Red believed this was actually the fanciest hotel he had ever been to,
possibly even the fanciest place in which he'd ever set foot. The room he
and Argento shared was about three times the size of any he'd ever stayed
in. Hell, the beds were almost as big as the room they'd had in Grand Rapids.
Red's former apartment, now stolen by an anonymous young couple, had only
been a tiny bit bigger than the bedchamber he now entered. It had two beds,
a large TV, a matching sofa, loveseat and chair, a coffee table, a rather
"Holy crap," Red said.
"What?" asked Argento. "Oh, the room. Yes. This is where I
usually stay when I'm in the City. We told you this job had benefits." He
ushered Father Patrick into the room. The Father only had a few more bruises,
but enough to keep him quiet coming up to the room. They had given him a new
outfit to replace the soaking wet one he been wearing when tossed into the
"Are the others' rooms like this?" Red asked.
"Quite similar, I should think," Argento said.
A knock came at the door. Argento opened it to let in the bellhop with their
bags. He was a boy of about 16-18 years, dark hair and smallish in build.
Father Patrick took attention. "Thank you, young man," he said. "Just
place them anywhere."
Argento shot him a dirty look.
"No, problem, sir," the boy said. He placed the two suitcases on
suitcase racks he took from the closet.
"It's Father, young man," said Patrick, "I am a man of the
"Sorry, Father," the boy said, his duties finished. Argento pulled
out his wallet.
"I'll tip the young man," Father Patrick said, coming closer.
"I believe you've misplaced your wallet, Father," Argento said,
"Oh, yes," said Patrick, backing off. "Perhaps next time,
"Yes, Father," said the boy, leaving with his money.
Once the door was shut, Argento walked over to Patrick and smacked him up
side the head. "Keep your mouth and pants shut, next time."
"What next time?" said Red. "Now that we're alone let's get
him tied back up."
"Oh come on, guys, I was just having a little fun," said Patrick,
sitting down on the bed, "He was cute. It's not a crime to think about
A moment later, Red hung the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door as he slipped
out of the room, figuring it best if the staff didn't come in to clean up
and find a duct-tape bound priest in the bathtub. He headed down the hallway
a ways to where the single-bed rooms were, towards the room Argento had given
to Alison. As he rounded a corner, he saw Alison's father, John, come out
of an elevator.
When he saw Red, John looked away and hurried to the door of the room designated
for him and Mrs. Innes. He must have hurried over from work, Red thought,
as they had asked him to on the phone. He'd been told to tell everyone that
it was a family emergency. DI&R had promised to reimburse him for any
loss of income, but he didn't seem entirely satisfied by that as his wife
let him into their room.
Red knocked on the door to room 1407. "One second," Alison called
from within. As the door opened, Red saw her sitting across the room in a
very comfortable looking chair, much like the one back in his room. His first
thought was that he was glad her room was just as nice as his own was, although
she looked a little less than thrilled. His second was to wonder who had opened
the door if Alison was across the room. He was quickly answered by Simon's
fist colliding with his jaw.
Simon shook his hand off and cracked his knuckles as Red looked up at him
from the floor. "Don't move a muscle, your Holiness" he said, pointing
an Uzi directly at Red's left eye.
"I'm sorry, Red," said Alison, "I didn't know they-"
"It's ok, Alison, we'll be ok," said Red, "What's the matter,
Simon, you miss me? Or just that sick boss of yours? Don't tell me you actually
believe all of that Jesus nonsense."
"How else can you explain what he did for us?" a familiar voice
asked from across the room. Three more figures were coming out of hiding,
two of which Red recognized. Red quickly pegged the voice as belonging to
Kimmy, the young girl who had attempted to seduce him a few days before. She
was wearing tight black jeans, as were her companions, except for one- the
young bellhop he had just seen a minute before, still dressed in his uniform.
Rounding out the group was a boy who looked to be about fourteen years old.
