“If your clothes were any tighter, you would be a packed sausage,” the vampire said.
“The only way I will fit in at this stupid club is to look this way,” Laura replied sarcastically. “Plus, if I wore one my normal outfits, every single beastie, freak, and otherworld being in this place would run. They hate my kind.”
“Because, my dear,” the vampire breathed heavily, “your kind typically ends their kind. A cockroach should be afraid of the exterminator.”
“Why aren’t you afraid then, Lash?” Laura said in her best little girl voice.
“I have no idea why I have a witch as a friend, but so far it works for me. You are the most interesting human I have met in my four hundred or so years.”
“That is impressive.”
“Or I have a poor choice in friends,” Lash replied dryly. “Why are you friends with me?”
“Because in my twenty or so years, you are the only vampire I haven’t killed. At this point, you are essentially a pet.”
“Oh thanks.” Lash growled.
Laura slapped his leather clad shoulder playfully. “Seriously though, its nice to have someone I can be normal with. But the second you look at me like I am piece of meat, I am going to reduce you to ash.”
“You would probably taste terrible anyway,” Lash waved at a nearby ghoul attempting to work the door of the club. “That’s Bernie.”
“Will he know me?”
“If you didn’t have that shade all over your person, everyone would know you, Laura,” Lash said.
“I have to, and you know it. The shade is the only bit between me and this crowd. They would try to rip me to shreds.”
“Well lucky me that I get to be in on it.”
“Just get us in, Lash.” Laura sighed.
“Bernie! Its Lachishiel.” Lash said, bowing theatrically for the ghoul.
“Hey, Lash,” the ghoul laughed. “Who is your hot date? She looks delicious.”
“Bernie, this is ah… uh…” Lash paused. “Sorry love, forgot your name.”
“Audra. Nice to meet you Bernie. You look funny.” Laura said in her best imitation valley voice. With her tight leather pants, her tank top, and tiny jacket coupled with her teased up blonde hair, she looked the perfect dumb bimbo trying too hard.
“Lash, buddy, is your date here… susceptible?” Bernie asked with a sly grin.
“No, you just look like shit, Bern.” Lash drawled. “Audra! Audra, here, is mine for the night.”
“Fine, fine. Nice to meet you Ah, Ah, Audra. Don’t have too much fun draining the fun out of your guest, Lash.” Bernie opened the door with a wink, his human cover slipping slightly at the reality of interacting with the door handle, revealing the bluish colored skin and razor like talons at the end of each of his fingers.
The inside of the club was permeated with a throbbing heavy beat that moved the air between the gyrating dancers in the center of the floor down below, while small clusters of others mingled among the many small tables and booths ringing the perimeter. The lights attempted to flash to the beat of the music, but heavy supernatural presence had a way of interfering with electronics, so the lights were doing their own thing at the moment. Lash put a hand on Laura’s backside as he attempted to guide her through the crowd.
Laura leaned towards her friend with a smile on her face. “Get your ice cold hand off of my ass now, Lash.”
“Can’t blame a guy for trying!” Lash said, dropping his hand casually to his side.
“I can, actually.” Laura grinned. “This way.”
They moved through the crowds on the second level to one of the sets of metal stairs that led downwards. Laura pushed through a crowd of what looked like scared teenagers, most of which were human, although at least two of them were Mimics. She was sure the normies were going to be presented as food at some point. The thought to save them crossed her mind for a split second, but she shook her head and focused on the big picture here. A couple teenagers dying in the hills behind LA is one thing, stopping the goddamn apocalypse from happening was quite another. She had been tracking the new threat as best she could based on what the vibrations of the ley lines had been picking up, and following the whisperings the community had been spreading about, but to be honest, so far all she had was a gut instinct. Something big was going down. She had been around long enough to know that. But the actual evidence she had was little to nothing. Tonight was meant to change all that. She was running out of folks to bribe, and the demons she usually invoked knew shit.
Or they weren’t sharing.
Either way, those kids were going to die. Or she could be completely wrong and the kids would die, and she could have saved them, and then she would be on a drinking binge to bury the horror of missed chances. She had enough things in her life to regret, she did not need another. She added the kids to her mental list of things to take care of before the night was over.
“Lash, hold up. I need to do something.” Laura yelled in Lash’s ear.
