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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:19 pm 
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This is part I the same universe story to accompany this one:
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=121200


The Hotel Detective

Nathan Greenhaw checked in to The Bastion Hotel under the watchful eye of Jacob McFalls. Jacob had already heard of the battle that had taken place at Yellow 22 but did not yet know all the details. He was making certain that their guest had not made some sort of incidental contact with a Rager that could lead to bad things happening for the hotel. The farmer had blood all over the left sleeve of his jacket, but it didn’t appear to be “his” blood. Nathan wasn’t showing any signs of turning so things would likely be ok.

Jacob was familiar with Nathan as the old farmer would come in to town several times a year to arrange to contract to sell his chickens and the various things he and his brother grew on their considerable acreage a few counties away. Jacob thought he stayed at The Bastion every time he came to the city and he always paid for his room up front in silver. Sometimes during a stay, he would arrange to have a woman sent to his room. Jacob knew practically every guest of the hotel who were repeat customers and their habits. It was fair that he should, he had lived and worked at The Bastion as head of security for nearly 30 years.

The Bastion was built in 1862 during the Civil War. Originally it had served as a small stone fort for the garrison that Tennessee had provided to protect Chattanooga from invading Yankees. Forty years after the war had ended an aspiring hotel owner and German businessman moved to the area and believed it would make the perfect hotel. He spent a small fortune renovating it and placing a stone garden in the courtyard. When finished he had a 64-room hotel named The Stone Fort, with a German Restaurant inside less than 2 blocks from the train station. Things went well until passenger rail traffic died after WWII. Once the passenger trains stopped running and people and businesses began moving to the suburbs the hotel fell in to disrepair and eventually closed it’s doors in the late 70s.

About five years before The Flare another European aspiring hotel owner (this one a nice French Lady in her mid-40’s named Giselle) arrived and noticed the urban renewal projects ongoing in the city and decided to make a go of it. She purchased and renovated the decrepit hotel, brought in a nightclub, a storefront hair salon and a luxury goods store and then renamed it The Bastion. The downtown area was still a bit rough around the edges, so she decided she needed some extra security.

At the time Jacob was a patrolman on the Chattanooga Police Department looking for moonlight work. They arranged a deal where Jacob would take a guest room for free and he would serve as armed security a few hours a week when he was off duty and be on call if there was a problem. This arrangement was perfect for the 25-year-old policeman and they were more than two years in to the deal when The Flare hit.

Giselle Lebeau seemed to have a soft spot for the young cop. She treated him more like a wayward son than an employee while at the same time respecting his opinions on the things he knew about. Life and women were the two things she was convinced he did not understand so well.

When Jacob looked back on it the years leading up to The Flare were the best of his life. He was young and had plenty of extra money. Being the acting head of security at the night club meant that he never lacked for dates. Living at the hotel meant maid service, gym, free food, free parking, free internet… free everything just to keep the drug addicts out and stop kids from tearing the place up. This allowed him to engage in his favorite off duty activities of gun collecting and competing in three gun matches without finical hinderance. Occasionally, there was a belligerent drunken guest to deal with; but they tended to be rare.

Things changed overnight after The Flare hit. When the wheels fell off the donkey cart everything came apart hard and fast. Early on after the lights went out the department had told their officers the reason for the power failures and everything else. Badly worried about how things would go he had convinced Giselle that they needed to secure The Bastion as well as they possibly could, boarding up the windows once again and reinforcing doors. He also convinced her that she needed to move herself in and let the staff and their families in to the hotel for their safety. It turned out to be a wise move. Within three days there was no safe place on the planet.

The first few plague years were awful. No electricity, searching for food, clean water and scrounging for everything. Cannibalistic Ragers were everywhere and uninfected regular people had turned to killing one another over a sack of canned goods. Estimates vary but likely 75% of the population of the planet became infected with the Flare Plague, were eaten outright by the Ragers or suffered some other related fatality in the first three years.

It had been a long slow climb out of the morass the following 24 years, but things were starting to look better. Due to geography Chattanooga was a natural transit hub for much of the South with the exchange of cotton, corn and livestock being the primary trade. Land, river and rail routes snaked through the mountains and provided the people of the city with outsized wealth. This meant more and more visitors over the years once the hotel was operational. These days The Bastion tended to fill up before and after each growing season with considerable traffic.

