The Crimson Hourglass: Chapter Two

~ spyder ~

Knockaround Guests


"Dammit," April Morrison groaned as she tripped, spilling a stack of papers across the floor.

She slowly bent over to pick them up, when she heard the sound of feet shuffling. April glanced up at the door before her, and saw that the knob was gently turning. Startled, she jumped back as the door flung open and a man left the dark stairwell. But this man looked familiar. He was tall, with an almond face, morning blue eyes, and nicely cut medium brown
hair. Even though she hadn't seen that person in several years, she could never forget his face. It was her brother -- Jim Morrison.

"Jim," April realized, a mix of suprise and anger in her voice.

"A-A-April?" Jim stuttered, beads of sweat dripping down his forehead. "What are you -- why are you -- what do you want?"

"Is that any way to greet your baby sister?" April forced a smile.

April stepped forward, carefully avoiding her fallen paperwork, and embraced
her brother. Their hug was short, and awkard. He quickly pulled away from her and nervously glanced around the hotel lobby. April had seen this look in her brother's eyes before. It was a look he got when he was high. And when he was high, he usually
did crazy things. The last time she'd seen him, he'd slammed her through a glass door when she took away his drug supply. After that, he slipped into a coma. But when he awoke two weeks later, April had left for a dig in South Africa.

"Are you -- are you high?" She demanded, narrowing her eyes at him.

"No, of course not," He responded quickly. "What makes you think that?"

April gave him a look.

"Hey, you left before I could apologize for--"

"Save it," April shook her head. "I forgive you, but I don't know if we can ever be -- I don't know if we can go back to the way things were."

They were both silent. Jim fidgeted with his shirt sleeve, while April fixed her glasses. Both of them struggled to find something to say, but everything had been said. April still loved her brother, and she hoped that he hadn't fallen into a bad crowd again -- but there was really nothing that he could do. They'd been through too much to just hug and make up, but at the moment, that was probably the best advice.

"I'm sorry," Jim said abruptly.

He stepped over April's files, and then hurried off down the hall. April frowned, then bent over to continue picking up her papers. She stacked them on top of one another, and then she shakily stood up. April started towards the door, and cautiously twisted the knob and pushed the door open. April stepped into the stairwell and used her foot to close the door. But as she started down the stairs, she heard someone else on the stairwell. And she also heard someone trying to open a door.

"Hello?" April called down the stairs. "Is someone there?"

The noise stopped, and then she heard a different sound. The sound of someone slowly ascending the stairs -- and coming straight towards her.



Quentin Price groaned as he stretched out his arms. He'd been busy writing checks, and handling his orders all day. And now, the last thing he needed was the distraction that a murder caused. If you were going to kill someone, then you should certainly do it right, and not leave clues lying around to reveal your identity. Of course, now that a murder was already being investigated -- another body would be associated with the previous killer. This was fine for Quentin if he was called up to handle some business during his stay at the hotel.

When you looked at Quentin, you automatically thought businessman, and that's exactly how he liked it. At 32 years old, he was usually seen as too young to be in his profession, but none of that matter to Quentin. It helped that his clients weren't nervous around him. It also helped that they underestimated him -- because that allowed him to strike before anyone realized what hit them. But just because he was dangerous, didn't mean that Quentin was devoid of charm or manners. Actually, all those who worked with him actually found that he was quite relaxing to be around.

"Quentin."

Quentin slightly tilted his head, and turned to the door behind him. There was a woman standing in the doorway, wearing a tight-fitting white dress. Her dark black hair seemed to glow in the moonlight that shone through the window next to her. The woman was Veronica Crane. She was a lover of Quentin. They were to get married three years ago, but their
engagement fell apart, and now they only had contact once every few weeks. But that didn't mean that Quentin didn't still care about her, and that Veronica still didn't care for him. But they both knew that a marriage would never work.

"Veronica," Quentin smiled as he set his fountain pen down on his desk. "Did you have a fun swim?"

"As a matter of fact, I did," Veronica responded as she made her way to his desk. "I met the most wonderful man -- a Mr. Thornstrike."

Quentin eyes widened, and a wave of anger washed over his face. But after a few seconds, he calmed down. He had nothing to worry -- no one would dare lay a finger on Veronice while Quentin was around. Not if they valued their life, and most people did. Quentin smiled, and slid his chair away from his desk, allowing Veronica to sit on his lap.

"He reminded me of that man we threw from a building two years ago," She continued.

"Yes -- I felt so badly for his wife," Quentin said softly. "I sent her flowers."

Veronica nodded as she began to unbutton Quentin's shirt. That is, until the
door to his hotel room flew open. Veronica quickly jumped to her feet, as Quentin buttoned up his shirt again. The man at the door was someone Quentin knew all too well. And it was also someone who owed him quite a bit of money -- Jim Morrison.

