A Wild Investigation

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I couldn't say how long I remained alone in this room, looking at the corpse of someone I never thought could die.

With the Beast now gone, I now had to perform the grim job he assigned me to. What else could I do? I knew far too well what awaited me if I tried to cross him. I didn't know if he really wanted to let me go after I solved this unnatural case, but hope remained. It was my duty, now, whether I liked it or not.

I approached the body, trying to uncover the source of the death. The Comedian appeared to have been stabbed multiple times in the back. Six wounds in total, shaped in a circle. I got surprised by such wound linnearity, at first. The killer must have been either weirdly obsessed with order or simply had a blade pattern that allowed for such a form to appear. The cuts were deep in the flesh as well. I wasn't dealing with some random person here. It was someone strong enough to repeatedly stab the unfortunate staff member multiple times so efficiently. It was almost a work of art, seeing how the Comedian fell in his front like a bowling pin, helpless and pitiful.

I took my phone and quickly searched through the General Public Database, wondering which member of the Beast's Staff could have been involved in such action. While I lack the context, I could at least identify some potential members who could have a reason to perform such an act. I knew Comedian wasn't the most appreciated member of the team. Yet, I had next to no information about the relations between the different creatures that worked in this hotel. With the Beast gone, I could only resort to my intuition to find out the potential motives. A detective’s insight. But could I really understand the minds of beings that weren't humans anymore?

After thinking for a bit, I recalled that Bellhoper was with the Beast when I was spying on them. Not the biggest clue, but this alone was quite a suspicious event. Were the two talking about the murder when I found them? Was the Beast equally as suspicious as I was toward his loved one? I had to find them again. It was time to leave the Beverly room, and start my investigation at last. However, as soon as I opened the door, I found myself to be in a completely different set of corridors. Truly, the Hotel was playing with my nerves. But I wasn't as easily impressionable, and therefore started to search for the other Beverly Room, where I noticed the staff duo previously. It was just another day at the job, I told myself multiple times in order to hide my fears and my lack of assurance. I can tell you that whatever knowledge, whatever experience you have in the Backrooms, you will never be ready to face not only the Beast of Level 5 in person, but also the harsh reality I was experiencing right now: investigate or die. Just yesterday, I was living for investigation. Now, I was investigating for living. Ironic.

However, to my surprise, I ended up turning at a random segment only to find myself in an elegant dining room. With my experience of the Terror Hotel, I immediately realized the opportunity the non-euclidian geometry gave me. Here perhaps worked the most terrifying of all the employees of the beast. A monster, a cannibal, a literal pig. I inhaled deeply. It was time to interrogate the cook of the Terror Hotel. It was time to investigate Chef.

Finding him wasn't an issue, as the sounds of his twisted, disgusting art were so strong I immediately knew where I had to go. No, not flinching was the issue. As I entered the kitchen, I started to immediately doubt all my experience just as much as I already doubted my mission. Even after all these years, I instantly knew, seeing the monstrous face of Chef, that even centuries of training wouldn't have prepared me for such a sight. Ahead of me was an enormous anthropomorphic pig with a bloody cooking attire. Seeing his cooking pot, I realize, to my horror, that it wasn't any meat he was preparing. He was cooking a wanderer. A human, right before my eyes.

“Hello, Chef.” I managed to start, hiding my deep disgust toward the horrible scene before my eyes. “I assume The Be- Gentleman notified you of my coming and its reason, and since I see you're… busy, I won't bother you for long.” I started, hoping that the Beast warned his staff about my investigation.

The boar-looking cook looked at me without saying anything. It was clear that he was far from surprised about my visit, instead seemingly judging me over how good of a dish I would make. The good news was that he knew about my mission. The bad one was that if he was the culprit, I may very well end up in today's special if I wasn't fast enough. As I did when I faced the Beast, I tried to remain calm and look confident. It wasn't the time for rookie mistakes. I was better than that.

“I would like to ask you some questions. It won't take long, really” I repeated, making sure he understood I wasn't trying to disturb him by creating whatever horrific food that even was.

The boar-headed entity slowly turned his head, and that made me notice he was covered in blood. While this didn't surprise me, given his unspeakable activity, this still affected my morale. I was used to seeing blood, that's true, but when this blood is present on a fat anthropomorphic pig next to a cooking pot full of human meat he vomited just earlier, that suddenly becomes less bearable.

You're the detective that Boss talked about? Ask your questions. he responded, as he started sharpening his knife. The message was clear, I indeed needed to be quick.

