and he thought Temperance did too.

Temperance set down her valise, then opened her clutch and put a hand inside to grasp the super .38. Jefferson put his left hand on the .45 under his own coat and reached out to rap on the door.

There was no sound in reply, and after another moment he knocked again, still straining to hear any noise. He glanced up and down the corridor, then at Temperance, before reaching for his lock picks.

“I’ll do it,” Temperance said, drawing her own set from the clutch. “It’s quiet in here, but we don’t want to be at it all day.”

She knelt in front of the door and began working the picks into the lock. The only sound in the corridor was the slight scrape of the picks, then there was something else.

“Hon, hang on,” Jefferson whispered, putting a hand on Temperance’s shoulder, “there’s-“

The door in front of them flew open, slamming into Temperance and throwing her back. A large, bull-necked man burst out of the room as she fell, already making the turn to head down the hall.

Without thinking, Jefferson reached out an arm and caught him across the neck as he went by. It threw the man onto his back, but his momentum was enough to drag Jefferson to the floor as well, and for a moment all three of them–Jefferson, Reeves, and Temperance–were tangled on the floor.

A wild swing from Reeves knocked off Jefferson’s hat, though he was barely aware of it–he was still seeing stars from the burst of pain brought on by the injuries Gantry had given them being awoken by the fall.

Reeves flailed at him again, making a strange guttural noise, but seemed more intent on getting away than anything. Jefferson grabbed at Reeve’s arm, but was thrown off–the man as strong as a bull. Both Jefferson and Reeves scrambled to their knees, and Reeves made another wild swing that would have done some damage if it had connected well. As it was, Jefferson mostly ducked it, seeing stars again for a moment as it skipped off the side of his head.

He drew the Smith and Wesson, and just as Reeves planted a foot on the floor he swung, hitting Reeves solidly on the back of the head with the butt of the pistol. Reeves lurched, falling to his knees again, and turned, arms going wide. Jefferson caught him another blow on the temple. For a moment, Reeves’ arms flapped vaguely as he tried to hit Jefferson, then he fell flat on his face.

Jefferson let out a breath, holstering the pistol and glance up and down the empty hall. “Temperance, you okay?” There was no answer, and he looked back to see that Temperance was slumped on the floor herself. He shuffled over, still on his knees, and reached down for her. There was a large welt forming on her forehead, and she was as limp as Reeves. “Temperance,” he said, lifting her head gently. There was no response, and he looked up and down the hall again. Reeves was sprawled nearby, already starting to shift slightly. The rest of the hall was empty, but he didn’t know how long he could count on the strange quiet in the hotel and town.

“Dammit,” he muttered. He snagged Temperance’s valise from the floor and reached in, past the Tommy gun to find the handcuffs she kept there. He stood and took hold of Reeves. The big man began to mutter snatches of Old Tongue and shift more as Jefferson dragged him into the room.

Jefferson stopped dead for a moment as Reeves’ heels cleared the door and it swung half-shut. Reeves had been as busy in the hotel as he had been at home. The walls were covered in scrawlings of Old Tongue. It was hard to tell what it had been written in, and Jefferson wasn’t inclined to spend much time puzzling over it–just looking at it was making him queasy. It looked like every surface had been covered, and that Reeves had moved a few paintings to give himself more space to work with. Jefferson supposed he could have done it all pretty fast if he’d been inspired, but the whole thing seemed to indicate that no one from the hotel had been in to clean for a while. That or they were all in their own rooms now, making similar designs. Huddled in the dim chambers, lights not on despite the fact that the sunlight outside had about disappeared with the approaching storm, writing, chanting, working.

There was a crack of thunder, and Jefferson shook himself. He didn’t know how long he’d been lost in a reverie, thinking about a hotel full of people being slowly warped and changed, but it was long enough that Reeves seemed to be about ready to wake up. It wasn’t healthy, being surrounded by Old Tongue like this. He shook his head, looking around the dim room for a moment while avoiding letting his gaze land on the walls. He reached out and gave the old brass bed a shake. It seemed solid, and it was going to have to be good enough.

He dragged Reeves a bit closer and snapped one end of the handcuffs around his wrist and the other around the bed frame. Reeves was rattling the cuffs weakly and beginning to speak as Jefferson crossed the room in three quick strides. He’d get Temperance back to their room, then figure out what to do with Reeves. Might just be that a pillow and a bullet would be best, but he supposed they needed answers.

He threw open the door and stopped. The hallway was empty, except for his hat, lying on the floor.


Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on September 1, 2012.