Excerpt from Hotel Exotica – The Big Yaya
Lucas left Ruby’s slot and made a hasty path back to his own slot. He had only just arrived and was seated watching a news bulletin on his vid wall window when there was a knock on the door. He opened it.
Two men, one tall one short stood in the street, both in the classic formal plain label suit wear. The shorter one spoke. ‘Mr. Lucas Honey,’ he said as he projected his ID onto a small airscreen between them. It wasn’t a question. Lucas stepped out of the way.
‘Come in.’ The shorter man walked in. He was ragged around the edges, big head, blonde hair, short neck, his body proportions out of whack with the size of his large head. He just looked mean. Or angry. Probably small man’s syndrome, Lucas thought. The taller man entered next. Long neck, slicked back shoulder length dark hair, narrow face, intense large yellow eyes, large chest, immaculately dressed, even with shiny black shoes. His jacket swung open as he walked past Lucas, revealing a pulse Glock. Ha, he’d done that on purpose. They both entered the room looking it over, touching furniture and running their fingers over his art deco desk lamp as they ambled in. Lucas kept the door open. They noticed.
‘You looking at a quick getaway, Mr. Honey?’ the shorter man said.
‘No, just making sure you boys don’t think you can settle down for some snacks and nibbles. Now watcha want?’ The short man, now with a smirk and definitely with an attitude, walked towards him.
‘We know where you went today and we want to know why, see. And don’t try and give us any BS.’ He leaned forward into Lucas’ face. Lucas stepped back.
‘Well, firstly, you’re invading my personal space, so move back, preferably over the other side of the room where I don’t have to smell your stink, agent Klaus.’ The man’s face scrunched in anger making him look even more ugly, almost a caricature of a human. He reached under his coat and whipped out his pulse Glock, but found that Lucas had his weapon already pointed at his head.
The short guy looked flustered. ‘What the fuk is that? A toy? Facsimile. You carrying illegally?’
Lucas reached up and slowly pulled the slide back loading a round into the chamber and let it flick back with a whack. The short guy jumped. ‘Well, actually, before I loaded it, it was a toy, now it’s not. Wanna try it? Unlike your pulse weapon there, this thing doesn’t just make a neat hole. This’ll blow your head clean off. Nothing left from your neck up. Maybe you won’t notice?’
Before the standoff could escalate the tall agent stepped forward and pushed the short guy’s pulse Glock downwards. ‘There’s no need for the show of testosterone boys. Put your pieces away. We just want to talk Mr. Honey. Nothing else. Just answer our questions and we’ll be on our way.’
That voice. The man wasn’t a he, he was a she. Now that he looked closer, and his brain had reset his recognition circuits to this person being female, suddenly all of his, her, physical attributes, became feminine, including the big chest—just. How could he have missed that? He automatically modified his response to being a lot more amenable, a reaction that was a default for him when talking to women. Even when he met the snarky, bitchy women in his line of work, he couldn’t bring himself to reply likewise. Maybe sometimes with a slice of sarcasm.
He re-holstered his Glock, pushed past the short guy, went into his foodprep area and poured himself a whiskey from a bottle on the shelf that he had forgotten. ‘You, agents want a snifter? I know you’re on the job, but I’ll overlook that, just to ease the tension.’ He knocked back a finger of golden liquid and poured another.
The short man still fumed and Lucas was certain that he also had a short fuse which was already lit, or close to. The tall female agent approached him. ‘No thanks. Now, we just want to know what you were doing at the morgue today.’
‘Didn’t Dr. Aapro tell you? That’s the reason you’re here, right. He called you.’ Lucas knocked another finger back and put the glass down on the bench. ‘Such a happy family we have here.’ He leaned back against the bench in the food prep area and crossed his arms. ‘I was investigating the suicide murder that happened in our hotel last week. The one where the female assassin exploded.’
The small man quickly stepped forward but was restrained by the tall female agent with an outstretched arm. ‘Yes, we are aware you’re the private investigator for the Hotel Exotica chain.’
Interesting behaviour between these two, Lucas thought. ‘Then you know that’s it’s my job to investigate these things so they don’t get out of hand. The hotel can’t afford the bad rap in the newssheets that these sort of things bring.’
‘So, please explain the presence of DI Sanchez and the other private individual, Didac Umber from the University of New Haven, which you also visited last week.’
