TKFA Goes on Vacation (TKFA 3) DO NOT POST HERE

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TKFA Goes on Vacation (TKFA 3) DO NOT POST HERE

Postby Kubo » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:02 am

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Prologue: The Drive

"Are we there yet?" Cesar's friend, Airako, asked.

"We've been on the road for thirty seconds. TK Ville is twelve hours from Colorado. Now you tell me if we are there," Cesar commanded.

Airako pressed his face against the cool window and let his tongue slide down it. His eyes were wide as he checked out the surroundings. Behind them, TK Tower was the only thing that could be seen. Everything else was hidden behind the horizon. Airako pulled away from the window and plopped back in the black leather seat of Cesar's Ford Mustang. "No, we're not there."

"So don't ask," Cesar's grip tightened on the wheel and his pale white face turned red. Sometimes he wished Brandon was still with him. He balanced out the annoying part of Airako. Often Cesar recalled the first day when they had first met at the Cinematic Cinema and watched Human Centipede II. It was gruesome and over-the-top, but was what brought them all together. He took a deep breath and brushed a long strand of brown hair to the side. Cesar had to remind himself Brandon's decision to stay with Fiore was for the best. 

"Hey, Cesar?" Airako asked.

"Yeah?"

"Why are we going to Colorado?"

"Employment opportunities," Cesar answered.

"But there are plenty of jobs in TK Ville." 

Cesar turned back to look at Airako, taking his eyes off the road. "You think working at Burger King forty hours a week would make an exciting story?"

"Yes...uh, wait, um...no."

"Exactly," Cesar faced forward, eyes intent on the car in front of him. "I need some solitude from the hustle and bustle of TK Ville. That's why I want to take up this job at the Overlook Hotel. It'll be the three of us," Cesar pointed to motioned towards Hayes, who was in the passenger seat, "and we can do anything we want. Can you imagine having a hotel to ourselves for five months? It's gonna be amazing!"

"Where in Colorado is it?" Hayes asked as he took off his police cap, revealing an increasingly noticeable bald spot on his head. His Captain Gordon mustache was happily tucked up against his nose, tickling him whenever he wiggled his mouth. 

"It's by Boulder. Twenty-five miles from the nearest populated roads, so no one can here us scream...for excitement!"

"Amen to that!" Airako laughed and tossed a Frito in his mouth. The back seat was full of drinks, snacks, and candy, all neatly assorted by Cesar when they had set off. 

"Any record of what the place is like? Who's been there?" Hayes asked as he watched the scenery roll by in his window. 

"A few presidents, a ton of movie stars, and at least a few million other unimportant people."

"And why is it not opened during the winter? Seems like it would be a desirable place for skiing, being tucked away in the mountains and all."

Cesar spun the wheel a quarter spin and released it, smoothly gliding through a sharp turn. "Since it's isolated from everything else, keeping the road clear in the winter is a fortune. Instead, they close it."

"Makes sense. Is it a family-owned establishment?" Hayes interrogated. The sun was beating down on him merciless. And there were no trees to stop it.  He scooted in closer to Cesar, who seemed slightly uneasy at first, but realized what Hayes was doing and focused on driving once more.

"Yeah, it's been owned by a family since the time it was built in 1907."

"Wait, this place is old?" Airako threw his head back against the head rest and moaned. "This is gonna blow!"

"They have a game room," Cesar said.

"I take back what I said," Airako replies promptly and smiled at the thought of all the games that a hotel could have. 

"Anyways, when I was at the interview, the owner told me that it was built on an indian burial ground and they had to fend off several Indian attacks during the construction. Either of you superstitious?"

"If I have a fear of Santa Clause, am I superstitious?" Airako asked.

"What? Where did that even--no, you're claustrophobic," Cesar diagnosed. 

"I thought that was the fear of tight spaces," Hayes said.

"I do get kinda queasy when I'm in tight spaces." For the first time, Airako noticed he was in the back of a sports car with minimal leg room an hardly any room to stretch out. "Oh gosh..."

"Puke! Puke! Puke!" Hayes cheered as he watched Airako's face go green. 

"Guys, stop it! I'm trying to focus on the road," Cesar exhaled through gritted teeth and watched the speedometer. He was cruising at a healthy eighty miles per hour. 

For a couple minutes there was silence. Airako rocked in the seat, the leather squeaking as he fell back with each repetition. Cesar checked the clock. Five minutes from TK Ville and he already wanted to throw Airako under the car and run his head over with his tire for the rest of the day. He could see a look of concern growing on Airako's face. Sweat permeated under his sleek brown hair. Cesar felt his blood boiling. If Airako even peeped a single word...

"I gotta pee."

"SONUVA--" The car came screeching to a halt on the barren interstate. Cesar threw open the car door and ran out into the asphalt. "Someone kill me! Kill me now!"

"Wait," Airako leaned back in his seat and grinned with boyish delight. "I don't have to go anymore."

"I swear if you even peed on the seat, I will--"

"I didn't pee."

Cesar stood outside the car in disbelief. Hayes knew what was gonna happen next and he got out of the car. "Cesar, calm down. I'll drive, I will give him a sleeping pill from the packet that Calypso gave me, and you can work on your prewrite. Simmer down. I don't want to put my stun gun to use."

"But what about the shi--"

"I'll take care of it. Just take a walk."  

Cesar opened his mouth to say something, but shut it bitterly. He knew Hayes was right. He needed to take a walk, release all the tension inside of him. Otherwise, it could build up and make him do something he would regret. Cesar went into the open field, putting his hands in his pockets and watching as white clouds drifted by. He felt a stinging in his chest, as if something was pushing its way out. Suddenly, a furry black blob diffused from his chest and splat on the dry dirt. It purred and rubbed up against Cesar's leg. It was his tension and anger, in material form. 

"Go on, get!" Cesar commanded, pointing into the amber waves of grain. "Go on, boy! Go fetch the stick!" Cesar threw an invisible stick, but the black blob didn't budge. He needed to try harder. "You're worth jack-shit! Nobody wants you! You're like Lennie from Of Mice and Men! All you do is get in the way and get me in trouble! Now go cuddle with your imaginary bunnies and get the hell out of my life!" The black furball pressed against the ground and whimpered before rolling away. Cesar felt bad at first, but it went away shortly. 

"Five months in a hotel...alone?" Hayes stroked his chin as he pondered. 

"Sounds like we can do anything we want," Airako said. He was smug, now that he was wearing a clean pair of underwear. He hadn't taken the sleeping pill. He'd be asleep in a few minutes anyway. 

"Here comes Cesar," Hayes said. As Cesar opened the passenger door and sat down, the cop asked, "Are you feeling better?"

"Actually, yes," he replied with a relieved grin. "You drivin'?"

"Yeah. We might want to stop off at the next exit; Airako here is hungry." Hayes turned and saw Cesar's piercing glare. "Kidding, kidding." He cranked the Mustang into drive and cruised down the endless road into the distant blue sky. Next stop: the Twilight Zone (da-da-daaaaaaa!!).

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Overlook Hotel. It overlooks...uh...grass. Great name. -_-

Postby Kubo » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:36 am

Monday
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"We're here!" Cesar said as the Mustang wound around a hill and came into view of the Overlook Hotel. It was gigantic, but was dwarfed by the mountains surrounding it. There was still snow left over from the last winter, collecting in the corners of the roof. The wood paneling used on the exterior was faded. Smoke rose from the unnaturally large chimney on the right side of the hotel. As Hayes pulled into the parking lot, he continued to stare at the immense building (even his mustache was awestruck). The front doors were open, and two trucks were parked outside. Men hauled mattresses up into the trucks. 

Hayes pulled into an empty parking spot and withdrew the key from its slot. He put it in Cesar's open hand, saying, "After you."

The work crew watched the tourists step out of the Mustang. Airako still had two bags of Doritos and a two-liter of Mountain Dew tucked in his arm, and he stumbled out with two bags on his shoulders. "Why do I have to carry all this stuff?" he asked as he lost his balance and tripped into a truck, collapsing on the asphalt with a grunt. 

"Do you need me to carry something?" Hayes asked him. He was carrying the smallest of the bags, which was disproportional with Hayes hulking mass. 

"That would be delightful," Airako's muffled voice answered. 

Cesar walked past the trucks, suitcase towed behind him. Beyond the doors, a huge lobby lay. Square pillars painted red and tan complimented the beautiful dark oak floors, which were polished to sheer perfection. The odor of old cigar smoke clung to the couches and Native American carpets. It was like a time machine back to the Roaring Twenties. 

A man dressed in a black pinstripe suit and matching pants stood next to one of the pillars. He smiled and pulled out his hand from his pocket. "Mr. LaRoux, I presume?"

"Yes..." 

"Williams. Alex Williams. Hotel manager."
 
"Pleasure to meet you," Cesar said with a sincere smile. Something about Alex looked familiar. The sunken in eyes, the slightly pudgy face. It was as if...

"Look at this place, Hayes," Airako exclaimed, his voice echoing throughout the lobby. "This is so much better than that Motel 6 we stayed in on the way here!" He noticed Alex and hobbled over to him. "Where's the game room?"

Alex chuckled and pointed to a set of glass doors on the right side of the lobby. "I'll get one of our bellhops to take your stuff to the luxury suite." 

"Sweet!" Airako threw down his bag and looked took off, nearly running into one of the pillars in his haste. "Cesar, if you need me you know where to find me!" he shouted over his shoulder as he threw open the glass door. 

CRASH!

The glass in the panes of the door shattered and fell on the ground. Airako stood awkwardly next to it. Alex looked him up and down with disapproval. "That was some shitty architecture work for whoever made this place," Airako noted as he slowly backed into the room, leaving the door ajar. 

"Anyways," Alex clapped his hands together and smiled once more. "On with the tour." He guided Hayes and Cesar out of the lobby. 

In the meantime, Airako had quickly become accustom to the game room. There was a dart board, pool, and Asteroids. Sure it wasn't the newest in gaming technology, but it was fine with Airako. Whatever passed the time, that was his motto. He heard the voice of Alex fade into the incessant humming of the heater behind him. As he grabbed the darts from the board, he felt a chill run down his spine. Damn, they keep this place way too cold, he thought as he zipped up his jacket and shivered. He tossed a dart. It landed just shy of the bullseye. He threw another one, and another one until he had thrown all six. Airako smirked and slyly walked towards the board. Seemed he had a natural hand for darts. As he took the darts back, he heard two sets of footsteps walk into the room. 

"Back already?" Airako said, not bothering to look. When he got no response, he felt a little uneasy. He peeked over his shoulder and gasped. Two twin girls stood in the doorway. They were no older than fifteen, and their attire was outdated. Blue skirts, black flats, white socks...it was rather peculiar. Airako looked down at the darts and back at them. "Wanna play darts? I warn you, I'm a bit of a phenom." 

No answer.

"Oh, sorry," Airako put the darts down on a glass table and put his hands behind his back. "I should've introduced myself. I'm Airako."

Still no answer. There was something unnerving about their presence. It was almost unearthly. The twins looked at each other emotionlessly. Airako took a dart, just in case the girls were mutant vampires in disguise. They turned in unison and walked at the same way they walked in. Half out of curiosity and half out of stupidity, Airako followed. He poked his head out of the door. No one else was around. The ominous girls had vanished. 

"Da hell? Am I on Scare Tactics or something?" Airako said aloud. There was a man walking down the long hallway in quite a haste. He was humming an Adele song to himself. 

The man noticed the broken glass door and moaned. "We just had that repaired last year."

"Excuse me," Airako said sheepishly. "Did you see two girls walk by here?"

When he turned his head, the man's messy black hair swung with the movement. "No, I'm afraid I haven't. What did they look like?"

"You would know them if you see them. They were weird. For all I know they may've been mutes. Both were dressed in blue dresses, like they were from an old movie, and their hair..." With each word that Airako spoke, the man's face grew increasingly more solemn. 

"We need to talk in private," the man said.

"We're in private now, aren't we?" Airako took a look around and then at the man. "Unless the walls have eyes or something. Maybe you're a creep. Is this the part where you lure me into a creepy white van and do things that I would describe but it would seem kind of weird that I know about, so I won't?"

"What--no, of course not!" The man needed to convince Airako. "Do you want some ice cream, Doc?"

"Oh boy, do I!"

"Well let's go to the kitchen and get you some vanilla ice cream. You like that?"

"How'd you know I like vanilla?" Airako asked suspiciously.

"I'll explain that later. Come on."

* * *

"...And this is our extravagant hedge maze," Alex proclaimed to Cesar and Hayes. "The walls are two feet thick and thirteen feet high. In the middle, we have a frozen Jack Nicholson that cults perform pagan worships on and around. I wouldn't go in there unless you have a few hours to spare." 

"We should try that out soon, before it gets cold and all," Hayes suggested. 

