Monday, March 24, 2008

The Presentation

Yeah, there is a lot more to this...but here is a taste...

"Fine, I'll present it first!" He said directly before slamming the reciever into the beige cradle. He probably wouldn't have used such force on his personal phone, but the business he was in required travel, and the flop-house he was in was so foul that a crack in the phone plastic wouldn't be noticed, ever. What an evening. In the time that he had suffered on the phone, the Los Angeles sky had turned dark with its sour evening.

A knock at the door.

Barry was still pissed. Gabriel had stuck him with the first presentation the next morning and now there was disorganization in the air. The presentation to the customer had been mapped out weeks in advance. Gabriel suddenly had this brainstorm and wouldn't back off of it. Barry had said no, but Gabriel insisted. Gabriel had also pushed the kind of whinge that suggested trouble with the higher ups when they got back to Kansas.

There was another knock.

"Yeah." Was all Barry could muster.
"Room Service." Said a male on the other side of the door. A big male. The kind of male with a throaty, yet raspy voice. Calamari and fries? Barry was trying to remember what the hell he had ordered.
"Leave it." Barry said. He glanced out the window at the full moon, glaring yellow at him through it's guaze of pollution.
"Must have shigatooor." The voice on the other side of the door said. There was a groan on the other side of the door. The groan a tired man makes on his way to bed. Barry made a note in his head that even the bellhops in this horrid dive were drunk. He was going to cite this all and grab his boss by the back of his head and force the paper in that scrawny man's face. He could do that in the morning after he covered for Gabriel's so-called brainstorm. The company was cutting too many corners these days. They had lost too many accounts and they were hiring whiney bitches like Gabriel to do what Barry used to be proud to do.

"Shigataaaaaar." The voice on the other side of the door said. Barry thought he heard dishes drop and break outside the door. The bastard couldn't even carry food properly, Barry thought. There was a thrashing. Something violent was happening in the hall. This something was a nuisance.

In anger and disgust, Barry unlocked the door. He swung it open with a swish. His eyes needed a second to focus on the urine stained hallway. His eyes weren't meant to have that second though. Something wet and hairy hit him directly in the face. His nose screamed. He couldn't smell the hairy thing that hit him because the blood flowed instantly. The scent under the blood reminded him of the scent of saliva. Saliva on skin.

The saliva thought was pinched off with a piston-shot across his left cheek. Barry didn't have time to think of retaliation as his head recoiled with a snap to the right. His cheek had torn and it flapped against his teeth. The wound would bleed, but not before the next assault. The mate to the left rip was another piston-shot, this one to his right cheek, which caused Barry to stumble back with a twist to the left. Barry's left hand landed on the greasy, wooden footboard of the full-size bed he was going to use later. He buckled and dropped to his left knee. Then the figure that had so skillfully rearranged his face appeared out of the shadowy doorway. He was an average sized man, in the blue polyester hotel service garb. His arms were huge however; misshapen, overdeveloped and hairy. These muscular trunks thinned to what looked to Barry like claws, or maybe paws. The man smiled and his teeth were jagged, possibly fanged and yellow.

He stepped forward and stood directly over Barry.
"You need to know that you are no one special, but I have to pass this on." His voice was deep. Raw. It was the voice of a bigger man. Barry looked up at the man. He focused just in time to see that the man was waiting for Barry to look so that he could deliver another center-face crunch with that hairy fist of his.

The blood was flowing freely. Barry felt it gushing out of the fleshy fronds that were the remaints of his left cheek. As he fell to his back, he realized with revulsion that the hits that had knocked him right, then left had actually been open-palmed claw swipes. Barry raised his hands defensively to block his face from another attack. He felt the blood filling his left ear as it flowed hungrily to the floor. He felt inside his left cheek with his tongue. The blood was galloping out of what seemed to be a wound that probably looked like a popped firecracker.

"You get the curse. You get it all. It is powerful at first, and then it will wane." The man growled. He reached down and grabbed Barry by his shirt-collar; his tie was in the mess too, Barry felt it pulling on the back of his neck. The man hardly bent at the waist to do this, because his arms were so long.

Barry was pulled face to face with the man. Barry didn't look him in the eyes.

"Stand up." The man commanded. He stood Barry on his feet. The slick, syrupy blood covered the upper half of Barry's shirt and mixed into the hairy hands pulling him about, causing the two individuals to merge metaphorically. Barry's knees buckled and he dropped. As he fell, the man's right knee caught Barry in the chin, clacking his teeth shut. The propulsion of the raised knee sent Barry backwards, in an arc lightly accentuated by oddly shaped and weighted drops of blood.

