“Why the fuck are we going back into this place?” Brian hissed at Sharice's elbow. He was quivering like a leaf on a tree in late autumn and he felt justified in crouching and whispering.
“Because that laptop costs two grand, and the assorted clothing and jewelry in my bag just about that.” She snapped back, her shotgun raised and pointing down the hall but that was all the precaution she seemed prepared to take. She didn't bother to keep her voice low as spoke and the way she kicked open the front door probably would have woken the dead, were they not already unquiet. “And I'll be damned if I'm gonna just leave it all here because of an undead asshole.”
Bentley bounded ahead of them wagging his tail with a fervent abandon; seemingly happy as a clam to be back to the site of multiple grisly murders, not that the dog could cognate that. Currently he was sniffing at an ornate trash can, trussed up purple and gold to match the carpets. They had turned on every light they had passed so far (or rather Brian had) and now he got a chance to look around at what the casino would usually look like.
It was of course a tacky place, Brian had never been to a casino that wasn't at least a little tacky. But it was at least on the tolerable side of tacky. The walls were stucco style and painted an eye watering gold. Tableaus of Mardi Gras and renaissance style revelry adorned the walls and everywhere he saw the Harlequin Jester laughing amidst masked buxom women. The lights on the walls were set in star shaped sconces that made Brian roll his eyes with the ridiculousness of it all. The rich deep purple carpet didn't help matters. They had slathered this place in all the traditional colors of wealth, Brian found it more than a touch ironic that the place had become a death trap.
With a squeak, Brian noted a light blue misty shape taking form down the hallway accompanied by a plummet in room temperature, but Sharice seemed to neither be afraid or particularly care. She leveled the shotgun on the hazy form and advanced. When left with the choice of being alone in the dark or follow Sharice toward the ghost, Brian could do little but squeak in terror and walk at her elbow. The figure was finally taking the shape they had seen before, emaciated and distended, twisted and dead. It raised it's black claw like hands in the all to familiar gesture and made to sweep menacingly at them. Sharice wasted not a second. She squeezed a trigger and unleashed the blessed rock salt into the chest of the oncoming horror. Once more it dissipated into vapor with nothing but a fading scream of pain.
“Maybe it's just the one ghost.” She said, lowering the smoking gun. She looked somewhat confused as if she were having difficulty deciding something. “I just thought there were multiple ghosts because of how many victims there were, seemed like it took a lot more than one ghost to do all that. But I guess if you're dead and you've got nothing else to do...”
She trailed off looking into the darkness, her brow furrowed in thought.
“Well one's more than enough for me,” Brian said. His trembling had stopped and he felt safe enough to stand at his full height. The frozen presence of the ghost was rapidly retreating and the air was regaining it's usual warmth. The goose bumps that had popped up all over were beginning to fade and he could finally feel a modicum of comfort. They walked on.
They had gone up two more floors before Bentley exploded in a flurry of furious barks and whines, spinning around bearing his teeth at the darkness. In a flash Sharice's shotgun was pointing into unlit hallway. Brian trembled again, cold twisting through the leather of his jacket. It crept through his jeans and the leather of his boots and it raked him with the fierce claws of utter chilling cold. If he had thought it had been cold before, he had been woefully wrong. His breath rose in a misty torrent from his whimpering mouth and he shivered uncontrollably. Even the normally unfazed Sharice was trembling in the wake of such untamed cold. Brian wrapped his arms around himself and reached for light switch on the side of the wall.
The light didn't drive away the cold. They saw steam rising off the bulbs as they heated the air around them, but it stayed just as frigid as it had been. Then without warning the two bulbs on either side of the far end of the hall exploded and went out. The glass of their bulbs burst as if hit with a baseball bat and the light faded into freezing darkness. Then the next set of lights did just the same thing, popping like circles of bubble wrap. The bulbs along the hall went out two by two, coming ever nearer to the frightened and freezing trio. Brain turned to go back down the stairs, and the wooden doors that led off the hall slammed in his face, seemingly of it's own accord. He turned to Sharice desperate to take her direction, but no words came from her. For the first time, Brian saw fear on her face, and he finally was able to see the young girl she truly was. And still the darkness came on.
“Remember how I said that there might just have been the one ghost?” She asked swallowing hard.
“Yeah...?” Brian hissed through chattering teeth.
“I was very, very wrong.”
The last pair of light bulbs went out around them and they were plunged into utter blackness. Not even the red light of the exit signs shone this time. The moonlight streaming in from the window at the far end of the hall gave them just enough light to see the glint off each other's eyes and the gun Sharice held, but that was all. Then the wailing began, It was no longer the hoarse rasping of one ghost, but the wailing, gasping, screaming chorus of agony from the throats of many. It was a cacophony so unbelievably painful to hear, that both Sharice and Brian clamped their hands over their ears and screwed up their eyes to shield themselves from it. Brian added his own scream to the din, but alongside such supernatural opponents, his own scream was drowned out. He opened his eyes again, trying to find a way out, what he saw almost made him screw his eye closed again. Ghostly blue and black arms were reaching through the walls towards them, emitting a soft blue glow as they materialized. There might have been twelve or a hundred he could not say, all his faculties were devoted to survival and he had none left with which to count. Faces were emerging now, Ghastly drawn and starved faces. They all had the same emaciated bodies, distended stomachs, black hands and feet, and the same pencil thin throats. Some had black hair that hung lank about their faces almost shielding their ghostly eyes, burning with blue fire in black pits. Still others were like the first ghost they had met, bald and non distinct. However they all had the same look in those black pits, glowing with the menace of the undead.
