The bar was crowded that evening. It was cold outside and the place was just warming up to the expectations of the evening: Already, the air was a potpourri of perfumes and alcohols. And sweat, as bodies on the dance floor gyrated and occasionally collided, somewhat in tune with the variations in the sound that filled every inch of the space. The bar was crowded with people, words, ideas, hopes and opportunities, and desires sifted through masses.
A strange chill entered half open doors of the bar and made its way under chairs, over tables, up walls and around bodies, seeking its target. Silvery steel tables went cold and chairs contemplated frost. Those it touched, those who could feel, got the jitters: their muscles went taut for a moment and shivers fled up their spine. A pretty young thing in a velvety, black dress jumped up and spilled some burgundy just where skin ended and dress began. The dress wasn’t expensive, but it was velvet and she liked black. Refusing enthusiastic offers of help, she excused herself and made her way across the blinking floor, her shapely silhouette carefully avoiding traps, and ignoring loaded glances, whether furtive or steady.
As the end of the long stretch that was the bar neared, she got the strange feeling that she was being watched. Sure, she had felt this way often, but this was different: it gave her the creeps. Bravely, and urged on by the sheer habit of seeming aloof, she turned the corner towards the restroom and straight into Damon Shores.
Damon Shores. He had been feeling a little strange since the sun went down. It was as if he was hearing things, hearing drums beating softly to strange tunes that he couldn’t recognise. He heard them while he spoke, heard them while he talked. He heard them even with the music on. He felt like killing Jones. If nothing else, that would at least get one trouble off his mind. Grip his neck with both hands and choke him to death.
Having sold his last car for the day, Damon had walked around the canary yellow Cadillac he had bought for a steal that morning. Damned Jones missed the fender he thought, as he noticed horizontal red lines across the length of the fender. Damon’s blood boiled and his face reddened as he noticed that the Volvo’s on either side of the Cadillac too had red on their fenders: three cars with three horizontal lines on three fenders. He yelled out to Jones who scurried across the used car lot, heart in mouth. Jones would pay for this. Just as his arm drew back, in preparation of a slap to the back of Jones’ head, Damon thought he noticed something move on the other side of the Volvo. Jones in tow, he moved across the back of the Cadillac and stepped away slightly from the steel gray Volvo. Next to the back door of the Volvo squatted a strange, thin and dark creature in tattered clothes and a patchy green cloth around its forehead. But this was New Orleans and this was not an unfamiliar sight. Nonetheless, Damon’s arteries were already under functioning under severe pressure, and he erupted.
“Yousonuvabitch FREAKS,” went the war cry as Damon let loose a flurry of kicks and blows. Doc Robbins had told him that exercise would do him good, and Damon latched on to the opportunity with both hands and legs. He effortlessly picked up the bruised figure and threw him out the car-lot, while others such creatures standing across the street watched quietly.
“That should teach you freaks,” Damon shouted out to them, waving a finger threateningly. After Jones was told that he was an incompetent dimwit, and put to work, Damon strode back to his office, his arteries still under stress. A couple of hours later, the sun went down and the drums started. They started softly, strange eccentric rhythms from god-knows-where, that sucked him in and dragged him down to the verge of madness. On and on and on. Damon needed a drink. Something, anything, to drown those damn beats.
In the bar, things began to get worse. Two glasses of cheap whiskey down and several stolen glances at pretty young scantily clad things later, things still hadn’t changed. Must be that damned techno music, he decided.
Damon put his glass down and told Bob to hold his drinks for a bit, while he went for a piss. In the john, empty, he filled his palms with water and splashed his face. Another palmful was pushed across his scalp, and yet another cooled his reddening ears. But those damn beats didn’t stop. Damon dried his face and hair, exhaustion suddenly gripping him, and decided to go home. He walked out the john and turned the corner, straight into one of those pretty young things, this one in a rather revealing black dress. Maybe this isn’t such a bad evening after all, he thought. Unfortunately, a suave ‘Hello, there’ for an apology met with ‘Fuck off creep’ as a response. Damon, used to such pleasantries, shook his head, shrugged it off and walked back to the bar, forgetting that he should be heading home.
Up on the ceiling, something searching for Damon found him, and dove straight into the drink that Bob had just poured. It swam about in circles while Damon looked across the room, at the dance floor, until it became one with the liquid. Snake-like liquid heads jumped up from the deep gold surface of the whiskey and took bites of thin air as Damon slowly brought the glass to his lips. The whiskey burnt across his tongue, down his throat, through his stomach and entered his blood stream. Damon, shaken instantly from his ogling, grabbed his burning tonsils, doubled up and fell off the barstool.
A few miles away, in a candle-lit basement of an abandoned building, on a table sat a dark woman, dressed in white with bracelets on her wrists and necklaces with amulets around her neck. In front of her was a young green tree python, and around the table figures clad in loose fitting clothes chanted and danced to beats of drums.
“Death threats shall not be entertained” – Nikhil