Five state medical directors are anonymously summoned to meet at an isolated hotel.
|Prompt: No one ever checks out of this hotel
word count: 2,499
Senior medical director John Flask pulled his Dodge Viper into one the five special reserved parking spots. Parked right next to him was his old friend and colleague Lucas Fale. He left his silver Ferrari and walked to his friend’s Viper and they shook hands. Their breath was visible in the snowy mountain of Utah where the North Ridge Hotel was.
Lucas brushed off some snow from his coat. “How’s the old Nevada state hospital supervising thing going John?”
“It’s good. Managing all the hospitals in Nevada is strenuous. But you have the same job.”
Lucas shook his head. “Being top dog in California is different. It’s more spread out.”
John nodded. “When are the three other state medical directors coming?”
“No clue. I’m eager to meet them.”
John got a coy grin on his face. “You know I read in the Inquirer that this hotel is haunted with ghosts that trap you inside forever.”
“Perhaps – being in the middle of nowhere,” he said with a chuckle.
“And the fact it’s been occupied just three different times since its construction in 2010 and apparently these three groups of people never left. But I guess I shouldn’t believe all I read.”
John looked at his Rolex. “Time to split. It’s 5 pm.”
“Where are the others? The orientation is at 5:30 pm sharp.”
John threw his hands up. “Beats me. Come on.”
The two colleagues were ushered into a double glass door by two bellboys. They approached a large front desk.
A woman wearing glasses sat behind the desk. “Hello. Are you two here for the special meeting?”
“You make is sound like we are the Illuminati,” chuckled Lucas.
“Please sign in,” the lady asked.
John scanned indoor fountains, trees and green marbled flooring that made up some of the lobby. Two men and one short woman entered the lobby from the glass doors. John nudged Lucas and he faced the three individuals.
When they met the two friends at the desk, everyone introduced themselves with a smile and firm hand shake.
The name of the first man was George Min, who was a midsized, plump Japanese fellow. The other was one Brian Heron possessing a pronounced Roman nose and slicked back hair. The short woman was Lori Sikes.
After the rest signed in, a quant, man in glasses and a doctor’s coat came out of a door form the left wall. “Good morning to you all! I’m glad to have you!”
“What is this meeting about?” asked Lori Sikes.
George Min stepped forward. “Yes, I got a letter from some government official to attend.”
Brain Heron opened his mouth but was interrupted. “I will answer all your questions. First get situated with your suites.”
Everyone looked at each other.
“I am Dr. Bronus. Please follow me.”
All five of the state medical directors followed the man into a large elevator and pressed for floor nine.
“You’ve all been summoned for a top-secret discussion. It is not easily described. The whole matter will be unveiled tomorrow at noon sharp. An escort will knock at your door and will lead you to the designated briefing room.”
“I don’t mean to be petty, but do we have dinner?” asked George Min.
“Menus are on your beds. A bellboy will take your order from your rooms soon. Here are your keys.”
Each medical director was given a key with a nametag tied to it.
They reached floor nine and stepped out. Five bellboys were at attention.
“You’ll be shown your suites. I’ll see you in the morning,” Dr. Bronus said as he pushed for floor eight and stepped in the elevator.
“That was – brief,” said Lucas.
“And vague,” said Brian Heron.
“It’s like we’re with the CIA,” said Lori.
“Does anyone read the Inquirer?” asked Brian.
Lucas laughed. “You’re a crackpot like me huh?”
“You know about the ghost reports?”
“I don’t believe them though – just entertainment is all.”
Brian Heron giggled. “Same here of course.”
“I’ve got jet lag and I need a nap,” Lori asked where her room was and was led to a door with her name on a wooden plaque and used her key.
“Hopefully, this hotel has TVs that pick up the Lakers game,” said Lucas.
“Just typical of you – always about the perks.”
“Who here plays chess?” asked George Min.
“I do,” announced Brian Heron.
“I have a travel size chess set. I’m sure there is a lounge nearby.” George Min asked a bellboy and he nodded then led the two men away.
“Guess it’s just us,” said Lucas. “Any ideas?”
“A TV would be in the lounge; still feel like the game?”
“You know it.”
The two friends followed the other two state medical directors to a large room with a long leather couch with a TV in front, mounted on the wall. Brian Heron and George Min were at a glass table with a chessboard on it.