"The disease works in your favor. It is personal. Your enemies will be destroyed. You regenerate perpetually." The man said. He stepped forward and stood over Barry again.

Barry shook it off. He had taken shots to the head in fights before. He had been cold-cocked before. Barry lifted his right foot with the swiftest soccer kick he could muster. He planted the tip of his wing-tip square and deep into the man's balls.

The man dropped slightly, with his knees bending in. Barry dropped his right foot out of his opponent's crotch and filled the space with his rapidly incoming left shoe.

The man howled. The howl was gutteral and raw. It sounded as if the vocal chords had been stretched and torn. They sounded altered and inhuman. The man fell forward. Directly onto Barry. Barry flailed, attempting to dodge this incoming body. The man brought his hand forward and clasped it around Barry's throat. Barry felt the weight of his fallen opponent completely upon him. Face to face now, and Barry looked him in the eyes. The eyes were nothing special. They seemed dead. Flicker-free.

"A couple of other things you need to know." The man wheezed.
"Silver bullets don't do shit. You regenerate too quickly. You regenerate perpetually. You can't die when you are in the form." He whispered. Barry coughed.
"Don't try to chain yourself up at the full moon. Don't try to stop it. You'll get the sickness." The man was speaking in measured, soft tones.
"Prepare to shine. When it first happens, you will be something too powerful. As time wears on, you will fade, more or less into something like me." He said, with a weak smile.
"What are you?" Barry hacked out. Blood pulsed anew inside his mouth and around his head. He was feeling weak.
"I am a man who is no longer the werewolf I used to be."

Barry rocked to his right, forcing the wolf-man to roll off. The grip on Barry's neck tightened. Barry looked at the arm that was holding him. He wrapped his fingers from both hands around it. he felt the muscle underneath, it was hard. It was hard like stone. It had no give whatsoever.

"Why me? Why me?" Barry choked out.

"Sometimes, the moon hits and we have to act fast." The man said. Then he pulled Barry forward and sank his teeth in Barry's neck. Barry felt the blood explode out of his artery like a geyser. He felt the man chew deeper. The he felt the push and the rip and the man finished tearing a hunk out of Barry's throat with his teeth.

Involuntarily, Barry began to twitch. He brought his hands up to cover his gaping throat wound. The man stood up next to him. Then ran full tilt at the window on the other end of the room, which was the ceiling for Barry in his prostrate state.

Barry heard the crash, and remembered that he was on the eighth floor as he heard the man with the long arms launch with a million glass shards, to his death.

The pool of blood around Barry's head was now making streams to different corners of the dusty hardwood floor. The only classy part about the hotel was the hardwood floor. This was Barry's last thought before he himself launched into oblivion.

The phone rang at 5:30 AM. Barry was on the floor, completely sore. He let it ring and ring. He finally managed through a series of complicated crawls and leans to grab the receiver. Hearing the recorded wake-up call from the front desk, he slammed it down again.

Standing, naked, he made his way across the hardwood to the bathroom. As he padded his feel along, the coolness was disturbed by warm sections of loose carpet. Looking down, Barry saw heavy patches of hair; specifically where he had found himself only a minute previous. There was blood dried blood on the floor. A fudgy pool of it. There were spatters on the walls. The window looked like someone had driven a car through it, or out of it. Head hurting, he reached up to scratch his neck, then felt his face. No rips, no serrated flesh. Barry turned and made his way to the bathroom. Then he saw that his front door was open and that there was a strip of the plastic yellow crime tape across the entrance of his door, from the outside. As Barry padded forward, he saw that the door wasn't open, it simply wasn't there.

Ducking into the bathroom, he grabbed a towel and wrapped it around himself. He stepped out into the hall. The whole floor was a crime scene. Two detectives were standing at the left end of the hall. Blood and debris scattered the floor and walls in both directions for the length of the hall.

Barry surveyed the doorframe. The door had been torn out by the hinges. It was nowhere to be seen in the hall.

Barry went back to the telephone by the bed. He racked his brain for a minute and then dialed Gabriel's room. There was no answer. He then re-racked and drummed up his boss's room number. He dialed.

"Room 223." A voice answered.
"I was calling to talk to Chuck." Barry mumbled.
"Who is this?" The voice queried.
"This is Barry, I am here with Chuck for a presentation." Barry's head was swimming. It was definitely hangover status. Possibly with an added post-Thanksgiving belly status, because he wasn't hungry in the slightest. He felt full. Gorged.
"Sir? Charles Henry was murdered this last evening." The voice said.
As Barry slowly put the receiver down he heard the voice stating: "Sir? sir?"