Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree
1311 words long
Maybe it's something in the air.
Notes from the author:
I often use the Random Phrase page at Watchout4Snakes.com as part of a writing prompt. It spits out two-word phrases like “kin carpeting” and “hedged spider,” just to name a couple examples relevant to the fictionettes of recent Fridays. It also has a Random Paragraph feature, which I thought I’d try, just this once. The results were reminiscent of spam emails meant to evade Bayesian filtering: a bunch of harvested text snippets cobbled together into the shape of legitimate communications.
Which is to say: “Another risk dips a pointer beside the human crew. How will the mathematics still the accomplished reporter? Next to the hotel sighs a straw article. When can a formula drain the rolling solicitor? How will an incompetent zoom outside the muttering coast? The sideways curse extracts the ultimate variance.”
I will probably not be using the Random Paragraph feature for this purpose again.
“Oy, screwball! The story we’re covering is inside the building,” Patty hissed at her partner. She did so without halting the efficient scrawl of her pen across the steno pad, without once taking her eyes off the ritual preparations across the room. Patty was good at multi-tasking.
Ronald hissed back, “This is the window they’ve been jumping from, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, one of ‘em. So it maybe merits one shot, right? ‘The final departure.’” She made a captioning gesture with her pen, then went back to note-taking. “But we’re here to cover the exorcism, not the architecture. So keep your camera on the nice priest so we can produce some nice click-bait and get this hotel some nice publicity, yeah?”
They were in one of the four luxury suites into which the Hotel Oster’s top floor was divided. This one occupied the northwest corner of the building and commanded a stunning view of the harbor. The sliding glass door onto the balcony had been welded shut six months ago. This was one of several measures the hotel manager had taken to combat a rising rate of suicides from this very room. It hadn’t worked. One small window was required by law to remain operable, and jumpers had shown remarkable determination in dismantling its safety features so that they could squeeze out of it. Hotel reception had begun charging top-floor guests on check-in rather than on check-out, just in case.
Patty and Ronald, a journalist and photographer team for the Harbor Times Herald, were here to cover the hotel’s latest move, which was less about keeping the guests safe than it was about keeping the staff from walking out. They’d been getting jittery. They’d begun saying the room was cursed, or haunted, or possessed by demons. Something superstitious like that. The manager had thrown up his hands and said sure, OK, fine, they think it’s demons, sure, whatever, let’s stage an exorcism. Whatever it takes to keep them happy and the hotel functional. And, y’know what, let’s get some press coverage on that. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a reputation for being haunted. Tourists love that shit.
Ronald was still aiming his camera out the window. Patty finally turned, exasperated, to see what was fascinating him so much. “Oh,” she said, “it’s that damn vine, isn’t it?” She shook her head. “Could you possibly just be a photojournalist for once and check the botany hobby at the door?”
“But I’ve never seen anything like it.....”
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for March 17, 2017. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1311 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.
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