Laura held up her hand like she was telling a dog to sit, and moved through the crowd back to the teenagers in the wrong place at the wrong time. She pulled a small vial from her clutch, shook it exactly three times, invocated quietly under breath, and shoved it gently into the back pocket of the nearest boy. She leaned in and licked his neck seductively to distract him. The boy must have been stoned out of his gourd because he barely noticed that the hottest chick in the joint just fastened herself onto his neck.
“Disappointing.” Laura shouted at the group and walked away in mock disgust.
The vial she had slipped the kid was filled with a couple innocuous ingredients that when mixed created a very noxious subconscious psychic repellent for humans. They would start to feel itchy, slimy, and all together uncomfortable in the next hour or so. All the humans in the joint would start to feel the pressure to flee, and all of them that could, would. Ironically this mixture occurred in nature around haunted places. Who knew that the presence of death actually made things grow? Laura did. That is why she was a witch, and a goddamn good one at that. Although the word witch sucked.
She made her way back to Lash, standing idly by like a lithe, supernatural, puppy dog. “What was all that about,” he asked.
“I had to cast out some bad mojo.” Laura said loudly over the wump, wump, wump of the loudspeakers.
“You were saving the meat sticks, weren’t you?” Lash said, showing his eye teeth.
“Yes. Keep your mouth shut.”
“Such a bleeding heart.”
“This way,” Laura pointed, and they headed towards the swinging door for the kitchen. The door swung open with a push, and Laura walked in like she was supposed to be there. The immediacy of the invasive music diminished significantly, and a couple ghouls dressed as cooks looked up blankly at the intruders.
“Just checking out the place, boys.” Laura smiled wickedly, using a hand invocation to dull their senses. “Trying to find a dark spot.”
One of the ghoul cooks jerked a thumb over his shoulder as if he was swimming through molasses, and pointed to the rear of the kitchen. Laura waved another hand invocation to encourage short term memory loss and headed towards back. All of the Ghouls furrowed their brows and started working more feverishly.
“What was that hand wavy thing you just did?”
“Short term memory loss is a funny thing. If you start thinking immediately about something really important, it causes the memory in the front of the brain to literally evaporate whatever it was holding before.”
“Neat trick, that,” Lash replied. “How many times have you used that one me?”
“Once, maybe twice. When we first met… don’t let it get to you.”
“Shit. Did you invoke a friendship spell or something?” Lash laughed.
“No, that’s all real, babe. You just love me for me.”
“Riiiight. And the fact that you keep me alive without me having to feed on others has nothing to do with it at all,” Lash said.
“There is that.”
“What are we looking for?”
“I won’t lie, I have no idea. I will know when I see it?”
“I figured we would just poke our heads around corners and pull off a Nancy Drew.”
“Solve everything in two hundred pages wearing drab outfits?”
“Bitch, look at my outfit and say that again.” Laura flourished her hands upwards.
“For the last time, you look like a sausage.”
“You are just jealous.”
“Yes, because that number would look great on me.” Lash frowned.
“See I knew it,” Laura laughed and looked through the storage room. It was relatively cramped and filled with boxes of produce, food, and wares that any commercial kitchen would have in stock.
“Nothing here.” Lash said.
Laura opened her clutch and pulled out a pen and a little rock the size of a fingernail. She put the rock into the center of her right palm, holding it upwards. She drew a series of symbols on her fingers with a small ballpoint pen, and said her choice trigger word to invoke the Finder.
“Zing!” Laura said.
“Slick Laura. I love watching you use puppet spells,” Lash grinned widely, then his face turned to concern. “Wait, have you used one of those on me, as well?”
“Uh, no?” Laura teased.
“Cunt,” Lash said sternly.
The rock lifted from her palm and shifted back into reality as a black, nearly blue dung beetle. The Finder was a Slave of Osiris, and was leashed to Laura’s fingers like the world’s smallest puppy. The Finder lifted from her palm with a buzz and flew in a straight line without any hesitation. She felt the tug on her finger tips as the Finder went through a crack in the wall on to the hidden tunnel on the other side. Laura closed her eyes and looked through the Finder’s eyes to see a fractured view of a lit hallway, well furnished in wood paneling and tasteful art along the walls.
Laura smiled widely. “Something hidden, something found, something clever…”
“Something round.” Lash said as he reached out and grabbed the end of a soup ladle sitting on the shelf, pulling on it gently. There was a click, and the wall spun open with nary a noise.
