Asta fac eu la 3 dimineata.
Chapter 3 – Wallpaper
The moon was barely visible on the sky over New York. Landon pulled out his car keys and headed for an old Dodge Diplomat that could barely start, especially now with the cold weather. It wasn’t much, but it was his own. He had had that car for twenty years. It was a birthday gift from his father on his 18th birthday. It had been with him through a lot, both bad times and good times. Now it served more as a reminder of the better years of his life. The years that were gone, leaving only memories of what had been.
As he got in the car, the smell of pine cone filled his nostrils. He inserted the key in the ignition and rotated. He repeated the motion again and again.
‘Oh come on! Listen, I know the weather’s been hard on you, but don’t give up, not now of all times!’
Like magic, the engine roared to life.
‘There you go!’
He shifted into gear and pressed the acceleration, leaving his apartment building behind.
The only thing Landon could think of was Chloe. Chloe Dawson. She was fairly tall, brunette and had brown eyes. Her body was not much to envy, but she had the face of an angel. Landon would often think of her. He had fallen for her over the years. Unfortunately for him, she always seemed distant, emotionally unavailable, as if running away from any kind of commitment other than her job.
‘I wonder why she wants me there…’
For two years, Landon had been put on the side. He rarely ever did any field work and hadn’t seen any action in quite some time. During a sting operation, Landon had accidentally shot a teammate, killing him on the spot. His name was George Carlston, 28 years of age, married with two daughters. His life hadn’t been the same ever since. Every time he closed his eyes he could see the weeping faces of the man’s wife and children at his funeral. He had brought them so much pain he couldn’t deal with it all. He sometimes had nightmares about them, about the man he had killed. An FBI appointed psychiatrist, presumably one of the best, had done all he could to help him, but it was all for nothing.
As Landon pulled into the hotel’s parking lot, he was blinded by all the lights coming from outside the hotel. He got out and looked around at all the people gathered there, each doing something different but ultimately working together. They were like ants, hard at work to please their queen. Chloe waved at Landon from the hotel entrance.
Despite the hour, she looked well rested. She always did. Landon envied her.
‘It’s about time you got here!’
‘Good morning to you too.’
‘Rico, get him a coffee! Fast!’
‘Yes ma’am!’ said a young man who was standing nearby.
‘May I ask what I’m doing here?’
‘Yes, you may.’
‘Patience, you’ll see.’
‘He’s on an assignment in Washington.’
‘I see. So out of all the people you could have called, you decided to call me.’
‘Here’s your coffee sir.’
Chloe motioned for Landon to follow her inside the hotel.
‘Come on, this way.’
‘Your wish is my command.’
‘Is that supposed to be funny?’
Landon barely had any room to walk around all the people moving about. He knew that whatever was going on had to be something big. Two paramedics passed him by, pushing a gurney that carried what seemed to be an empty body bag. What the… As they ascended to the second floor, Landon felt a strange smell. It was getting stronger by the step.
Chloe opened the door to reveal the hallway of the second floor. As Landon walked through the doorway, he was shocked at the image before him. Hollywood horror movies were nothing compared to this. The whole hallway was red with blood. The cup of coffee trembled in his hand as he gripped harder and harder on the handle.
‘What happened here?’
‘Beats me. We got a call from a woman who’s staying here. She was awoken by screams coming from the hallway. When she opened the door, she saw the walls and ceiling covered in blood and human limbs scattered throughout the hallway.’
‘The body bag,’ thought Landon. ‘It wasn’t empty. Its contents were merely dismembered limbs from what used to be a person.’
Landon motioned to the surveillance camera in the corner.
‘What about the camera? Can’t you watch the recording?
‘We did, but…’
She paused a moment.
‘You’ll see. Come on, there’s more.’
‘You have no idea.’
They left for the surveillance room on the third floor. After reaching the third floor, Landon was horrified of the idea of seeing another hallway like the one bellow. To his relief, everything seemed in order; until they got to the surveillance room. His eyes were now bulging again at the sight of another murder scene. All the monitors except one were covered in blood. He felt like he was in a Stephen King novel.
‘Dear God, please tell me this is the last one.’
‘Now would be a great time to explain everything.’
‘John Leechman, 43, worked here as a guard for two years, was killed last night in the hallway. The other, Albert Conrad, 47, was in charge of surveillance for three years. He was killed in this room at about the same time as Leechman.’
‘Who the hell could have done something like this? Or better yet, what?’
‘I should probably show you the recording.’
Chloe reached for the mouse and clicked on a play button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Landon watched in amazement as a little girl holding a doll slowly walked towards the guard. He was acting like he couldn’t see her, which made Landon feel very uneasy. When static filled the screen, Landon almost fell relieved, but he was soon startled by the sudden appearance of an image. The guard was no more. Instead, blood and limbs covered the hallway. Level 2 – Hallway said the text on the monitor.
‘I’m… at a loss for words. Is that it?’
‘And… what exactly did I just watch?’
‘Like I said, beats me. I assume you just watched the murder of John Leechman.’
‘So you’re telling me that little girl did that?! Come on, Chloe, be serious!’
‘I’d be happy to hear your opinion on the matter.’
Landon looked back at the monitor. He didn’t know what to make of what he had just seen.
‘I’m not feeling very well, I’ll be right back.’
He walked out of the room, even more disturbed by the way his shoes stuck to the blood on the floor. He went to the bathroom and splashed some water on his face.
‘This is just what I needed’, said Landon sarcastically to his reflection. Suddenly he heard a noise. It was a familiar one. His keys had fallen on the floor. He grunted and as he reached down to get them, he hit his head on the sink.
‘Oh for the love of…’
He grabbed the keys and put them back in his pocket. As he looked back in the mirror the lights started to flash. After a couple of seconds they completely went out. Landon thought it was probably a power surge. He pulled out a lighter and pressed a button that turned on a small led at the other end of the lighter. I knew this would come in handy. As he headed for the door, he realized that all the voices had stopped and he could hear nothing from beyond the door. As he opened it he saw the same thing – nothing.
‘They sure left in a rush.’
As he headed for the surveillance room at the end of the hallway he saw a faint light coming from the second floor. He looked back at the door leading to the surveillance room and called out for Chloe.
‘Is anyone there? Chloe?’
The lack of an answer and the abundant silence made him tremble. He knew something was very wrong. He decided to follow the light coming from below. As he descended, he could hear the cry of a girl getting louder with each step. When he saw the hallway, he completely froze. It was all back to normal, as if nothing had ever happened. No blood, no smell, nothing. Oh God. I died when I hit my head on the sink, didn’t I?
Towards the end of the hallway, he saw a door was open, letting out some light. He figured that’s where the crying was coming from. He started walking towards the door. As he got closer, his heart raced faster and faster, to the point that his heartbeat was louder than the girl’s crying. As he stood in front of the door, he could see a little girl holding a doll, crying over a woman’s bloody body. He was too terrified to move.
There was no response. Then, all of a sudden, he saw a man coming from behind the girl. He was holding a knife. As he raised his hand, Landon knew he had to do something. Before he could make one step, the door slammed shut and he heard a scream coming from inside the room. He started pounding on the door and yelling.
‘Wait! No! Stop!’
‘Landon! Landon, calm down!’
‘Landon, what’s wrong?’
Chloe was there. The lights were suddenly on and everyone stood in silence, watching him. When he looked in front of him, he realized he was pounding on the wall.