No Vacancy, by Jonathan Ems

A hotel for werewolves sounded like the premise to a terrible late-night TV show, but the Blue Moon chain of high-end (yet affordable) suites was both very real and not what it seems.

Linda was employed at their Denver airport location, and was the highest paid hotel desk clerk in the country. Not just because of the secretive and high-pressured demands of the lycanthropic hospitality industry, but also because she had been thoroughly trained in the art of interrogating a werewolf at taxpayer expense.

That specific duty was not called upon nearly as often as she had hoped when she’d accepted the job. As it turned out, a werewolf was far more likely to be a law-abiding citizen than an untainted human.

“It has something to do with the duality of human nature,” the day-shift manager had said to Linda, several months into her position. “People have a dark side that seeps into their lives and pushes them down dark paths. Werewolves grow fangs and howl at the moon for a couple nights a month, and that pretty much gets it out of their system.”

This disappointed Linda, who had been counting on a job that would give her a string of naughty monsters to take her own dark side out on. Instead, she was paid an obscene amount of government salary to deliver freshly dry-cleaned suits to men and women covered in dried rabbit blood and behaving far more politely than she could stand.

Then came the day Elliot Pettygrove checked in. The non-assuming, little man had been on her watch list since Linda first started the gig, and she nearly squeaked with glee when he said his name to her. Getting through the check-in process without bursting into an unstoppable fit of excited giggles was the most difficult thing she’d done in a year. Once he was safely in the elevator and on his way to the room she’d kept perpetually empty for the last two years, she jumped and danced and wiggled as she tapped out a message to her superiors on the multi-million-dollar message encryption app they’d installed onto her phone.

Several hours later, a transformed Mr. Pettygrove was euphorically tearing away at a sheep that room service had lowered into his room, when one of the walls disappeared.

It hadn’t really disappeared, but he’d been so engrossed by the tasty sheep, he hadn’t noticed the wall rolling up like a garage door. when he did finally notice, it was the sight of Linda that made his animal brain forget that it was weird for an extra room to suddenly appear.

Linda had changed out of her Blue Moon Hotels & Suites issued polo shirt and khaki pants, and into a garishly pink bikini with a comically large cotton-ball tail glued to her backside and a pair of adorably floppy bunny ears perched atop her head.

“Oh no,” she said, jutting her lower lip out as far as she could in a helpless pout. “I’m a lost little bunny rabbit, all alone in the big scary forest.”

Mr. Pettygrove leaped across the room and sailed head-first into the carbon-reinforced Plexiglas barrier that stood between him and the tasty little bunny. A furious snarl erupted from his throat as he frantically clawed at the invisible cage. The bunny hopped around in circles, seeming to take no notice of Mr. Pettygrove. Whatever human subconscious remained in Mr. Pettygrove quickly vanished at the intoxicating aroma of the little bunny rabbit’s fear, which was in actuality a mere adrenaline-scented perfume that was being released into his room through the air vents.

“Come closer, little bunny,” Mr. Pettygrove said, the words gurgling from his chest and twisting around his massive teeth.

“Oh my!” Linda squeaked, pretending she was suddenly surprised by his presence. “A wolf! A big bad wolf come to eat me up!” She hopped around in quicker circles now, throwing her hands about the air in a condescending act of faux-shock.

“I’m going to shred your innards and drink you like a soup,” Mr. Pettygrove said, relishing the extra heady fright that wafted from her as he growled the words.

“Dear, oh dear,” Linda responded. “You must be the meanest of the mean old wolves!!”

Mr. Pettygrove threw back his head, a bone-chilling laugh-howl filled the room.

“I am the last living nightmare'” he said, shamelessly living up to the stereotype of a boastful werewolf. “I have toppled kingdoms, broken homes, torn apart families, and crushed my enemies into the ground.”

“Goodness,” she said, trying to look as amazed and impressed as a helpless bunny could. “You must be the most famous evil wolf in the world!”

Another condescending laugh; “Stupid bunny! Nobody knows I did this!” He scraped his claws against the Plexiglas again, punctuating his dastardly deeds. “I made perfect forgeries of the income records. I bribed every appraiser. I signed every schmuck up for negative amortization, even when they didn’t want to. I collected millions in commissions on properties that weren’t worth the weeds growing on them.”

Sparks flew as Mr. Pettygrove’s claws raked against the carbon nanofibres. “I brought this country to it’s knees, and I did it as a human! Just imagine what I will do to you as a monster.”

“But how?” Linda pleaded, sort of. “How does one big bad monster do all that?”

“How else, you cotton-tailed moron?” Mr. Pettygrove snarled. “With minions! Human servants. To destroy you, I’ll use my claws. To destroy the nation I use mortal men.”

“Really?” She cocked her head to one side, genuinely curious. “Who?”

And just like that, Mr. Pettygrove gladly listed the names of his co-conspirators.

The next morning, Linda had already reported her findings and gone home for the day by the time Elliot Pettygrove came to the front desk to settle his bill.

“I got the lamb, right?” He said to Stanley, the front desk clerk for the morning shift.

“That’s what you ordered, Mr. Pettygrove,” Stanley responded. “I don’t see any notations as to a substitution. Why do you ask?”

“I don’t know,” Mr. Pettygrove shrugged. “I have this vague recollection of a bunny rabbit.”

The two of them shrugged at the seemingly inconsequential peculiarity of it all, and Elliot Pettygrove returned to the hustle and bustle of his elaborately illegal life.

~~

Jonathan Ems has been making up lies since he was born. The world of fiction has opened his eyes to the possibilities of lying for a living. His collection of essays “Obviously, I Anticipated This…” and his science fiction mystery novel “Modus Operandi” can be found at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats, and for all other ebook formats wherever ebooks are sold. Links to his blog, Twitter, and Tumblr pages can be found at SmileNaked.com.

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Posted on December 28, 2012, in Issue 6: Big Bad Wolf in a Big Bad Universe and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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