Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019

Analysts: The Old Hotel

“They call it security through obscurity and it never fucking works,” Davis said, striding forward with his longer legs.

“Start again,” Hitch said, exasperated, rushing to keep up with him.

“OK, listen, if people don't know about a thing, right? They can’t abuse it. So we keep secrets so others can’t come in here and fuck with shit because they don’t know anything about it.”

“We don’t know about it either.”

“Right, and that’s part of the problem. Or part of the solution. Dunno, above my pay grade. Point is, it doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. Someone finds out – always, inevitably. They find out, knowledge spreads and, as it happens, whatever minimal security we use to stop those who do know about it from messing with shit isn’t enough to stop some stubborn teenager with fifteen modems from accessing everything that was meant to be secret.”

“OK, and what does that have to do with us? We’re analysts, not field agents.”

Davis stopped suddenly and turned to face the younger woman almost jogging in her office clothes to keep up with him. It was quite the sight. “You were told those skirts were inappropriate,” he said.

“Oi,” she retorted, snapping her fingers in front of his face, bring his attention up. “What does that have to do with us?”

Davis took a deep breath and slowed himself down. “We know more than the field agents,” he said. “We are more capable.”

“The fuck we are,” she replied. “What am I meant to do to help?”

“Whatever you’re asked to?” Davis replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “They're in charge, but they're not in charge, get it? Let them play their little field agent games. We all know who they come back to when things don't go the way they all rehearsed in the mirror.”

“Fine,” she said, smoothing out the creases on her blouse and her skirt. “Fine,” she repeated, sounding more confident. “OK, that part I understand. We’re the brains of this organisation and they're the brawn. They might go and do the deeds, but were the ones who point them in the direction they need to go.”

“I knew you were a smart one. But also, they do outrank us. And Viola will be there. So, you know. Probably best to just not say anything unless you're asked specifically, right?”


“Burgess? The boss? Not our boss, or his boss, but, like, three bosses above that.”

“And you call her Viola?”

“We all do,” he shrugged. “She’s cool with it.”

“And we slum around on our surnames.”

“Raaaaaaaaaaank,” he droned for what felt like the millionth time for both of them. “Just trust me on this, when Viola asks for something, even something like this, you give it to her.”

“Fine. Not that I’ve ever met her.”

Davis grinned as the two of them reached the door to the building. “After you,” he said.

It had been a hotel. Technically it still was. It had been a high end hotel at one point, but then the city grew and grew and grew. Now it was almost a slum. Graffiti covered most of the walls that were reachable – and some that weren’t – and wooden planks covered all the lower floor windows. The main entrance, through which Davis and Hitch had just entered, was a thick red wood. One of the few original adornments of the building that still existed.

Inside wasn't much better. What had once been white and gold tiled flooring was now a singular shade of grey. It was sticky and in almost every alcove along the lobby walls, unmoving forms slumped against the walls. Above them, flickering orange lights did a poor job of lighting the way.

The two analysts were met by several people at the front desk. Seated behind said desk was a woman.

She was tall, over six feet, a rather athletic build and her dark hair was tucked into the back of her jacket, out of the way. She stared deeply, but affectionately, at the two of them as they made their way up to the desk.

“Analysts,” the woman droned in a voice that Hitch disliked intensely.

“Viola,” Davis said, the corner of his mouth twitching in that way that Hitch had already learned meant he was uncomfortable. “A pleasure, as always.”

“I can offer you pl-”

“Viola,” a stern faced man, standing off to the side interrupted.

“Of course, General, as you were saying.”

This man, General, was tall and solidly built. Square jawed and sporting a military grade crew cut, he was clearly no one to be messed with.

“Who’s that?” Hitch whispered to Davis who elbowed her in the ribs.

“Shh,” the latter replied. “Listen.”

“Three nights ago, on the full moon, someone took up residence in a suite at the top of this hotel. This suite had been empty for several decades. There were no keys on site and no one knows who owns it. Since then, the usual, less able, organisations, including three governmental ones, attempted to gain access to the suite. None of them have returned.”

“That’s it?” Davis asked.

“That’s all we know.”

“How does this place have suites that haven't been broken into by them,” he pointed to the people slumped along the walls.

