"I'm hailing from out in Tennessee, don't mind the lack of accent, I was born further out west then that." Derek shook Joshua's hand with gusto and grabbed at the counter behind him and gropped around for his card and key. After a few tries, he managed to crush his fist around them. "It was great meeting you guys." He afforded a suspicious look back at Alice, taking her slightly by surprise. Without much more flourish, he grabbed his bag and took off at a strong trot towards the hallway of rooms.
Joshua blinked a couple of times, confused more than anything, and he couldn't hold back a light chuckle. "Well. That wasn't awkward or anything. I think we'll head down to our room now, aah...oh, I didn't catch your name." He gave a slightly embarrassed smile to the woman behind the counter at the revelation, and laid his hand down on the counter as though to grab their key and his credit card...only to feel the smooth wood, nothing more. "Hey, what...oh shit, did that guy go off with my card?!"
"I got it, don't worry," Alex said, turning to jog down the hallway before her brother could stop her. Room 108, the woman had said...soon enough, she came up on the right room, and knocked on Derek's door.
Derek dug through the hotel room, looking for cameras, bugs, evil talismans and anything else that the strange hotel owners may have hidden within the room. Content that the room was secure, he began unpacking his computer. Apart from a single change of clothes and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings, if was the only thing he'd packed. He was in Silent Hill only to investigate. He'd just managed to unzip his bag when he heard a sharp rap on the door. He padded over quietly to the door, and look with caution through the peephole. It appeared to be the out-of-state girl from the lobby, "Who is it?" he demanded, leaning away from the door so as to seem across the room.
"It's Alex, from earlier," she answered, leaning her shoulder on the doorframe, "I'm sure it was an accident, but you kind of swiped my brother's credit card. And our room key. Would you mind giving those back?" Her tone was somewhat amused, and she had a slightly absent smile on her face, one that made her look softer and a bit more mature than her usual blank expression.
"Ah, sorry, come in then." Derek dug into his pocket. Sure enough, there was an extra credit card in his pocket as well as a second key crumpled into a receipt. He unlocked the door and stepped aside as it opened. "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? I'm a well-known internet journalist, you know."
Alex raised an amused eyebrow, that smile widening a bit. "Oh, you are? I wonder what you're doing here, then." She walked inside, briefly wondering if Joshua had seen her do so, but when he didn't come barrelling down the hallway screaming, she was relieved. "I mean, it seems like there isn't a whole lot more to know about this town...seems like it's all already been written. But I'll be glad to help, if I can," she said casually, sitting down in one of the chairs in the room and crossing her legs, even being respectful enough to take the earphone out of her ear and shut down her mp3 player.
"I'm looking into the long history of cult activity that has this town in its dark clutches." Derek struck his "important" pose. "Now, why did you decide to come to Silent Hill? Was it a dream? A premonition?"
"Oh, I think I'm just going to bore you," she laughed, "I'm here because my brother is writing a paper on the area for a class...and my parents are ridiculously overprotective of me, so they forced me to come along with him." Tilting her head a bit, her gaze became more curious. "Is this place really that interesting? I've read about the cult stuff, but I always thought that it was kind of dead...it's still going strong, huh?"
"Oh, they've moved underground, but the Silent Hill cult will never die." Derek scribbled down a few notes. "What was your name again? And what topic is your brother researching that he had to physically visit the town?"
"Alexandra Lindon, but you can call me Alex. As for my idiot brother, he's here because of the cult influence on the town too...or rather, the past cult influence. He's just going to get a few books and talk to a couple of people before we go home. I think he just wanted to get away from the city, if you ask me." She sighed a bit, shaking her head. "He can be such a drag. Maybe he'll uncover something too, and that'll make this weekend something other than a complete bust."
Derek restrained a tremble of excitement, "Ah! I'll have to interview him, as well! Perhaps we can compare leads, it will be an excellent opportunity for both of us!" Truth be told, Derek lacked anything resembling a lead. All he had were a few newspaper articles, an incomplete series with a missing author and a date that was years back. He was sure he'd find something here, and he needed something unique desperately.
Alice knocked softly on the door to room 108, "Ah, excuse me? Ms. Alex? Your brother asked me to come check on you. " She turned to face Derek, who was again writing in his notebook, "Sir, if you take the other guest's possessions again, I'll have to ask you to leave the hotel."
Derek gave her a suspicious stare, and took down another short note, "You were born in this town, correct? And your father as well?" Taking in Alice's bemused expression he considered his information accurate. He began a slow pace across the room, shaking his pencil in the air. "Yes, I did a little research on this hotel. Why have you carried it on? Does your father have any... other business?"