"Good idea," Cesar said genially.

"And this next area is the garage where we store our snowmobile. Do either of you have a certified driving license?" Alex asked.

"Yeah."

"Good, because it's nothing like driving. I'm sure you'll get the hang of it in no time." Alex opened the door to the lobby and motioned for Cesar and Hayes to go on ahead.

"Alex, I believe there's something that you said you were going to tell me when I came here," Cesar said, "What was it?"

Alex's face grew dark. "Did you hear of the 1917 murders?"

"No, I don't believe so," Cesar took off his black fedora and fixed his hair. 

"The caretaker, a man by the name of Delbert Grady, and his family were watching over the hotel in the winter of '17. Doctors say he suffered a horrid case of cabin fever. He took an ax and..." Alex struggled to speak, as if he was watching it happen before his eyes, "killed his wife and two daughters, stacking them neatly in a room in the west wing. Then, when it was all said and done, he took a shotgun and put both barrels in his mouth and...pulled the trigger."

"I can see why you didn't want to tell me earlier and scare me off," Cesar commented as a cook carrying a tower of plates pushed by. 

"We haven't had a problem since, but the isolation has been known to scare off a lot of people."

"Lucky for you, that is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm writing a novel, you see, about these three boys adventures through a city, trying to stop an evil--" Cesar saw Alex wasn't listening, or even pretending to. He was focused on someone up ahead.

"Anabella! Right on time as usual!" Alex rejoiced as he embraced her. 

Anabella was strikingly beautiful, standing at 5'9" with long brown hair that curled at the ends near her waist. She was dressed like a french maid, and had plenty of make up to add to it all. Cesar felt his stomach churn in excitement. Hayes...well he was passed out on the ground. 

"Gentlemen--or uh, man, this is Anabelle. She and Jake will be staying with you for the five months you're here. I don't know where Jake is though..." Alex glanced at his watch and cracked a frown. "We'll find him eventually, I'm sure."

"Surely," Cesar pushed Hayes awake. "Hey, we're not in heaven."

Hayes fixed his hat and looked up at Anabelle, Alex, and then Cesar. "Damn close."

"I believe the next part of the tour is the kitchen. Anabelle will show you. I have to get to a final meeting. Excuse me," Alex tore off his fancy suit, revealing a black shirt with Godzilla fighting Optimus Prime, and his green Nike shorts and shoes. Somehow, he had sprouted a goatee while taking off his suit. It was shallow, but evident. "Sorry, I needed to change into something a little more formal," he explained.

"It's okay," Cesar said. He was still transfixed on Anabelle. Nothing else mattered. Hell, Alex could've turned into a seven-headed demon the size of Godzilla and Cesar still wouldn't have noticed. 

"Follow me, if you will," Anabelle spoke ever-so-softly. 

"Ten bucks she's not wearing underwear," Hayes snickered as he got off the carpet.

Cesar slapped Hayes and rolled his eyes. "You're so stupid..." Once he saw Alex depart, he got in close and added, "I'd bet twenty."

"Oops," Anabelle sain innocently. "I dropped my keys." She bent over, causing her short dress to ride up. Hayes and Cesar both watched in awe.

"I told you she wasn't," Hayes whispered, "Now pay up."

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Innuendo City Ahead...there she blows!!

Postby Kubo » Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:40 am

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Jake leaned in close to Airako. "You know you have a special power, Doc?"

Airako moaned, paralyzed by the amount of sugar he had eaten. Three bowls were overturned, devoid of any vanilla ice cream. A fourth one had a single scoop left, a bent spoon dug into the side of it. Airako shifted and let his arms dangle off the table. "I am special..." he breathed as he eyes rolled back in his head. "So good..."

Jake slammed a scarred fist on the table. "Dammit son, listen to me!" 

Airako perked up, eyes wide and serious. "I'm listening, sir!"

"Good," Jake reached into his pocket and pulled out a picture. It was the two little girls. They were standing by the hedge maze. Their mom was standing behind them with a toothy smile and they were as well. It was faded and bent along the edges. 

"I've seen them before," Airako said.

"These two girls here, and the mom..."

"Yeah?"

"They're dead," Jake finished grimly.

"How? I saw them with my own eyes!" Airako burst out. "They were dressed in those exact clothes and everything!"

"Don't you find it rather odd?"

"Yeah..." Airako squinted suspiciously. "Are you their father?"

"What? No, how did you even get that from what I just said? Are you even listening?" 

"Honestly, I think I'm a little high right now," Airako chortled softly and inserted the spoon back in his mouth, smiling as he swallowed the sugary goodness of the ice cream. Suddenly, the smile ran away, his face darkening abruptly. "This place isn't safe, is it?"

Now it was Jake's turn to be stunned. He recovered quickly. "No, of course not. There's nothing to fear."

"What's in room 237?"

Jake licked his lips and leaned back in his chair as he thought. "You shouldn't go in there."

"Why? Is that where you keep your snuff movie stash? Is this like Vacancy when I find videos of you murdering people with your friends and you hold me captive and try to kill me but I kill you because I smash you with a car which in this case would be Cesar's car but I don't think Cesar would like me doing that because he's a jerk about letting me drive his car but he let's Hayes all the time because they're butt buddies or something? Is it?"

"I give up," Jake got up and threw his hands in the air in defeat. "You're stupid, you know that? I hope you have nightmares the whole time you're here, and when you shine, you see some scary--SHIT!"  

Airako was silent. Then, hesitantly, "So you are their father?"

* * *

"And as you can see, this is the kitchen," Anabelle proclaimed. Cesar and Hayes weren't listening. Their eyes were glued to Anabelle's long legs as she walked along the polished floor. She continued, "The storage room is to the left. There is enough food in there for you to never have the same meal twice for a whole year. "

"Yeah," Hayes drooled as he continued to oogle.

"These are our seven ovens," she indicated. "They can roast a full chicken in twenty minutes on average."

"I bet your oven gets hotter than that," Hayes snickered.

Anabelle turned around, flustered. Hayes stood straight up, petrified, afraid to make eye contact. "What did you say, you fat bafoon?" 

"I said your oven--at home I mean--could get hotter than these ones cuz--ya know--these ones are all--old and yeah and...yeah..."

"For you sake, you better hope that's what you said, Mr. Jones because I am not that type of girl," Anabelle snapped. She turned back around and continued walking. 

Hayes released a sigh of relief. His charm had never not worked before. Was age finally catching up with him? No...it couldn't be. Cesar nudged Hayes and smiled as he held up a fake rat that he had bought in a convenient store in Missouri. The original plan was to scare Airako one night with it, but now Cesar, being as cunning as he was, had something better in mind. He caught up with Anabelle and held the rat behind his back, waiting for the opportune moment. 

"Is that Hayes character always like that?" she asked with a hint of concern.

 "The more important question is are you always like that around guys oozing with charisma like him?" Cesar retaliated.

"I find guys that aren't as charming more attractive, if that makes sense." Anabelle faced Cesar so that their noses were practically touching. "Would you happen to be one of those guys?"

Cesar felt a lump in his throat. He felt his stomach churn with excitement and he could barely contain himself. "Me? Uh--well I like to think so--I mean--" He tossed the rat onto the floor behind Anabelle and pretended to suddenly notice it. 

"Aaa! Rat!" Cesar grabbed a hold of Anabelle and embraced her in dramatized fear. 

With inhuman skill and precision, Anabelle took a knife from the counter and threw it at the plastic rat. The cheap toy broke in half. Cesar laughed to lighten the mood, but Anabelle slapped him across the face. "You're as bad as Hayes! No--worse!"

"I was just-" Cesar was defeated and ashamed. He itched the back of his head and kept his gaze low. 

"If you two ever try to pull stuff like that on me again, I'll slice you up," Anabelle threatened as she pointed to the rat. "Just like that."

 Cesar shuddered and watched Anabelle turn and keep on walking. Hayes pat Cesar on the back and shook his head. "She's totally falling for me."

Cesar started walking to catch up with the maid. "You think?"

"Oh definitely. This has happened," Hayes counted the number of 'times' on his meaty fingers, "fourteen other times."

"And how did you fare then?" Cesar asked, a little more quietly now that he was closer to Anabelle.

"It's all part of their defense, see? You just gotta keep chip chippin' away at it," he made a motion of chiseling towards Anabelle. "This one's no different."

As they continued through the kitchen, Cesar pointed to a line of pots and pans hooked onto the wall. "Look at the size of that rack," Cesar said to Hayes.

SMACK!

"Yow!" Cesar held his stinging face with his hand. He glared at Anabelle furiously. "What the hell was that for?"

"Stop looking at me, you perverts!" she yelled. 

"I was pointing out that rack on the skreeonking wall!" Cesar shot back.

Anabelle turned to Hayes for verification. He nodded. "Fine."

The next room was vacant, but there was three overturned bowls of ice cream and one partially finished. "Hmmm," Anabelle checked a few pantries for who left their bowls at the table. "Where are they?"

"Do you mean Airako?" Hayes asked.

"Yes," Anabelle opened and closed a plethora of shelves. "I don't see them!"

"Hey guys!" Airako shouted. He was laying on a table across the room. Jake was standing over him with a chainsaw in his hand and a malice expression on his face. When he saw the others in the room, he three down the chainsaw and innocently smiled. 

"What were you doing, Jake?" Anabelle questioned, pushing him away from the table. 

"We were just having fun, I swear that's all it was," Jake pleaded.

Anabelle shoved him away and rubbed her fingers across Airako's face. "And who are you?"

"I'm Airako," he replied calmly as he played with his fingers. 

"You're really cute," Anabelle said, her breath going shorter. 

"That's why my mom tells me," Airako said. He lolled about and then asked, "Can I have more ice cream?"

"Jake," Anabelle shot a evil look, "Go get our guest some ice cream. He looks hungry." She leaned back over Aiarko and started to ask him various questions.

Meanwhile, Cesar and Hayes watched in disbelief. "No way," Cesar whispered. "She digs Airako."

"No, she's just trying to make me jealous," Hayes said, self-assured, "This has happened...six other times. Yeah."

Airako looked at Anabelle's boobs. "What knockers!" he gasped. 

"Oh," Anabelle giggled, "You're so funny!"

Both Cesar and Hayes gasped. "No..." 

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Looks like somebody shops at Victoria's Secret

Postby Kubo » Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:22 am

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Dinner was served once the sun had set behind the distant mountains. Alex had stayed just for dinner, or at least that's what he told me. I don't know, he could be lying...damn capitalist scum. Anyhow, he brought his assistant Zeno with him. Zeno was a peculiar looking figure. He had minty green skin, large black eyes, and he wore a suit very similar to the one Alex was wearing. 

The two of them sat down at the dinner table in the Gold Room. It was an incredible hall, with gold crowning, baseboards, and high ceilings. The red carpet was perfectly swept, and a bar was in the far corner, lit up by several light panels. There was no alcohol--it was against hotel policy to keep it over the winter. 

Jake kicked open the door of the kitchen with a giant silver tray in hand. There were six dishes on it, one for each person. He went around the table, handing one to each person before putting his plate down and tossing the tray back into the kitchen. There was a crash as plates and silverware fell. Jake cringed, but laughed. "My insurance will cover that."

No one laughed. No one poked at their food, except Cesar who was chomping on a piece of grilled chicken. Airako and Hayes were glaring at each other, as if they were in a life or death staring contest. Anabelle sat next to Airako, stroking his hand with her delicate fingers. Alex and Zeno were playing patty cake, and Jake was eyeing Cesar gleefully.

"I prepared that chicken myself. I hope it's not too spicy," Jake said, breaking the awkward silence. 

"No, it's perfect. I see why you're the head chef," Cesar commented as he forked in another piece. He wiped off a couple beads of sweat and smiled. 

Jake shifted his attention to Airako. "How are you?"

"I'm doing good," he replied, not once blinking. To Hayes, he said, "See, I already made some friends here, Hayes." He indicated Anabelle with his head.

Hayes took a sip of water and said with utmost sincerity, "It seems like you must've mistaken me for someone who actually gives a poop."

Airako slammed his hand down on the table, making Cesar jump in surprise. "Hey, how are you and your girlfriend doi--oh, I'm sorry. I forgot you didn't have one," Airako fired back.

"I heard the rumor that you're the youngest person to have erectile dysfunction in the world. Is that true?" 

"Don't you wear size eight shoes? That's pretty small, Hayes."

"Was that a yes to having E.D.? Oh, that's too bad."

"Guys, knock it off," Cesar commanded. "We're here to have fun--" He saw Alex look up from his intense patty-caking and quickly added, "And take care of the hotel too. So let's put our problems behind us for a little bit and enjoy this dinner which Jake has so generously prepared."

Zeno looked at Alex's hamburger. "Are you gonna finish that sandwich?"