“From what we understand,” General said, “there was no indication that those suites existed.”


“I know. But the clerks who work this desk, other staff and some of the more coherent denizens report the same thing. The hotel stops at the 18th floor. This suite is on the 21st.”

“OK, sure, we can work with that, but I would like to circle back around because, if I'm not mistaken we didn't know about it either, right?”

General swallowed tightly. “That is correct.”

“Viola,” Davis was sounding like he was pleading. “I, and my team,” he put a hand on Hitch’s shoulder, “can’t work with situations like this if we’re kept out of the loop.”

“It is news to us as well,” the woman drawled and Hitch’s skin crawled. “It disturbs me too.”

“Oh,” Davis said once that revelation had sunk in. “OK, sure, fine. Cool. We know now. But I’m going to request a full investi-”

“We get it,” General snapped.

“Fine. What are we dealing with up there?”

General looked at Viola who shrugged.

“Fuck, fine, you don't know. OK, that's why were here instead of on a call. That's why she’s here,” he gestured at Viola who said nothing but stared at both Davis and Hitch. “OK, think. Old hotel. Hidden floors. Who owned this place? Before the modern world overtook everything?”

“The Carcens,” Viola hissed the name like it was poison.

“Yeah, OK,” Davis said, beginning to realise the depth of the mud he was sinking into. “Hitch, you're good at this. Your brain works faster than mine. Old buildings, owned by the worst of the worst. Isolated for decades, sent into disrepair. What else? Drugs. Addicts.”

“Full moon,” Hitch said suddenly. “Didn't you say whatever is up there moved in on the full moon?”

“Yes,” General said. “We thought it odd too.”

“Why this full moon? Why not last month? A year ago? Next month?”

“Is that information irrelevant then?” Viola asked.

“No. Maybe. I don't know. How many of our people have gone up there?”

“The Woman is up there now,” General said. “She has been reporting back to me every few minutes,” he tapped his earpiece.

“Give me that,” Davis said and snatched an earpiece from the desk.

“Channel 19,” General said.

“Yeah yeah, I know her freqs. Woman, can you read me? It’s Davis. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, shut up. Listen, what is it? Can you see, I don’t know, scratches on the door frames? Bullet holes? Broken mirrors? Anything that we can- Oh. No, maybe, I don't know. Yeah. Yeah. Fine. Alright, when you do find something, yell. General is down here busting to get his guns out. I know. Alright. Yeah, usual place. Right.”

Davis took the earpiece out and tossed it back to the tech who cleaned it immediately and replaced it in the case.

“Well?” Viola asked.

“The Woman is camped out on the 20th floor. It took her hours to even get there. Everything above the 18th is a haze, she said. Foggy. Trying to walk through a mental swamp. She’s not seen signs of life but she can hear scratching noises above her.”

“I could have told you all that,” General said. “She doesn’t know what it is though.”

“She doesn’t, no,” Davis said. “But I do. Viola, this hotel has got a vampire.”

Everyone started speaking at once at Davis’ pronouncement. However, he only paid attention to Viola.

“Are you certain?” she asked in that nails-on-chalkboard voice of hers.

She didn't seem fazed by the idea that there was a creature nearby that no one had seen nor heard from for generations. Hitch noticed her eyes flick around the room to the people present.

“Well,” Davis said, turning to General. “Call her back, she’ll be able to confirm for us once she’s back down here.”

General flicked a glance to Viola who nodded. “Woman,” he said into his microphone. “You’re needed back down here. Our analyst thinks it’s a vampire and says you can confirm. Well, that’s what he said. OK,” he let the microphone go and nodded at the others. “She’s on her way.”

“Wait for it,” Davis said, leaning against the desk and chewing on a fingernail.

“Wait for what?” Hitch asked. But before anyone could answer her, General told them to shush and put his finger against the earpiece he was wearing.

“Say again?” he asked. “Are you sure. OK, understood.” He sighed and turned to Davis. “She can’t. She’s stuck. Stairs lead from the floor she’s on to the floor she’s on. There's no way lower or higher.”

“See? Vampire,” Davis said, standing up straight again.

“How does her being stuck up there mean it’s a vampire?”

“It’s a glamour, General,” Viola said. “She’s stuck behind a visual block.”