Each was equipped with his or her own automatic weapon. These, Red assumes,
must be what Father Patrick's children look like with my glasses, and their
"Well, I…" said Red, "I can't exactly explain it. But
how can you explain that your Christ couldn't even handle one blessed Saint
"We've had enough of your lies," Simon said. "We know the
truth. He is a forgiving Messiah still, and turned the other cheek to you,
setting you free, even at his own great risk."
"Oh, please," Red said. Simon quickly kicked him in the crotch.
With a high pitched squeal, Red curled up in pain.
"Want me to rub it better, like I did the other day?" Kimmy asked. "Did
your boyfriend tell you about us, girl?"
"I'm not… a pedophile…" Red gasped.
"Stand up," Simon said. "Now. You too, girl."
Red struggled to stand but was still in intense pain. Alison rose and walked
to him, helping him up. "Are you going to kill us?" she asked.
"We'll see," said the bellhop.
"Get undressed," said Simon. "Both of you."
"I'm… I'm really not a pedophile," Red said weakly.
"Just do it," said Kimmy. "Getting pleasured is the least
of the dangers you're in."
As he loosened his tie, Red noticed the goofy smile on the youngest assailant
as he watched Alison disrobe. "How did you find us so fast? Patrick only
called you an hour or so ago."
"We've been tracking you since you took Him, fool," Simon said. "There
is a homing beacon in the van, of course. He only called to give specific
orders, to call in His Righteous Angels, and lo! They did come. You have called
down the wrath of our Savior, and now these three shall descend upon all that
oppose us and wreak His mighty vengeance!"
"Hold on," said Red, "I'm confused. Are you saying… these
three kids are the Righteous Angels?"
Kimmy was sitting on the bed, picking at her nail polish. The youngest one
was trying to suppress his giggles at the sight of Alison's bra. The bellhop
was covering Alison with his gun.
"Don't look so shocked," said the bellhop, "Our Savior has
chosen us. We are His favored among the flock. He saved us from the sickness
and death the world brought upon us and has shepherded us into our new lives
of serving Him only. He has taught us of many things: of life, of death-"
"Of hideous underage butt-piracy as well, I'm sure," said Red,
now wearing nothing but his underwear. "You're kids, you shouldn't be
put through these things."
"Don't kid yourself, your Holiness," said Kimmy, picking up Alison's
clothes, "We love it. All the things I had never experienced before I
met Him, things I never would have if not for Him… I had never been
able to walk, never went outside without supervision, never went swimming,
never had my communion, never had sex, never taken a life, never felt a heretic's
blood on my bare skin… I was missing so much of what makes life worth
"Where are your weapons?" Simon demanded, kicking at Red's clothes.
"Uh…" said Red, "Back in the room."
Simon tossed Red's clothes to the bellhop. "Get dressed Scott. You too,
Kimmy. Joshua, bring me the rope." The young one, Joshua, took a length
of rope out of a bag lying on the bed that appeared to be full of various
weapons and equipment. The other two began undressing themselves. Simon took
the rope from Joshua, "Cover them," said Simon, handing his gun
to the child.
Both guns trained on Red and Alison, both of them wearing nothing but underwear,
Joshua giggled and said, "Let's make them take off the rest."
"Josh," said Scott, "That's not what we're here for."
Scott had almost completely dressed himself in Red's clothes, while Kimmy
was dressed in Alison's. "Is this your plan?" said Red, "Dress
up as us? No offense, but that's a really stupid idea. You don't look anything
"Keep quiet," said Simon, who had just finished tying Reds hands
together behind his back. He then strung the rope down between Red's legs,
around his neck, through a hook on the ceiling, around Alison's neck, and
between Alison's legs, where he tied her hands together behind her, keeping
the rope very taught the whole time.
"Is this supposed to stop us?" Red asked, his voice only slightly
choked by the rope. "I mean, seriously, you guys aren't very serious
about defeating us are you? I know at least twenty ways to get out of this
without hurting either one of us. And look at these two. How could anyone
be fooled by this? I really think you should just let us go and we'll forget
this whole thing."
