Liam Crilling’s dyed red hair bounced around his head as he jerked involuntarily at the sound of sirens heading his way. “Come on, Liam. Get it together,” he chided himself softly as he brushed past two of several people in front of him. The sidewalks were crowded enough that even if the authorities were looking for him, they would have a hard time pointing him out. He stopped outside of a small convenience store as he checked to see how much money he had left. “New city, new name, and no one’s ever even seen you here before,” he went on, not realizing that he was talking out loud. He looked up from counting his cash and saw a few people in the crowd giving him worried looks. He chuckled nervously and ran his free hand through his hair, shrugging slightly at the brunette that was watching him intently as if she were prepared for trouble. After a few more seconds of awkward silence and a nervous smile from him she finally turned her attention elsewhere, and he continued on his way. He walked inside the street corner convenience store to purchase a drink. When he exited, he glanced around for the woman just to be sure that he wasn’t being followed. There was something off about her… He shrugged slightly, tilting up the bottled water as he made his way through the now less than packed crowd of pedestrians making their way home after a hard day’s work. Man, these people get home fast, he thought. Just as he finished the thought, a woman screams a few blocks down the road from where he is. With nothing more than a curious glance in her general direction, Liam shrugged before he continued his search for a hotel to stay overnight.
“My son! Has anyone seen my son?!” The woman sounded off closer and closer to where he was, and he did his best to ignore her shrill cry for help. As he turned the corner, the woman caught him by the sleeve of his off-white collared shirt and nearly caused him to drop his water bottle. “Sir, please! Have you seen my son?” she cried, her vibrant leaf green eyes lit up with a well of tears.
Liam grunted in response and jerked his sleeve out of the desperate woman’s grasp. “Lady, I ain’t seen any children at all, alright? Go bother someone else with your lack of parenting skills,” he said with a sneer on his face. The woman stared at him for a moment before her face drained of all colour. She turned away and rushed off into the surprised crowd of people, clearly embarrassed at being mocked by a complete stranger. Liam paused for a moment and looked up at the waning sunlight in the sky. “Anyone else got anything they wanna bug me with so I can make them look stupid too?” he said without a trace of give a damn in his voice. The crowd shifted almost uniformly away from him, disgusted by his lack of manners. He shrugged again, lifted the water bottle to take a drink and continued on his search for a hotel. Better find some place before nightfall. This might look like a nice place, but that don’t mean it ain’t got its share of pick pockets and killers. With the slow moving mass of people avoiding him, he picked up his step, passing by a small set of houses that looked out of place in the downtown area. He rushed on as the sun was ever closer to setting, finally spotting a glaring pink and blue neon hotel sign that read “The Glass Roof Inn”. He became cautious instantly at the name, almost praying that no one was dumb enough to actually make their roofs from glass.
The sun was low enough on the horizon that the sky displayed colours of gold, pink, purple, and the dark violet of the oncoming night as he rushed into the managerial area of the hotel. He put on what he liked to refer to as his natural charm, shooting a smile at the receptionist as he approached the countertop. The plump woman returned a smile politely, her focus more on the paperwork on her desk than on her new paying customer. There was a small radio playing an older hit from about a decade ago in the background as he waited for her to finish what she was doing. He didn’t recognize the song, though he did enjoy the beat. As he tapped his fingers on the counter in time to the music, the radio cut away from its original programme to an alert message: “This just in: Another child has been abducted by the mysterious La Llorona. This time, the child was eight years in age and was last seen by his mother, Marya Stantos, in front of the Palmer’s Jewelry Store on Island Drive in the downtown area. If you or anyone you know has any information that could help learn the whereabouts of this mysterious Llorona, please contact the local police station as soon as possible. Now back to your regularly scheduled programme.
The radio switched back to playing the current pop song of the minute as the plump blonde woman shook her head, a miserable look on her face. “Can you believe that? That darn creature won’t stop taking our children!”
Liam forced down the urge to tell the woman off, instead chose to feign sympathy. “I know, it’s a damn atrocity that this keeps happening.” Of course, he had no idea what she was going on about. He wasn’t the least bit curious about this city’s goings on, and she wasn’t going to change his mind at all. As she rose from her seat behind her desk, he noticed that she was plump in the way that her body proportioned itself to make her look like a balloon animal in a costume. She almost waddled the ten feet to the counter, the smile planted back on her face. “Oh, are you new in town? I haven’t seen you around here before.”
He nodded slightly, showing a small smile to keep her from asking anything strange of him. “I’m here to visit some friends is all. Mind setting me up with a room for the night?”
Her smile became almost predatory, and he wondered what he could do to never see this again once he got out of her sight. “Sure, sure! We got a single for 35, a double for 45, and a loft for 50. What’s your pleasure?”
His eyebrows shot up at the question. “I, uh, I sleep alone generally, so the single’ll do.” He reached into his back pocket for the money and noticed that the woman’s eyes followed his hand and its motions almost hungrily. Well, this is getting damn awkward, he thought to himself. He hurriedly fished out the money, made certain to avoid eye contact with her even when she held up the key to the room, and rushed out of the small room as quickly as he could. He could still feel her eyes on him and that gave him a sickly feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Ugh…” he groaned as he checked his key chain number. It read Suite 269. He looked up at the massive expanse of hotel rooms laid before him. It made him wonder how he’d missed the huge land that was being occupied by this many different buildings. The sky had now become the beautiful dark violet of the night that he’d come to love so much, the street lamps and hotel lights marring the beauty of the starlit sky. He chuckled to himself as began to walk off and search the premises for his hotel room.