“Ohh,” Hitch said. “Only vampires are known to be able to create them.” She sounded excited.

“Known to, yes,” Viola nodded with a peculiar look. “Should we send more people up?” she asked.

Davis caught eyes with General and they both shook their heads. “The people already up there will already be dead,” the latter said.

“If they're lucky,” Davis said.

“Oh,” General said, realising the implication of what was happening.

“Sending more people up is sending them to god knows what,” Davis said. “You can’t take a vampire by force.”

“You seem to know a lot about these things,” Viola said.

“I read the stories,” Davis shrugged.

“How do you beat one then?” General asked, checking three or four of the weapons he had strapped to himself.

“You cheat,” Davis said. “Wait for sun up, religious iconography, stake them. Fire at a pinch. Whichever you choose, you have to do it during daylight hours,” he checked his watch and nodded. “Which means we have maybe five hours left before The Woman becomes a breakfast treat.”

“We cannot afford to lose her,” Viola said.

“Agreed,” General nodded.

“I'm good either way, if I'm being honest.” Davis said.

“Bring her down, Mr Davis,” Viola said.

“I was gonna,” Davis said with an almost childish whine.

“You’re lead, analyst,” General said. “I’ll go up with you in my ear. Bring The Woman back to the stairs and down here and we can go from there.”

“That won’t work,” Davis shook his head.

“I want the specimen alive,” Viola said sharply. “This is too much of a golden opportunity to waste.”

“I can’t promise that,” General said, his voice turning prickly. “This is a creature that has killed already and will kill again. Our people are the more important objective.”

“You can’t bring the other agent down without engaging the creature,” Hitch said, interrupting.

“Watch me,” General said.

“She’s right,” Davis said. “Sleeping or awake, the vampire still has the glamour engaged. You go into it, you’re right in the same predicament as her. The vampire needs to be unconscious. Knocked out. Dead.”

“Not dead,” Viola reminded him and Hitch felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

“Not dead,” Davis corrected. “You know what I mean.”

“I don’t carry anaesthetic,” General said pointedly.

“Viola?” Davis asked.

The tall woman sidled round the desk, getting uncomfortably close to Davis before heading towards the front door. “Do as the analysts say, my dear General. All of you will report to me when the creature is contained.”

“Understood,” General said as Viola left.

“Oh thank god,” Hitch said. “I couldn't take much more of her voice.”

“You and me both,” General muttered.

“Techs, I need religious iconography, preferably crosses, Christian crosses. But most accepted symbols will work. Garlic, wooden stakes. Old wood. Petrified is best, but the older the better. Freshly cut won’t do shit. There should be something in the old stores. You’ve got an hour to be back here, understood?”

“If you take that long, you’ll be next on my list,” General said.

“Got it,” the half dozen techs all rushed out of the hotel leaving General, Davis and Hitch alone.

“So we wait?” General asked.

“For now,” Davis said.

“Read the stories, huh?” Hitch said, as the two analysts sat at the lobby desk while General wandered around making sure there were no entry points for hostiles.

“I was a bored kid. That and a good memory helps in this line of work. You should stay down here, in the lobby or outside. Things might get hairy.”

“I’m just as trained as you are.”

“Maybe, but neither of us are as trained as him. Or The Woman. Plus you aren't as experienced as me.”

“None of us are experienced in vampires,” she retorted.

“That’s a good point. Even so, stay back.”

Davis was about to say something else when General rushed up from behind them. “Woman is coming in hot.”

“Hot?” Davis asked, catching a small handgun that General had thrown at him.

“She’s being pursued. Two hostiles. Glamour seems to be down.”

“Or she’s being made to see that it’s down,” Hitch said.

Davis shook his head. “It doesn’t like to leave a nest. It will bring people to it, not the other way around. If The Woman is coming down again, it means that something pissed it off.”

“It heard us?” Hitch asked nervously.

“That's not good,” General muttered, his large rifle pointing at the stairwell.

“It’s worse if she’s correct and there’s more than one of them,” Davis said.

“She’s on the third floor,” General reported. “Second. Brace. First floor. She’s first, creatures after. Don’t pull the trigger until you see them.”