“I assume you know that Comedian was killed” I first asked, trying to uncover if any emotion could pierce from his rather intimidating face. The only thing more troubling than his look was his knife, and knowing that he has a certain tendency for murder, this didn't make the mood of the discussion any better. He was the perfect suspect, but I obviously wasn't happy about the fact here, as I faced him in person.

Yes. he said curtly, seemingly annoyed by the situation. It was clear that he wasn't a very talkative individual. Usually, suspects are all too pleased about saying everything in hopes of either making themselves clear, or confusing the detective. A more silent behavior often meant they had something to hide, something they really wished they didn't let slide. But this was for humans, and interrogating literal monsters wasn't really my domain of expertise.

“Where were you when the body was found?” I continued, trying to pierce his potential mask and unravel just some bit of his true emotion at this very moment.

In the kitchen. he replied firmly, still sharpening his knife with his obviously annoyed face.

As I feared, he was completely unexpressive, and any attempt to play with his psychology to see his deep emotions would be almost impossible. I felt inexperienced and lost, feelings I hadn't felt in ages. The worst thing when thinking you have experience is being thrown into a situation where none of it would matter. It was time for a different approach.

“Did you have some… complicated relations with Comedian?” I asked. No need to hide my motives, no need to sugarcoat. Be efficient, or die trying. And I wasn't really in the mood to be eaten alive.

No. he once more simply responded.

I had had enough of this. With any of my usual interrogations, I would have threatened them, but here, I didn't have this luxury. So be it. I took the information and his reticence to talk and hoped to soon find another suspect willing to tell me more about this disgusting being.

“I see… Do you have another name in mind, someone you think could be rather suspect?”

Jazzheads.” Again, no development. Either he wasn't intelligent enough to align more than two words, or he didn't deem the situation important enough to do so. But living with this question in mind was better than not living at all. As much as I hated not being in control, I had to buy time and use it wisely.

“Are you implying all of the-”

He stopped sharpening the knife and looked at me in the eyes. The message was clear. Either I leave or… Let's say I would feel a much more realistic view of his database entry. I took the logical choice and left immediately. No thanks, no goodbye.

Interrogating the Chef did not really help. Frankly, I didn't advance at all, as he was just as suspect as before. At least I had a new staff member to interrogate, the Jazzheads. Unfortunately, they weren't as easy to find as Chef, which meant I had to, yet again, endure the ever more oppressing corridors of the Terror Hotel, hoping to stumble upon them. I knew they could usually be seen performing at the bar, and therefore aimed to go there.

Even as I continued to wander, almost aimlessly, in search of my next suspects, I couldn't help but keep thinking of Chef. In all my time investigating, I got to spy or interrogate true monsters. the kind of humans the Backrooms society always tries to dismiss and erase from their minds, yet still existed. Many campsites in the Habitable Zone were filled with robbers, murderers, and all the rot of the world whose psychopathic nature only got enhanced by this harsh environment. Yet I never felt as powerless, as dreadful and scared as with Chef. He was the embodiment of monstrosity. He was vile, he was a horror all by itself, a gross and traumatizing cannibal. It's easy to forget how horrible and unethical the Terror Hotel staff is, with their professional outfit and their exotic visages. But I can tell you that being face to face with a fat, bloodthirsty anthropomorphic pig, covered with human blood and cooking one of my kind in the background is enough to make even the most courageous human fear for their life. I could hear the screams of the dead in my head, the unfortunate archivists who got assigned to the worst job imaginable. I could hear the pleas in my mind, the desperation of those who begged for another chance. I chuckled sarcastically. And yet the M.E.G, the very organization that sent those poor souls to their deaths, were still seen as the good people of this realm, the right side of mankind. truth be told, they may very well had as much blood on their hand as the very monstruous staff they condemn and fear so firmly, maybe more.

I suddenly got interrupted in my thoughts as I hit something in my way. Almost falling on the floor, I nonetheless managed to keep my balance. Surprised, I raised my head, trying to see who was the wanderer I just collided with. However, I got the pleasant surprise of seeing a tall figure with vivid blue clothes and a brass trumpet head. I quickly realized that the five of them were here, together. What a fortunate encounter. Hiding my relief, I started the conversation:

"Hello, do you have some time?" I asked with more confidence, now knowing the staff was aware of my investigation. Albeit not discussing with a bloodthirsty cannibal was also part of the relief.

Uh? Ah, ye're the detective aren't ya? One of them answered, surprised by the situation. 'bout the murder right?

I nodded. It was good seeing more welcoming faces, or at least what was acting as faces. But it wasn't time to lower the guard. As monstrous as Chef was, he may very well be right about them. They were five people after all, and crime in an organized group is always a possibility. As far from humanity as they were, they still held human behaviors. Hunger, annoyance, chilliness… And a certain thirst for blood.