"Yeah, only once I beat you in patty cake." Their hand-slapping duel went faster, faster, and faster until Zeno finally lost track of Alex's hands. The hotel manager laughed and took a hefty bite of his burger. 

Each bite was diligently watched by Zeno. Finally, Alex pushed the last bit in, and patted his stomach. Zeno asked, "Are you gonna finish that sandwich?"

"Yep." Alex's eyes opened wide. "No, not again!" 

Zeno pushed Alex onto the ground and got on top of him. Their mouths connected, and Zeno inhaled. He sucked up the digested burger and a few peanuts Alex had eaten earlier. Then he got off the nauseated man and sat back in his chair. 

His black eyes turned to Hayes. "Are you going to finish that sandwich?"

Hayes pushed his burger into the center of the table. "You can have mine if you want. I've suddenly lost my appetite."

Zeno pounced on the table and inhaled the burger in one breath. He fell back in his chair and imitated Alex's patting motion earlier. "All done."

Everyone stared in horror. Cesar turned away from the table and took the plate to his lap. He didn't speak again for the rest of the meal. Airako looked at Jake. "Does this happen all the time?"

"On occasions. Alex forgot to just ignore Zeno when he asks. You see what happens when you respond. It doesn't end pretty."

"I noticed." Airako popped a chip in his mouth and let Anabelle lick the salt off his fingers. He tickled her nose and they kissed once, twice. Three times. He lifted her onto the table and began to undress her. 

"Oh, whoa, I don't need to see that," Jake stated as he watched Airako unzip his jeans. "I think I'm just gonna go out into the hallway. You guys wanna come with me?" 

Cesar nodded, Hayes gave a thumbs up, Zeno was already walking out, but Alex was still passed out on the floor. Jake pushed his chair in and began to collect the dishes. He saw one under Anabelle and set the ones he was holding down on the table.

"I'll just get it later." A pair of underwear landed on his face. They had pink polka dots, and on the back they said "LOVE" in sparkly pink letters. 

"I will be in the hallway, right over there if you need me," he said to Airako, the feminine underwear still glued to his face.

Hayes pointed to Alex, who was lying on the ground still. "I guess he won't be staying for just dinner."

"It never hurts to have him around," Jake said as he watched Cesar take a right once he was in the hallway.

Hayes hoisted the unconscious manager over his shoulder. He noticed the underwear on Jake's face. He opened his mouth to say something, but shut it. They left the hall, and within a few minutes, all was quiet in the Gold Room.

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By the way, the Bastard on the Beach is a real alcoholic dri

Postby Kubo » Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:10 am

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That night was a bitter November one in Colrado. The wind howled as it passed through the draft in the front door. Cesar was in the Navajo Hall, typing his story on the vintage typewriter Zeno had given him (Alex was still unconscious. He was in bed, being nursed back to consciousness by Jake). He inserted his pipe into his mouth and puffed a couple smoke rings as he started a new line. As he wrote, Cesar felt a music beckoning him. At first he swore it was in his head, but it grew louder, more distinct. He checked his phone. Two 'o' clock in the morning. No one would be playing music this late. He pushed his chair from the table and looked down the long red corridor. The music was louder, a voice could be heard singing. 

"Midnight, with the stars and you...I'll be remembering you, and whatever else I do with you, while its midnight with the stars and you..."

Cesar walked down the hallway, the music drawing him like a moth to a flame. When he got to the intersection of two halls, he noticed a cloud of heavy smoke coming from the far end of the other hallway. Deflated balloons lay on either side of the hall, and confetti sprinkled the marble floor. Cesar looked around to make sure no one else was around. He could make out the music perfectly. It was big band jazz, distinctive of the thirties. It was coming from the Gold Room. Oh how Cesar loved the sweet melody. It was a fountain of liquid gold all to himself. 

When he stepped into the Gold Room, Cesar was surprised to find he wasn't alone. In fact, there was a party going on. At least a hundred people dressed in their finest attire were scattered around tables and the dance floor near the big band at the opposite end. Several women were dressed in flapper outfits, but what was most surprising was the bar. A library or different liquor and champagne lined the mirrored wall, and a bartender stood in front of it, his eyes glued to Cesar, his sole customer. Curiously, Cesar pushed through the crowd, saying his necessary sorry's and excuse me's. He sat down on one of the bar stools and folded his hands on the shining white counter. 

"What'll it be, Cesar?" the bartender asked, his sullen grey eyes locked on Cesar's. 

"Shirley Temple, please."

"We don't have her here, but if you want a different little girl for the night..."

"Oh, no," Cesar quickly tried to explain, "I meant the drink."

"We don't have it."

"Ok," Cesar scratched his chin. "I'll have Shiraz, on the rocks."

"We don't have wine. And we most certainly don't serve wine on the rocks." The bartender was snide with each word.

"What'll get me drunk the fastest?"

"The Bastard on the Beach."

"Never heard of it."

"Is that really a surprise?"

Cesar eyed the bartender. "What's that suppose to mean? Do you think I'm not man enough for the Bastard on the Rocks?"

"The Beach."

"Whatever. Answer the question...?"

"Z-Man. And I don't think you are," he replied with a smug grin. "Of course, I could always just get you a Mike's Hard Lemonade and you could call it a night."

"Get me the damn Bastard," Cesar commanded.

"Don't say I didn't warn you," Z-Man replied as he grabbed a bottle of glowing liquid. It bubbled and fizzed as he poured it out. He tossed a couple ice cubes in the shot glass. "On the rocks. You're not at the beach until you get past the rocks."

"Fine," Cesar took the glass in one hand and threw it back. The liquid rolled down his throat like a spiked steamroller. He gagged and felt it begin to come back up. A mighty swallow put it down for good. He winced and tensed up. Z-Man watched amusedly. 

"Care for it on the beach now?"

"If it'll get me drunk any faster," Cesar said, one eyes still closed as the aftertaste of the first shot began to wear down.

Z-Man poured out another shot. There weren't any ice cubes this time. Just the Bastard. Cesar hesitantly flirted with the glass, taking it between two unsteady fingers. "It's going to take more than one mouthful."

"That's why it's so potent. Go on, prove yourself. We're all dying to see how much of a man you are."

Cesar forced it down, one swallow, but the second was too much. He felt his gag reflex kick in. Vomit erupted from his mouth and nose. Cesar's head hit the counter. He groaned and set the glass down. 

"I'm not a man," he moaned. He pulled out his wallet. "How much do you want?"

"It's on the house."

Cesar sat back up, holding a twenty dollar bill between two fingers. He placed it back in his wallet. "I'm the kind of guy that likes to know who's buying his drinks, Z."

"It's not a matter that concerns you, Mr. LaRoux." Z-Man's voice was firmer than his brown combover hair. 

"Very well then," Cesar hiccuped and chuckled. "How long have you worked here?"

"Ninety-five years this Friday," Z-Man replied.

"Ninety-five?!" Cesar made an over-exaggerated gesture. "Can you imagine what your 401k is like? You could buy the Miami Heat with that money!"

"Money isn't important to me."

"You're a man of spirit," Cesar laughed at his own bad pun. "I like you, Lloyd."

"It's Z-Man."

Cesar exhaled loudly and pointed a finger at the bartender. "That's what you think. I've got some bad news for you, Lloyd. You're," Hiccup, "adopted."

"You're drunk."

"You're not drunk! You look as sober as--" Cesar looked over Z-Man's shoulder at the mirror, at his reflection. He nudged the bartender. "Who's the stiff on the other side of the bar?"

Z-Man didn't bother to turn around. "That's your reflection."

"Why does he keep looking at me? Hey, did you get him that Shiraz on the rocks too?"

"No, that's just your--"

"I'm being followed."

"What?"

"The CIA's after me. They think I own a drug cartel in Belize. You can't let them find me." Cesar turned to look behind him, as if a CIA agent would come marching in to arrest him any second. 

"Maybe you should go back to your room, Cesar. We can talk another time," Z-Man advised.

"This is serious. They think I framed Roger Rabbit too." 

"Go to your room."

Hiccup. "My parents were shot. Haha, get it? Cuz it's a shot glass, and I said--" Cesar couldn't finish his sentence. He was wheezing too hard.

Z-Man rolled his eyes. A quick judo chop to the neck knocked out the blooming author for the night. In what was left of Cesar's diluted mind, he heard the music fade away, the lights going dark, and Z-Man fading into the shadows. The crowd followed his example. Soon the room was pitch black and silent, just as it was meant to be at 2:00 in the morning.

* * *

"Cesar!" A voice called. It was the nasally one he had resented at the movie studio. "Cesar, something's wrong with Airako! He won't talk."

Cesar groaned and flicked open one eye. The Bastard on the Beach was gone, and so was the smoke cloud that had once occupied the room. There wasn't even a lingering scent to recall. He sat up and looked at his watch. 2:00 pm. "What do you want me to do about it?"

"I don't know, but Anabelle isn't in his room anymore. To tell you the truth, I don't even know where she is. I wonder what happened," Alex asked. He realized the peculiarity of Cesar being at the bar. "What are you doing here anyways?"

"I don't know, actually," Cesar answered, massaging his temples with both hands. 

"Odd, but okay. Can you go try and find Anabelle for me? I already sent Hayes to the west wing to check for her there,"

"The west wing?" Cesar asked. "Isn't that where that one guy killed his..."

"You honestly don't believe in spirits, do you?" Alex scoffed. "It's just a bunch of hocus-pocus."

"To you, perhaps." Cesar stood up, stumbled a little bit, and gained his balance. "Sorry, it was a long night." He put on his Aviators and signature black fedora. "What floor did Hayes go to?"

"Second." Alex said, and then more grimly, "That's where Room 237 is." 

Cesar took off, running out of the room and taking a left to the elevators. He could only hope that Hayes had heeded Alex's warning about that room. And yet, Cesar felt that's exactly where Anabelle would be. The elevator shut and began its ascent. There was a mirror on the back wall of the elevator. Cesar didn't feel comfortable looking at his reflection. Not here, not now. 

The bell rang and the doors opened. The hall stretched almost as if it were an optical illusion. Black doors were symmetrically placed along the white walls, and there was a maze-like pattern of colors on the carpet. Cesar took a step out. Called Hayes's name. He heard some shuffling. A round head poked out of one of the nearer rooms. To Cesar's relief, it was Hayes. 

"Cesar, what are you doing here?" he asked as he shut the door and entered into the hallway. 

"Alex told me to come help you search for Anabelle," Cesar explained.

"Can you believe what that broad did?"

Cesar cocked his head to the side. "What did she do?"

In a lower tone, Hayes began, "She must've snuck out of Airako's room, because I saw her in the standing in the doorway of my room. She didn't say a word, didn't come in. When I called her name, she just walked right off. I tried to follow her, but it was if she just vanished into thin air."

"How did she get into your room?" 

"That's the thing. I had the deadbolt and the main lock locked. There's no way she could've gotten in."

"I don't get it."

"Me either. But whatever the case, Airako won't talk to anyone anymore. He was madly in love with that crazy woman." Hayes shook his head. "I'm glad I didn't end up with her."

Cesar began to walk, reading off the numbers of the rooms to himself. He stopped. Hayes caught up with him. "What are you doing?"

"Just trust me," Cesar said as he grabbed the door handle for Room 237 with a sweaty right hand...

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The only thing to fear is fear itself...and nachos

Postby Kubo » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:43 am

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An hour or two later...I don't have a watch, so cut me some slack! Gosh...ok, it's about 7:00 p.m. There. Stop your bitching.

Hayes and Cesar returned to the Navajo Hall. Alex and Zeno were waiting. Their heads rose at the sound of the footsteps on the wood. 

"Did you find her?" Alex asked.

"No," Cesar replied bitterly. "We checked Room 237. She wasn't in there, but the lamp was on and a set of clothes were laid out on the bed."

"And the Dick Van Dyke show was on. I love that show," Hayes said with a smirk. He shoved a cigar in his mouth and chuckled, muttering the theme under his breath, "So you think that you've got troubles? Well, trouble's a bubble. So tell old Mr. Trouble to get lost!"

Cesar gazed at Hayes, and then looked back at Alex. "Anabelle had to have been in there at one point though. There were clothes, women's clothes..."

"One of us could be a tranny," Zeno suggested. Alex smacked him on the shoulder and shook his head in shame.

"She'll come back eventually." Alex nodded to himself. "Why wouldn't she?"

Cesar shrugged. "Beats me." 

"How's Airako?" Hayes asked, popping the stub of a cigar into his mouth and spitting out the paper. 

"Just fine now," Alex answered. "He was just constipated. Put him on the toilet, gave him Raisin Bran, and--" he snapped his fingers, "all better."

"That's good to know." Cesar sat down at his desk and put a sheet of paper into his typewriter. 

