When you own a business you notice time passing in a more significant way. You see the people around you change and age. You watch relationships build and fall apart, trends change, even the horizon changes if you’re in the right place for long enough.
Over decades the horizon has remained almost identical to the day when this hotel was first built. Seclusion was the top priority when the idea for this business came to me. The setting was idyllic, it was quiet and natural.
I wanted to run a business that would be a safe haven for anyone who entered. I wanted everyone to be safe from each other, from judgement, and from watchful eyes. This hotel began as a place to go unseen from the world outside, to enjoy peace, and to rest without worry of your enemies. It was a noble idea.
It wasn’t hard to find business for the hotel, people of all sorts flocked to the beautiful building. We’ve always been busy, and we’ve always been careful, but there have been a few guests over the years who seemed to neglect the rules. We always tried to make sure that everyone we hosted knew how our business operated. There was one specifically dramatic event which occurred before we had put screening measures on a constant basis.
A woman and her daughter had come to stay a weekend at the hotel, it was many decades ago yet it seems so fresh. Time has a strange way of evading you. A lot of things that weekend could have gone differently, and to this day there is still a debt owed for the offences that occurred.
If I had been the one to check those women into the hotel I might have noticed that they would need special treatment. We always give each guest a guideline about being civil to other guests at all times, but some guests really need that line drawn strictly. It’s hard to ask everyone to settle their differences when out in the streets the entire country set such a poor example.
The employee who checked them in saw nothing wrong with putting them in an average upper level floor full of people. That’s where we normally put our most average, at-risk guests. The guests there needed safety, they needed to be apart from any of the unsavory sorts who stayed on the lower floors. We had no idea that those women weren’t harmless. I honestly didn’t even realize we had a rooming issue until the next morning during checkout. Several guests due to leave that morning had not left their rooms.
I wasn’t overly alarmed at first, it was the night after a large holiday and surely people would be careless with managing time. That didn’t appear to be the issue though, because in each of those rooms we found the guests in a similar state. Conscious, but unaware of their surroundings. They were pale, sweaty, and had uncontrollable tremors. Most of them mumbled incoherently about shark teeth.
None of my employees had experienced something like this before, and I wasn’t sure how to guide them through this. The five affected guests had one other mutual ailment, strange teeth marks on their bodies. It almost looks like a shark had attacked them.
Perhaps the strangest part was that none of these guests had been seen bringing any strangers into the hotel the night before. We had a medical professional on site who I requested to inspect and repair our injured guests while I attempted to figure out what had attacked them. The most he could conclude was that it was not from an animal, but something he might have seen before and be able to fix.
This wasn’t the first incident to ever occur at the hotel, but it was the first which I couldn’t immediately solve. I myself had seen similar things in my lifetime, but nothing that exactly matched the ailments of our clients. Looking through the book at our guest intake only showed that none of our guests were suspects.
I couldn’t wrap my head around what could have gotten into the hotel without us knowing. This was back before security cameras were an option, which made figuring out what had happened the night before a bit more difficult. I ended up deciding to station employees on every floor of the hotel, I even had to hire extra assistance to cover the growing building.
The incident was kept quiet from the other guests to avoid panic, and the individuals I’d put in place were to act as regular guests while keeping an eye on room-to-room visitation. Our main priority was keeping an eye on the rooms of the victims. The doctor was trying his best and making rounds from room to room, but he couldn’t stop the nonsensical rambling that came from the patients.
The next morning I had hoped to receive some positive news about our hotel mystery, but I was let down. The employees on every floor reported nothing suspicious. I almost thought the night had been without event until the doctor came storming into the lobby. He had done his last round to check on the patients over six hours ago, and now they were gone. All five guests were missing from their rooms.
I didn’t understand how my employees could have overlooked someone going to every victim’s room. I questioned them again. Those who were stationed on the floors with the guests who were attacked confirmed that the only people who had gone in the rooms were the doctor and the nurse. The unfortunate flaw in that was that we had no nurse, and instantly we knew we might have figured out who the attacker was. Another employee reported that a woman in nurse’s clothing had left a room on the seventh floor.
I immediately took a team with me to inspect the room where the nurse had originated. All we found was a confused teenaged girl. She claimed to have no idea that anything had been amiss in the hotel, but the more important information was that she wasn’t the person paying for this room. It was her mother who had paid for the space, and after questioning the girl we believe we found our attacker and kidnapper.
The girl’s name was Alphaea, and her mother had been leaving her in this hotel room while she ran out at all hours of the night. According to the girl she was still too young to partake in the same activities as her mother. Her mother had left the hotel room earlier that morning claiming she had to meet someone in the city and would be back the next day.
I didn’t detect any attempt at misleading us, she seemed to be entirely honest. She was quite somber through it all, as though she was used to being left in the wake of her mother’s chaos.
“What are you?”
The momentary look of surprise on her face was enough to give it away, she couldn’t hide her reaction fast enough.
“Not human clearly. Well?” I asked again.
She dropped the act, she knew as well as I did that there was something under the surface.
“A mix of this and that,” she shrugged.
I could handle that, everything comes to light sooner or later.
“They’re all dead,” she didn’t hesitate as she said it, she was stating a fact, “She took them to the water and ate them.”
I nodded, debating the terms that would need to be set in place. She’d need to see our doctor, and she’d need to be watched closely. I thought it over quickly, it was simple what needed to be done. I let the girl know that her mother owed is a debt for the crimes she committed on our property, and that she’d be working here to help pay it until her mother returned. A few guests being eaten was bound to happen every now again, we just had to move past this.
Alphaea accepted the arrangement and seemed almost excited about it. She started work the next day since a good portion of my employees were in the process of making sure none of the murders were traced back to our hotel in any way.
I remember the last thing she asked before she officially began the job.
“Are you at all concerned about hiring a monster to work on your staff?”
“Of course not. There have been much worse monsters in this hotel, and there will always be again in the future. Welcome to the Good Shade.”
Credit: Hylean Fae