“Not my first day, General,” Davis said, ensuring that Hitch was safe on the other side of the desk. “Hold tight, kid,” he said as The Woman rushed into the lobby and immediately ran right passed them. Neither Davis or General moved.

“Nothing yet,” General said.

“I got nothing,” Davis confirmed.

As the words left his mouth, there was a noise like a thousand bats screeching and flapping their wings as they exited their caves and smoke like forms erupted from the stairwell.

“Contact,” General shouted and fired a single round into the haze.

“Hold,” Davis shouted back. “Wait til they’re solid.”

“You always were too quick to fire,” The Woman said, her voice sounding like a two-pack-a-day smoker. She was blonde, which surprised Hitch. Her hair was long and had been done up in a tight plait which was coiled at the back of her head. A small fringe covered a long scar that crossed her forehead. She was a large woman, but none of it was fat. She was slightly shorter than Viola, but she was bulkier. Well toned muscles heaved under her khaki shirt and her legs looked like tree trunks.

She had looped around and was coming up behind them. She gave the cowering Hitch a withering look before placing her weapon onto the desk – a long spear with a black metal point. Without asking and seemingly without protest, she took a pistol off of General’s person and took her position between the two men and waited.

There was an almighty screech and then everything went black as the smokey figures descended on the waiting trio.

The noise was unbearable.

It was like a screaming mess of different voices all competing for attention. When one faded away, others rose up in its place. And it never ended. It never stopped. An unending stream of painful noise.

It was so loud, so overwhelming and so incessant that she couldn't see. She couldn't speak. She couldn't hear anything besides the screeching. She had no idea where she was or even who she was. She couldn't feel her arms or legs. Couldn't focus on anything to make her eyes work. To say something. To even think. Everything she was, at this moment, was the noise.

Davis sighed. “They attacked,” he shrugged. “We knew they would. As soon as The Woman said she was on her way down. We knew they'd be on her tail. General and I waited, the girl was hidden behind the lobby desk. Not safe. None of us were safe. But she hasn't been signed off on any sort of weapons yet, so I pushed her to the safest place she could be.”

“They attacked,” the stiffly dressed older man across the table from him prompted. “Who were the they.” It was a question, but the man had such a monotone that even the little inflection wasn't said.

“The vampires. Another miscalculation on our part. There was more than one. Two flew down the stairs, chasing The Woman. I don't know a lot about these creatures, but it seems to me that they had a form which resembles smoke. From my own experience, it looked like they can’t, or won’t, at least, attack anyone while in that form. Can’t say if that’ll hold.”

“Speculation is not necessary, Analyst Davis. Just what you know.”

“Well, that’s it, isn't it?” Davis replied. “I, we, just don't know. They're vampires. Been yonks since anyone who is in our line of work has had anything to do with them outside the stories. What we know is going to come from what we saw. And I saw two young vampires who wouldn't attack while they weren't solid.”

“And the third?”

She didn't know if she had got used to it, or whether it had changed, but the noise in her head was now a dull roar. It was still there, constantly. If she let her mind slip even a small way, the screaming came back in spades. But if she focused. If she made deliberate thoughts. Thought about specific things. It would fade slowly. She still couldn't see anything. Couldn't feel anything. She had tried to speak, but the minute her brain sent the command to her mouth, the screaming returned and she couldn't remember what she had been doing.

As the noise faded, there was something else. A new noise, or another one that had been there the whole time, was allowed to be heard with the fading of the screams. It wasn't her voice. She didn't recognise it. It was just there. Just as incessant, but not in the same way. It just said one thing, over and over again.

“Wake up, Hitch. You have to wake up.”

She had no idea what it meant. She was awake. She was here. She could hear whoever this person was. She couldn't see them. Feel them. Her arms felt strange. Not heavy, but locked. She had to focus harder. Make the screams disappear entirely. Fight them.

Davis was drawing the layout of the hotel lobby on some paper while the auditor watched in silence. The drawing showed the angle of the staircase as it entered the lobby and the relative positions of the two field agents, Davis and Hitch as the two younger vampires were attacking. And then he drew in the third.

“She was vicious,” Davis said for the fifth time since the auditor had asked about this third creature. “She was not taking no for an answer. Unsurprising, really. We had just woken her up. But the room here was dark. The windows had been boarded up and all the light was artificial. Most of it was our own anyway.”