Zeno returned to the couch. He pulled out his Nintendo DSi and put in a Pokèmon game. Hayes walked towards the stairs, his footsteps echoing through the hall. He trudged up the stairs and disappeared from Cesar and Alex's sight. Alex remained next to Cesar. He leaned in close. "What did you see?"

Cesar kept typing, pounding the keys with deadly precision. "Hayes and I told you what we saw."

"Not all of it. I know there's more to that room than just a set of clothes and the Dick Van Dyke Show. What was on the tv? In the bathroom?"

Cesar stopped typing, annoyed by Alex's interrogation. "There was a VHS of a movie, and a dead guy on the floor. I just threw him out the window and didn't think anything of it."

"Don't watch that VHS. You'll die in seven days if you do," Alex warned.

"Whoa, whoa," Cesar got up and looked at Alex. "Are we making a less than subtle reference to The Ring right now?"

"See, now you ruined it! You can't just say the movie like that! It ruins it for the reader!" Alex glanced at the hills in the distance, as if they had eyes. "Sorry, guys, Cesar's a little slow when it comes to the references."

"Who's this series based on, huh?" Cesar yelled. Alex pulled a chair up to Cesar's desk and sat on it. "Yeah, sit down! Sit down, string bean!" Cesar did the same to after making it clear that he was the main character. 

Alex grumbled to himself. There was a silence as they both sat. The conversation was sparked again by Alex's inquiry. "Did you see the bathroom?"

"I looked inside, but I didn't need to go all the way in or anything. Why?"

Alex hesitated. "There's something you should probably know about Anabelle."

"I'm listening."

"There's something not quite right. She talks to herself all the time, like there is someone right next to her."

"Schizophrenic maybe?"

"Perhaps. Maybe she sees things in this hotel."

"Like ghosts?"

At that moment, the sun disappeared behind a dark grey blanket of clouds. The shadows grew heavy on Alex's face as the sunlight dimmed. "Let's stick with the schizophrenic claim."

Cesar felt a chill run up his spine. He could see a darkness behind Alex's blue eyes. The manager was hiding something from him still. "Who is Anabelle?"

Alex's voice was barely above a whisker as he spoke, "Jake has told me she has two physical beings. One is spiritual, and the other is earthly."

"How does he know?"

"He's a medium. Jake has telekinetic abilities and can communicate with spirits sometimes."

"Interesting," Cesar remarked. Two days ago, he wouldn't have believed any of this, and dismissed it as hocus-pocus. But in times like this, the only possible explanation was one that made no sense at all. "So why is Anabelle like this?"

"Jake couldn't find that bit out. He heard it occurred before she came here. She used to work at an old chateau, as a head maid--"

Cesar snickered. "Head maid."

"Be mature, dammit!" Alex snapped.

"Sorry."

"She used to be the main maid..." Alex made sure Cesar wasn't going to make another perverted connection before going on, "But something went horribly wrong there. I can't begin to imagine what that would be..."

"Me either," Cesar heard a clap of thunder. Alex turned to look outside. The clouds rolled by unnaturally, a green tint present in their normal color.

"You should be careful tonight, Cesar," Alex said grimly. "Nights like this are when the spirits are most active. Sometimes I hear them calling for me. Sometimes I hear music not of this time. Other times I see people, dead and bloody people. They stand by my bedside and watch me silently. I ask what they want, but I don't know why I even try. The rare occasion comes when I have visions. Blood, blood everywhere. It's like I was there at the murder in 1917. My body trembles, and sometimes it's me who is holding the ax, standing over two little girls. I don't understand it. Why do the spirits do this to me? To everyone?" Alex leaned back in his chair and then got up. "Well, I'm off to bed. Don't try too hard to fall asleep!"

As Alex and Zeno walked out of the room, Cesar heard a familiar music down the corridor. But this time he would ignore it. Soon his typing drowned out the melody...

* * * 

Alex took off his shoes and set them next to his bed. He pulled the covers down and undressed. Another roar of thunder, louder then before. Alex sighed and laid down in his bed. He turned off the light and pulled the covers up to his face. His eyes didn't shut. They couldn't. He was petrified by fear. Alex could feel a presence in his room, shuffling in the dark. The two pairs of footsteps stopped as they neared Alex's bed. They were whispering two words over and over, growing progressively louder each time. "Red rum, red rum, red rum..." A flash of lightning illuminated two girls standing over Alex. Their faces and bodies were mangled. Blood ran from their eyes and mouth. Alex put his head under his pillow and cried. But their chant didn't stop. Then a scream, and the sound of an ax cutting into flesh and bone. A man yelled in twisted delight. Then, silence. Alex waited for ten minutes, his breathing sporadic and fast. Finally he built up the courage to remove his pillow from his face. A bloody ax lay on the ground between two dead girls. In blood, two words were written on the wall, which were illuminated by lightning. 

"Red rum"

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Ortega Taco Shells are made from humans!

Postby Kubo » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:24 am

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Z-Man polished a shot glass and set it down on the counter. The Gold Room was vacant, and the party had ended an hour ago. But Z-Man remained, quietly going about his work with a corner of his mouth risen in a peculiar manner. His sharp features would wrinkle as he wiped the bottom of the glasses clean. Then they would release. He was waiting, as he did every night. Occasionally, Z-Man's blue eyes would raise from his work to the door. He would pause, wait, and then return to his business. As he set down his two-hundred thirty-seventh cleaned glass, his ears detected shuffling outside. Z-Man's eyes rose again, and they were greeted by a teenager with black hair. The bartender put his wash cloth away and waited for the boy to reach the counter. When he did, Z-Man said, "I'm glad to see you could stop by for once."

"I had to make time eventually," Jake said. He glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one was following him. Nothing.

"It's good to see you again."

"It's good to be back, Z," Jake replied, taking a clean shot glass from the pyramid of glass and held it up to propose a toast. "Here's to another five miserable months in this drag."

Z-Man took a bottle of champagne and held it up. He clinked glasses with Jake and poured the brown liquid in until it flooded over the lip. The cook chuckled and withdrew his wet hand. He downed the drink and sighed. 

"You know something, Z?"

"What?" the bartender asked as he set the champagne back on its shelf.

"I like being able to come here every winter. It takes some of the stress off of me knowing I have somewhere to come to."

"Five winters you've been here," Z-Man observed. "You are almost becoming one of us."

"Almost," added Jake. 

"I think it'd be best if you got to meet the rest of us," Z-Man suggested. "You have become our human middleman after all." 

"I would be honored," Jake answered sincerely. 

Z-Man walked out from behind the bar and escorted Jake out of the Gold Room. A maze of turns and stairs followed. Jake wondered how Z-Man could ever remember his way around this place. Then again, he had been here for almost a century. One more turn opened into a long hallway with a four-pane window that looked out into the still night. Z-Man stopped at a room and turned to Jake.

"See this room?" he asked solemnly.

"Yes," Jake answered.

"This isn't where we're meeting. Follow me."

The tour started up once more. More twists and turns. Then, they arrived at the Gold Room. Z-Man turned to Jake again. "We're here."

The cook didn't say a word. He kept his head down and kept his bitter thoughts in his mind. 

Inside the Gold Room, two figures were waiting. They were seated at a table, hands folded neatly. Z-Man held out his hand to indicate them as he spoke, "Jake, I believe you have met Anabelle on more than one occasion."

Jake nodded his head at the maid and didn't make eye contact. She always rubbed him the wrong way since he had started working at the Overlook Hotel (not in that way, you pervert). "And I don't believe you have met our other acquaintance: Kristijan."

The man announced had medium black hair, soft features, and an athletic build. He wore sporty shorts and a loose t-shirt. When Z-Man said his name, Kristijan casually lifted his hand in acknowledgement. 

"It's nice to meet you, Krist," Jake said.

"Feeling's mutual."

Z-Man sat down at the table and instructed Jake to do the same. "Now, I understand we have something in common."

"We all like to run?" Kristijan asked as he gulped down an energy drank and twitched.

"No, not even close--"

"Can I go run? I got so much energy--I--I feel like I am gonna explode!" the hyper boy leaped out of his seat and started running around the Gold Room, hurdling over chairs and tables alike. "Don't worry, I'm listening!" he shouted over his shoulder as he came around for his first lap.

"Very well then." Z-Man sniffed the energy drink. He cringed and crushed it in one bony hand, then threw it on the ground. The can turned to dust and blew away in an  insensible wind. "As I was saying earlier, we all have a common feature."

"And that is...?" Jake questioned.

"We are confined to this hotel. You, Jake, are an employee, and Alex's little skreeonk." Jake's eyes widened. "Don't think we don't see what he does to you when nobody's around." Z-Man smirked and continued. "You are only semi-aware of the fact that by signing that contract with your dominator--I mean, manager, you have agreed to be the human diplomat between the two dimensions. Alex is aware of our presence, and he knows damn well what we can do, so he is gonna hold on to you as long as possible, in some ways quite literally...Anabelle, you are here because you're a wandering soul. After you were murdered by your master at the Old Chateau, you took it upon yourself to kill whoever you came across. Kristijan is here because, well..." Z-Man looked over his shoulder at the runner. "Why are you here?"

"Because it's big, and I like to run!"

"Right. That makes sense. And as for me, I am imprisoned here because I died with bloody hands." Z-Man noticed Jake grow more attentive. "I knew of Gratey's mental instability on that fateful winter night. I told the manager at that time that he was in good shape to watch the hotel. Naturally, he took my word for it. When the manager came back from Boulder to find the Gratey family brutally murdered, no one knew where to put the blame. I died soon after of an untimely heart attack, and as punishment I am forced to serve as the ghostly bartender until this place is destroyed. As you can imagine, I am pissed off." Z-Man's hands clenched and he sighed. 

"Where is Gratey anyway?" Anabelle asked. 

"Lurking around, giving someone a spook or two," Z-Man chuckled at the thought.

"What do you think of him?" Jake asked the specter bartender.

"Gratey?" Jake nodded. "He's an okay guy. Pretty respectable when he isn't chopping down his wife and kids at night."

"Isn't anyone?" 

Z-Man shrugged. "You got a point."

Anabelle turned to the door. "Someone's coming." The three phantoms all turned their attention to the door.

Jake spun around and watched a figure halt at the door. It was Alex. His eyes were bloodshot, and fear was etched into his moist face. "What the hell happened to you, Alex?" Jake asked as he stood up to comfort his friend.

"We have to get the new guys out of here," answered Alex. His eyes never met Jake's as he spoke.

"Why? What happened?"

"Delbert is more violent than normal. I saw his daughters in my room." Alex froze, his mouth hung open in terror. "He chopped them down, and wrote 'Red Rum' on the wall."

"Why would he do that?" Jake questioned. "I had just stocked the fridge with red rum a few days ago." He looked over his shoulder for his ghostly friends, but they had vanished. 

"I fear the worst, Jake. You must do your best to keep everyone from killing each other. The ghosts can do no harm as long as they are immortal. So they'll turn to hallucinations and nightmares." 

"I understand," Jake said. 

"This conversation never happened. You tell Cesar and them what they need to know, and that's it." 

"I will."

Jake took Alex in one arm and led him out of the Gold Room. The cook looked over his shoulder again. Z-Man was standing at the bar. He held a finger to his mouth. Jake nodded in compliance.

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Marco Polo: The Game That Caught Osama Bin Laden

Postby Kubo » Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:55 am

Someday (the day in the week after the day I last remember happening)

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"Good morning, Krusty Krew!" cried Airako as he entered the Gold Room. His friends acknowledged him with mixed reactions and continued about their business of setting up breakfast. A buffet of fresh fruit was set up on the bar. Shelves were lined with different cereals, and boxes of Pop Tarts were placed on the bar stools. A long table was set up in the center of the room. Airako rubbed the eye boogers from his weary eyes and collected them in his hand before eating them. They crunched, their salty texture enveloping his mouth. He let out a sigh of morning breath that could've killed a horse with a gas mask on and shuffled over to the bar. He grabbed a couple pieces of fruit, a bagel, and a couple sausage links. Cesar, Hayes, Alex, and Zeno had already taken their spots at the table and were engrossed in their food. Airako listened in on the current conversation and observed.

"...The ghosts are extremely hostile this year," Alex was saying. "I don't know what it is that is making them like this, but it's serious stuff."

"Is there any way to fight them off?" Hayes asked as he took a sausage link and popped it in his mouth like a cigar. 

"As long as they do not sign a contract with a human, they can not physically hurt us," Alex answered.

"So what do we have to fear?" said Zeno.

"Fear itself!" Cesar cried. He got a disapproving look from the others and tipped his hat over his eyes and spoke no more. 

"They are immortal as long as they are ghosts. Hallucinations are their primary weapon, and they are masters with it."

"Hallucinations are all fine and dandy, but how will that hurt us?" Airako joined in.