Alex stood up, stretching a bit and pressing the bud of her earphones back into her right ear and hitting 'play'. Walking to the door, she placed her hand on Derek's arm with a smile, saying, "Hey, good luck with your story. I'll see if Joshua'll be up for an interview too, but I can't guarantee anything, okay? Ooh, sorry to interrupt."
She'd almost made it out before she remembered the card and key that Derek had, and, cursing under her breath, she turned back and put her hand on Derek's arm again with a sheepish look. "Aah, I forgot...my brother's card, and the key to our room?"
"Oh! Yeah!" Derek shoved the key and card out at her, still keeping his eye on Alice, and hardly giving the younger girl a thought, "Thanks for talking to me. I'll connect with you again tomorrow." He returned back to Alice, "Maybe business within the town?"
"No, business with his TV. What are you implying?" Alice shook her head and started to walk back out the door, following Alex. "You think I'm a satanist or something?"
"Or your family."
"Whatever." Alice pushed Derek to the side with a half-hearted motion and pulled the door closed behind her. With a sigh she returned to her own room.
Alex brushed off Derek's snub with a bit of a roll of her eyes, unable to help but feel just a tad bitter. Seemed like someone might be interested in her as opposed to her brother for once, but...eh, it was no big deal. Noticing Joshua further down the hall, she waggled the key in her hand and walked to their room, letting herself in and flopping down onto the bed nearest to the window and closing her eyes, letting the dusty light of the setting sun cast over her face.
Alice scowled. She'd really relied on this batch of guests being cheap and lazy. Nonetheless, they'd all arrived for breakfast that morning. She'd had to make an extra batch of omlettes and presented them with flourish. "Well! Eat up! I'm sure you've all got things to do today out in town."
Joshua ate with gusto, barely noticing Alex, who sat beside him with her chin leaned on one hand while the other barely prodded the omelette. Her usual blank expression was back with a vengence.
"So, Alex told me you wanted to talk to me about something...er, Derek, was it?" Joshua was obviously trying to alleviate the obvious tension in the room by being overly cheerful, a tactic that usually worked for him at school...
Derek perked up immediately. He'd been poking suspiciously at his plate, "Yes! Your sister there tells me that you're here to investigate the insidious workings of the town as well!" He grinned, hoping he was sounding professional, "I'd like to compare information with you, share a few secrets, you know."
"Um, well..." Joshua faltered a bit - truth was, he didn't have much to go off of either. A few scattered news articles, a brief mention in a book on cultism...still, he refused to be intimidated by this weirdly uppity guy, so he regained himself quickly. "I suppose that's the point of investigation, isn't it? To gain new information? Today, I was going to follow my leads to the church on the other side of the lake - heard a lot of weird things happened there, you know?"
"Ah, the church..." Derek scratched his ear, trying to remember mention of a specific church, "Yes! There were a few murders there a few years back, right?" Alice cleared her throat loudly, announcing without words that she was leaving the table. She grabbed both Derek and Joshua's plates and marched towards the door to the kitchen.
Sighing, Alex got up with her plate and followed. "I'll help," she said in a flat tone, sounding thankful for the excuse to get away from the table. "I'll clean them, or something. You don't have to pay me or anything, I just want something to do."
Alice smiled, "Thanks, you don't really have to. There's a pretty vicious dishwasher back there. We got it cheap off a burger joint that went under." She dumped the plate contents into the trash can just inside the door, "You seem pretty miserable to be here, not exactly an ideal weekend retreat?"
Letting out a derisive chuckle, she scraped off the remains of her omelette into the trashcan as well. "Yeah. I'm a prisoner of my own older brother. I bet he drags me along to this stupid church he wants to go to." Sighing, she ran a hand back through her hair, which she had forgotten to pull back that morning. "After all, our parents told him not to let me out of his sight, and he's the ultimate kiss-ass. It sucks." Her expression darkening a bit, she added, "And that Derek guy seems like a total tool."
"I was going to to say 'asshole,' but tool is more accurate." Alice laughed, "At least they're keeping themselves occupied? Since neither of them has a clue." she scrunched her brow in an irritated expression, and glared in the direction of the continuing chatter.
"Yeah, I suppose. Either that, or they'll end up fighting...you know, just so much nut-flexing." So, Alex wasn't exactly a demure girl, but it couldn't exactly be expected of her. Nor, for that matter, was she coy, as she followed up her prior statement with a slightly quieter one, "He is kind of cute, though. Shame."
Alice laughed, "That guy? He looks like he should be institutionalized." She winced a bit, regretting having spoken without regard for the girl she was addressing. "I'm probably just irritated with him, he's causing a big commotion, and I really don't want to see him running amok in town, calling everyone witches or whatever."
