Even through the mask he could smell the blood. And damn, was air heavy with it. That metallic flavor that coated the back of your throat. He whistled. “What a mess.”
The helmet speakers crackled to life. “Bad?” his operator asked.
“I’ve seen worse,” he scanned the hotel room. “I think.” Floor to ceiling was coated in blood. Thick droplets flew from the fan turned to its lowest setting.
“Manager said it sounded like a war zone.”
“Uh-huh. Because he’s been to one?” he flicked the fan switch, turning it off. “The closest to war that skinny bastard has been is watching a movie, I guarantee it.” He pulled a sheet of plastic from his case of supplies, lay it on the bed, then set his case on the sheet.
“About an hour.” He said and went to the bathroom. He pulled the shower curtain back—”Oh, fuck me. Call an ambulance.”
“Huh? What’s up?”
“Are you calling yet?”
“Geez, alright. I am, I am. What is it? I’m ringing Providence General right now.”
“There’s a guy in the tub here.”
“Mm,” he knelt down and put a finger to the man’s throat. “Yeah. Yeah, he is. Barely. Shit. Looks like he got into a wrestling match with all the barbed-wire in the world.” He swallowed. Not much turned his stomach. This didn’t, but it came close.
“He’s in the tub?”
“Then start cleaning the rest of the place. When the paramedics get him you can finish up with the bathroom.”
He looked back into the main room, then back at the man in the tub. There was close to no sign of life in the man, but there was a look in his eyes. A desperate cry: Please don’t leave me. He muted his mic for a second, “I’ll be right back.”
“What happened? You cut out. You there?”
“I’m here. I’ll start cleaning,” he said. He drew a line around the frame of the bathroom door with a white stick that would have looked like chalk to the ignorant viewer. He drew lines around the entrance door and windows as well. Back at the bed he opened the case and took the tops off a half dozen vials, scanned the room, and opened another two for good measure. A black substance, like living oil, boiled out of each tube. The ooze grew until it covered every surface in the small hotel room. It coated the walls, the bed, the floor, every fiber of carpet, the few pieces of furniture, the mass produced framed paintings, the TV, the cheap coffee maker, and the fan. When the ooze reached the white lines it went no farther.
While the ooze began to eat the blood he sat along the edge of the tub and waited with the man until the ambulance arrived.