"Care to explain, Zeno?" Alex asked his assistant.

"Gladly." The alien took a poster from his back pocket and held it up. It was covered in colorful ponies and rainbows and sparkles and all the feminine decor. "Oops," Zeno pocketed the My Little Pony poster and pulled out another one. This one had a chart of the human brain with each section marked with scientific terms and numbers. "These hallucinations of theirs are tangible in every sensual element. You can see them, hear them, smell them, feel them, and taste them...can't really why you humans would ever know of that last one...Anyways, the sense of feeling is peculiar. These physical encounters can be painful, but they will never kill you."

"How severe can it get?"

"To the point of rendering one unconscious." 

A grim silence fell upon the table. The words hung like a body hanging from a noose. It lingered, its stench clinging to and infecting those in the room. 

Airako lifted his head, a mouthful of an apple in his mouth, and said, "This is the best breakfast ever!"

* * *

Jake scrubbed off a pan he had prepared pancakes on. The porous sponge polished off the chrome pan. The cook set the pan down and wiped his hands on his jeans. There was a shuffling behind him. He turned and saw Anabelle sitting on a counter, a knife resting under one of her hands.

"What do you want?" Jake asked.

"Z-Man wants to talk to you tonight," Anabelle said.

"About?"

"Important matters." 

Jake brushed his jet black hair to the side. "In here? Tonight?" Anabelle nodded. "I'll be there."

"Make sure everyone is asleep. We don't want Alex knowing of our plans." 

Jake raised an eyebrow. "What are our plans?"

Anabelle fidgeted and replied, "Let's just say if anyone knows of them, you will have to kill them."

The kitchen door swung open and Alex walked in. Upon seeing Anabelle, he froze mid-step. "I saw nothing."

Anabelle lifted her knife and pointed it loosely at the manager. "And you heard nothing either." 

"Did I smell anything?" 

Anabelle smacked her free hand on the counter. "I knew I shouldn't have worn this perfume today!"

Alex started for the door, but Jake cut him off and pinned him against the wall. "You keep your mouth shut. I don't care if you have to staple it shut, but if I hear a peep, I will personally hunt you down and kill you."

"What have they done to you, Jake?" Alex asked. 

"No," Jake pushed Alex against the wall, "What did you do to me?"

"I don't understand--"

"Then let me make it clear to you, Alex." Jake released the manager and began to pace through the kitchen as he spoke, "For the time I have worked here, you have filled my head with all these nightmarish ideas that these ghosts are monsters. That they have no thoughts other than murder and spite. We have to negotiate with them to keep the Overlook Hotel in business. But in all reality, you are the spiteful one. You enjoy their suffering. You--" Jake was cut off by the sound of the door flinging open and heavy footsteps running out. "Son of a skreeonk..."

Anabelle licked her lips and smiled. "Looks like this is the test to see whether you are committed to our cause or not."

Alex picked up a pan and twisted it in his hand. "I am committed."

"Good," Anabelle pulled out several papers, "Now, if you would just sign these papers saying you are in allegiance with the Ghost Union and are committed to the well-being of all spirits, that would be great."

"Could I do this some other time?" Jake whined.

Anabelle ripped the paper up and tossed it onto the stove. It caught fire and burned. "We'll take care of this contract tonight." 

"Thank you," Jake said over his shoulder as he burst through the kitchen doors. Pot in hand, he stumbled into the Gold Room. Everyone except Alex was at the table. 

Hayes noticed the pan and aggressive expression Jake possessed. He took off his police hat and asked, "Are you having trouble getting the batch of eggs over easy that I asked for a couple hours ago?"

"No, I'm looking for Alex..." Jake wanted to smack himself for saying that, but then he fished out an excuse, "I need to show him a stain on this pan. I've been scrubbing at it for a while and it isn't coming off."

"He went to the Navajo Hall," Zeno said.

"Thanks," Jake took off down the hall, pan in hand. 

"What a swell guy," Cesar noted.

"If only every employee in the world was like that," Hayes remarked. "Now if he could just get me the eggs like I wanted..."

* * * 

"Alex!" Jake shouted at the top of his lungs. The Navajo Hall was vacant. Cesar's typewriter had an unfinished sheet of paper in the slot. Other than that, everything was in place. Jake smacked the pan against the wall. "Where the skreeonk are you hiding?"

No answer. Jake tipped over a couch in frustration. He broke a porcelain statute with the pan. The head shattered on the ground. Jake took the pan to the window and broke it. He held the pan in one hand and smiles. "That's the durability Calphalon pans have!"

His grim mood returned. Shadows formed on his face, under his eyes. The blue gems scanned the room for the unusual. Nothing. Jake frowned. But hope was not lost. An idea sprung to his mind...

"Marco!"

"Polo!" a distant voice called. Alex's head poked up from behind a couch. "Oh poop!" Desperately, he tried to get over the couch as Jake closed in on him. 

"What's the matter, Alex? I'm not gonna hurt you--"

"Stay away from me!" Alex yelled as he managed to get one leg over the couch. "Why do they make these things so difficult to get out of!?"

"I'm not gonna hurt you. You didn't let me finish my sentence, Alex." Jake spun the pan in his hand. "I said I'm not gonna hurt you. I'm just gonna bash your brains in. I'm gonna bash them right the skreeonk in!" At this point, Jake was in front of the couch. The feeble manager had worked his way onto the couch and was wheezing. He raised his hand in mercy.

"Jake, don't let them control you," Alex pleaded. "If you sign that contract, you'll let them loose on innocent people!"

SPLAT!

"They're acceptable losses," Jake said as he inspected the brain matter on the pan. Alex's headless body slumped in the couch, the remnants of his head splattered against the wall. Blood oozed from the neck stump and onto the couch. Jake set the pan down on the wood floor and begin to clean up.

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The Square Root of Nine is Threeeeeee!!

Postby Kubo » Mon May 07, 2012 7:45 am

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Anabelle chafed her knife against her long fingernails and bit her lip. It wasn't long before several pairs of footsteps approached. Z-Man, followed by Kristijan and two newcomers. One was dressed in all black, similar to Cesar. His grey eyes bore into Anabelle's. He sneered and sat on a counter. The other was dressed in a tuxedo. He held a pocket watch in his right hand, a gun in the left. A gash split his face clean in half. A wild bush of brown hair sat on the top of his head. When Z-Man instructed him to stop walking, he snapped his watch shut and tucked it back in his pocket. 

"Who are these two?" Anabelle asked.

"Friends," Z-Man replied. "Of course, you haven't been here long enough to meet them." He indicated the tuxedo-wearing man. "This is Klaus."

"The pleasure is all mine, madam," Klaus said with a bow and vicious smile. 

"And the other one is Mr. X."

The other newcomer only nodded his head and said nothing.

"Couldn't we have gotten Mr. T instead of this downer?" Kristijan whined as he jogged in place. 

"We had to make due with what we have, Kristijan." Z-Man shook his head and gave a discontent sigh. "Mr. Gratey has given us a very tight budget of three dollars and a pack of chewing gum. We used the three dollars to get a hold of Mr. T, but the call dropped and we needed to use the chewing gum to get Klaus and X to join our gang."

"These guys better do some interesting poop because I really wanted some chewing gum," Kristijan remarked sourly. 

"Klaus has some friends with him in the hotel that can provide some back-up," Z-Man explained.

"Why would we need back-up?" Anabelle questioned as she felt the sharp side of a knife with a delicate finger.

"Because..."

"Because, Madam Anabelle, this is a party," a voice answered. The owner was new to the scene. He wore a black tuxedo, and his gray hair was slicked back against his thin head. His nose protruded like a beak. 

"Ah, Gratey, I was worried you wouldn't show up," Z-Man exclaimed.

"There was a re-run of the Dick Van Dyke Show again," the bird-like man grumbled. 

"Pops, that shows been off the air for a while," Kristijan pointed out. "Since '66, if I remember right."

Gratey's haunting eyes bore holes in Kristijan. "They wouldn't end a show like that. Have you ever seen it? It's funny."

"I think South Park has it beat." Kristijan folded his arms casually looked at Z-Man, who was shaking his head.

"So what is the plan, Delbert?" Mr. X asked, his focus remaining keenly on Anabelle.

"Tonight is the night of our reincarnation. Jake will sign the contract, and we will be free from this curse. Then, we can play with the guests until we get bored, which is when we will kill them. After that, our undead powers will give us the ability to conquer the nation, and then the world! There is a lot riding on this. Not only is this the chance for Hell to spill over onto earth, but the Emmy-Award for Best Villain lies upon it as well."

"I think Yuna's gonna beat him," Kristijan muttered to Z-Man.

Gratey pointed a bony finger at the hyper boy. "We'll see about that."

"I'd like to get started soon," Mr. X said. 

"Patience is a virtue," Z-Man assured.

"You believe in virtue, Z? I didn't think of you as one who believes in morality," Gratey scoffed.

"It has its perks."

Mr. X took a butcher knife from a draw and inspected it before saying, "This is the day the heavens will fall."

Delbert Gratey dismissed his minions with a wave of his hand. He waited until everyone left before he followed. At the end of the kitchen, two girls stood, hand in hand. They were grim, deathly pale, and bloody. Gratey shook his head and snapped at them, "You will not get in the way again. I won't let you."

* * *

"...And that's how you divide by zero," Hayes concluded pompously.

"That would give the cure to every disease on earth!" Cesar cried. Everyone else gave other exclamations of "Unbelievable!" and "Incredible!" and from Airako came "Can you pass the soy sauce?"

Shortly after, everyone went their ways, leaving the breakfast table for Jake to clean up. Airako and Zeno decided to go to the maze. It was a warm day (in Colorado), and a storm was rolling in tonight. Cesar was going to finish typing his story, and Hayes stayed at the bar in the Gold Room going through criminal files. This vacation gave him plenty of time to sort through old crimes committed by Tom Servo. He came across a file that seemed new. Sky Wolf must've stuffed it in his bag right before they had left. The briefing page showed Tom Servo's dead body, but a marker circled a face in the crowd behind him. The cop squinted and tried to see who it was, but a smack on the bar jolted him out of his work. It was a man dressed in fine clothes. He had a twisted smile and held up a bottle of gin.

"Hello, officer," Z-Man said. He pulled off the cork on the bottle and tossed it aside. 

Hayes pulled out his gun and pointed it at the bartender. "Get back against the wall."

"Oh, Hayes--"

"Do it!"

Z-Man barely moved his hand and Hayes fired his gun. The shot echoed through the room. Z-Man gave a stunned cry and held the bullet wound with his free hand. Hayes gave a satisfied laugh and rubbed his mustache. "That'll teach you to mess with the Hayester."

Z-Man stumbled back against the bar. His gasps turned to laughter and he removed his hand from the wound. He took a swig of gin. It spilled out of the wound and onto the floor. "You're gonna have to do a lot better than that if you want to kill a ghost."

BANG!

"Nope."

BANG! BA-DABANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG BANG!

"Stop it, you can't kill me!" 

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click, click...click...

"Now that that's over..."

BANG! 

Z-Man grabbed Hayes' hand that was holding the gun and crushed it in his iron grip. "My turn!"

Hayes yelped and cried, "Oh Fluttershy!"

In Navajo Hall, Cesar returned to his throne and stretched his fingers. "I got some ideas, and..." He noticed an unfinished sheet in the typewriter. "That's odd...I never leave a page unfinished in the typewriter." He tore it out and read it to himself:

Cesar, if you read this, then I have not died in vain. Jake has gone insane. He's after me now. I have to go...

Alex

P.S. The square root of nine is three!


"How do you like what he wrote?" a voice called behind him. 

Cesar spun around and jumped to his feet. "Jake!"

"How do you like it?"

"Medium well, but that's not the point!" Cesar noticed the ax in Jake's hand. His face was distorted with evil. "What the hell has happened to you?"

"Not you too," Jake snarled. "I thought I would have gotten to you before that lying missionary would have."

"What are you talking about?"

"Alex. He's brainwashed you and converted you to make you believe that we're bad people." Jake brought the ax up and placed it on his shoulder. "We aren't so bad."

"I'll be the judge of that," Cesar remarked. 

Jake snickered. Then, in blind fury, he lifted the ax and brought it down. 

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We'll take anybody, just keep out the Irish!

Postby Kubo » Tue May 08, 2012 8:14 am

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Cesar dodged the ax narrowly. It came down and broke the table neatly in two. The typewriter fell on the floor and broke. Jake pulled the ax out and swung it madly. Cesar dodged again and punched the cook in the nose. He squealed and held his bleeding nose with one hand. Cesar felt a wave of confidence sweep over him. The odds might not be in his favor, but if he could get in close, the fight was his. 