Far from being offended by the comment, she laughed. "Yeah, you're probably right. Some would say that I should be instituionalized too." Walking over to the counter and setting the plate down, she hopped up to sit there, pulling a plain black hair tie out of her pocket and started working on smoothing all her hair back into a low-hanging ponytail. "I hope they don't cause too much trouble. I get the feeling that he'll be going with us to the church...ugh. I'm sure it'll be testosteronerific. I'll try to keep an eye on them, though."
"Good luck with that. The town's a pain to navigate, so hopefully they'll get lost." She threw the dishes into a plastic tray and heaved it into the large stainless steel box that encased the dishwasher, "Try to keep them from bothering too many strangers. Most of the people here are pretty touchy about the town's past."
"I'll try." Finding a tangle in her hair, she pulled it around her shoulder and started to work it apart, a motion that made her look suddenly vulnerable. For a moment, she was quiet, then she asked, "Is it really that bad? I mean, what they say in the books...it's some really scary stuff."
Alice scratched the back of her neck, "There's been a couple of weird things, mostly murders and stuff like that. We've got a cult, yeah, but they pretty much died out when they got busted for some serious drug running a long time ago. There are a few crazies running around, but I can't say anything else has happened recently." She started up the dishwasher, and shouted over the rising roar, "Most of the stories are hallucinations and over-active imaginations."
"I wonder what they're getting their panties all in a knot over, then?" She had raised her voice to be heard over the dishwasher too, then noticed through the door that Joshua was waving her out. She sighed deeply, not looking forward to the day's activities. "Well. 'Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred.'" Chuckling a bit, she hopped down and walked out, throwing a wave over her shoulder to Alice before joining her brother in the next room.
"Ah, wait!" She lunged forward, just barely catching Alex by the shoulder, "I can go along, as a, uh, guide. You probably won't be able to handle both of them alone, now that they're running on pure enthusiasm"
Looking up at Alice, Alex gave a more genuine smile than she'd given since leaving her home. "Oh god, will you?" she asked, "I wasn't sure that I could keep the two of them in line by myself. You're not too busy or anything?"
"Ha! You see much to do? It's not like I'm about to go make everyone's beds. I wake up, water my plants, eat a little and start counting down the hours until bed again when it comes to this time of the year." she rolled her shoulders back a few times, working the sleep out of the joints, "I'll take any excuse to get out for a while, even if it is babysitting."
"Heh, all right. Well, I appreciate it, definitely. I bet they will too...the idea of them getting lost around here scares me more than anything I've read in the books." Chuckling, she started forward again, walking up to Joshua and giving a nod to Derek as well, "All right, so, where are we going, Magellan?"
Startled by Alex's sudden appearance, Joshua jumped a bit, then quickly regained his cool. "To the church, where else? I think Derek's coming with us. You are, right? I've just been trying to figure out a good way to get there."
Alice spoke up, "Alex actually talked me into showing you around. I was telling her how hard it was to get around town. The roads are set up all weird, since the lake floods sometimes and stuff. I can show you how to get over there."
Derek sorted through his pockets, making inventory of his pens, pencils, tape recorder and steno books. "Excellent! You can show us other cult activity hotspots."
Alice opened her mouth to snap at him, but thought better encouraging him.
Alex gave him a sideways glance with a bit of a sigh, hoping he'd come off this 'I'm totally a REPORTER!' thing at some point...maybe once he saw a bit of what he wanted? "So, how are we doing this? One car, two, three?"
"Well," Joshua said, tapping his chin, "I've got more than enough room in the Jeep, if we don't want to be separated. It'd probably be easier that way."
Derek nodded in agreement, "It's best to stay together during any investigation. Will you be driving then, Josh?"
Joshua grinned, nodding enthusiastically. "Of course. That Jeep is my baby."
Feeling irritated again, Alex grabbed the usually-dangling earphone and pressed it into her other ear, drowning out anyone else. At the risk of sounding whiny, she never spoke about how much she hated her brother sometimes - it seemed like he had everything, she got nothing, and he took it for granted. Though she was more than an adequate driver, she had no license ("It's not you, it's all the other crazies out there...we don't want you to get into any accidents," her parents had said, over and over), much less a car she could call her 'baby'. Books and music, those were her only freedoms. And, therefore, it rubbed a raw nerve whenever Josh gushed about the things he was allowed to have that she wasn't.
Alice sighed, and patted Alex on the shoulder as they filed outside. She locked the front door of the hotel once they were all outside. It wasn't as though anyone would need to get inside now that the whole group of guests and the one-woman staff were off on an expedition of fairytales. Derek was beyond enthusiastic, and was already taking down note of things he assumed he'd see throughout the day. He'd brought along his computer bag, as usual. It was his constant companion, especially when he planned on finding a story to cover. He planned on writing the entire piece as a gritty first-person account, and was hoping to get some sweeping descriptions of the landscape down before they even left the car.