The day before yesterday I shared part of an episode from my next Radwinter novel. Thomas Radwinter and his friend David are in an abandoned hotel at night, looking for answers in the mystery of a man who disappeared one night a dozen or so years ago. It’s too complicated to explain what they are looking for exactly (in fact they don’t really know!) but they want to find out more about a character called Phil who maybe squatting in the empty place:
There was no blast of a shotgun, no shout of alarm, and timidly I followed him into a typical hotel bedroom. Double bed with a sleeping bag thrown across it, fitted furniture, a door into a small bathroom. The light came from a lantern which I guess was battery run; he’d be mad he’d left it on, wasting power. There was a holdall on the floor and David was carefully taking everything out, it was just clothes as far as I could tell as I stood watching him, my ears alert for the sound of a car.
David’s stillness alerted me. He looked up, his face in shadow and gestured into the bag. I nearly said something out loud, there was a gun, just blatantly lying there.
“Let’s go!” I mouthed my pulses racing.
He picked it up and opened it – which showed me a little insight into his past and slid out a clip of what I guess was bullets, then put it back before rootling round, presumably to find more.. but presumably he didn’t because he put the pile of clothes back into the bag and pulled it closed as it had been.
There was another bag tucked under the table but it was locked. Time to go, thank goodness. I was just pulling the door closed when I heard something, the sound of a vehicle – oh gee, I froze, my hand still on the door handle.
“Come on, move,” David urged and pulled the door to close as he had found it then he set off away from the reception area and stairs.
I hurried after him, feeling the panic rising in me. I could see a window at the end of the corridor, a glimmer of the last remaining light in the sky showing through, but also silhouetting David.Suddenly and alarmingly he vanished. Were my eyes playing tricks? I ran on and suddenly a hand shot out of a doorway and yanked me in and the door was closed.
We were in another room, and I sunk onto the bed, trying to catch my breath and slow my anxious heart. David, meanwhile was at the window and within a few moments it was open, and he was looking out.
“Come on Tommy,” he whispered and I lurched to the window. Looking out, the night seemed lighter than the darkened hotel, and although the gale was raging now, clouds rushing across the sky and across the tiny sliver of moon, and specs of rain were in the air, it wasn’t actually raining.
David was climbing out of the window, and I realised there was a narrow balcony running all the way round the hotel. I clambered out with more difficulty, my legs are a great deal shorter than his.
I could see where Phil’s room was, was a faint light glowing from it, illuminating the low balcony rail. Suddenly the light went out and David grabbed my arm and we hurried along the narrow balcony, its rail dangerously low. Suddenly David lurched and would have fallen except somehow I managed to grab him and hold him until he was able to clamber back. His foot had gone through the rotten boards beneath our feet.
This did not fill me with confidence in proceeding but we had to get off the side of the building in case Phil came out and happened to glance up and see us against the white wood of the fascia on this damned balcony.
There was now a gaping hole but David moved purposefully on and I followed more tentatively, clinging rather futilely to the narrow windowsills. I didn’t like to consider what would be round the corner – or not, on the other side of the building
It turned out there was a fire escape! It protruded beyond the end of the building and was accessible from the wooden balcony and with great relief I clambered over and stood on its secure metal, leaning against a bare wall.
The rest – the decent that is, was easy, but we trod quietly and didn’t speak until we were on the ground by the kitchens, beyond which was the door through which we’d gained access. I must confess I was shaking like a giant very wobbly jelly and my heart was pounding, but I tried not to let it show as we hurried back up the field and over the wall.