“And this third one was where?” the auditor asked.

“Here,” Davis replied pointing to a spot that would have just been out of sight slightly up the staircase. “She was controlling the other two from here. General and The Woman saw her first, while I tried to keep Hitch safe.”

“And that was when it happened?”

“No,” Davis replied, shaking his head. “The younger ones were still swooping in and around our heads and would solidify every so often to try and scratch us, or to knock us down. The other two cottoned on pretty quick and would pop off a round or two when they thought the vamps would be solid. They caught a couple of grazing shots, but nothing serious. They would cry a bit and fly off a little ways, but they'd always come back. I knew that it was the third one, the older one, who we needed to bag. Get her, like Viola said, and the other two should be easier to deal with.”

“So who went after the older one first?”

“None of us,” Davis said. “She came to us. But don't say it, let me just,” he held up his hands as the auditor went to speak again. “I fired off a round randomly when I saw one of the others do it. I aimed generally at where the two were coming from and I guess I got the lucky trigger finger today. I put a round through the forehead of one of the young ones and it came crashing to the ground. Cracked its head on the floor, broke its neck. General was on it in a flash, binding it up. But it didn't matter. We had drawn blood, so to speak. The old one cried in terror and launched herself at us. That was when it happened.”

“Hitch, please, you cant let it overcome you. Wake up.”

It was Davis’ voice. She knew that now. Her trainer. Or partner. Or something. She didn't exactly know what role he played here. But it was his voice. She didn't yet know what he was talking about. She still had trouble thinking. She still didn't know where she was. Why she couldn't see or speak. Why her head was full of noise. She strained against the fog. Where was she. How had she got here. Who was with her. None of the questions had memories to answer with. She couldn't remember anything. Nothing but the screaming of something horrible in her head. More and more she strained against the useless feeling in her arms and legs. She had to

“wake up.”

“The Woman was the first to take one for the team. The older vamp hit her first. Powerful. Full of energy. She didn't get up. General, hearing this, spun on a dime, as he does, and fired off a round. Caught her in the shoulder. The noise she made was unbearable. No words. No thoughts. Just screaming. It did make her backtrack for a moment. Like the others. The creature I had shot was bound. General was rushing it to the front door when the old one came for him. I fired at it until my gun was empty. Maybe I landed some, maybe I didn't. Couldn't tell you. When I turned back to see where the other young one was, I saw it dragging Hitch away. I threw the gun and it connected with its head. Not enough to stop it, but enough to turn it back to smoke and drop the girl,” Davis stopped and took a breath. The auditor was scribbling all this down by hand as Davis spoke.

“And then?” the auditor asked when he had caught up.

“It was enough to make that thing drop Hitch, but I had hurt it. That meant the older one was gonna come for me. And sure enough, I saw it forget about General and spin to face me. I grabbed the gun that The Woman had dropped and fired several rounds at it as it tried to do to me what it had done to The Woman. It more or less succeeded too. Knocked me across the room. Hard to overstate how strong it is. That's where I blacked out.”

“I see. And when you came to?”

“General was saying what we all now know. The vamp had taken the girl, but other agents had shown up and now all three of the vamps were in custody. I missed the good part of the fight.”

“All four,” the auditor corrected.

“Remains to be seen,” Davis said darkly. “That's all I remember. May I leave?”

The auditor looked over his notes before nodding. “I know where you are if I need anything more.”

“Great,” Davis said sarcastically and left the room.

“Come on, Hitch,” Davis said to the unconscious woman, bound to the bed. “You can’t become one of those things.”

Hitch was naked, her body pale with a slight blueish-grey tinge to it. Her muscles were thicker than they had been; her slight form had grown slightly. Her hair, once auburn and shoulder length, had fallen out and dark rings had formed around her eyes. Her mouth, slightly ajar as she breathed slowly, showed two lengthened canine teeth and a slight trail of drool leaked out of the corner of her lips.

On her neck, plain as day, two small incision marks still leaked a small amount of blood.

Davis growled in anger and walked over to the window on the other side of the room. On the far side, three creatures were hung in similar states. Unlike Hitch, they were all conscious.

He couldn't hear them through the thick, sound proof window, but all three of them were screaming at him.