"Mr. Morrison," Quentin gestured for Jim to sit down. "Won't you have a seat?"

"T-t-thank you," He nodded, his entire body soaked with sweat.

"You know, it's quite rude to enter someone's room without knocking," Quentin went on. "And I know you have better manners than that, don't you?"

"I-I-I need to talk to you," Jim said, glancing around the room like a frightened mouse.

Quentin glanced at Veronica, and then he turned his head.

"Let's go for a walk," Quentin smiled.



"Who -- who's there?" April demanded.

Before April could speak again, she heard a door open and slam shut. Whoever
had been on that stairwell was no longer there. April breathed a sighof relief, and continued down the stairs. She hoped that she didn't run into the person responsible for the death of Carmia ti'Avoy. That could be distastrous. Especially since the person who killed her was obviously looking for the missing book, A Realm of Darkness and Fantasy, just as April and
Carmia had been.

"A child-like character born of the beast Epiccilies and burdened with carrying the world's sorrows in a sack that rested on his shoulder..." April knew that passage all too well. She'd actually had her hands on the book a year ago, before it was stolen. And now, April had reason to believe that it was somewhere in the hotel. Possibly the library -- and that's where she was headed next.



"Why are we in the library?" Jim asked nervously.

"I like books," Quentin shrugged. "Now, about our talk?"

"I'm sorry about the money," Jim said suddenly. "I know that you don't owe me anything, but could you please give me a few more weeks?"

Quentin's expression didn't change. It was as if he didn't even hear what Jim was saying.

"Say, have you ever read All the Pretty Horses?" Quentin asked.

"Huh?"

"I love that book," Quentin smiled.

He motioned to the chair and table next to them.

"Have a seat," Quentin said, as he slowly reached into his jacket pocket.

"Look, about the money--"

"Don't worry about it," Quentin reassured Jim. "You don't owe me anything?"

"I don't?"

"Of course not," Quentin chuckled. "How can you owe me anything if you're...well, you get the point."

Jim stared up Quentin, a wave of fear washing over him.

"I hate this part of the job," Quentin sighed. "But you know what really makes me feel better? Begging...and lots of screaming."



A few minutes later, April was standing in the hotel library. She admired the maroon carpeting, and how soft it was. This hotel was unlike any other she'd ever been too. She was just lucky to have been able to stay here until her flight left for Asia in two weeks. And she was also on a mission to find that stolen book. She had hoped that she would find the book before Carmia, but with the woman being dead -- she no longer posed a threat to April. The
young archaelogist hated having such morbid thoughts running through her mind, but she
couldn't help it. It was her job.

While wandering through the library, April wandered upon the spot where Carmia had been slain. The area was still covered in police tape, and there was a chalk outline on the floor. Carmia's blood had also stained the carpet. April pushed her thoughts into the back of her mind, and kept walking...until she came across a book that was sticking out of a shelf. April reached up and grabbed the soft-cover book, sliding it off the shelf. This was it -- the book
she'd been looking for for so long.

"Yes!" April cried, her voice just above a whisper.

She turned to leave, but she felt something sticky on the bottom of her shoe. April's gaze turned to the floor, and what she saw was horrible. Her hand flew to her mouth, and she cried out in pain. Lying on the floor was her brother -- with a bullet hole in the side of his head. Jim's hair was drenched in blood, and so was the rest of his body. The book in April's hands slipped from her fingers, falling into the pool of blood she was standing in. April didn't reach for the book, though. She was frozen in fear, and still very much in shock.

"Oh my god," April whispered. "Jim -- oh my god..."

April's moment was soon interrupted though, by the sound of footsteps approaching her. April snapped out of it and quickly bent over to grab the book before someone could discover her. As she lifted the book into the air, Jim's blood slowly dripped from the pages. Smearing a bit of the blood onto her fingers, she unzipped the large black bag she carried around with her, and stuffed the book inside. She zipped the bag, and then turned to face the
person entering the room.

"What the hell is going on in here?" The stranger demanded.

April glanced at her brother's body once more.

"I -- I can explain...Detective," April stammmered. "I found -- my
brother -- he was..."

"Is that blood on your fingers?" The Detective inquired, moving closer to her.

"Honestly, I can explain --"

"And I suppose you can explain that?" The Detective asked.

April turned around to see what the Detective was talking about. Behind her was a large table, with a few books scattered across it. Next to the table was a chair -- presumably the one Carmia had been sitting in before she was brutally murdered. But that wasn't what the Detective was staring at. She'd been staring at the gun lying on the edge of the table. April gasped and backed away from the table, bumping into the detective.

"That -- that's not mine," April said.

"Oh really?" The Detective asked. "May I see what's in that bag of yours?"

"No!" April cried suddenly, whirling around. "I mean...you can't have my bag."

"Why, Miss? Is there something in that bag...something that you're hiding?"