"It is indeed. I have reasons to think you people might be involved in this."

Asserting dominance probably wouldn't work against any staff member, but it has the inherent advantage of reassuring me. And the more assurance I get, the more efficient I'll be. Quite ironic to think I was struggling to pull off something I've been doing for years easily.

T'was ol' boar, ain't it?

Their answer surprised me. Did that mean the Jazzheads were in some sort of rivalry with Chef, with him accusing them of the murder? This line alone made me realize the staff may very well be less cohesive than I thought. Rivalry, conflicts… Maybe they really were still human at their core after all. Of course, it shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, one of them murdered Comedian in cold blood. The reasons are always human, no matter how far from mankind they are. Quite paradoxical.

"It was, but that's not relevant. It seems he has reasons to accuse all of you, so I'm asking you, where were you earlier today?"

While the Jazzheads didn't seem as suspect as Chef, it wasn't uncommon for the murderer to be the nicest guy you've ever seen in your life. Long gone were the times I would be fooled by the seemingly good people. If humans always had something to hide, I can't even imagine what a troupe of entities from a murderous organization could have on their conscience.

Well I was in the kitchen with the others when it happened, ya see? N' the others will tell ya the same. The first Jazzhead answered rather casually.

Now that was surprising. They seemed not to have the nicest relationship, yet affirmed they were with him during the murder. That was directly contradicting Chef's behavior, who accused them of the murder. Unless…?

"Were you alone during that time? Only the five of you?"

The actual question I had was quite obvious, but I didn’t care. This was an odd situation I was determined to solve, for my own safety.

Nah, were were chilling with ol' boar, of course. We do that from time to time ya know. 'Can confirm that he didn't move.

Interesting answer, yet that wasn’t completely crossing the two out of the equation. Could an alliance of some sort be the source of the assassination?

"And how can I trust both of you?" I immediately added, trying my best to dig as much as possible in this track.

Welp, that's quite simple. If it was him, he would have eaten the body. We all know he's not dat kind of guy that wastes nutrients, and he would for sure have eaten his fill there.

It made sense now. Chef sent me to the Jazzheads not only to get rid of my presence but also to show his innocence. At least it crossed out two suspects at once, but yet again, it didn't help me as much as I hoped. Nevertheless, now that their cases were clear, I decided to inform myself a little more.

"Were you friends with Comedian?"

Barely knew this guy. Ya've more questions?

The Jazzhead member I was talking to seemed to start getting annoyed by the conversation. Were all staff members that impatient? Yet I wasn't done with them. I felt more assured now, even if the investigation wasn't going as well as I hoped. Now that I had some time and some more… Welcoming staff members before my eyes, it was time to learn more about the victim. The irony of the situation was obvious. My superior asked for information about the staff members, yet the only one I needed at this very moment was about the only one that couldn’t harm mankind anymore.

"How appreciated was he by the staff overall? He seemed to be quite disliked in the Casino, at least."

T'was cold relations more than anything. Tho I know Bellhoper wasn't in da best mood with this guy. Plus, he was on the crime scene ya know.

The name of Bellhopper rose once again. I was going in circles, starting by looking after him, and yet his name was still being mentionned. He'd have a lot to answer, considering the Jazzheads were confirming my thoughts here.

"Well thank you. I guess I just need to find Bellhoper now." I concluded, showcasing my deception. Another fruitless interrogation leading me to another suspect. Saying I was starting to get used to it would be a blatant lie. This didn’t please it in the slightest.

That will be of no need, detective. a voice behind me retorted as the Jazzheads were leaving the corridors, seemingly oblivious or uninterested in the unseen character. Yet again, I recognized the voice of Bellhopper.

When did he arrive? Did he hear the entire discussion? Was he looking for me? I quickly regained my composure. Iit wasn't the time to lose the face. It was time to greet and ask for proof.

I am delighted to see you today. said Bellhoper, very confidently, almost haughtily. I have been a… Very big fan of detective novels for the longest time, and I am very pleased to finally encounter one of your kind.

Quite an information. My first thought was surprise, as I wasn't expecting the staff to entertain itself in art, or even entertain themselves in the first place. Yet, this information felt quite important to me. After all, the butler is always guilty of some sort, and today may not be different. The few testimonies I had led to him, so it was time to dig this.

"I appreciate that, but let's not diverge too much, shall we? You were there when the murder occurred, am I right?" I continued, as confidence finally arose back, flowing into my veins like it used to do in the past. I finally saw sense and logic in this case. Things may not be as hard as I thought at first.

