Chapter 2: The Hellish Hotel

Officer Martin cautiously brought her squad to a halt and threw it into park. She peered out the window at the tall, ominous building. Several windows were burned out and part of the roof had caved in. The rain began to let up slightly. Martin pulled a cigarette out of her uniform shirt and lit it. Taking a drag, she switched off the engine and leaned back in her seat.

The sun began to set, casting an eerie dark purplish light over Toluca Lake. Martin stepped out of the car, flicking ash onto the pavement. She brought the cigarette back to her lips as a pair of headlights appeared on the road ahead. She stomped it into the ground as Bradbury stepped out and popped the trunk.

"Kathleen, end of shift was ten minutes ago. What are we doing out here?"

"We got a Jane Doe at Alchemilla. No I.D., just a lighter from the Venus Tears bar," Bradbury responded, grabbing the 12-gauge pump from the trunk.

"Don't know what you expect to find. The hotel's been closed since the fire three years ago," Martin responded, following Bradbury up the stairs to the lobby entrance.

Bradbury twisted the doorknob but to no avail. She turned and kicked the door. The wood splintered as her boot contacted it. The door flew inwards and off its hinges. Bradbury drew her duty flashlight and shined it down the dark hall. The wallpaper was dark and discolored and a faint smell of sulfur and mold permeated the entire area. The sounds of footsteps echoed through the dead hotel as Bradbury and Martin made their way down the stairs leading to the Venus Tears Bar.

"Ugh, I just bought these shoes," Martin moaned, as she stepped off the last step and into a puddle of stagnant water.

Bradbury rolled her eyes as she continued. A faint light flickered through the door to the bar. Bradbury and Martin took up positions on either side. Martin turned the knob, giving Bradbury a quick nod. Martin quietly opened the door and the pair slipped inside, weapons raised, scanning the room.

Martin stepped behind the bar, when a horrendous odor came upon her. She gagged as the sickly-sweet smell passed her nostrils. She shined her light along the floor, revealing a ghastly scene. The once white tile had been stained red. The body of a middle-aged man lay spread out on the floor, a gaping hole in his chest.

"Got a body over here," Martin said, getting Bradbury's attention.

"Call it in," Bradbury responded.

Bradbury stopped checking the tables and stepped behind the bar with Martin. She sighed as she looked the body up and down. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed he was clutching a piece of paper in his hands. She bent down next to him and pried it away. She uncrumpled it, revealing the face of Jane Doe. She turned it over, reading the back. "Sinners must be cleansed!" it read in jagged blood red letters.

"I can't raise Dispatch," Martin said, letting her radio microphone drop beside her.

A deafening boom erupted from the hallway. Bradbury and Martin flew around, brandishing their weapons at the door. As Martin slowly approached the door, her radio began emitting static. With each step, the noise grew louder. She shot a worried look at Bradbury as she reached for the door. Bradbury gave her a reassuring nod, bringing the 12 gauge to her shoulder.

The door flew outwards, sending Martin across the room. Bradbury's eyes widened and her jaw dropped as a figure appeared in the doorway. The dull grayish brown figure was barely identifiable as human. It wore an iron cage of a dress. Its body was wrapped in cloth, like a mummified corpse. Its mouth was permanently wired open. It let out an unworldly scream.

"Move!" Bradbury ordered Martin, motioning for the backroom.

She raised the shotgun and fired at the creature. The shot peppered its torso as it began to advance at Bradbury. Martin reached the doorway, turning and firing her service pistol. Bradbury backed around the bar, racking another round into the chamber. She fired once more, fire erupting from the barrel, before the duo slipped through the door.

They ran through the kitchen, the figure close behind them. They busted through into the next room. They ran through the hallway, passing boilers and electrical equipment. The figure let out another bloodcurdling howl. Bradbury flipped around and fired another two 12-gauge rounds. The creature flinched slightly as a series of stainless-steel balls pierced its neck. Dark purple blood gushed out of its neck, but it continued forth.