John Flask and Lucas Fale plopped on the couch. Lucas picked up a remote from a glass coffee table.
“Yes! Alright!” Lucas roared as he smiled and leaned in to watch the Lakers game.
When things concluded, each director was shown to their rooms by a bellboy. Every assigned bellboy took the guests’ lunch selection. Shortly after, when they had enjoyed their meal, the five people relaxed on their beds. John Flask saw a black digital clock and a phone beside him on a stand. A small card with Press zero for room service was on it. He dialed zero and asked to have a wakeup call at 7:30 am to get a jump start on some paperwork he had brought. He lay down, pulled his cover over himself and fell asleep.
John woke up at 2:30 in the morning like his body always did. Suddenly he heard a faint scream that was barely audible. But he did hear it. He jumped out of bed and ran outside of his door. Nothing. He stepped on to the polished floor of the hallway. His feet chilled as he walked down the dimly lit hall. Another screamed sounded, louder this time. It came from Brian Heron’s room.
John dashed to Heron’s door and pounded on it. “Dr. Heron, are you okay?! What’s happening?!”
John Flask kept pounding with no answer. Something’s Wrong! he thought as he stopped and ran back into his suite and grabbed the phone. He dialed zero. Nothing. He threw on slacks and a shirt then darted to the elevator. He pressed for the ground floor. He waited. Nothing. He pressed each button with the same affect.
John’s heart raced and he knew he was in danger. He tore off a decorative statue fasted to the wall. He went to Brian Heron’s door and broke the handle with it. John scoured the suite with no sign of Dr. Heron.
John’s friend Lucas appeared in the doorway. “I heard a scream! Where is Dr. Heron!?”
“He’s not here. Someone else screamed too right before this one.”
“We have to alert security!”
“I’ve tried! The phone and the elevator aren’t working!”
Lucas gripped his head. “What do we do!?” What do we do!?”
“Stay calm. I’ll wake everyone else.”
John ran to Dr. Sikes door and pounded. Moments later, it opened. “What? What is it!?”
“I’m so happy you’re okay!”
Dr. Sikes eyes widened and she frowned. “You look terrified! What’s all this for?”
“I think we might be in danger. I heard two scrams, one of which Dr. Lucas Fale heard. Dr. Heron is missing.”
“He has to be around. What about the lounge?”
Suddenly Lucas ran to them and bent over, breathing heavily. “The lounge is pitch black!”
“Dr. Min! We’ve got to check!” exclaimed John.
“Let me get dressed. I’ll meet you guys there!”
John and Lucas ran to Dr. Min’s door and pounded.
“Dr. Min! Are you in there?”
There was no response.
“Where is Dr. Sikes? She said she’d meet us.” said Lucas.
The two men backtracked, expecting to run into her. They reached her open door and her room was vacant.
“Not Dr. Sikes too!” yelled Lucas.
A voice came from behind them. “Don’t worry. They’re all safe.” The two men turned and it was Dr. Bronus with a pistol. “If you want it to stay that way, I would follow my instructions.”
Lucas was about to speak but Dr. Bronus halted him with a raised palm. “This way if you would.”
The two walked out, went down the hall with the gun at their backs. Dr. Bronus pressed a hanging picture and a door opened and they were ordered inside. Lucas and John were amazed at what they saw. Unconscious people were laying on metallic beds hooked up to wires and intravenous tubes.
“What are you doing!?” demanded John.
“Behold, the key to a new and brighter future!”
Then John saw a man on one of the tables. “I know him! He’s Derick Dryer!-one of the most powerful business men on earth! He’s been missing for months.”
“Yes. For years we’ve collected the most exceptional minds.”
“You’re mad!” exclaimed Lucas.
“No. Imagine the mentalities of all the top scientific, business, military, and clerical souls on earth melding together.”
“What do you mean?” asked John.
“From these harvested minds we will create a ‘super mind’ if you will. Very soon, the mind will be implanted into a human body.”
“What about the subjects?” spewed John.
“They’ve been permanently put in comatose."
“A needed expense.”
“I wish this place was haunted,” uttered Lucas.
Dr. Bronus grinned coyly. “That was the cover story to keep from serious investigation. And now it is time for your brilliant minds to be assimilated.”
The mad scientist snapped his fingers and two bulky men in suites pointed pistols to the victims rear, nudging them forward.
John appeared to stumble and fall forward.
