Heartbreak Hotel

From the Story Arc: The Death of CCCP

Previous Story in the Arc: Little Sister, Don’t You Do What Your Big Sister Done by Red Saviour (Monday, March 14, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Don't Be Cruel by Red Saviour (Sunday, March 20, 2005)

(posted Saturday, March 19, 2005)

They wore long trenchcoats over their usual CCCP gear. Red Saviour had left her bulky official uniform, with the micro-kevlar armor and leather pants, back home, as had Mosca. Instead, they brought the light outfits they’d been wearing when they first met: Red Saviour’s was red and dark teal, with long sleeves, a mini-skirt and thigh-high boots. Mosca’s was a shirt and sturdy combat pants.

One major difference, which Mosca felt acutely, was the lack of armaments on his utility belt. Instead, he had the pistol given to him by Romanov holstered at his side. He was no stranger to firearms, but there was a reason he had developed his own arsenal.

The hotel was modest by Las Vegas standards. Natalya supposed it catered more to business travelers than tourists. Still, the obligatory fountain burbled in front of the driveway, with gold plated statues and submerged lights.

The cab dropped them off at the street. Mosca slipped the cabbie an extra twenty dollar bill after Red Savior paid him the exact fare. The cabbie rolled his eyes and peeled off.

“Back door?” Mosca asked.

“Front. Comrade Romanov has already staked out the lobby. Doubtless he enjoys cup of coffee before fighting starts.”

“You sound suspicious, mi corazon. You suspect treachery?”

“Am Russian Communist. You still ask me this question?” She pushed the glass doors open. “Investigation has been too easy. I prefer to work hard to find perpetrator.”

“Then we watch our backs.” He nodded to the doorman who held open the inner doors.

“You are here for Detective Romanov?” The doorman whispered. “He’s over there, by the couches.”

“Spasibo,” Red Saviour said. The tall detective was hardly concealed, poking up from the maroon leather couches like a tree. With him was an older woman in an outrageous blonde wig and hotel staff jacket. In her hand were floorplans for the entire hotel.

“Thank you for coming, comrades. This is night manager, Mrs. Hutton. She’s been apprised of situation and is ready to call for our backup.”

Mrs. Hutton nodded, leaning forward as she did so. “We don’t want to disturb our other guests, or draw attention to this little problem. The detective here assures me that you can arrest this lady without much fuss.”

Mosca smothered a laugh. Red Saviour kicked him in the shin. “We will do our very best.” She caught Romanov’s eye. “I am being sure comrade Romanov has assessed situation very, very carefully.”

“We’ve made sure that most of floor is empty,” he said. “Staff tells me that Irina is being alone in room.”

“Horosho. I think we are ready to ‘hit things and quit things,’ as comrade Heavy Brother is fond of yelling. Give me floorplan.” She studied the map, tapping on the room. “Is large balcony and French doors. I come through there, after you enter through front door.”

“How will you…oh, da. You can fly.” Romanov looked away.

“Da, like bumbling bee. You are ready?”

“Those of us who are not so blessed will take the elevator,” Mosca said. “Be careful, dearest.”

Red Saviour leaned in for a kiss. She whispered in Mosca’s ear: “Watch back at all times, moj dorogoj.”

She walked outside, winking at the doorman on the way. “We will be back soon,” she told him. He gave a cheerful salute. When she’d rounded the corner of the building, out of sight, he locked both sets of doors.

The night air raised goosebumps on her exposed thighs. The desert had cooled quickly, despite the heat gathered by the ever-present asphalt. She counted up the floors to the fifth, then across the face of the building until she found a balcony illuminated in yellow by lighted, curtained windows. She had hoped for more visibility into the room from outside; now she’d have to be on the balcony to hear the arrest. On the other hand, the curtains would hide her from casual observers.

Summoning the mystical energy that coursed through her body, she willed herself to take flight and move toward the balcony. She grazed a palm leaf on her way up. Choosing caution over comfort, she floated just below the floor of the balcony, bobbing like a swimmer at poolside.

She heard nothing.

Minutes passed. The elevator ride should take no more than a minute, she calculated. The silence from the room made the traffic noise and the wind in her ears seem to be a cacophony. She focused on the curtains, willing them to part and reveal a peaceful arrest scene.

The French door clicked and opened just a few inches.

“The situation, it is under control,” Mosca said from inside. “Come inside, Natya.”

She grinned. Floating for minutes and waiting had made her hungry. She wanted a famous Las Vegas steak, and the watery liquid they insisted was beer. Pabst Blue Life, or something like that. Pulling herself up on the balcony with Olympic grace, she climbed over the rail and pushed the door open.

Mosca and Lt. Romanov stood with smiles directed at her. Mosca’s pistol was out and pointed at his own head. Romanov aimed his weapon at Mosca’s heart.

“We were wondering when you’d make it,” said the red-haired woman in a dressing gown sprawled on the king-size bed. Her pinched face was distorted by a cruel smile. “We have not met before, famous Red Saviour. I am being Hypno Sister.” She waved a cocktail glass at Natalya. “Please don’t move, of course. Your boyfriend will die from one of two fatal gunshot wounds. Oh! Such a waste of a handsome man.”

“I agree,” Mosca said. “I prefer not to be wasted.”

“Darlink, what are you doing?” Red Saviour cried.