Brian looked from the approaching onslaught of death to Sharice. She cowered with her hands clutched tight to her ears, gun forgotten on the floor. Bentley was doing no better, He was on the floor shivering in pain and trying desperately to cover his ears with his paws. Neither knew what to do it would seem, and so Brian defaulted to the one option that a life of troubled living had beat into him as a last resort. Grabbing the back of Sharice's shirt and Bentley's collar, Brian ran. He ran with all the fear instinct could ever force on a mortal being. He felt Sharice stoop and twist, grabbing her gun off the floor and as he drug her along. She added the discordant blast of her shotgun to the unbearable chorus. But she was firing frantically and at random, missing more often than not. Her face was frozen in a grimace of both fear and pain, tears streaming down her face. Bentley no longer needed his insistent tugging, the wolfhound ran forward yelping into the darkness, leaving the humans soon far behind.
“GODDAMNIT, SHARICE! RUN!” Brian screamed into the girls ear but she didn't seem to hear. Finally with one last harsh tug on the neck of her shirt, she seemed to snap out of it. She dropped the smoking gun to her side and turned and ran. They sprinted as fast as their legs would move. Pumping and panting toward the end of the hall. Brian couldn't say even then, that they would be safe in the suite but he just couldn't think of any other destination that made any sense. He looked behind him for the briefest moment to see the ghosts approaching. They were surging after them in a torrent of bluish mist. Their black hands reached out for their retreating backs. Their inhuman faces were stretched in ghastly grimaces of pain and rage, black tongues waggled in their mouths. Their eyes were the worst part, they were an army of deathly pale blue stars. They seemed to burn into the back of his neck as they ran.
Brian turned back around, barley registering the scream that was coming from his throat. All his thoughts were bent on the idea of keeping his legs moving. His lungs burned with the effort of bellowing air in and out of his body and the muscles of his legs were screaming in protest. He merely ducked his head and moved that much faster. Sharice kept pace with him, her athleticism keeping easy time with his unrestrained terror. She seemed to be regaining her composure as they ran. The wet lines on her cheeks where the tears had been were slowly drying and her face had regained its usual composed determination.
Brian could almost feel the monsters behind them, their keening wails grew ever closer, ever more desperate. His own whimpers and gasps were lost in the cacophony. He felt something cold and hard as marble brush the back of his neck, and pushed himself to run all the faster. They would never reach the room, he knew in that instant. They would vanish like all the others who had been here before. They would find their bodies in bloody bits a month later and stitch what remained back together to ship home to their mothers. As this grim conclusion his Brian like a ton of bricks, a snag in the carpet caught the toe of his boot. His legs went out from under him and he flew a good three feet, carried by sheer momentum. He smacked into the carpet, the rough fabric raising rug-burns on his face and palms as he slid to a stop. Lights danced before his eye and he could feel the dull ache from the shoulder and cheekbone that had made first contact with the ground.
Dazed and bruised, Brian only had the wherewithal to moan as he got to his hands and knees. For the briefest instant, he forgot the oncoming monsters. Then he suddenly remembered turning sharply to see the angry emaciated figures shooting toward him through the dark. He tried desperately to climb back to his feet, crawling backwards away, but he was already too late. They moved to fast for his poor tired and bruised body to do more than crawl. In a heartbeat the head ghost was on him, reaching down a black hand to his throat, looking to wrap those long fingers around it. Another blast shot through the creature, causing it to fade into vapor, and Sharice was there. With a flourish, she pulled open the drawstring on a small leather pouch and whipped it around them. A rain of green dried leaves fell in a circle around them, filling the air with a musky earthen scent. The leaves fell to the ground in an unnaturally perfect circle and laid still, their scent still filling the air. Bentley hoped inside the circle and stood barking at the ghostly horde. The ghosts stopped at the edge of the circle, lining up like kids at a toy store window. Sharice faced them, reloading the shot gun. She fit a handful of shells she had pulled out of her pocket into the chamber and took careful aim. She blew the head off one of the things, then the heart out of another. But the rest simply filled the gaps and remained, however they came no closer than the edge of the circle.
“Something else from your bag of tricks?” Brian panted from the ground.
“Rosemary and Clover.” She responded, the cockiness in her voice was gone, replaced by an almost robotic level of dispassion. “Yet another all purpose ghost shield that wont last us long.”
“So....So what do we do?” Brian asked.
“We get comfy,” Sharice said, settling down on the ground cross legged. “It looks like we're sleeping here tonight.”