Giselle was now approaching seventy but still ran a tight ship. The older staff from before The Flare were fanatically loyal to her as she had shepherded them through one of the worst times in all human history and they were coming out of it on the other side. Jacob had wondered early if the French woman would crack once the apocalypse swung out in full force, but she turned out to be made of much stronger stuff than her interior decorating skills he thought should indicate. When they were struggling to find food, she knew where to look, when raiders tried to hold the city hostage she could negotiate them down when the worst hit she was always at her best. She treated her employees equally with dignity and respect and knew how to handle things, at least things not related to security which is why she had hired Jacob.

Thirty years into his job Jacob was a very different man than the moonlighting street cop that he once was. He had dealt with everything from whacked out survivalists trying to appropriate the hotel for themselves to Ragers, raiders and even terrorists during early reconstruction. These days with the return of wealth and resources to the city his biggest challenges were con-men, thieves, pick-pockets and fraudsters of all types trying to ply their trade on his guests. Many people who came to the city carried significant amount of wealth with them in the form of precious metals and other valuable that could easily be converted to other forms. This made the wealthier guests of the hotel obvious targets for larceny. A hotel with a reputation for not protecting it's guests was a hotel that would soon go out of business.

The City of Chattanooga had stood back up it’s police department years ago, but their officers and detectives were not as knowledgeable or as experienced as Jacob was. They also did not know many of the out of towners that would come to visit and who might be a problem. In fact, their investigators would occasionally call on Jacob when dealing with someone visiting from outside the city in hopes that he would know what a particular visitor might be up to, he often did.

Jacob gave the nod to the desk clerk who finished checking in Nathan and then went on a walk about the hotel. He walked the grounds three times a day at different hours and in varying light conditions to make sure everything was secure and nothing had changed that he was unaware of.

The hotel kept two guards on duty always. One sat on a tower in the roof and observed the comings and goings from all entrances and exits and wrote them down in a log. The other stood near the front door and served as the muscle back stop to the doorman. If he need be, Jacob had six more guards to call upon in an emergency. If they could not resolve whatever was happening the police would have to be summoned. He had not summoned the police in ten years. Convinced that all was well he then entered the hotel restaurant for his nightly meal.

The restaurant was something of a huge luxury in the post electronic age. There were less than ten actual restaurants in the entire city including the Railroad Cafeteria where most of the rail company employees dined daily. Le Coup de Sifflet was Chattanooga’s premiere dining experience. During the plague years that meant good food that would not make you sick and came from reliable sources. It may not have been everything Giselle had dreamed of when she opened the place but there was no disputing it was now the best in the city, if not the entire state.

A huge stone fireplace kept the place warm without having to rely on Chattanooga’s electrical grid that still functioned poorly. A piano had been brought in and some aging minstrel would bang away at Led Zepplin or Nirvana classics as best as he could remember while people supped, and the older crowd thought about a better bygone age. The service was second to none.

Most guests of the hotel dined here and many of the local business leaders would bring clients and others in to impress them with the best the city had to offer. During the busy Saturday nights Giselle would put on one of her fanciest dresses and play hostess to the upper crust of the city. She seemed to revel a bit in the idea of in their upside-down world at playing a dystopic Rick Blaine.

Jacob checked in with the host and noted that Michael Scott had taken the private dining room for the night. The railroad bigwig was likely celebrating their victory over raiders at the hands of the Thatch Brothers. The Thatch Brothers had stayed at the hotel on their arrival in the city for a few weeks prior to being hired on by the Railroad Company. They tended to drink a lot when not flying and were somewhat unrestrained in their approach towards women, lots of women. Kind of how Jacob used to be when he was their age.

“Youth is always wasted on the young”, he mused.

After Jacob ordered dinner a younger baggage handler entered the restaurant looking around. This was out of the ordinary. Spotting Jacob he approached the table cautiously.

“Mr. Mcfalls, Madame Lebeau told me to come get you immediately. She says there is a huge problem that she needs to discuss with you in her office.”