Laura motioned to Lash to not talk. She pulled the invisible tether of magic binding her Finder to her finger tips and closed her eyes again, walking forward into the hallway, allowing her Finder to be her eyes and ears along the way. Lash followed her silently, pulling the rope on the other side to reset the counterweight. The wall slowly reset as they made their way down the hallway. There were doors on either side, at regular intervals on the hallway, and a single door at the end. Laura paused at each door, sending her Slave of Osiris under the doors to snoop. In each, there were simple offices and small stands of cubicles, nothing nefarious or out of place. Besides the fact that all this bureaucratic nonsense was hidden behind a secret door at a club that catered to the underbelly monsters of Los Angeles. Nothing weird about that at all. Except… that monsters usually did not use bureaucracy in any way. The closest were like Lash following along behind… vampires used a sense of family hierarchy for control, like the mob. The werewolves were in packs, just like their canine brethren. The fairies had their weird kingdoms and fiefs, but this was like boring human.
And humans could be the absolute worst.
They came to the last door, and Laura pushed her Finder under the door. On the other side, there was a series of monks around a chalice set on the floor. Each monk was dressed in red and grey robes, with vestments hanging over their shoulders, and a simple rope at their waist. Each held a cross in their outstretched hand, the prayer beads glowing like well polished marbles. Very dangerous looking swords were outstretched in their other hand, held inverted to form a cross.
Laura pulled the Finder back, and let the beast settle into her palm again. She closed her fist, ending the spell. She tossed the rock and her pen back into her clutch and pulled Lash back down the hallway to one of the empty rooms that had a few unoccupied cubicles. She softly shut the door, and started stripping her clothes off.
“What are you doing, Laura?”
“We are in trouble. Here take this.” Laura handed Lash her clutch and continued to throw off her clothes, until she stood there in her panties and a strapless bra. She motioned for Lash to hand the clutch back, and she pulled a small packet out. She smacked it against her six pack, and the wrap spell unfolded around her in moments. She stood in her uniform of sorts, a simple long sleeve t-shirt, blue jeans, and her trail runners. She pulled her hair up into a simple pony tail.
“Ahhh, there is the Laura I am used to.”
“Shut up. The Brotherhood of the Glory is down the hall.”
“Shit.” Lash’s face sagged. “I got to get out of here, man. If they find out a vampire is nearby, we will have all kind of end of the world shit happening.”
“No we won’t. Think Lash. Outside the kitchen, there are what?”
“Ghouls, vamps, harpies, and least one skinwalker. I think I saw at least two changelings.”
“You did, there a couple of Mimics. So if all that bad stuff is right on their front step, do you think they are going to worry about a witch and vampire a door down?”
“Oh yeah.” Lash said. “What do you think they are doing?”
“They are invoking an Angel.”
“I did not get a chance to ask, Lash. But we should probably stop them if we want to keep LA intact. The last Angel that phased into our world kind of wiped half of London off the face of the earth.”
“They rebuilt ok. I was there, remember?”
“I know. You, of all people, know how bad an Angel is.”
“Yeah, and everyone thinks demons are bad. At least the demons are selfish. Keeps them out of trouble. So what do we do?” Lash asked.
“We take this…” Laura pulled a gun out of her clutch. “And I shoot one of them in the head.”
“Christ, Laura. You are actively trying to go to hell? Shooting a Brother of Glory is just asking for some notice.”
“Yeah, but at least six brothers would be ineffectual at making it worse.” Laura said.
“Why don’t I do it?”
“Because they would kill you, Lash.” Laura shook her head.
“I might get two of them,” Lash said defensively.
“They all had their swords in hand and they all had their vestments on.”
“Crosses don’t do anything to vampires, Laura. Plenty of vampires are Christians.”
“Irony there,” Laura smirked. “But the fact is they are all the best of the best, they have their armor and their weapons. We have a literal strike team down the hall calling in a nuke.”
“So what do I do?”
“Go back to the club. Throw a couple of these into the crowd. Then run like hell.” Laura pulled a couple small orbs from her clutch and handed them to the ageless man.
“I call them smokers. They ignite and burn ultraviolet, letting out Wolfsbane, Eloria, and other repellents. They are literally supernatural flashbangs.”
“UV?” Lash gulped.
“You will be fine. Two seconds or so? I have seen how fast a vampire can move, you will be long gone once they pop. And they pop. They are loud, bright, and voluminous!”
“Fine. Stay safe, Laura.”
“I will be fine.” Laura smiled her trademark go-eat-a-shit grin, clutching her snob nose 38 tightly between her hands. “These fuckers ain’t got nothin’ on me.”