"Shut up," said Simon, cocking his Uzi.
"Can't we just kill them?" asked Kimmy. "They are heretics."
"We might need them later," Simon said, "In case our first
plan fails. We can trade them for the Messiah." Simon walked over to
the bag on the bed and pulled out a couple of blank masks and a handgun with
a silencer. He tossed the two masks over to Scott and Kimmy.
"Oh, yeah, those will help," said Red, standing on his tiptoes
to be able to speak more easily. "In case you noticed, it's Christmastime,
not… Halloween… what the hell just happened?"
As Kimmy and Scott slipped the masks over their faces, something strange
occurred. Scott's head became… very indistinct, Red found that he couldn't
focus on it at all. Kimmy, on the other hand, now looked exactly like Alison.
"What's going on, Red?" asked the real Alison, "He looks… he
looks just like you."
"She looks like you to me," Red said.
"What'cha staring at, big boy?" said Kimmy, in a voice that also
sounded just like Alison's. "Bet you wouldn't turn me away now, would
"How are you doing this?" Alison asked.
"A miracle," Scott said. His voice, too, had become indistinct
to Red. He knew what had been said, and by who, but he couldn't really hear
what it sounded like.
Simon handed the gun with the silencer to Joshua and started putting on a
dark trenchcoat. "If they try anything funny, Joshua… shoot her
in the legs. We'll be back as soon as we've got Father Patrick."
"No problem," said the young one, getting comfortable on the bed.
"I'm serious, Josh," said Simon, "Keep your eyes on them."
"Alright, alright!" Joshua said, standing back up. "Yes, sir."
Simon tucked his own gun into his coat as he, the faux-Alison, and the blur-faced
Scott in saint's clothes walked out into the hall. As soon as they'd gone,
Joshua jumped back onto the bed and lay back, relaxing.
"Listen up, you two," he said, "I don't want any trouble.
I don't particularly want to kill you, if Simon says not to. So, just relax
and let me watch some cartoons." He grabbed the remote control chained
to the night table. "They never let us watch back at the church." He
flicked on the TV and flipped around until he found the Justice League cartoon,
which caught his interest.
"Red, what's happening?" Alison whispered.
"I'm not… entirely sure," Red replied. "When he put
on that mask I couldn't look at his face, or make out his voice."
"I saw him as you," Alison said, "It was her that became all
blurry to me."
"It must not work on the person they're imitating. But still, how does
it work at all?"
"Maybe… maybe it's like closure?"
"Closure?" Red asked.
"It's a psych thing. It's what makes it so if you only see part of a
letter you can still tell what it is, based on context and everything."
"I think I get it… you mean, since they're wearing our clothes
and such, when anyone sees them missing their face and voice, their minds
will fill in the blanks because they assume it's us subconsciously?"
"I guess," she said. "Don't look at me. It sounds ridiculously
impossible to me."
"It's better than anything I've got," Red said, "But since
Argento is expecting to see us here, he'll definitely be fooled, he'll never
see through it."
"We'd better get out of here, fast."
"My thoughts exactly."
"My thoughts exactly," Red said.
"What happened to your twenty different ways?"
"Heh…" Red said, "I was just talking trash, you know."
"Thank you Macho Man," Alison said, "Maybe we could… I
don't know… try to jump and get the rope off the hook?"
"That would be dangerous," said Joshua, looking over at them. It
was a commercial break on the television. "First of all, the rope might
not come loose, and if it didn't, what happens if you land off balance? One
of you falls over and you both choke. Secondly, even if you did make it, I
still have a gun, and I shoot you both."
"Um… he's right," said Red.
Alison blinked a few times.
"What do you suggest, then, Joshua?" Alison said.
"Alison?" Red asked. "You remember the whole good-guy/bad-guy
thing we have going here?"
"Oh, come on, Red," Alison said, "Joshua was being very helpful.
I don't want to be killed here… Good looking boy like him, I'm sure
we can come to some sort of… deal."