Mr. X watched from the second-floor balcony as Jake swung the ax again, missing and tallying another hit from Cesar. The former caretaker watched unamused. Klaus came from the hallway and stood with him. The gruff specter felt blood trickle from his gash and said to X, "You know, when I was a kid, I chopped my family up into little pieces with an ax."

"Sounds a lot like what Gratey did, son," Mr. X replied, not taking his eyes off the fight. 

"It's not! After I did that, I took a shotgun and blew my brains out and--"

"You stole from Delbert."

Klaus was taken about. "You don't know me! You don't know me!"

"You probably tried to kill them with safety scissors, failed, got spanked, and sent to your room without dinner." Mr. X calmly looked over at Klaus and a fraction of a smile formed on his face.

"You don't even know me, man," Klaus repeated as he sat down and watched the fight through the metal bars. 

Jake jumped through the air, swinging the ax down with master precision. He only managed to clip the side of Cesar's black fedora. Cesar lifted his hat from his head and held it up. "This cost me a lot of money!"

Jake's ax split the hat clean in two. Cesar just stared at what was left of his precious hat. Then, Jake brought the blunt end of the ax around and clobbered Cesar in the side of the head, knocking him out cold. 

"Ouch," Klaus commented. "He's definitely down for the count."

Mr. X nodded. "Let's go outside."

Klaus looked up at the black apparition. "Why?"

"Do I need a reason?" 

"It sounds creepy when you ask another guy to go with him for no real reason. That's practically the same as asking a girl to strip naked and give you a lap dance...for free."

"Don't come with me then," Mr. X replied stolidly. "I'm sure Delbert will enjoy hearing that his new ally is too lazy to give a couple shitheads a spook."

Klaus hurried to his feet and stood straight up. "I didn't know you were going to scare people! I want to go!"

"Suddenly I have your interest." Mr. X started down the stairs. "Funny, I don't remember you being this enthusiastic just a few moments ago."

"I was just messing with you, X!"

"Jake!" Mr. X called, ignoring Klaus entirely. "Take his body to the boiler room. Gratey will be waiting."

"Hey, I'm talking to you!" Klaus screamed.

"Sure thing, X," Jake dragged the unconscious body to the elevator and pressed a button. "Where are you headed now?"

"Oustide, alone," Mr. X replied as he continued down the stairs. "Airako and Zeno deserve equal treatment as everyone else."

"Are you skreeonking kidding me?" Klaus jumped on Mr. X's back and tried to get his attention. "Why aren't you listening to me?"

"You got that right," Jake called as the elevator doors opened.

"This is our time, Jake," Mr. X declared. He brushed Klaus off with a single hand and walked towards the door. 

"I hate you so much," Klaus grumbled as he sat on the stairs and watched Mr. X go outside without him. 

* * *

Z-Man poured himself a drink and downed it, sighing with sweet satisfaction as he finished it. "What do you make of this fat so-called cop?, Krist?"

The athlete chuckled and looked at Hayes' bloody body on the floor of the Gold Room. He bit off an end of one of Hayes' cigars and answered, "Pathetic, weak, and a wanna-be Paul Blart."

"He couldn't be a mall cop if he tried," Anabelle joined in. She was seated closest to Hayes. Her legs were crossed and she was eagerly waiting for the cop's next feeble move.

"And that My Little Pony obsession," Z-Man laughed filled another shot glass, "What kind of twisted obsession is that?" 

"It's a girls show, yet more grown-up guys watch it than girls," Anabelle added. "It's so feminine."

All this time, Kristijan remained silent. Smiling, but only for show. Secretly, he was a Brony. He pulled down his left sleeve to cover up his pony tattoo and pretended to laugh at what Anabelle said. 

Hayes struggled and managed to sit up. A high-heel shoe dug into his leg and forced him back down. "Not so fast, macho man," Anabelle cooed, "You need to relax for a little bit."

"Only after I shove your head up his," Hayes pointed to Z-Man, "ass."

Anabelle gave a soft laugh and rubbed Hayes' face. "You're so cute when you are angry."

She made the mistake of bringing her fingers too close to his mouth. He chomped down on them until blood was drawn. She stomped down on his Pride, releasing her fingers from his mouth. He uttered a cry, which quickly turned to laughter.

Anabelle held her bloody fingers in her good hand and addressed Z-Man. "I thought we couldn't get hurt like this!"

The bartender shrugged and said, "I don't make the rules, I just follow them."

"Maybe if you weren't so careless you wouldn't be in this situation, Ana," Kristijan said. 

Anabelle stomped on Hayes again and knocked him out with a quick kick. She fixed her hair and pointed disgustedly at the cop. "When we are brought back to life, I will deal with Hayes personally, and anyone that stands in my way will receive the same fate. Clear?"

Z-Man lifted a bottle of the Bastard in acknowledgement and Kristijan nodded. 

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If you ever get lost in a maze, bring marshmallows.

Postby Kubo » Fri May 11, 2012 10:36 am

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Airako and Zeno had set up camp in the middle of the maze after concluded that they were undoubtedly lost. Zeno had left a trail of bread crumbs, but Airako ate them before they even hit the ground. So, without much hope, they stopped and decided to take a break. A campfire was set, and the marshmallows were brought out (no, they weren't used for breadcrumbs. Marshmallows are too good to be wasted like that!). 

"I wonder how the others are doing," Airako thought aloud.

Zeno looked at the darkening skies as the sun set in the horizon. "I don't even think they know we're gone."

Airako shook his head. "No, I don't think so. They could've tried to find us, but got lost in the maze too!"

"What are you trying to do? Scare me?" Zeno asked as a cold wind made him shiver. 

Airako pulled his marshmallow out of the fire and grabbed it with two fingers. He gently released it into his mouth. "I would never try to scare you, Zeno." Suddenly, Airako perked up, hair sprouting on the back of his neck. "Did you hear that?"

Zeno clutched the grass in fear. "What do you think it is?"

"I think it might be..." Airako bent down as he spoke and then shouted, "A GHOST!" He flung marshmallows at Zeno and laughed. The alien gave a high-pitched screamed and then fainted.

"Oh man!" Airako cried as he crammed a handful of fluffy marshmallows in his mouth. "You should've seen your face!"

The teen chuckled and sat quietly, staring into the flames. He calmly sat for a moment, thinking to himself. The wind dove from the top of the bushy hedges and passed through his t-shirt, causing him to shiver. Airako stood up and felt a strange urge overtake him. He moved around the fire to Zeno and shook him. "Wake up! Zeno!" 

The alien fell to the ground, drooling. 

"The one time I need you and you can't wake up. What a friend," Airako huffed. He turned away from Zeno and came face to face with a familiar figure. He was dressed in all black. His features were hidden in the dark of the night.

"Oh, Cesar!" Airako exclaimed. "I thought nobody would ever find us here." He put his hand on the broad shoulder and laughed. "I'll wake up Zeno." 

Airako slapped Zeno across the face. While he was doing this, he said to Cesar, "I hope you left a trail of bread crumbs. Or cookies. I'm really hungry. These marshmallows don't do it. Hey, could you help me with Zeno here? Huh?" Airako noticed Cesar was gone. "Cesar?"

No answer.

"I swear, if you even try to scare me, I'll rip you to pieces, and you know I can!" Airako shook. Cesar wasn't one to do something like this. 

Suddenly, a strong gust picked up dust, which put out the fire. A heavy darkness fell upon Airako and Zeno. All was silent except for Airako's heartbeat and Zeno's snoring. A shuffling from behind. Airako spun around. Nothing. Then again, in this darkness, it was impossible to tell. Another set of feet came from behind. Again, Airako was fruitless in finding the culprit. The footsteps joined together, and then there was a thud. A voice cried out.

"Klaus, what are you doing?" a deep voice whispered in frustration.

"I wanted to help scare these guys!" the other, Klaus, answered.

"Keep your voice down. They can hear you when you talk that loud."

"Actually, I can hear you too," Airako pointed out. 

A pause followed. A couple cuss words were said under breath. Then, the fire re-ignited. Two people emerged from behind a hedge. The one was 'Cesar', and the other was Klaus. Airako gasped at the sight of Klaus's mortal wound. 

"We should make it clear what we're doing," 'Cesar' said. "I am Mr. X and--"

"Why not Mr. T? He's cooler," Airako interrupted.

"That's what I told Z-Man!" Klaus added. 

"Mr. T could've brought the whole A-Team too!" Airako squealed. 

"That would've made the best story ever!"

"Would you two shut up!?" Mr. X screamed. Both refrained from talking. "Thank you. As I was saying before you so rudely interrupted me, I--"

"Sorry."

"...As I was saying, I--"

"Are you gonna except my apology?" Airako asked.

Mr. X's gray eyes narrowed. His fists clenched, but he kept calm. "Yes, I accept it. Now, I--"

"Thank you."

"That's it!" Mr. X grabbed Airako by the shirt and held him up to his face. "I thought I had met some annoying shits in my life, but you, you stupid son of a skreeonk, outshit them all!" Mr. X flung Airako at a hedge. Branches snapped, and the teen's body broke through the two-foot thick wall. 

Klaus prodded Zeno with a foot to see if he was unconscious. He was. "Can I play with this one?"

"Once the contract is signed, you can play with him all you want, Klaus," Mr. X answered with grim delight as he fixed his wild hair.

* * * 

Hayes regained consciousness in a damp dark room. He felt his wrists chained. The wounds on his legs throbbed as he struggled to get up to his feet. The cop noticed that he was in a boiler room. Several giant cylinders lay around the room, a dimly lit staircase lie between two to his right. Across from him and chained to another boiler was Cesar, who was also conscious. Hayes opened his mouth to speak, but felt an immense ache on the side of his jaw from when Anabelle had kicked him. 

"Hayes!" Cesar whispered. "Thank God you're okay. What did they do to you?"

Hayes shook his head and moaned. Cesar sighed. "They really screwed you up, huh?"

"Yeah." Hayes clenched his hands as pain shot through his jaw.

Cesar yanked at his chains and sighed. "Looks like we're done in."

Hayes nodded. 

Cesar stood silently. His head was cocked to the side like a bird's as he listened intently. Hayes stated inquisitively before asking, "What do you hear?"

"It sounds like Jake, and that bartender guy--"

"Z-Man."

"That's the one. There are others too. Anabelle, I think. A couple I haven't heard before. They're talking about something...a contract."

"Tell me what they're saying." Hayes spat out some blood and closed his eyes as Cesar reiterated the conversation.

"You know what you have to do, Jake?" Z-Man said.

"I am ready."

"Where is Mr. X and Klaus?" Kristijan asked.

"Does it matter?" Delbert returned.

Cesar noted a sigh from Kristijan. 

"Signing this contract will bring us out of purgatory but it will let us keep our powers," Mr. Gratey explained. "You will be given a share of what we reap when we begin our attack."

"Good. Hand me a pen." A pause. "Thank you, Anabelle."

Cesar could imagine the enthusiastic expressions on the specters' faces as they watched Jake sign his name in the ink of innocent blood. Mortality, a source of death-dealing power, flowed through the room above as Jake finished the deed. Cesar turned to Hayes, Hayes turned to Cesar, and Chester the Cheetah turned to Billie Mays. Death was imminent.

"This is the end, our new beginning," Delbert Gratey proclaimed, his breath once more of mortal command.

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This is a pain in the neck to read this chapter...hehe...pun

Postby Kubo » Tue May 15, 2012 11:32 am

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Cesar took a breath of misty cool air. The sense of new malevolence that filled the hotel contaminated the inhaled air. Hopelessness lingered within it. Cesar shivered as a stream of cool water ran down his hair and onto his face. He caught some in his mouth, but it tasted sour. He spat it out and moaned. "It's gasoline." His attention quickly returned to the conversation.

"For your help, we can give you whatever it is that you want," Z-Man said.

"I want Cesar. I want to finish him off," Jake's voice snarled.

"Anything else?" another voice asked. Cesar could almost see the anticipating faces of the phantoms as they waited for Jake's reply.

"No. Not now."

"Your reward is waiting downstairs." 

"Right."

There was a shuffle and then the voice of Anabelle, "If you so much as touch Hayes, I will cut you up into little pieces and feed you to our slaves."

"Take your hand off me, you damn dirty maid," Jake commanded with bitter resent. 

"Nice Ape reference," Kristijan said. Z-Man and Gratey both expelled audible sighs. "What? Am I not allowed to express my feelings towards somebody's reference to a classic Sci-Fi movie?"

"You don't say what movie it's from," Z-Man explained through gritted teeth. "It's supposed to be subtle reference, not a blatant shout-out."

"It was too subtle. I was just clearing it up for the reader."

"Are you kidding--"

"Z-Man. Stop," Gratey ordered.