You're speaking like you're sure that I am the culprit. he chuckled, almost in a friendly way. Quite an odd behavior, and definitely not what I was prepared for. Quite the emotional elevator.

"And you seem very confident for someone that is suspected of murder." I retorted in a defying tone. This member felt more human than the others in his behavior. Push him to the limits, and he may break and reveal everything.

But much to my despair, Bellhopper laughed at me.

Like the detective in my noir novels, you are quite fast in your conclusions. Maybe it's hope, maybe it's just inexperience. Yet my testimony will make you realize that I can't be the culprit.

His tone almost felt provoking, calling to a lack of experience I could easily deny. But unlike what he was saying, I wasn't born from the last rain. Making a detective change the topic by attacking him was quite a common behavior among suspects. Digressing is the worst enemy of the detective. It makes one lose track and forget their hypotheses. He tried to make me lose my confidence, but I wouldn't abandon so easily. I am not so easily impressionable by a bell-boy, as dangerous as he could be. The dreaded memory of Chef was far down in my memory now, and I was feeling more and more in control as time passed.

"Then, go on. Give your testimony."

The murder happened in a Beverly Room right? Well, I just wasn't there. When the murder occurred, the Boss called us in the room. I didn't go to that Beverly Room until he all got called afterward. Everyone was here, except Chef. Since he wasn't there, he may very well be the murderer, trying to make his name as far from the case as possible. Pretty common, don't you think? The killer is usually the one who has nothing to do with the whole investigation.

The feeling of being taunted was only strengthened by his attitude. While he indeed felt like a noir enthusiast, it also looked like he was dismissing me here. Was he bashing humanity overall, by saying how predictable outcomes are? Or maybe he just wanted to clear his name efficiently.

"I see. However, I have one- well two issues with your testimony."

Oh, really? He added with a smirk, as if he was happy I was challenging him.

"The first problem is that the Jazzheads just said he was in the kitchen, as they saw him there. The second one is that I saw you earlier, discussing with the Gentleman, near the Beverly Room where the body was found. What exactly was this discussion about, Bellhopper?”

I felt quite confident here. The crime-passioned butler, trying to mask his sinister work with his assurance. It was not something uncommon. Perhaps Bellhopper, enclosed in his narrative cliche, couldn't hide himself well enough.

However, as I was waiting for the bell-boy to answer my new questions, I saw a figure walking toward us. That damn suit again. What did the Beast want this time?

Detective! It's a pleasure to be meeting you again. He interrupted with his stunning voice. How is my dear helping you here?

His polite attitude kept on giving me goosebumps. He truly is a sight I didn't want to see again. While it wasn't as obvious as Chef, it was clear that he was just as sadistic and dangerous. I had to change my tone to adapt myself to this new unplanned situation.

"Hello again… Gentleman." I could see him smile as I spoke his preferred name, as if he was pleased by my courtesy. "I was wondering if you could give me the context of the discussion you held earlier with your… companion."

Trying to find the right words to not anger him wasn't the easiest, but I was becoming better and better at this. Diplomacy was never my domain, but you’d be surprised by how efficiently you can learn something where you are on a death list. The Beast continued to smile, as the Bellhopper moved back towards him.

Oh, detective, I'm afraid you are going the wrong way. Being designated for this case doesn't allow you to rummage through the Hotel’s activity. I can confirm you Bellhopper was with me the entire time. He chuckled, before concluding. Remember to stay on track… It would be a shame to lose yourself and make such rookie mistakes.

That was quite the turnaround. But I couldn't accuse Bellhopper when the very person who asked me to work on this case was confirming the murder wasn’t performed by his dearest. My confidence was lowering again, as I tried to quickly figure out who would be my next suspect. That situation wasn't ideal for sure, constantly rearranging my thoughts as time passed and reacting without any preparation. This was going against everything I ever learned.

"Then…" I turned towards Bellhoper "Who do you think is suspect?"

I hated this situation. Asking my previous suspect who should I interrogate next was unlike everything I ever did. This severe lack of preparation wasn't something I liked. Yet I had to adapt to the context.

Not too long ago, I saw Housekeeper with a bloodstained mop, so you should probably try seeking for her. He answered rather maternally, which only added to his provocative behavior.

"Well I guess that I should look for her now."

I quickly took my leave, not wanting to spend any more time near the most dangerous being in the entire dimension. The list was getting smaller and smaller. It definitely wasn't as easy as I hoped it could be, but that didn't surprise me either. I was foolish to believe this would be just another day at the job. They expressed human emotions, but their behaviors were far from it. At least I had another suspect. The cleaning lady of the Terror Hotel.

This was my only lead, I just hoped it wouldn't be a dead end.

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