‘I see you boys, sorry, agents, have done your homework. I needed the DI to get approval for me to view the remains of the assassin. Mr. Umber, a long time friend of mine had some new forensic equipment that he wanted to try out on the remains. He’s developed it to help law enforcement make very detailed forensic analysis, in the field, in real time. I was letting him try it out on a real victim. Prove it’s functionality as it were. Nothing underhanded in that. Also the same reason I went to LilY last week. The other suicide murder.’ He wasn’t going to let them know about the first one that Zoe had told him about. ‘When it goes into production, it will help you guys immeasurably.’ He held his hands apart. Nothing more to see here.
The short guy was almost frothing at the mouth, in fact there was a bit of spittle in one corner, and Lucas considered that if he had been an animal—maybe he wasn’t—but if he had been, he would need to be put down, and quickly. The tall agent spoke. ‘Is that the extent of it? What did you discover from either exercise?’
‘Nothing. The equipment worked and corroborated what Dr. Aapro and the forensic pathologist on LilY had recorded in their reports. Identical data, but analysed in a fraction of the time. Just proved Mr. Umber’s design, which at the moment is a very early prototype.’ The short man sneered at him. ‘I might add that Dr. Aapro was very impressed and wanted to know when he could get one.’
‘Listen Honey, you’ve got form. I don’t believe you. There’s something else you’re not telling us.’ The short man inched forward again.
‘You know, agent …’ he said looking at the woman.
‘Parvola,’ the woman said.
He thought of Pavlova but restrained himself. ‘Yes, agent Parvola. You need a shorter leash for him, otherwise he’s liable to bite someone. Could be nasty. I think he needs a muzzle as well.’ The short man lunged at Lucas, getting around the tall woman, but came up short with the barrel of Lucas’ Glock against his forehead. ‘What’s that fuk face? You wanna chew on the end of this?’
The agent pulled back and spat out his breath, leaving a spray of drool on the end of Lucas’ Glock. Before Lucas could react, the female agent grabbed the short man by the shoulder and whipped him off his feet so that he ended up behind her. Impressive. Weird behavior though, and she was strong, much more than himself. She was either enhanced or maybe a cross breed with Zoe’s Feraelian species. More like that, he considered, the longer he looked at her. Yes, it was the eyes. Something to remember.
She turned back to Lucas, calm, collected and clearly in control of the situation.
‘Mr. Honey. We’ll be in touch. If you’re going off planet, again, let us know. Believe me, its in your best interest. It really is.’ She turned, clipped the the short guy over the head who was massaging his shoulder and pushed him ahead of her, mouthing something to him that Lucas couldn’t hear.
Lucas stared after them wondering why the guy was even putting up with what the woman was dishing out to him. ‘Close the door on your way out,’ Lucas shouted, but she ignored him.
He got back into the hire car. ‘Incredible. Ah, back to the hotel thanks, car.’ The car lifted into what was now a dark sky with turbulent grey clouds on the horizon. Lightning flashed in the distance. ‘Are we flying through that?’
‘There is a storm approaching, but I will divert around the edges so as not to take us too far from our route. Please sit back, Mr. Honey. This car is fully protected from lightning strikes. Please do not be concerned.’
But he was as they seemed to be heading directly towards it. Within the space of a minute the car was being buffeted as it approached the edge of the storm. ‘I suggest for your comfort you attach the restraints.’ A semi rigid ring extended out from the rear of the seat and around his waist. He clicked it into place. The car suddenly dropped when it hit a severe down draft. ‘Sorry about that. I’ll deviate further away. There are severe downdrafts that I was not expecting this far from the storm front.’ The car swung to his right and the horizon tilted alarmingly. Suddenly there was a blinding flash and the car jerked violently.
‘Did we get hit by lightning?’
‘No sir. We did not. There is a vehicle travelling directly behind us and the occupants are firing a weapon at us. I cannot report the incident, the comms have been destroyed.’ Another flash and this time the car suddenly listed to one side and began spiralling downwards. The restraint around Lucas’s waist expanded and puffed up substantially. Another two restraints suddenly appeared over both shoulders and continued down his chest to the waist restraint and connected to it. He was pulled back into the seat. ‘The car’s engines are no longer responding to my commands. I am doing my best to get us down safely.’ All Lucas could hear now was the increasing scream of the atmosphere as the car careened downwards. A tree covered slope rushed towards them as the car pitched over and the horizon began to spin.