Jake's footsteps could be heard coming down the wooden stairs. He was muttering some words to himself. "We could of had it all...rollin' in the dee--" his voice cracked and sounded like a cat getting run over by a car as he tried to hit the high note. Jake hit the wall with a fist and sighed. "One day, I'll sing as good as Adele."

When Jake appeared in the room, Cesar felt his stomach squirm. The cook-turned-madman carried an ax in his right hand. His genial expression was a euphemism for his intentions. He held the sharp edge close to Cesar's neck. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time

"You've only been Psycho-Jake for about ten hours, so that's not really a long time..." Hayes noted jeeringly.

"Shut up, you fat skreeonk!"

"Just remember that this fat skreeonk has gotten more women than you've even seen in your life, little boy," Hayes fired back.

Jake pointed his ax at Hayes. He scraped his police badge off and then jabbed Hayes in the stomach with the head of the ax. "You're lucky Anabelle has a score to settle with you. Otherwise I'd spread you from here to right over there." Jake pointed to Chester the Cheetah, who calmly inserted a crunchy Cheetah into his mouth. 

"Hey, pretty girl, remember me?" Cesar asked.

Jake spun madly and brought the ax to the side. "Wait!" screamed Cesar. "Don't you want to savor the moment? An ax would make it too quick." Cesar's eyes rose over Jake's shoulder at Hayes, who nodded and stood up straight.

Jake stiffened up and let his grip on the ax loosen. "You're exactly right." He pointed to the pipe above the boiler. "See that? It's full of gasoline." Jake swung the ax and broke the pipe open. Gas shot out and ran down Cesar's body. A match struck the boiler and caught fire. The cook held it up to his face and grinned. "I'll set fi-ya-ya, to the rain. Watch it pour as I touch your face, let it burn while I cry, cause I heard it calling out your name, your name--ah--wha--"

Hayes had mustered every bit of strength he had and lifted his legs up and wrapped around Jake's neck. The cook struggled, dropping the match on the stone floor. It went out instantly. Hayes gritted his teethed and worked his legs into a better position around Jake's neck. 

"Get off me!" Jake yelled. He tore at Hayes' legs, but the cop wasn't letting go. Jake spat and ripped the pants open as he slowly weakened Hayes' clasp.

"Nut shot, Cesar!" Hayes commanded. 

Without a moment's thought, Cesar's foot connected with Jake's jewels. He gave a loud high-pitched yelp as Hayes regained his hold once and for all and--

SNAP!

Jake's hands slid off the cop's legs and hung loosely. He fell under the weight of Hayes and was dead, his neck thoroughly wrung. "I'm getting too damn old for this poop," Hayes muttered.

"Why did you kill him?" Cesar wailed.

"Because he was gonna kill you," was the reply in a slightly confused voice.

"He had the key. Now how are we gonna get out?" Cesar fired back, raising his voice.

"Don't you start with me, Cesar."

"But now we're finished! Anabelle will be down soon and she'll carve you up and then do the same to me!"

"What are you trying to say then? I didn't have a choice so clearly I had to kill Jake. I couldn't have just held him there."

"Why not?"

"Why not? Because he would've gotten loose, that's why!"

"But you didn't have to kill him!"

"For the last time, I didn't have a choice! Maybe if you had let me--"

The sound of the door opening at the top of the stairs brought the two back to reality. A pair of high heels started down the stairs.

"Get the key," Cesar whispered. "Get the key, dammit, Hayes, get the skreeonking key."

Hayes sweated as he took off one of his shoes and reached into Jake's pocket with his toes. He licked his lips as he fiddled around the pocket until his big toe detected the key. "I got it." He withdrew his foot and flung the key awkwardly up to his mouth. 

"Faster, Hayes, faster."

Hayes muttered through the key, in a manner of an aside, "If I had a nickle for every time I heard that." He brought a cuff close to his mouth and twisted it. There was a click. He yanked the key out and did the same for his other hand.

"Do me, Hayes! Hurry!" 

The footsteps were getting towards the bottom of the stairwell. Hayes freed his friend and guided him behind the boiler. He spun around. Anabelle was standing, one hand on her hip and a knife in the other, which was running against her long leg. She looked at the boiler. "Cesar, get out of here. I'll deal with you later."

"No," Cesar walked out from behind the boiler, "I won't leave my friend behind."

"Listen to her," Hayes said. "I can take care of myself."

Anabelle raised an eyebrow. "Hayes? Paying attention to what a girl wants? Must be your way of trying to beg for mercy."

Cesar glanced at Hayes unsure of his decision. But he did as he was told and ran up the stairs to the kitchen, leaving his friend with the female ghost. 

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Due to Budget cuts, there will be no more pictures.

Postby Kubo » Wed May 23, 2012 6:22 am

Mr. X inspected Airako's motionless body disdainfully. Klaus stood by him, watching eagerly to see what his friend would do. Yet Mr. X continued to wait, watching for Airako to make a move. 

"Did you kill him?" Klaus asked. Mr. X put a hand up to silence the boy. Klaus put his hands on his hips and groaned. "You're boring, X."

Again, his words did not elicit a response. Klaus walked over to Zeno and sat down on the grass. Mr. X noticed Airako make a feeble sign of life. The ghost kicked him in the gut, causing him to roll over onto his back. Mr. X stomped on Airako's chest and emotionlessly watched as the boy writhed under his foot. To him, it was the boyish delight of watching an ant under a magnifying glass, burning in agony. "What does it feel like, Airako?" Mr. X asked wondrously.

Airako's body sprouted thick hair. Thick claws developed. Muscles bulged. Mr. X still watched with awe. Klaus turned around as he heard Airako growl. "X, man, what are you doing?"

Mr. X took his foot off the buff chest of the enraged Airako. "Don't disturb me now. I want to watch him. I want to watch him bleed." He took out a blade and stabbed Airako's thick skin. Blue blood seeped out. Mr. X had a crooked smile on his face as he withdrew his knife. Airako covered his wound with a scarred hand and stood up. He was almost two feet taller than Mr. X.

"I'm outta here," Klaus said over his shoulder as he dragged Zeno away from the fire. 

"Fine. Who needs you anyway?" Mr. X sighed. He was about to stab Airako again, but the beast took hold of X's arm and growled. The ghost only laughed. "You can't hurt me! I'm invincible! Even as a giant freak, you can't kill me! Just try! I dare you!" Even as Airako brought his fist back, Mr. X continued his psychotic rambling. "What's the point? I won't feel a thing!"

Mr. X was right. He didn't feel a thing as he was pounded into a bloody pulp. 

When Klaus had heard the Mr. X stop taunting Airako, he dropped Zeno's body and ran for the exit of the maze as fast as he could. The contract had been signed. He wasn't invincible any longer. A roar echoed through the hedges. Klaus felt his heart nearly jump out of his chest. Suddenly, he heard a rustling of bushes. Airako was rushing towards him, charging on hands and feet. Summoning what power he could fetch in the moment, Klaus called for his ghostly friends. From the ground and the hedges themselves, a multitude of zombies rose. Some were missing whole limbs, some were only freshly dead. They were all dressed in fine clothes, tuxedos, dresses (the women wore dresses...not the men), and fine jewelry. "Kill him! Kill that monster!" Klaus squeaked as he fled through the passages.

Airako bashed one of the zombies in the stomach, causing its body to split clean in two. He swept several off their feet and into the sky. Six more were crushed by Airako's giant fists. Zeno was picked up by a pair of warm furry hands and carried away. Airako cradled Zeno in his arms and plowed through the crowd of undead, trampling them without hesitation. After reaching safer grounds, Airako set the alien down on the ground and slapped him awake. He spun around and saw a horde of zombies, arms outstretched, inching towards them. Airako turned back to Zeno, who was still unconscious.

"Zeno, wake up!" Nothing. "The world's gonna end, Zeno, you have to wake up!" Nothing. "Burger King is having a 'buy-one get sixty for free' deal right now!" Nothing. Airako slapped the ground and desperately recalled some fragments of Zeno's native language. "Ue chû ne fada fada boom boom!" 

Zeno perked up and screamed. He crawled away, eyes wide with fear. "There you are! Good morning, sunshine!"

"Don't ever say what you just said again," Zeno warned. He had never looked so terrified in his life. His mouth was formed into a sick grimace and his normally green skin was bleach white.

"Why? What could it possibly mean?" 

Zeno whispered what it meant in Airako's ear. The monster cupped his hands on his mouth and barely uttered a horrified cry. "Why would anybody ever say something that volatile?!"

"Why did you say that in the first place?!"

"How was I supposed to know?" Airako stopped and squinted at Zeno.

"What?" Zeno asked. "Do I have something on my face?"

"No, you sorta look like Michael Jackson when you're white like that...and you sound like it too..."

"Shut up!" Zeno snapped, his green tint returning slowly. 

Before they could continue their conversation, Klaus returned with an ax in his hand. He swung it at Airako, bringing the sharp edge through his back. The hulk-like boy cried and rolled on his side, making Klaus lose his grip on the ax. In an instant, a blast of blue energy sent him flying back into his zombie army. Zeno blew smoke from his ray gun and smiled. 

Airako tore the ax out of his back and tossed it aside. Zeno stood up with him. Airako's giant hand wrapped around Zeno's body. "What are you doing?" the alien questioned.

"Sending you back to the hotel. They need your help there. I'll be fine dealing with this joker." 

Airako spun around, using his momentum to fling Zeno out of the maze and through the hotel window into Navajo Hall. At the same time as Zeno's flight, the zombies had gathered around Airako. They moaned and groaned and cloned and zoned and...yeah. Airako bashed his hands together and roared a challenge at them. 

A wave of zombies jumped at the opportunity, as fast as their little dead limbs could. Airako brushed them to the side like toys. He leaped over some and snapped one's jaw as it tried to bite him. He saw Klaus, yelling at his bumbling goons. The ghost didn't realize he was in danger until his eyes met Airako's. It was too late. An uppercut sent him rocketing into the night sky flailing. 

"It looks like Klaus is blasting off agaaaaaiiii--" An airplane engine inhaled Klaus. There was a scream and a sound of buzzing as the propeller ground him up into a bloody mist. His remains were eaten by a flock of seagulls who quickly pooped him back out in little white droplets.

Airako winced as he watched. "I can't say I saw that coming."

The zombies fled, their leader dead and pellets of poop ruining their attire. Airako grabbed a couple of stragglers and crushed them. He silently sat down and let his body return to normal size. It was only after a time of pondering what to do that Airako realized he was stuck in the maze. 

* * * 

When Cesar reached the top of the stairs, he found himself in the kitchen. Several aisles of ovens, stoves, and dishwashers spread both ways. In front of him, the door to the Gold Room stood. He pushed through the doors silently. At the bar, Z-Man stood with his arms folded. He had a bottle of a familiar concoction and two shot glasses on the bar. "At last, Cesar has come," Z-Man proclaimed. "I thought Jake would've killed you with his wretched singing, but you've proved me wrong."

"He was a snap," Cesar replied, stifling a chuckle at his one-liner. 

"But, unfortunately for you, I am not so easy to kill. You see, I--"

"Where are the restrooms?" 

Z-Man was taken aback. "What?"

"I've had to go pee for the past hour, I was embarrassed to go in front of Hayes, and I can't hold it much longer!"

"It's right over there," Z-Man pointed to his right. Cesar rushed by, sweating and wheezing as he went. He blew through the door and nearly fell on the floor. Z-Man sighed and poured himself a shot. "What a strange, strange kid..."

Cesar broke down a stall door and panicked as he struggled to unzip his pants. The toilet seat was down. He jumped up and down in an effort to hold back the oncoming flood. With one wild hand, he flipped up the seat. Then, release. A long and relieved sigh followed. Several squirts later, he flushed the toilet. There was a low growl. At first, Cesar thought the toilet was possessed. Then he realized that somebody was in the stall next to him. There was a groan, and a sound of machine gun fire. Cesar dared himself to ask who it was. "Hayes?"

There was a shuffle, followed by a muffled, "skreeonk". The person pulled up their pants, flushed the toilet, and opened the door. It wasn't Hayes, or anyone Cesar would've expected. The man had a beak-like nose, slicked back gray hair, and dark fierce eyes. 

"I didn't think you would come in here," he explained.

"What's your name?"

"Gratey. Delbert Gratey."

"Gratey...what, do you come with a Slap Chop? Is that what you're trying to sell?" 

"What?"

"You in it with Vince? Are you gonna love my nuts?" 

"I have no idea--"

"Is that so?" 

Gratey gave a smoldering glare and started to wash his hands. "Perhaps we should step outside and talk about this," he suggested.

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Kubo
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Finland!!!

Postby Kubo » Thu May 24, 2012 8:56 am

Hayes smiled and traced Anabelle's slim body with his eyes. They had been in a standoff for ten minutes, and neither of them had spoken a word. It was Hayes who broke the ice. "We don't need to fight if you don't want to," Hayes said.