“What I am told,” he said. He winked at her.

“You hardliners follow orders so well,” Hypno Sister said, her smirk dripping with arrogance. “One good look and he was mine.”

“I was hypnotized,” Mosca said. “She’s quite powerful, Natya.”

“Tell her she doesn’t stand a chance,” Hypno Sister said in a low voice.

“Mi corazon, you don’t stand a chance.”

Hypno Sister rolled off the bed and approached Red Saviour with cloaked eyes. “Tell her that if she doesn’t surrender, you’ll be dead in thirty seconds. Lieutenant, count for me.”

Romanov cleared his throat. “Odin… dva… tree…”

“If you are not surrendering, I will have to pull this trigger,” Mosca said.

“Darlink…stop…you must fight it…” Tears began to cloud Red Saviour’s vision.

“Good advice, but too late, Commissar.” Hypno Sister put her arms around Mosca, caressing him. “Now, in your last moments of life, tell her how you feel about her, and what your future plans were.” She tried to catch Natalya’s eye, but Natalya put her hands up. “It’s good to be able to share our thoughts before they’re splashed all over wallpaper.”

“Mi corazon, when I met you, I knew there would never be another for me. I wanted to make you a wife and a mother. My dream, it was to grow old with you.”

Natalya choked back a sob.

“Is beautiful sentiment,” Hypno Sister said. “I can grant your dream, at least. You will be as old as you will ever be, right here with your beloved Natya.” She wiped away a mock tear. “Is tearjerker. Romanov, how is count?”

“Ten seconds left.”

“Adios, center of my heart.” Mosca smiled at her again, and cocked the pistol.

“Look into my eyes and I’ll spare him,” Hypno Sister said, taking Red Saviour’s head in her hands. “Just one peek. It won’t hurt a bit, then we can all relax and toast our, ahem, new friendship.”

Red Saviour closed her eyes. “If he dies, I will destroy this room and everyone in it.”

“Two seconds…one…” Romanov counted in a flat tone, as if announcing train arrivals.

“Wait.” Hypno Sister held up a hand. “Mosca, darling, can she do what she is saying?”

“Si, si. The magic energies inside her, they are devastating. Especially when she is moody.”

“Bozemoi. Then we have quite the standoff, da?” She took Red Saviour by the chin. “Look at me. Look at me! Coward!” She slapped her. “You’re lucky that my orders are to keep you alive for now. Why, I am not knowing – Mosca! What are you doing?”

Red Saviour opened her eyes. Mosca stood, immobile, the barrel of his gun still at his temple…and Hypno Sister weaved into view. Her ice blue eyes bored into Natalya’s.

“Aha. Now, now you are mine. Relax, dear.”

Red Saviour could not close her eyes. Her body went limp. Breath escaped her lungs as if she was at the bottom of a swimming pool. Hypno Sister’s blue eyes, beautiful blue eyes, took on the aspect of her mother’s eyes as she bandaged a scraped knee.

“There, there, Natalya, it will be all right. We’re friends here, nyet?”

“We…” A sudden anger welled up inside of her. Her sense of order was being violated, somewhere: back at the playground, or in her neighbor’s yard, or at the Square. The kindness in the blue eyes stood off at a distance, flat, impersonal.

False.

“Come along, Natalya. We have fresh champagne to celebrate your capture.”

“A…a…spec…” Natalya’s lips could have been made of wood. “Spec…ter-ter…spectre...is…” Her hands flapped at her sides.

“What is she saying?” Hypno Sister furrowed her brow. “It sounds familiar.”

“It is Russian. I fear I cannot understand,” Mosca said.

“She said ‘a spectre is’,” Romanov said. “Why, I am having no idea. But she seems subdued.”

“Nyet! She is fighting me.” Hypno Sister seized the larger woman and shook her. “Natalya, stop talking nonsense.”

Red Saviour’s breath came in gulps. “Is…is haunting…Europe…”

“Europe? What does Europe have to do with this?”

“ ‘A spectre is haunting Europe.’ That is very familiar,” Romanov translated, and scratched his head. “Where have I heard before?”

“ ‘The spectre of communism.’” Mosca finished the sentence with her. “Mi corazon is quoting Marx to you. How charming! Is she not lovable?”

“Da, da, now I recognize it.” She listened as Red Saviour, through gritted teeth, named off those powers of old Europe that Marx so hated: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies. “Is she having seizure?”

“Natya knows the Communist Manifesto like ministers know the Bible,” Mosca said. “In Russian, English, and some in Spanish, thanks to our, ah, studies. The Manifesto, it is a mantra to her.”

“Chanting.” Hypno Sister released Red Saviour and stormed across the room to the bottle of champagne. “Chanting! This I never expected. Very clever.” She unwrapped the foil as she walked back to crouch down by the collapsed Red Saviour. “Keep chanting. Re-educate us, comrade. We’ll toast the revolution, and the workers, and the Party. And when you get tired, you are mine.”

Her strong fingers forced the champagne cork out; the pressure shot the cork past Red Saviour’s face to bounce off the wall. Expensive champagne sprayed her in the face. Quietly, she continued to chant into Chapter One: Bourgeois and Proletarians.

“We can wait.” Hypno Sister laid back on her satin pillows and drank from the bottle. “I am nyet going anywhere.”