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Chapter Three: "The Island Inn"
The hunting party started northward on I-5 after everyone had downed plenty of tacos and milkshakes muled by their skate-hooved carhop. Sandy keyed her radio: “Drivers keep it a slow roll,” she said.
The girls were literally sniffing the air, looking for the quarry. “I got 'em,” Veronica's voice broke over the air. “I have a line on three of them. They're about five miles up the road, and slightly to the west. And I think they're asleep. They have no idea we're on their trail.” Thompson looked over at Kitty in the passenger seat, who had rolled down her window all the way, despite the pouring rain and chilly air. Just slightly, she tipped her head out the window, craning her neck, cocking her head and squinting her eyes. She pulled herself back into the vehicle.
“They're in a hotel room,” she said. “All three of them are fast asleep. This should be quick and simple. We'll park all you boys on the opposite side of the motel lot, and we'll walk right in and walk right out. Shouldn't take five minutes.”
Thompson smiled at her across the dimly lit vinyl of the front seat. She leaned across to offer him a stiff bit of velvet tongue. The detective again felt himself a lucky, if overwhelmed individual. They approached their destination. A flashing neon sign read Inland Inn. It was flashing red, blue, red, blue, in perpetuity. The caravan slowly rolled to a halt as directed by their navigators, who were now thinking as one collective, impressive, morally justified predator in search of evil, overgrown, homicidal sewer-dwelling rat-dog moon barkers. Drivers killed their engines and switched off headlights. The ladies all gently exited their vehicles and calmly walked off, immediately scattering into different directions. Slowly they made their way toward the other side of the property. The detectives all sat waiting, watching, mindful of their holsters.
The four women hunters arrived at the second floor hotel room silently, one at a time, within about 30 seconds of one another. The second floor walkway was covered but not fully enclosed. The mild wind carried mist from the rain over the ledge of the walkway. And the temperature was chilly but not freezing. At the whim of the hotel sign above, the air still glowed with the flashing of red, blue, red.
Veronica turned the knob, opened the door, and walked in. The other three followed close behind. The three doomed creatures inside were asleep in a hairy pile on the room's only bed. She gently put her hand on the neck of one of the sleeping dogs, and Becca and Kitty did likewise with the other two. They all then flexed their otherworldly grip, of pounds upon pounds upon pounds per square inch. All at once, the head of Veronica's quarry was severed by the violent squeeze. The other two girls gave a little more torque, and likewise popped off their heads. There were short but very noisy, high pitched squeals and shrieks from the severed monster heads, followed by a return to the waterlogged, weathery, rattly, ambient weather of the highway-side motel.
The corpse of the beast killed by Veronica decomposed immediately before the girls, fully to ashes in a period of about a quarter-minute. Kitty's made a crackling sound and turned into an eight-inch cockroach that flopped off the bed and began to scramble across the floor before Sandy ground it between the linoleum and the bottom of her high-top sneakers. It flashed blue and made a crackle-pop sound. Then the squashed bug quickly stank the room up with the stench of hospital farts and rancid fish garbage. The third corpse just laid there dead so they carried it outside to the motel's large steel garbage bin, pitched her in, and added some diesel from the gas can in Sandy’s bug before setting fire to its entire contents.
There was a crack pipe on the bedside table, clearly well used, but now cool to the touch. After the girls and the detectives were done going through the room, Thompson considered whether he ought to call it into the state troopers or the sheriff's office or the Tacoma city force, but he couldn't really think of any reason to bother them with it, so he didn't. After all, it was just a messy but empty hotel room, like so many others.
It seemed that either the wolf monsters were smoking crack, or, that they had eaten at least two crackheads. This was compelling to the detectives either way, and Thompson figured that if the crackheads hadn't been devoured or otherwise fucked to death, or turned into monsters themselves, then they might return to this scene looking for more crack. He wrote his cell phone number down on a blank tablet on the room’s T.V. stand, and underneath it left two twenty dollar bills. At least worth a try, he thought. It was about 10:30 when they left. The fire in the motel’s garbage bin bathed the area in warm amber light, but soon it died down and the air resumed its cold and steady red and blue strobing.
The weirdness of the scene at the Inland Inn glowed in the rear view mirrors of the hunting caravan. It made Thompson think of Smith's also-weird-as-fuck death scene. Mainly, tonight's sight of the monsters were what reminded him of Tuesday's seaborne disaster and he wondered if any of the ones who just bought it were any of the ones involved in the deadly fight on the doomed Blint Mary, and more specifically, if any of the ones who'd just bought it at the hands of his girlfriends was the one who did Smith. Not the point, and it really didn't matter, they're all one and the same, he thought — all part of one monster ontology.
Sandy keyed in on her radio: “I don't paint any of them anywhere nearby. Let's all go take a break and see if we can't nail another pocket of them on the next shift.”
“Yep, I don't either. They're hidin',” came Veronica's voice in response.
Kitty looked across the front seat at Thompson.
“Wanna go to the bar?” she asked. He sighed and smiled.