Book One; Bad Moon on the Rise; Part 7

The doors opened soundlessly onto a dark empty space. The lowlight of the hallway didn’t persist in this gloom. The windows all appeared to have their shades drawn. Bentley bounded off into the dark as soon as the doors were opened. It took Brian a moment to find any kind of light switch. It took a few minutes more than it should have as he obstinately refused to step into the room without the lights on, and had to stand just outside it, fumbling around the door frame, hoping he could find something. He did eventually get light into the room and moved into it shutting the doors behind him as he did, not particularly wanting any…thing to be able to get in after him.

It was, as he’d anticipated, a large empty room. Half the room was made up of a large, shiny wooden dance floor, relatively unscathed. The other half had once been covered in a beige carpeting which had since been all pulled up and piled against the far wall. It wasn’t very hard to tell why. Even from this distance, Brian could see the brownish-red stains that had soaked through the beige quite distinctly. He walked into the room on the floorboards where the carpet used to be, but even here, the tan lumber was discolored by splashed of rust red stains. The walls were all a blinding white, the color of primer. It was all painted in a hasty way as trying hard to hide something before anyone noticed. Brian had a crude suspicion, even more stains were waiting underneath the white brightness.

Bentley was already bouncing around the room sniffing hurriedly at the pile of ripped up carpets on the far side of the room. He was emitting soft whimpers as if trying to find the source to a smell that was eluding him. Brian was making his way over to Bentley’s side, when something crunched unpleasantly underneath his boot. Lifting his shoe he looked down to see a small human molar under his foot. With a large pronounced gulp, Brian backed up and around the tooth, making a wide circle to avoid it. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the tooth, it seemed to be the whole world. He was so fixed on the tooth, he didn’t notice the pile of carpeting behind him until he bumped into it. Screaming slightly he jumped and turned around. Seeing he was safe, Brian forced himself to relax. Bentley helped somewhat by pushing his shaggy head underneath Brian’s fingers. He squatted down before the dog ruffling his fur.

“So what was the point of coming here?” He said smiling into those bright golden eyes. “Did you get this out of your system.”

Bentley said nothing, he simply gazed in placid interest into Brian’s eyes. It’s was nice to see that one of us still has his nerve. Brian though the simple motion of petting the dog helping ease his agitation somewhat. It was rather hilarious for someone who scoffed at the mere existence of ghosts and monsters little over a day ago, to be squatting here to scared to really investigate. Brian had to laugh at himself. It was just, when he thought about exactly what had been found here…it was enough to unnerve anyone. Finally he was able to stand and continue looking around the room.

He didn’t find much. Not that he’d really expected to, what with the half dozen investigation teams who had gone over this place with a fine toothed comb before him. He had hoped, however, that maybe an outside perspective more open to less…traditional culprits would be able to see something the others had overlooked. He was wrong however.

Jesus H. Christ, He thought bitterly. I steal cars for a living! Why am I up at four in the morning playing mother fucking Ghost buster!

His eyes were itching the tiredness one usually experiences in the wee hours of the morning, his head was beginning to throb with all the facts he’d crammed into it in the last few hours, and both fear and exertion had left him a sweaty mess. He ran his fingers through his shaggy hair, a gesture of stress piling high. He closed his eyes and tried so hard to calm himself down.

A long low guttural scream rang out in the distance. Brian and Bentley’s heads snapped toward the sound. They both flew to the door looking up and down the hallway. After a moment of searching, Bentley shot off again, this time back the way they had come. The dog was growling now, bearing his teeth and looking quite frightening. Brain, Barely keeping up with him enough to see this change in demeanor, was wondering what had happened to make him suddenly so upset. They kept running along growing closer to their suite as they did so. When they were only a hallway or two away. Brian heard the scream again, much much closer than before and suddenly his blood turned to ice. Sharice! She had been alone and asleep when they had left and they had left her completely without help. Brian’s legs pumped with sudden terror. Bentley wasn’t even wasting breath to growl, just powering forward with a single minded fury. They turned a corner and sprinted to the door of the suite. Brian slammed into the wood with the force of a stampeding bull. He had meant to wrench the door inward but had forgotten about the key card. The breath went out of him in a huff and the arm that had struck the door went briefly numb. Forcing his now bruised arm to obey him, he shoved his hand into his pocket, fished out the key card and slapped it against the little terminal on the side of the door. With a small beep, the door swung inward almost depositing Brian on the floor.

“SHARICE!” He screamed with unnecessary force staggering to the dark outer room and taking a step towards her door. “SHARICE!”

With a deafening slamming sound, her bedroom door was kicked open. Sharice emerged carrying a long dark object Brian couldn’t quite make out. Judging by how she hoisted the object to one shoulder and began to look around the room with it, Brian guessed it was a gun of some sort. The way she handled the gun was a mite threatening even though she was wearing not much more than a white undershirt and a pair of baggy blue sweatpants.

“What’s up?!” She called. “Where is it?! What is it?!”

“I don’t know,” Brian managed to gasp. Seeing she was safe, he collapsed to the floor and knelt there coughing for a moment, completely convinced that he would throw up this time. Sharice lowered the gun slowly and walked over to him. Bentley bounded up to her, panting and nuzzling her knee.

