If there was any doubt to shortage of the by-the-week rathole hotels he could stay at, this was his last one. Afterward, his options were hiding out on the streets, going to forth to face the music he could feel was singing his tune, or more running, further afield. The fact he had even stayed in town showed him a sense of daring idiocy he’d not though himself capable of. Perhaps the fact of running further was more frightening, because he knew such an act would mean there really was no redemption. He already knew that, but he wanted desperately to believe there was another way. An escape, which he could return to his life, no harm, no foul.
The manager of this particular hotel gave him the creeps; a short older man with a thick Mexican accent and three terrariums behind his desk with three different types of spider. Erik had known one person with a fondness for spiders and other things with cold blood, becoming acquainted out of necessity with another made him feel uneasy. He wanted to find another place, but after three days, he realized the futility of it, and set back to contemplating his options.
It was just getting to be dark out and he contemplated going outside. Perhaps the fresh air would do him some good. Maybe out there in the open he’d find another option that hadn’t presented itself in the endless string of rented rooms he had found himself in the last two months.
A knock on the door got him to sit bolt upright. The constant fear there was someone on the other side of the door with a badge and a gun gnawed at him. He hoped it was just the short hotel manager come to ask him to hold one of those spiders. Slowly, he got up from the bed and opened the door, his eyes going wide at who was waiting outside.
“Hello, Erik,” Tyrus’s large hand caught him square in the chest, sending him toppling backward. “We must speak.”
“What?!? How?!? How did you…?”
“In Mister Sanchez’s possession is a Goliath birdeater,” Tyrus began, shutting the door firmly behind him. “It’s the second largest species of spider in the world with a legspan of up to a foot.” Erik tried to get up and found himself shoved over the bed. “He also has a baboon spider, a burrowing ground-dweller out of Africa that can be a little belligerent, and, finally, a cobalt blue tarantula, a beautiful species out of Thailand.” Even as Erik tried to get up, he found himself being pushed down again. “Now, where do you suppose Mister Sanchez might have acquired such lovely specimens?”
Erik tried to make a break for it, diving over the bed. In mid leap, he was seized by both his ponytail and the collar of his shirt. Before he could even consciously register what was happening, he found himself pushed into the chair near the room’s television set, Tyrus looming over him.
“And stay seated,” he hissed.
“Tyrus, please!” Erik didn’t really even know what to say, but he felt he should say something.
“There are several people with bruises and a few with broken bones because of you,” Tyrus said coldly. “And then there’s the whole matter of two very special and beautiful people who are now dead.”
“It was a mistake!” Erik snapped. “I didn’t mean to kill them! I meant…”
“You wanted to kill me.”
Erik was airborne again. This time, he felt himself slam into a wall. There was a loud crunch of impact, which drove the air from his lungs. Tyrus’s forearm was pressed against his throat, his eyes narrowed.
“’Why?’” Erik spat. “Why? After Caroline died you just fucked off for your little snakehouse like none of us really existed anymore! Because my own sister loved you more than me! Because everyone still loved you and it was always such a big deal when you came out! Because Maya would be with you in a second if you asked her! Because…” it was then his voice, like his spirit, broke. “Because I could never be you…”
Once more, he was flying. He slammed into another wall, harder this time. It was hard to tell if the crunching, buckling sounds were that of the drywall or the bones in his back. Slowly, he looked up to meet Tyrus’s cold gaze, which cut through him like a scalpel.
“What a petty, small, hateful thing you are.”
“I suppose you’re going to kill me now,” Erik sputtered. The fact Tyrus chuckled sent a chill down his spine.
“Why? Violence only begets violence, and that solves nothing,” he said. “I could butcher you and it would not fix anything. Morgan and Raphael are still dead.”
“Then what do I do?” Erik cried desperately. “Tell me! What do I do to make it all right again?”
Tyrus turned away. His steps were slow and deliberate as he walked to the door. He turned briefly to look down at Erik once more before he walked out.