"Who said we were going to fight?" Anabelle inquired with a half-smile.

"Now that's more like it." The cop began to approach Anabelle. "I'm not such a bad guy when you get to know me."

Anabelle's mischievous grin didn't fade as Hayes neared her. Once they were less than an arm's length apart, Hayes put his hand on her arm. It was cold, as if the blood had long since frozen in the veins. His other hand took her left wrist. He forcefully pulled it up, revealing a large butcher knife. This time, Hayes was the one with the smile. "I don't know if that's your way of getting intimate or not, but I'm not a fan of big pointy things."

Suddenly, Hayes headbutt Anabelle. She stumbled and fell down on her butt. Her hand wiped blood from her forehead. "What's the matter?" Hayes taunted. "I thought you liked head?"

Anabelle took up her knife and tried to stab Hayes' foot. He's widely evaded it and stomped down on her hand. She gave a strained cry as the blade of the knife cut into her palm. "That must be your good hand," Hayes remarked cooly.

Anabelle pulled another knife out and attacked. This time was a success; she pierced Hayes' black leather shoe. Blood trickled out. The police officer stumbled back and fell down on top of Jake's body. There was a puddle of gasoline that wetted his suit when he fell. As Anabelle stood up, he fumbled through Jake's pockets looking for something. The maid took a knife and flung it. The blade landed in Hayes' left arm. He winced and quickly dislodged it. 

"If you were smart, you would stay down," Anabelle snarled.

Hayes got up onto his knees, then on one foot, then both. The pain in his foot cried out for him to sit back down, but he ignored it. He glared at Anabelle. "I dropped out of Harvard when I was three years old because it wasn't challenging enough. I am the guy who made the impossible stairwell possible. I can divide by zero. But you're probably right. I'm not that smart."

The maid scoffed. "You're all talk, big man."

"Prove it."

Another knife formed in Anabelle's hand. She threw it at Hayes with masterful precision. Yet the cop was nimble enough to avoid it and roundhouse kick Anabelle into the side of a boiler. She collapsed in a heap. "I'm waiting."

Anabelle spun a knob on the side of the boiler. Steam shot out the front, burning Hayes. He squealed and rolled out of the way. "Stop, drop, and roll! Stop, drop, and roll!" When he realized he wasn't on fire, he quickly stood up, ready to fight again. Anabelle charged, tackling Hayes into another boiler. He pulled at her hair, while she punched him in the stomach. The cop kneed Anabelle in the stomach. She gave a grunt and weakened. That gave Hayes a perfect opportunity. He took her by the head and headbutt her again. She fell down, unconscious. Hayes held his head with one hand and looked at Anabelle's still form. 

"You're one crazy skreeonk!" Hayes cried. He leaned back against the boiler and sighed. 

A strange white aura surrounded Anabelle's body. The energy lifted from her and hovered in the air. It developed limbs, a head, and skin. Fingers sprouted, nails grew, and color filled the white body. Next came brown lengthy hair, a gently formed nose, and two bright blue eyes. Hayes watched as the aura manifested into a separate being entirely. It was identical to Anabelle in every way. However, this one wore no clothes. Hayes lifted one eyebrow in confusion, but said nothing. The body fell back to the ground. Her mouth opened, breathing in new life. At the same time, Anabelle regained consciousness. 

The naked one stood up. She covered her boobs with one arm, and her hand covered the other areas. She shyly looked up at Hayes through her straight brown hair. Something about her expression made Hayes approach and embrace her. The girl's body was wet and slippery. The cop pressed his lips against her cheek and kissed her. He heard Anabelle getting to her feet and he gently separate himself from Anabelle's twin. 

The maid turned to her twin and then back to Hayes. "I am Ana," she said.

The twin added, "And I am Belle."

In unison, they explained, "We were killed in a fire at the Old Chateau. Now, our spirit travels in two entities. We feel each others pain, and we can communicate without ever speaking."

Hayes skeptically looked at Ana and Belle. "So if I hit Ana, I'll hurt both of you?"

"Corre--"

SLAP!

"Ow!" they both cried after Hayes slapped Ana on the cheek. Hayes was delighted at the results and chuckled.

"How dare you!" Ana wailed. She grabbed Hayes' broad shoulders and dug her nails into his skin. He lifted her up and tossed her at Belle. The twins fell onto the ground, groaning in pain. 

"How'd that feel?" Hayes asked mockingly.

Belle was the first one up. She kicked Hayes in the shin and fired off a couple sharp jabs to his stomach. The cop took hold of her neck and held her up. Ana was there before he could do anything else. She stabbed him in the same place in his arm as before, but wiggled it around. Hayes released Belle, who quickly retaliated by upper-cutting the officer. He fell against the boiler and slid to the floor. Ana and Belle stood back and watched Hayes. A stream of blood ran down from his mouth. His eyes were tired, worn by the grueling fight. 

"Where's your comeback now, Hayes?" Ana said. 

The cop lifted up a hand and gave her the middle finger, then blew Ana a kiss. "Just for you."

Hayes managed to get back to his feet, holding a pipe for support. Ana and Belle looked at each other and smiled. Belle lunged at the cop, but he took her by the hair and slammed her against the boiler. He spun around, still holding the dazed Belle, and backhanded Ana. He tucked the naked clone under his arm and took Ana by the hair. Hayes tied their hair together and pushed them into a corner where gasoline had collected. They feebly struggled, trying to get untangled. 

"Oh, ladies!" Hayes called ecstatically. He pulled out a match and struck it against the side of the rough boiler. Ana and Belle both saw it and panicked, their haste making their situation only worse. Hayes threw the match down into the gasoline. The flames spread towards the specter twins and quickly enveloped them. Their cries were unearthly, the source coming from a place beyond this world. Ana and Belle's skin bulged and melted as the fire baked them slowly. Their bodies began to expand, growing bigger as they grew hotter. 

"I should probably get out of here," Hayes said to himself as he dashed up the wooden stairs two at a time. Their screams grew louder and more distorted. Their bodies, stretched too much, became like giant balloons. It was only a second more when...

BOOM!

Green fire flew up the stairs, chunks of skin and bone splattering against the walls. Hayes was at safe distance at that point, and only shook his head as he watched the green flames dissipate. "She always had such an inflated opinion of herself..." Then, he blacked out.

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One more chapter! Gotta push it! Aaaaaaa!!!

Postby Kubo » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:33 am

Zeno watched as Cesar was forced out of the bathroom. The alien had made the mistake of coming to the Gold Room, and was threatened at gun point by Z-Man. Now, he sat, two shot glasses on the bar in front of him. Gratey commanded Cesar to sit next to Zeno. The caretaker looked to Z-Man. "Please tell me you can take care of these two?"

"Certainly," Z-Man replied. 

"I don't want any more mistakes. Klaus and X are dead, and Anabelle is burnt out. Don't end up like them."

Z-Man pushed the two glasses towards Cesar and Zeno. "It'll be over before you know it."

"Thank God," Gratey said, "I have to finish taking a poop. If I come out and they're still alive," he pointed at the bartender with a bony finger, "you'll see what happens."

"He'll slap chop you in the ass and love your nuts," Cesar whispered in an aside to Z-Man. 

"Shut! Up!" Gratey wailed, his face flashing red. 

Cesar visualized what he had just said and winced. "That's grody..." Then, a revelation. "Grody...Gratey...is there a resemblance here?"

"Grody? What does 'grody' mean?" Gratey asked. He turned to Z-Man, who simply shrugged.

"It's a mix between gross and disgusting."

The caretaker sighed and said to Z-Man, "Five minutes with this kid, and I'm already mentally retarded."

"I know your pain."

"Do you, Z? Do you really?" Gratey asked in an almost aggressive tone.

"I had to deal with him when he was drunk for ten minutes. Believe it or not, but he made more sense than he does now."

"Z-Man..." Cesar turned around in his stool and inspected the villain. "You look a little bit like an old Norman Bates. Do you dress up like your dead mom and have conversations with yourself?"

"Yea--no! No!" 

A smile sprung to Cesar's face and he pointed a finger at Z-Man. "I knew it, you creepy son of a skreeonk!"

BAM!

Z-Man blew smoke from the barrel of his pistol. Cesar said nothing. In the meantime, Gratey took the opportunity to go to the restroom and finish his business. "Don't act like you know my mom. She was a great woman and raised me well."

"'Well' is relative to what? Charlie Manson? Yeah, I guess you were raised well then, except you're not even successful at what you do..."

"In time..."

"That's the kind of optimistic spirit that makes a winner!" Cesar cried to a now fuming Z-Man.

"Really?"

"Nope. You'll always be a loser to me."

BAM!

Z-Man retracted his gun from just above Cesar's head. "Next time, I won't miss."

"Fine, fine. Don't get your panties in a knot," Cesar grumbled. He slumped on his stool. 

"In front of me," Z-Man began, putting his gun away and retracting the red from his face, "are two shot glasses. The left one has poison, the right one doesn't."

"What was the point of telling us that?" Zeno cried. "Now we know not to drink out of that one!"

"Oh, I believe you're missing the point, my alien friend. One of you must die." There was a hushed silence. Then Z-Man continued, "Who is willing to take the bullet for the other? Will it be Zeno, the quiet and removed protagonist, who by drinking it will continue the TohoKingdom Forum Adventure series? Or will it be Cesar, the annoying hero, who by drinking it would end TKFA and give Zeno a chance to start his own series?" The bartender poured himself a shot and set it on the bar. His eyes  eagerly watched the two heroes.

"I've got some bad news for you!" Cesar declared. "I was on the forums last night, and I saw that there were sign-ups for the next TKFA! And King Caesar already said what my character is going to be like. Zeno wasn't mentioned. That means Zeno has to drink it."

The alien's antennas drooped and he took the left glass. He stared into the brown liq uid, seeing the Emmy Award nomination he had missed out on. He saw his life flash before him. The evil bartender took a drink of his shot and set it down, half full (or half empty, if you're a Debbie Downer). Zeno perked up, slowly raising his eyes to Z-Man. "Are you going to finish that?"

The bartender snickered. "Of course! It's my favorite drink in the--"

If Z-Man had seen it coming, he would've said nothing. But he had made a fatal mistake. The alien leaped over the bar and pressed his mouth to Z-Man's. The man flailed and tried to push Zeno off of him. His hand reached for the pistol on his belt, but before he could pull the trigger, the alien inhaled. The gun fell to the floor. Z-Man's eyes rolled into his head and his innards were sucked out like he had encountered a vacuum from hell. There was a moist crunch as his brain was split and drawn out his bloody mouth. Z-Man's body collapsed in a mound, his skin now a loose-fitting suit on a skeletal frame. Zeno wiped his lips and plopped back in his bar stool. He turned to a bewildered Cesar and pointed to the right shot glass. "Are you going to finish that?"

* * * 

Hayes woke up abruptly. He tried to sit up, but the wound on his arm forced him to remain on the ground. He tore off a part of his battered uniform and tightly wrapped it around the wound, halting the bleeding for a short time. The cop rolled onto his side and got onto his knees before standing up. He didn't know what had happened to the others. Maybe they were all dead and he was all that was left. Maybe Gratey and his gang had already started their attack on mankind. Either way, he needed to get out of the Overlook Hotel. Hayes shuffled towards the door, gritting his teeth to cope with the pain. 

Suddenly, there was a loud sound among the aisles of cooking ware. Hayes turned to see a figure standing among the pans. He must've been six feet tall. He was dressed in a blue t-shirt. He had his sleeves rolled up so his My Little Pony tattoo was showing. Hayes stopped in his tracks and felt his stomach lurch. He couldn't fight another ghost. Not in his current condition. Hayes pulled out his gun and took aim at the ghost. "I could blow your head clean off, boy," Hayes snarled in his most menacing voice. 

The phantom didn't seem to be intimidated, but he turned and strolled down the aisle and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Hayes by himself. The cop chuckled and pulled the trigger. His gun clicked and he shoved it back in its holster. "Hayes, oh boy, you belong in Vegas."

Hayes pushed open the doors to the Gold Room and saw Cesar and Zeno sitting at the bar. Three shot glasses stood on the wood. Hayes pulled on his belt and puffed up his chest. "You two are under arrest for drinking under age."

"I'm over 500 years old, Hayes," Zeno noted.

"Now is not the time," Hayes snapped. He leaned over the bar and saw Z-Man, or what was left of him. "And you, good sir, are under arrest for distributing alcohol to two minors." A donut was pulled out of thin air by Hayes, and he took a mammoth-sized bite out of it. Jelly dripped from his chin. "Haven't had one of these in forever."

"Such a clichè," Cesar remarked. 

Before anything else could happen, the bathroom door swung open and Gratey emerged. "Z-Man, could you pour me a--oh," he noticed his favorite bartender was dead, "damn."
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