"Keep out of this," Joshua said, "This is between me and the
"I just want to get out of this alive," Alison said, "I don't
care if you get back your Messiah. I promise we'll keep out of your way."
"What about him?" said Joshua.
"Red?" said Alison. "If he wants to get out if this, he'll
do exactly what I tell him. If I say 'jump', he jumps. If I say 'now', he
kicks. I've got him well in hand. Now let's make that deal, ok?"
"What kind of deal are we talking about here?"
"What type of deal would interest you, Joshua?"
Joshua smiled and turned off the TV. "You're very pretty."
"Oh really?" said Alison. "Have you ever been with a woman
"Only Kimmy," said Josh, "Father Patrick doesn't like to do
stuff with girls, but he likes when we do."
"Kimmy is a girl," said Alison, "I said a woman."
Joshua stood up and walked a bit closer. "Here's the deal: you let me
do anything I want to with you. He'll have to stay tied up until we're done.
Then I'll let you both go, you'll get out of here and we can make it look
like you got the drop on me."
"Sounds like fun to me," Alison said.
Joshua stepped closer. He moved the silenced gun to his left hand, and wiped
his right on his shirt. He was leering like an old man as he put his hand
on her side.
"Mmm…" said Alison, "I want you, now. Now!"
Red kicked at Joshua's left hand. The gun flew up and smacked the boy in
the face, the shock of it knocking him over. Red's balance, however, faltered
as he brought his leg back down, and he too began to stumble, tightening the
rope around Alison's neck. At that second, the gun clattered to the floor,
discharging a single bullet up towards the ceiling, directly through the rope
binding Red and Alison together, sending both of them to the floor as well.
The three of them, Red, Alison, and Joshua, sat there on the floor for a
moment looking around taking in the pure chance of the situation. Suddenly
they all looked to where the gun had fallen. Just before Joshua's hand grasped
it, Alison threw her body on top of it, trapping his hand beneath her breast.
Red, lying on his back, kicked Joshua in the face three or four times, until
he seemed to be less than conscious. He and Alison lay there breathing heavily
for a beat.
"We are so lucky that worked," he said. "Thank God I had only
good intentions. Please tell me you weren't really going to go through with
"Red!" Alison replied, getting up to her knees, "I believed
you weren't a pedophile, don't I deserve the same respect? Besides, I… knew
that would work."
"What? You mean that he would fall for it? Sure, he'd been eyeing you
since we got in here." Red was attempting to get to his feet. "Still,
it was very clever of you, dropping those hints and such. We'll make a secret
agent out of you yet. Now, we just need to get untied now so we can warn Argento.
I have an idea." He lay down on the bed, his head hanging off the edge.
"What are you doing?" Alison asked.
"One second," Red said. He realized that he must look completely
ridiculous, his head turned as far to the right as possible, making odd faces
as he moved his head up and down and stuck out his tongue.
"Are you ok?" she asked him.
"Eh-heh," he said, his tongue finally catching the hilt of his
sword just right, causing it to become visible, sliding out of its sheath
onto the floor. "Yes!" Red said, getting up and crouching to grab
the sword in his hands, still tied behind his back "Now turn around and
stand still and I'll cut you free."
"You said that can't hurt me, right?"
"Won't harm a living thing."
"Ok," Alison said, turning around. "I figure one enormous
gash per week is my limit."
Red looked over his shoulder and tried to hold the sword steady as he backed
towards her wrists. In a second the rope fell to the floor. "Whoops…" Red
"What?" Alison said, slightly panicked whipping her arms around
to the front and examining her wrists. "Am I ok, what?"
"No, I, uh… I overshot a bit," Red said, gesturing to her
underwear where a decent sized slit had been cut.
"What? Oh…" she said, reaching around and feeling the hole. "I
thought there was a draft. Trying to get me even more undressed, eh, Goggles?" She
punched him in the arm and then untied his hands.