“She is in her office?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll be there after dinner.”

“I was told to wait, bring you with me and make sure you come right away.”

“Seriously? do you know what she wants?”

“I am not certain but I think one of the guests is dead.”

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:48 pm 
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Nice!

Where’ve you been hiding all this talent?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:55 pm 
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well done thank you . looking forward to reading moar of this new universe!!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:22 am 
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Nice! :clap: :clap:

Now, please bring on some MOAR! 8-)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:20 am 
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Part II

These were dangerous times. People died with a much greater regularity than before the Flare. Jacob mused that life expectancy was likely in the low 40s but there were no official statistics to support it from the central government. People with the resources to stay at the Bastion tended to live a lot longer than the street urchins who crowded the slums. Occasionally a guest of the hotel did die. When that happened the police and undertaker were called and did their thing.

If Giselle was calling for him right away the corpse likely didn’t appear as the result of influenza or a stroke. Dinner would have to wait. Jacob checked his pistol load on his waist holster, made sure he had his notebook and a pen then asked the bellhop where the deceased was located. It had been three years since anyone at the hotel had died from anything other than natural causes. In that particular case a man had caught his wife abed with someone other than himself. He emptied a pistol magazine at the couple killing both and then waited calmly for the police to show up.

Many murders went unsolved. Between guarding the city walls, patrolling the city and trying to keep crime in check the police didn’t have the resources to investigate every crime. There was still no police lab established although there were discussions of building an annex at the hospital compound. DNA testing wasn’t feasible. If the crime occurred in the poorer section of town the body might not be found for a few weeks, if ever. When someone of means was killed, that changed things a bit.

They did not have to go far to the body. It was in the second stall of the men's room of the toilet. A guard was at the men's room waiting for the police to show up. Jacob went in and examined what he could see. A man was bent over the toilet face first
on his knees and clearly dead with a number of knife wounds in the back. Blood had seeped out in a single streak towards the There were wounds around the neck that looked like possibly bite marks. There was blood all over the walls and some on the ceiling.On a hunch Jacob removed the lid from the trashcan and looked inside. There were six bloody towels on top.

Arriving at Giselle’s office in the outer room Jacob noted that she was in her angry panic mode that came about on rare occasions when something seriously was amiss. She never ranted or raved merely became tense, overly formal and obliquely rude. There were four other people in the office with her. Franklin the night shift guard on call stood near the door and the others were seated at the small conference table. Franklin had his rifle slung in front at low arms.

Seated at the table were three frequent guests that Jacob recognized. Closest to Giselle’s right was a man named Wren Teller. He was an assistant to the deputy head of the State of Tennessee Secretary of Commerce. The 40 something year old portly, balding man was a bureaucrat of the first order. His boss was a real heavy being responsible for coordinating trade and commerce for most of the Eastern part of the State. Seated next to him on the other side was a younger woman named Diamond Jade. Stripper jokes always went through Jacob’s head whenever he saw her. The young kids these days wouldn't understand.

Diamond was the furthest thing from a stripper. Not only was she six feet tall and muscular, she had inherited the largest distillery in Chattanooga from her father (who was also a retired professional basketball player from before the Flash) and she made an extremely popular corn whiskey that was sold everywhere, including the bar at the hotel. She frequently dined with clients at the hotel and Jacob was on friendly terms with her. The last person at the table was kind of a surprise as he was out of place. Jimmie Thatch Jr sat there nervously tapping his foot underneath the table.

Giselle was engaged in a highly animated conversation with Teller.

“You must lock down the hotel, there is a Rager on the loose.” The nervous man sputtered.

“Mr. Teller if there were a Rager on the loose in the Hotel, there would be a Rager loose in the hotel. He would be evident from his foaming mouth and running around trying to murder and eat people.”

“Somebody has been murdered! And where are the fucking police? Don’t tell me you think your man here is going to solve this ‘mystery’ it is pretty damn clear what happened.”

Jimmie started; “Well now I’m not so sure it would be a Rager they don’t sneak around you know and…”

Teller cut him off he was practically shaking with anger; “They are pretty good at hiding when there is a threat about. That is why we still have them. I have heard reports of some even talking understandably.”

