Updated: Jun 16, 2020
The phone stopped ringing, only to resume moments later. The song, River, her favorite, echoed in the hall, but instead of inspiring her to dance like it normally did, it made her mouth dry out. She knew the unknown caller was the same who’d just called Noemi’s phone. There was no question about it.
"Are you going to answer it?" Moon looked at Renee as the elevator doors slid open.
Renee nodded, pressed the green answer button on the screen and lifted the phone to her ear, "Hello?"
"It seems we have a new player. Welcome to the games." The bass heavy voice vibrated into her ear, followed by a sickening laugh before the call ended.
"What the fuck was that?" Moon asked, she heard what was said.
"I have no idea.” Renee stuffed the phone back into her pocket. The call left her with a sour taste in her mouth and a knot in the pit of her stomach. “We need to get Noemi to her room."
Everyone watched them as they helped the depressed vampire down to the lower levels and to her room. Noemi sobbed and trembled. She repeated the name of her lost friend and whispered apologies to the fallen. Moon opted to stay with the mourning woman and Renee left them alone. Moon knew Noemi, they were close, a lot closer than she could have hoped to have gotten to her new partner in such a short time. She would be no use to them. Besides, she needed to get her head together and figure out what the hell that call was about.
“Renee,” Xavia caught her in the hall as she headed from Noemi's room to her own.
“Ma’am,” Renee paused and addressed her new boss.
“I know that this is an alarming first day for you, but can you explain to me why you weren’t in attendance for your debriefing?” she looked at a form in her hand. Tiffany reports that when she arrived she did not find you in the room though Calista confirms that she left you there.”
“I'm sorry, I'm confused,” Renee frowned. “Noemi said that the debriefing was to be rescheduled. She gave me my room key and requested that I meet her for a day out.”
“A key? How is that possible?” she pulled a small packed from her pocket. “I have your key, I am the only one who assigns the rooms. After your debriefing you would have met with me and I would have taken you on a proper tour of the space.”
Renee pulled out the key marked 307 and handed it to Xavia, “This is the key.”
“Shit,” Xavia flipped the metal piece in her hand and sucked her teeth.
“What is it?”
“This is Juniper’s room.” Xavia took off in a flash to the elevator and Renee was right on her heal. “I don’t know how she got this damn key. It should have been locked away with the rest of her belongings.” The elevator slid open and the two stepped inside.
“You’re telling me that she has me bunking in her dead partner’s bed?” Renee shuddered as she began to question the sanity of her newly assigned partner, “Nothing wrong with that at all.”
As soon as the elevator doors opened, Xavia’s form disappeared beside her and Renee had to run to keep up. Even with vamp speed she was left in the woman’s dust. By the time she made it to the room, Xavia had it opened and was examining the space.
“Why would she give this key to you?” her eyes swept over every inch of the bedroom.
“A joke? A really sick one,” Renee watched Xavia. “I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary when I was here earlier.
“You were here?”
“Yeah,” Renee nodded at the doors to her left, “I dropped my bags in the closet and headed back upstairs to meet Noemi and Moon.”
Xavia crossed the room and grabbed the hands to the double doors. When they swung open she gasped, “How is this possible?”
“What is it?” Renee joined Xavia at the closet door and her eyes bucked at the image before her. Written on the wall of the closet in fresh blood, was a message.
Welcome to the Games…
What Bites with No Teeth?
Three Hours to answer…
“He’s back.” Xavia shook her head.
“What the hell is this? Who’s back?” Renee stepped into the closet, nothing else was out of place. “This wasn’t here before. Who did this?”
Xavia pulled the phone from her pocket and started dialing. She lifted it to her ear.
“Calista here,” the cheerful voice echoed through the receiver.
“Get Brigytah on the phone, now. Tell her she is needed here.” Xavia’s voice was strong, controlled.
“Is everything alright?” a worried tone replaced the joyful one that rang out just moments before.
“No, it isn’t,” she paused and looked at Renee with pity in her eyes. “Donovan is back and it appears he has a new target.” Xavia took a deep breath as she slid the phone back into her pocket.
“Okay, you’re going to have to explain what the hell is going on here.” Renee wanted answers. She deserved them. She hadn’t been in Chicago for 24 hours yet and already hell was breaking loose and she was in the eye of the storm.
“Well,” Xavia left the room with Renee following again closely behind her, “Donovan as you know is the vampire who has been terrorizing the area. He takes pleasure in killing other vampires. He feeds from them and well, it's made him a bit insane. He doesn’t just kill them, he makes a game of it. Once he marks his target, he is relentless.”
“A game?” The voice of the unknown caller and his message echoed in her head. We have a new player. She was the new player.
“Yes, we haven’t been able to figure out how he is doing any of it. Messages like the one in the closet, they just appear and whoever they are intended for, they must solve the puzzle, or complete the task before the consequence.”
“There are consequences?”
“Yes,” Xavia paused in front of the elevator doors. “Noemi thought she had found a way around them. She thought she beat the game but, she didn’t and she lost everything because of it.”
Inside the elevator, Xavia inserted a pin into a small hole and a hidden button appeared. She pressed the button and the elevator began to move.
“Am I supposed to play this game now?” Renee asked.
“Yes, either that or-,”
“Consequences.” She sighed and leaned against the wall. “Some hell of a first day. When can I be debriefed? I need to catch up on everything Donovan.”
“Actually,” the doors slid open again to reveal the chambers for the Head of House, “I think it would be good if you didn’t get a full debriefing. That will only download data and conclusions that we’ve already made into your head. This needs a pair of fresh eyes. Perhaps you will be able to catch something we didn’t.”
Xavia lead Renee down a hall that was lined with pictures of former Heads of House. The establishment had been in place for thousands of years. Vampires were the peacekeepers for the paranormal world. Guns for hire when anyone stepped out of place. Renee looked at all of the faces that hung before her, all women. Caged House, like many of the other houses was a women-only establishment. There was something about keeping out testosterone that just helped things run smoother. They stopped with the came to a large black door with an “L” on the front.