"There. The staircase," Martin shouted, seeing their escape.

They hit the stairs, not slowing down. Their surroundings became a blur as the panicked officers picked up speed. Bradbury glanced back as they reached the top of the stairs; the creature had slowed but was still coming. She pulled the trigger, only to hear the chamber click empty. She growled slightly, slinging the weapon on her back.

"Try your radio again," Bradbury said, pulling her sidearm and taking off again.

"One-Twenty-Seven to Dispatch." Martin stated, receiving silence in response. "Dispatch, do you copy?"

"This is Dispatch, go ahead One-Twenty-Seven," The voice of the dispatcher never sounded so relieving.

"Dispatch, we need immediate back up at the Lakeview Hotel. Send everything you got," Martin rushed to get the words out while reloading her pistol.

"Copy, One-Twenty-Seven. Attention all Units. Attention all units. Officers request assistance. Lakeview Hotel. Repeat officers request assistance,"

Martin and Bradbury turned a corner. They hugged the wall, grasping for a breath. Martin peered back around the corner. The creature had disappeared. She laid her head against the wall, taking a breath. Bradbury reached into her chest pocket, retrieving the extra 12-gauge shells. The sound of sirens got closer and closer. A lamp clattered to the ground down the hall. Bradbury raised her shotgun as Martin shined her light towards the sound.

"Bradbury? Martin?" A voice called out from the darkness.

The paired looked at each other, almost relieved. Bradbury unshouldered the 12 gauge and pulled out her own flashlight. They began to follow the voice down the dark and treacherous halls, cautious of every step.

"Keep shouting out! We'll find our way to you!" Bradbury yelled, her voice breaking the unnerving silence.

They turned a corner, closing in on the voice's source, when it went silent. They took off running as a series of shots rang out. The hall twisted and turned; every corner brought nothing but more darkness. After an eternity, the beam from a flashlight came into sight. Martin and Bradbury approached; weapons raised.

The body of the officer lay on the ground. A pool of blood seeped out of the stump where is arm had been. Bradbury squatted down next to the officer; pressing two fingers against his carotid artery. She looked back at Martin and shook her head. Martin spotted the fallen officer's semiautomatic. Its slide was locked back; the clip empty. She reached down and picked it up. As she brought it into the light, she let out a small screech and dropped it. Bradbury turned and glared down at the frightening sight. The officer's hand was still wrapped around the grip; his finger still on the trigger.

Martin's radio started to emit static loudly. The figure reappeared at the end of the hall. Bradbury got back to her feet, growling softly. She pumped a round into the chamber of her 12 gauge.

"How many rounds do you have left?" Martin asked, gripping her semiautomatic.

"Just the four in the tube. You?"

"On my last clip,"

"Make 'em count," Bradbury said, raising the shotgun.

The creature let out another ghastly shout. The officers opened fired. Round after round flew into the creature. It let out a pained howl. Martin cursed as her sidearm ran dry. Bradbury tossed her extra clip to Martin as she tossed the empty shotgun aside and pulled out her own semiautomatic. It continued to push forward against the hail of bullets.

"Shit!" Martin said, firing her last round.

Bradbury continued firing 9MM rounds until her gun ran dry. She holstered it and grabbed the baton from her belt. She smacked it against the wall, exposing the 2 feet of stainless steel. She readied herself as the creature got closer and closer. A small cylindrical canister rolled across the floor, resting at the creature's feet. Before they could react, the room was lit up by a small explosion that left both officers temporary blind and deaf.

As Bradbury regained her senses, she saw the hall was now filled with SWAT officers. They fired relentlessly at the creature with their M4s, raining down a furious shower of lead and steel. Some rounds missed their targets but most hit home. The creature slashed at an officer, shredding his tactical vest to shreds. It let out one last morbid groan as it fell to the ground, splattering purple ooze on the officers and walls alike.

"What the hell was that?" A SWAT officer approached Bradbury asking.

"You're guess is as good as mine,"