Red grabbed Scott's bellhop uniform and began dressing. "Ok, here's
the plan," he told Alison, "I'll go over to my room, see if they're
still there, do what I can to stop them. You stay here, get dressed, tie the
boy up. I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Hey, you forgot something," Alison said, buttoning up Kimmy's
She tossed him the bellhop cap. He chuckled and put it on. "I'll be
"Hurry," she said, pulling on the turtleneck.
Red quickly jogged back up the length of the hallway to his and Argento's
room. He didn't have his key anymore- it was in his pants. He was about to
go for his sword when someone started walking down the hall. He knocked on
his door and listened closely for a response.
"It says 'do not disturb'," said the portly man walking by. Red
glared at the back of his head as he passed. Once the man had rounded the
corner, Red pulled his sword and stuck it through the lock. He opened the
door and let himself in.
No one was there. Not Father Patrick, not Kimmy and Scott, not even Argento.
There were, however, what you could call 'signs of a struggle' - namely the
fact that almost all the furniture was upturned, glass broken, and the duct
tape that had adorned their prisoner was strewn on the floor. Red could find
no clear give away as to what had happened, but he guessed they had overpowered
Argento and… what? Kidnapped him? Killed him and disposed of the body?
And why didn't they come back for Joshua?
Red changed back into another copy of his red suit, but Scott had taken the
only pair of his red shoes that he'd brought along, meaning he'd have to stick
with the brown bellhop shoes that didn't match his outfit at all. He grabbed
the third copy of the key, sitting on the nightstand and headed back over
to Alison's room.
He knocked on her door and in a moment she opened the door, grinning. "What's
so funny?" he asked her.
"Nothing," she said, letting him in. Hanging from the hook in the
ceiling, his feet and hangs tied together, was Joshua, dangling unconscious
a foot or two from the floor.
"Nicely done," Red said, gently spinning the boy. "They're
gone. All of them. Argento, too."
"They're in the van," Alison said, her eyes losing focus, "They
went to a… christening?"
"A… what are you talking about?"
"I just saw it. The van driving, someone talking about a christening
"Wait… a Rechristening facility?"
"Maybe," she said, "How should I know. I don't even know if
it's true. It's just… a flash. An idea or something. This has never
happened to me before… well, not before today."
"Are you saying there's been other times?"
"Yes… two. My dream last night was of being grabbed in a hotel
room and tied up… like I was today. Then after we were left with Joshua… when
I said I knew it would work, I meant the whole thing: the gun, the rope. I
saw it all in my head."
"You had visions that came true… this, this actually make sort
"What does?" she asked.
"The other Alison. She talked about knowing about September 11th before
it happened. You didn't, by any chance… sense…"
"No way," she said, "I found out when everyone else did, when
the first plane hit."
"But that explains why the other you was so upset about it," he
said, "She must have had a vision of it beforehand. But if you never
had visions before, what happened? Did you somehow inherit them from her?
This is so strange."
"Tell me about it."
"The Rechristening Facility…" Red said, thinking out loud. "Why
would they take Argento there? Damn it, I don't even know where the thing
"No problem," Alison said, "I think that can help." She
pointed to an electronic device on the bed near Simon's bag. "I figure
it's what they were using to track the van."
Red picked it up and looked at it. "You're right," he said "This
should take us right to them."
"Then let's go," Alison said, throwing on the leather jacket she
inherited from her darker self, "Who knows what they're up to?"
"Do you really think you should come with me?" Red asked. "It
might not be safe."
"As opposed to waiting here for Simon and his Uzi to come back? Yeah,
I think it'll be ok."
"Alright," Red said. "Speaking of which, let's gather up their
weapons and take them. No point in leaving them for our enemies." He
picked up the silenced gun Joshua had been left. He looked at it for a moment.
He unscrewed the silencer and took out his own gun. Whether it was a coincidence
or another of the gun's miraculous properties, the silencer fit. "Cool," Red
said to himself, slipping the gun back into his holster.
"Since they took your ride, I'll drive," Alison said.
Red zipped up Simon's bag took it with him as they left the room.
"By the way," Alison said, "Nice shoes."