“Get on your feet ingrate!” ordered the man. He bent over to grab John. Suddenly he flipped over and kicked the man in the groin, who dropped his gun and fell to the ground, holding himself.
John scampered to his feet and grabbed the weapon. He aimed at the doctor and yelled. “Order your goons off my friend!”
Lucas was released.
“Now, doctor, you’re going to my hostage. Get over here!”
Dr. Bronus’ eyes were wide open and he breathed heavily in a sweat. He put his hands up and neared John.
John locked his arm around the mad man’s neck. “Tell us how to get out of here or- you will be the next dead person!”
“Alright, alright! A key operates the elevator. It’s in my shirt pocket.”
John withdrew the key then backed out of the entrance. “If anyone steps out of this room I’ll shoot.” Then he grabbed Dr. Bronus by the back of his neck and thrust him down the hall. They got to the elevator and John put the key in a hole on the button panel. He pressed for the ground floor. A deep humming got louder until it stopped and the hostage and the two escapees stepped in.
“John, how long can we keep to this tactic?”
“As long as we can. It’s all we can do.”
“If we flee by car they’ll send after us.”
“Hmm…let’s ask him if there is a way to escape.”
“There is! If I tell you, will you release me?”
Lucas and John glanced at each other and nodded.
“Deal,” said Lucas.
“There’s a Nevada pit stop twenty mils from here. An underground monorail leads there. It requires my hand print.”
“Take us to it,” said John.
They reached the floor and headed for the exit. The woman at the front desk gasped and ducked under it.
Outside, Dr. Bronus led Lucas and John down wooden steps.
“Where to next? asked John.
Dr. Bronus neared a rock wall and wiped snow off of it and applied his palm to a metallic plate. A doorway opened with an electrical buzz. Inside the door was a silver, train.
“Just pull that lever to enter and it will move automatically.”
Lucas went to pull the lever and a hatch lifted open.
“Free to go,” John said as he released him.
The two friends entered and it started moving.
“I think we made it Lucas!”
“It looks like it.”
Suddenly John’s cell ringed. “My phone!”
“Who is it?”
John ignored Lucas. “Hey Rob! Something horrible just happened to me and Lucas…”
The monorail halted with a loud vibration. Next, armed men ran along the side of the monorail.
“We’re doomed!” exclaimed Lucas.
“I’m calling the police!”
“There’s no time for help!”
“Lucas, we can put a stop to this whole conspiracy and bring Dr. Bronus and his goons to justice.”
“What about us?”
“It appears we are stuck. But if we go, they go!”
Lucas slid down against the wall panel onto the floor. He ran his hand down his face. He stood and poised himself. “Let’s do it then!”
John called and told the policemen his social security number and private job information to confirm the call was valid. Lucas did the same.
Guards, shuffled into the monorail bearing rifles.
John smiled with a coy grin. “I’ve called the authorities.”
“And we’ve supplied them with personal, vital info to substantiate our claim.”
A guard radioed Dr. Bronus. “Sir, they’ve contacted the police.” The guard listed briefly. “Call them back and retract your plea! Say it was just a security test!”
The two men folded their arms, silently.
The man radioed again. “Sir, they’re refusing. Yes sir.” He aimed at Lucas and John. “Last chance!”
“You’ll kill us regardless,” said John. “Are you willing to go down with your boss?”
The man flinched. He paused and looked down then snapped his eyes at the two men. “Everyone, evacuate the train!”
“Captain, why are we leaving?” asked a guard.
“Follow my orders!” the captain spewed.
The men filed out – all but the captain. He closed the hatch and dialed in some keys on a palm top computer. The train hummed to life. It was just the two friends and the captain. “Don’t prosecute me when we arrive. Remember I helped you.”
“He’s got a point,” said Lucas.
“That, he does. I think we should permit him.” John looked at the guard. “We’ve never me before.”
“Thank you. I have to lock out anyone from stopping the train.” He dialed some keys on a palm top computer. “We’re in the clear.”
The monorail arrived at small cavern. The three climbed out and about fifty yards away there was a minimart and a gas station.
“Thank you both. It was foolish to enlist in Dr. Bronus’ service.”
“I hope you have a good life,” said John.
The two friends called for help on a pay phone and the guard did too.”
“I hope we’ll get our cars back,” Lucas said with a nudge to John.
“I don’t know. I’m just happy to be alive.”