Monday, April 13, 2015
Location Location Location
“Hoov, m’man,” Pablo called from the front door of the Rocky Top Motel. “Shift’s almost over. You got plans?”
“Nothing that can’t be put off in favor of something better. What did you have in mind?”
“It’s grand opening week at that new place. Drink specials, food specials, maybe special ladies. Unless you’re still seeing Judy?”
“I’ll call her, see if she can meet me there. We’re talking about the Caverns, right?” Hoover frowned and leaned his forearms on the motel’s front desk counter. “Where the mini golf used to be, before … ”
“Before the mammoth got loose and went on a rampage, yeah. There was this whole underground complex right under the amusement park! Who knew? Well, the people who built it, obviously. Bet it was the government. Black Ops experiments. They probably set it up during the ‘50s. You know, the whole Cold War thing.”
“And now it’s a bar?”
“Nightclub-slash-restaurant. All underground. Guess the government sold out. Might as well, I mean, after the mammoth it wasn’t exactly a secret base any more, was it? So, you wanna go?”
“Sure,” Hoover said. Those previous plans he’d alluded to were actually orders from Dante. Somebody’s taken over Morloxian’s old lab. It looks like they’re making it public. Check it out. Dante was counting on Hoover’s spectacular nose to determine who or what intended to establish a beachhead at the exit. Hoover was counting on his girlfriend having the evening free. He glanced around to make sure no customers were in sight, then pulled out his phone and speed dialed Judy’s number.
# # #
Cordelia Shaw swept up and down the corridors of her new kingdom, deftly avoiding the exits where the waning but still deadly sunlight filtered in. She inspected the restaurant, the club and the bar and deemed them all good to go. Last week’s limited openings had helped her work out the bugs. She was ready to throw the doors open and start emptying wallets—a far more rewarding pastime, she’d found, than emptying veins.
She gazed up at the glowing neon that announced the entrance to The Caverns with an inner glow of her own. Whichever mad scientist had built and then abandoned this place, she’d be forever in his debt, and for her, “forever” carried weight. You didn’t come across a property like this every day, especially underground, beyond the reach of the sun. And at such a reasonable price. Land of opportunity, dahling.
A deliveryman trotted up to her, clipboard in hand. Cordelia skimmed the invoice and signed her name with a flourish. It was not the name she had been born or even died with, but it was a damned sight better than that unwieldy Hungarian tongue-twister her father had foisted on her. She’d switched to the more easily spelled “Cordelia Shaw” as a gift to herself on her 239th birthday. I should have done that ages ago, she thought.
She handed back the clipboard with a dazzling smile. Crimson lips discreetly pressed together, of course. Save the fangs for the patrons of the nightclub, where they’d be mistaken for fake. Right up until just a smidgeon past too late.
There were still those inner labs. All that space going to waste. She’d have to come up with a use for them, once she’d scrubbed all those ghastly stains off the walls. Dinner theater?
Again she marveled at the wonders of serendipity. A vampiress in search of a business to run. A subterranean complex right on the interstate exit. It was as if they’d been meant for each other.
She’d even succeeded in repurposing that tacky “Dracula’s castle” that had survived the destruction of the former mini golf. Though she considered it an offensive cultural stereotype, she’d also recognized its marketing possibilities. Now it served as a club for the Goth crowd, its cheesy gloom put to good use. It gave the kids a place to go, which kept the underagers out of her hair and her name off the police blotters. She could even stop in for a drink, with no one suspecting. Imagine, the silly children paid to let others sip their blood. Was this a great country or what?
Oh, there was that shapeshifter town at the foot of the mountains, but Cordelia wasn’t concerned. Let the little furries have their wildlife sanctuary. She preferred the bustle of humanity. All that blood on the hoof, with fresh batches pouring off the interstate at all hours. Walking down the strip was like hitting a buffet. A nip here, a swallow there, and you could fill up in an hour without even having to hunt. Why, the tour buses alone … Cordelia sighed in contentment.
I should add a casino, she thought. What were Montana’s laws regarding gambling? Perhaps it would be better to resurrect the amusement park instead. There was more than one way to drain a family.
She reached the main entrance, the hole where reportedly a mutant mammoth had burst through the earth. The story had drawn her here, to this fabulous real estate find. It also served as a reminder that, as far as the paranormal went, she wasn’t the only game in this town. The shapeshifters would have their own movers and shakers, their own kings and queens and rogues. Sooner or later, she supposed, she’d have to meet with them, especially if they were wolves. Wolves always had to know where everyone stood.
Well, if they were that curious, they could come to her. Cordelia’s interests lay in business, not politics. The only killings she wanted to make were financial. Live and let unlive had been her motto for centuries. If the shifters wanted to trifle with that …
Cordelia climbed the entrance steps as far as the shadows allowed her. She turned her face unerringly toward Talbot’s Peak and bared her impressive fangs. “Any time you’re ready, dahling,” she murmured.