The stone fa?ade of Hotel San Andreas is old, but homely, its silhouette bidding the wary (and weary, in many cases) stream of guests closer, the terrain itself – well kept with joyful animal topiaries and vast grassy lawns – welcoming them inside for a purpose still unknown.
Unknown, that is, to most of them. To them, it’s a well-earned holiday among interesting company.
They are greeted at the door by the hotel manager, at his side his assistant, jokingly referred to by the manager as his butler. “Welcome to Hotel San Andreas, my dearest friend,” he says to every person as they make their way inside, allowing the butler to direct them to the dining room for their complementary meal.
The trickle of guests slowly subsides, just as storm clouds are seen gathering to the south.
After an hour or two of jovial conversation and introductions, the manager addresses the 24 guests bathed in the artificial light pooling over the dinner table. During this time, the manager makes sure to mention, casually, to all guests to avoid the room on the south-western end of the hotel. It'll likely be locked at all times, he assured, but he stressed that nobody should spend too much time around the side of the hotel, in order to not interfere with the kitchen staff.
“Welcome, again! I’m delighted you all decided to host this grand event at our premises over this wonderful weekend.” After a glance out the nearest window, no longer admitting any sunlight in the gloom, he adds, “it’s most fortuitous that you all arrived when you did, it seems. You’ll all likely to be treated to our Californian hospitality, courtesy of nature itself. But ours first.”
At this, the hotel staff start to bring in the starter course, and the butler closes the drapes over the large arched windows, blocking out the dreary view. The aroma of fresh food washes into the room, and the guests happily trade comments over the exotic food and its presentation, ignoring the occasional lightning strike outside, and accompanied flickering lights.
Later, precisely as the large grandfather clock in the corner of the room struck four, the staff returned with the main course. As the first dishes were being laid out, a blinding flash and terrifying crack blasted through the air, and the room was suddenly plunged into. A few screams escaped from the started staff, and at least one dish crashed to the ground in the startled panic.
The manager’s voice rang out in the darkness, “keep calm everyone, it’s just a power outage. Our generators will kick in in a moment. This happens pretty often ar–“
He was interrupted by the booming of all the doors in the hotel slamming shut. A voice whose source and even accent is difficult to accurately discern echoes from the general direction of the hall, “you fools! You’ve walked straight into the clutches of hell. And as they say, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
The lights flicker back on, and a staff member runs out into the hall to check for the source of the voice. He trips and stumbles before he reaches the door, however. As everyone’s eyes once again adjusted to the light, the strewn body of one of the other staff members became visible, blood smeared across her chest.”