Jacob spoke loudly to Giselle interrupting their conversation; “Who is dead?”

“Don Chaplin that is who, my boss who I can tell you Nashville will be very displeased to find out about him being murdered.”

“I’m sorry for your loss sir.” Then he continued to Giselle; “Can I speak with you alone for a minute please?”

Giselle seemed happy to step back in to the inner office for the moment.

“What happened and why are all these people here?”

“Mr. Chaplin was found dead in the toilet of the private dining room. He was supposed to have a private dinner with Diamond but she said he never showed up. Mr. Junior was in there to take crap and he saw blood underneath the stall and he kicked the door in and found him. Teller reported him missing to the front desk about an hour and half before dinner call. He has been frantic looking for him for the last two hours.”

“Why is Teller saying it was a Rager?”

“Mr. Chaplin was stabbed many times. He has many bites around his neck and shoulder. I put the hotel on soft lockdown and called the police. No one goes in or out without being recorded in the book. But no one has seen such a Rager. You need to find out who would do this thing…. quickly.”

“I’m on it. I need to speak quickly with each of them separately. Also send two guards to find Mr. Greenhaw. Tell them to use caution but to avoid deadly force. Have him brought to my office and put under guard.”

“Oh my God, do you think he is a Rager?”

“Nope.”

“…. Then why are we getting him then?”

“Out of an overabundance of caution.”

“Ragers are always shot on sight. Can there be too much caution with Ragers?”

“He’s not a Rager”; Jacob insisted.

“You. You always do this. You think I am a fool or something. You know something don’t you?”

“I know Greenhaw is no Rager. The rest… we will see”

“Who do you want to see first?”

“Send in Teller, do you mind if we you use your office?”

“No, I kind of prefer it.” and then she was out the door calling for Teller.

Teller arrived a few moments later sitting down next to the desk in a huff. Jacob was amazed that nearly 30 years into Armageddon bureaucrats were still bureaucrats. He wondered how the fleshy man had survived in the early years and realized that Teller was likely in his teens then and a very different person 25 years ago. His latest information on Teller was that he was slated to take over a local office in Chattanooga once the State built an office here. If that happened he would become kind of a big deal locally and probably intolerable. He had worked as Chaplin’s strap hanger for at least five years. He was a pain in the ass to the hotel staff with personal requests but that wasn’t a crime.

“Mr. Teller, again I want to tell you how sorry we are for this great tragedy to strike. The police have been summoned and will do their best with their limited resources to deal with this event. I am a former policeman and often provide them assistance with these matters. It would be of great help if you could tell me what you know happened. Of course, you don’t have to answer any questions, however it would likely provide great assistance. I noticed that you arrived today around 2PM coming from the train station. Could you tell me what happened from the time you noticed Mr. Chaplin missing?”

“Mr. Chaplin asked me to meet with him at 3PM in his room to go over the new Whiskey Tax plan proposal we were working on. I went to his room and he was not there. I went back to my room and tried again about 20 minutes later. I then went down to the desk and had them call him and try to locate him. When he could not be found I knew there was something wrong. I begged them to do something. They did nothing. I am very disappointed in your staff here.”

“I understand. I will do my best to speak with the manager about the staff. I should have been summoned as soon as there was a problem.”

“Mr. Chaplin was clearly killed by a Rager. He was bitten all over the neck! Why are we sitting here? We need to find the Rager and stop him.”

“I have sent guards to deal with a potential Rager as of this moment. As soon as he is found we will let you know.”

Teller seemed greatly relieved by this. “Ok, but if he hurts anyone else your hotel will be responsible.”

“If you don’t mind me asking what is this tax you were working on?”

“That? It is a 100% levy on all alcohol. They are trying to discourage drinking and the State needs the funds.”

“100%? Won’t that cause other problems like people stop buying it and start making it themselves?”

“No, we did a study that shows that people can’t reliably make liquor on their own.”

“Ah, and that will stop them?”

“More than likely.”

“Thank you will you send in Ms. Jade please?”

“I will but I can tell you she didn’t have anything to do with Chaplin being murdered if that is what you are thinking. She was really mad about the tax but they were working things out. She was there to meet with him to discuss the details but I don’t know what they were. I don’t think he was going to change anything though.

