“Why would you grant hotel reservations to ghouls?” asked Garbol. He was about three seconds away from throttling Mr. Gogh.
“Ah. Well. It’s the sales pressure,” said the hotel manager. “They raised our quota, so I had to be extremely aggressive to keep my job. Management didn’t complain when I booked the mafia enforcers’ bridge club, nor did they object when I gave rooms to the swamp creature at the top rate. So when some customers came in with eerie eyes, looking a little greenish, I didn’t think much of it. It’s not like they were the Twilight Mom’s fan club.”
Garbol and Mr. Gogh shared a shudder.
“You didn’t know?” asked Garbol.
“Honest, I didn’t. Not until my predecessor screamed at me and told me what I’d done.”
Garbol growled a sigh. “Show me.”
Garbol grabbed his cue stick, and they took the elevator to the sixth floor, then walked up the stairs to the seventh.
“The engineer programmed the lift to skip the seventh, for obvious reasons,” said Mr. Gogh.
The hallway was littered with debris. Toilet paper, towels, and trash strewn everywhere.
Mr. Gogh took him to room 724, and Garbol knocked on the door. The keyhole darkened for a moment, followed by an intense hiss. Garbol tapped his cue stick on the door and the hiss turned into a screech. “Open the door.” He tapped it again, an amber glow shone from the cue.
The door opened, a light-bulb head with eyes the size of a coaster peered through.
Garbol looked at Mr. Gogh. “How can you possibly think that’s normal?” He turned back to the ghoul. “Time to leave,” said Garbol.
“Nooo,” said the ghoul.
“I insist,” said Garbol.
“I have reservationsss for another week.”
“You insist on the binding of the reservations?”
“Then bound you shall be. The reservations are for this room, and in this room you are bound.”
The ghoul gurgled and screeched, then slammed the door.
Mr. Gogh took him to room 739, and Garbol knocked. The door flew open and a ghoul larger than the last roared in their faces, raising his claws to eviscerate them.
Garbol whacked him on the ear with his cue stick. The ghoul fell to the floor and moaned, halfway into the hallway so Garbol could easily bind him to the limits of the reservation.
The third across the hall in room 742 was the most difficult. Strong and resistant, he lunged several times to take a bite out of Garbol, but the wizard slapped him aside each time with the heavy end of the cue stick.
The wizard sent Mr. Gogh to the check-in desk to fetch a hard copy of the reservation records.
“What is your name?” asked Garbol.
“Die lonely. You won’t get it,” said the ghoul.
“Really?” said Garbol. “How’d you get your reservations? Did you use a fake name?” This was a bluff. Garbol hoped the ghoul would think the wrong name would nullify his reservation, and if it was his real name, all the better to take control of him.
“No, no, no! Not my real name!”
Huh. Definitely his real name. Garbol had him now. Mr. Gogh came up beside him and handed him a clipboard.
“I see, Clarentritch,” said Garbol. The ghoul screamed. “Quite. I should have tried this with the other two.”
“I have reservations,” the ghoul screamed.
“Clarentritch, Clarentritch, your reserved days you will serve, ensconced in your room. I have so bound you.”
The ghoul convulsed. “Your bond hasss no hold, wizard. I will stay for a month, for a month I will stay, and the amenities of this property I will enjoy to the fullest, no wizard’s spell to obey.” He slammed the door.
Garbol stared at it for a minute. “Well. Two out of three isn’t bad.”
“Forgive me, sir,” said Mr. Gogh. “But what good does binding them to the reservation do?”
“How long do you want them to stay?”
Mr. Gogh looked confused.
“There was nothing to stop them from remaining in your hotel indefinitely if they weren’t bound to the reservation’s timeframe. So I’ve done two things. One, I’ve forced them to accept their eviction when the reservation is through, and two, I’ve confined them to their rooms. Well—two of them.”
“They’ll honor those terms?”
“Of course not,” said Garbol. “I wove a spell to enforce those terms, and I’ll deal with them at their eviction. In the meantime, I won’t be harassed by three at a time. I’ve got only one to contend with.”
Garbol scratched his stubble. “They’re determined to be here next week. What the heck is going on then?”
“Journalists convention,” said the manager.
“Ooooh,” said Garbol. “That makes sense. Journalists are their favorite food. It almost makes me like them.”