“What happened?” She asked kneeling and helping Brian back to his feet.

“I’m not sure what it was but something was making this awful sound.” Brian was slowly getting back to his feet, still coughing slightly. Sharice helped him by slipping a hand under his arm and lifting him back up. “I sounded like it was headed this way.”

When he was back to his feet, Brian watched Sharice cross to the doorway. She looked both ways out of the door and looked back at him questioningly. Bentley was at her heels sniffing again and getting more agitated by the moment. Sharice walked out into the hall, gun hoisted back to her shoulders. When he had stopped wheezing quite so much, Brian went after her.  While Sharice was scouting the left side of the hall, Brian combed the right. There was nothing to be seen. He could only see long empty dark hallway.

“Nothing here.” Sharice whispered. She took the gun down and let it hang limply by her side. She was looking a bit agitated, as though she didn’t really believe him.

“Something was definitely here.” Brian protested hands flung wide in annoyance. “Do you think I flew back here on a wing and a prayer because I was scared of the dark.”

“Maybe you just heard some noise from the highway?”

“Come the hell on!” Brian said, getting deeply angry now. Instead of the heat he usually felt when angry the hall was seemingly growing steadily cooler. He supposed his body temperature was just normalizing after his headlong flight. “You’re supposed to be the witch here! I’m telling you there’s something here.”

“Of course there’s something here!” Sharice said getting a little more annoyed. “But we can’t go around jumping at shadows till we find it. What the hell do you think we are?! We need to be professional, we’re not some piss ant ghost hunters jumping’ at every breath of wind.”

Sleep deprivation had eaten away at Sharice’s normally mocking but amiable nature but it was nothing to what fear and exhaustion were doing to Brian’s temper. He slammed down his foot as hard as he could. He had had enough, dragged over half the country to go look for monster that tore people apart with a little brat who slept through the parts she was supposed to be working on. All for the sake of convincing a witch to let him live till the end of this year. Some part of him had been frayed when they started the journey and now it snapped under the increased strain. A torrent of indignation came pouring out of him and he didn’t seem to be able to stop himself.

“Jumping at shadows?!” Brian yelled so fiercely that he didn’t even notice his breath steaming before him. “There was something walking the halls with us it was making it’s way here! Bentley felt it too! And I am pulling my ass back her at break neck fucking speed, to make sure your ungrateful ass doesn’t end up in bloody chunks somewhere.”

Sharice had noticed the steaming breath however. She watched it rise from Brian’s screaming mouth in billowing clouds. She had also begun to shiver in the sudden cold. A strange fierce look came over her face, cutting off Brian’s tirade more effectively than a punch to the gut. Bentley was growling again, a deeper and more threatening growl than Brian had heard him make thus far. The shaggy hair on the back of his neck was standing on end and his hackles were raised to show fangs that had been bred to rip out a wolf’s throat. Sharice slowly turned and looked behind her, scanning the darkness with her dark fierce hunter’s eyes. She couldn’t help but hug herself now, the air had grown so cold. Brian himself, who was still wearing his motorcycle jacket, was beginning to shiver a little.

Then a sound began to surround them, as if it were a pack of jackals. It was a dry rasping sound, almost like a human cough. It was as if the sound was from a human throat that hadn’t seen water in a hundred years. Rasping wracking coughs echoing out of the darkness seemingly all around them. Sharice had hoisted her gun to her shoulders and was taking aim. In the dim red light cast by the emergency exit sign, Brian could see a double barreled shotgun pointing into the darkness. They waited for a few moments, the coughing growing louder and more frequent. It seemed to grow into a low raspy growl that emanated from everywhere and nowhere. Brian was shaking, sweat beading on his forehead again. He wished he had thought to ask Rhonda for something to defend himself with, a gun perhaps. As it was he reached for the only weapon (and he was using the term liberally) he had on him. He pulled a large pocket knife out of his back pocket and opened it with flick of his wrist. The handle was plastic painted with wood grain and it’s pommel was a stainless steel wolf head, tarnished with age. The blade however was clean and sharp, Brian had been very sure to keep it so in his travels. He’d had to depend on it to keep him alive before.

He gazed with Sharice and Bentley into the darkness, scanning for the slightest movement or noise.

“I didn’t think they’d show themselves so soon.” Sharice was hissing. “Thought they’d want to stalk us first. I guess their hungry.”

Brian shook from head to toe, not really able to say a word. He felt small and terrified and had to fight every second to keep from sprinting away.

As abruptly as it began, the rasping noises stopped short. The cold stayed but with the sourceless angry rasping went the fear that something was looming directly above them. Bentley never stopped growling however, his shaggy fur still on end. Sharice, however, took the gun from her shoulder and let it hang by her sides.

“Well that was anticlimactic.” Brian said dryly, almost giddy with relief. Sharice turned back his way with something like the beginning of a smile on his face. That is, until she caught sight of something over his shoulder. Bentley too, had spun and was growling in Brian’s general direction. Sharice’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates and full of shock bordering on fear. With the most profound sense of dread he had ever felt, Brian turned around.