If anyone was involved it would be that pilot. Chaplin had a plan to ban the use of armed aircraft for civilian use. That would have put those boys out of business.”

“Interesting were they aware of this?”

“Probably, I know the train company was aware.”

Diamond Jade was one of the richer citizens of the city. Getting the distillery running again proved a huge boon for trade in the city. Almost half the alcohol she produced was sold for medical or commercial purposes. Alcohol filled a lot of roles that other things were not available for. Most of it got drank though.

Jade was an Amazon. Her father had been a legendary fighter in the city during the early years. At over six and half feet tall and close to 300lbs the former NBA power forward had walked the streets for years carrying a huge claymore sword lopping off the heads of Ragers and anyone else who posed a serious problem. He had died at home of a heart attack nearly ten years ago and half the city went to his funeral.

“Diamond it is good to see you again. I am not sure what your relationship was to Mr. Chaplin; but I understand you were here to meet him about a tax bill.”

“Yeah. That son of bitch was trying to work me for some gold. He wrote me to meet him for dinner at 5PM today. He wanted 10 ounces to crush his tax proposal. Not only that but that little shit Teller wanted to seal the deal in the bedroom. I told him I can bring some gold but you know I don’t go that way, so the other thing wasn’t happening.”

“Wow, so Teller was brokering a deal between you and Chaplin to kill the tax proposal?”

“Those morons have got no clue what it takes to keep the distillery up and running. I think their plan was to try to bring it up every year and then milk it for more gold.”

“Did you see Chaplin or Teller at all today?”

“No.”

“Did you bring the gold today?”

“I did.”

“That is a lot in one spot. Do you need an escort to get home?”

She chuckled; “I already have an escort. They are outside. Do you still need me?”

“No, I don’t think so, as always a pleasure. The police may want to speak with you, so if you would stick around.”

“I’ll just sit in the lobby out of the way.”

“Can you send in Junior?”

The young Texans had caused quite a stir on their arrival to the City. While there were occasional private aircraft and some government aircraft did visit the city on occasion most private planes did not have machine guns or drops bombs. After today with their success at routing the raiders the boys would likely be in high demand in the sky and on the ground. The paper had done an interview with them earlier in the day at the airfield and was going to put them on the front-page tomorrow. If Chaplin was planning on trying to shut them down, then he would have had an uphill battle. Junior still looked a bit nervous which was odd for the normally happy go lucky pilot.

“Junior can you tell me what happened?

“We were having a private party in the private dining room. I got up to go pee and when I got to the bathroom I noticed some blood seeping out from under the stall. I asked the dude a couple of times if he was ‘ok’ and it was deathly quiet in there. Finally, I just kicked the door in. There was blood all over the stall and dude was dead with his pants around his ankles. Looked like he had been taking a leak in to the sit down and someone had come up behind and then knifed him in the back. Then I noticed the bite marks….”

“Where were the bite marks?

“All over his neck and around his shoulder.”

“Did you know the man?”

“I never saw him before. I heard who he was later.”

“Where were you today around 3PM?”

“I was at the airfield with my brother. We were doing maintenance on the planes. I got out of there around 4:30. We came straight here.”

“Anyone see you besides your brother?”

“The guard at the airfield saw us leaving I am sure. The newspaper people left around 2PM”

Jacob paused trying to figure out how to phrase the next question. “Ok, I have never seen you this nervous before. What is going on?”

Now it was Junior’s turn to pause. “Look I never see the dead up close. It was kind of unsettling.”

“Bullshit.” Jacob replied.

“Ok, ok it won’t matter either way. When I kicked the damn door open I stumbled a bit. I fell forward. I touched him. I got blood on my hands. His blood. I washed it off really quick and I don't feel different.”

"Did you slip on the blood?"

"No there was no blood near the front of the stall, just the one line going from the body, I just got clumsy for one damn second...."

“He wasn’t a Rager.”

Junior seemed greatly relieved by this information; “Are you sure?”

“I am absolutely certain. Whoever killed Chaplin was not infected.”

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“No-one likes us, we don’t care.”


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