Automatically I started to walk towards the clear water. I felt a strong pull of energy from the pool. Uncle Harry and Riley were by my side, but I felt inexplicably disconnected from them both. The lake filled the cavern, defying the salt that made up the walls and space in the prison. The huge stalagmites and stalactites made the whole surreal area look like it had been born during a major ice age or something. I wanted to stop and see if I could find any living creatures other than us that were in the cave, but instinctively I knew that would be a bad idea.
I found myself walking towards the water when Uncle Harry bit out, "Esmeralda Meredith, freeze." He seemed either unable or unwilling to touch me and pushed with his mind to make me obey.
I mentally clipped the tie and walked. I wasn't able to resist the pull.
He yelled out, "Emma, it's not the right water. Come away."
Riley tried to grab me and instead fell to the ground clutching his hand. All this I felt from my distance, heading into the inviting water as if it were a memory from someone else's past. I didn't stop when I reached the lapping water, but simply fell into the lake.
I was instantly in a huge stadium, completely dry on the edge of a stage. I no longer could see the lake, but a warmth behind me made me feel like it was possibly there still, just cloaked by the twists in the mine. Without thinking about Uncle Harry and Riley, I glanced around and found my eyes drawn to the stage. I instantly knew who the performer in front of me was. There was a huge illuminated sign behind her with just the name 'Valentina.'
I quickly figured out that she called herself Valentina -- obviously not her real name. She flaunted her rock hard abs like they were up for grabs -- hell, maybe they were, but not when she was walking the stage -- it was all about her being seen, loved and worshipped. You could see the adoration was actually filling her up as she strutted. She demanded and craved the heart and soul full of need and desire from her fans nearly as much as her back-up musicians craved their crack pipes and lines of coke. They twitched in time with the hard biting bass line being thrown down, and her throaty digitally-enhanced vocals drummed out the beat of sex and lust in equal measure. The audience screamed out the lyrics while tossing their bodies at the stage and the line of bouncers, who threw them back uncaringly into the mad crowd.
I blinked and noticed that the stadium was somehow outside and it was twilight. The snow I'd seen in Michigan was absent, but a slight chill raced across the crowd, blowing towards me. There was a push from where I'd emerged from the lake that was warm and briny. A slight mist covered the ground like the band was using a smoke machine but I knew it was just a fact of where we were. My eyes focused sharply as I tried to snap out of the weird way I was feeling. The music seemed to be magical, and given the mines, it was entirely possible.
There was a fickle sun that shouldn't be here that was shadowing the edges, while brightly illuminating the horrors that should've remained in the shadows. Not being stupid is an effort for some, but whoever created this hell made sure to include insanity as a side gift served with mind blowing stupidity for the fans. The entire scene was both wrong and tainted with horrors; I seemed to be the only one who noticed -- the shapes of humans and supernatural creatures mating off to the side, while the fans of Valentina bopped up and down in simulated sexual moves. There were screams of joy alongside ones laced with pain and fear.
The syncopated rhythm danced into my worldview, and I wanted to know if there was a party going on that I hadn't been invited to. The thump of the bass worked through my soul and into my very being. I loved good music. I tried to remember the feelings I had at first, hearing the discordant pseudo-music, but those feelings were being chased away like the mist rolling away from Valentina. The salt laden air coupled with the soaking wet humidity wasn't a distraction for me, but nearly an aphrodisiac. It was hard to explain the music down here to anyone not visiting. The music soaked into my body and liberated me. Human or supernatural, we all liked music and whoever created this shift in the world knew it, and was using it to seduce. I tried to pull the scent of winter into me, but the mass of bodies between me and the other side had stopped that brief breeze.
Instead, verdant and earthy scents coated my nose. I turned around; I could no longer see any sign of the lake where I'd arrived, yet I could feel the liquid in the back of my thoughts. Everyone wasn't in black like a Goth crowd but there was a mixture of bright vibrant colors nearly like a bird's fine plumage that danced amidst the darker shades of black and gray.
The verisimilitude of color couldn't erase in my mind the carrion-scented death that rocked the vast room -- for the illusion of being outside had to be just that. The stench of rotting bodies and blood ate at my thoughts. How could someone slay anyone in such a lovely setting? I began to look for the nearest body, since I could now smell the coppery metallic scent of death that was close. In the past few hours I was growing good at finding corpses. There was an area near the stage that had a rambling array of dressing rooms with ropes of thick cables running back and forth. My eyes found an open alcove that was set off behind the stage to my left, and inside, splayed across the massive bed that filled the room was an image like a bad outtake from American Beauty. Instead of roses, there were spatters of blood on the linens and a ravaged body.
A creature that looked remarkably like the singer that I'd just seen strutting and dancing on the stage came forward from the corpse -- only it was male -- not female. Looking at the quickly growing crowd gaping at the body he snarled, "Like, can I offer anybody a tissue? I didn't think so. It was really too bad that exsanguinations aren't as routine as say, like crying. Not that I wanted to again see someone else's throat cut, but right about now I wouldn't protest too vigorously."
His anger was directed at a small cluster of petite girls that had been screaming and whooping just moments before at Valentina's immense stage. A group of the fans had pulled away from Valentina, and were staring at the dead girl and the male. The woo woo girls -- as I and many others tended to call these types of empty-headed twits -- weren't truly crying. No tears were falling down their porcelain features. They were all dressed in some random but meaningful (in their world) manner. The hair and makeup was precisely applied to their social structure. Add in that every line and shadow was perfectly sketched to accentuate whatever feature was deemed the best. Some had their eyes lined thickly with black kohl and long lashes, and those lashes I was completely sure were fake. Not just because they had bits of glitter on the ends that did make them pretty much guaranteed fakes, but the length was impossible in nature or supernatural nature. At his comment they turned away and back to the stage, dismissing the dead girl as one.
Looking at the audience, I saw that they all varied in size, both male and females. The really thin girls had rock hard breasts that stuck out like balloons on their rail-thin frames. I gathered they either had implants or very impressive undergarments. They mostly sort of wore as preferred dresses LBD, also referred to as a 'little black dress.' Little being the operative word. I think the fabric was no more than a foot and half or so of distance between the top and bottom. The males were also festively dressed in the bird plumage colors, but they tended towards black slacks and jeans instead of anything too outrageous for pants, at least. The boys had nearly as much makeup on their faces as the girls, and there was glitter almost everywhere; pretty much every third body shimmered in the lights from the stage.
One of the girls who caught my eye was very pale -- she drew much closer to the stage. Basically she was albino in coloring, sans the traditional red hued eyes. If it hadn't been for the telltale pulse throbbing in her neck I would have figured her for a vampire. Her feature chosen for accentuation wasn't her eyes but instead her lips. She had full lush lips that she had stroked vivid red lipstick across, then shellacked with something glittery and glossy. She had everything but an 'open for business' sign stamped on her ass. She wasn't but a foot away from the stage and she was screaming out for Valentina to notice her. It seemed she was destined to be answered I saw Valentina nod at her. The bouncers allowed the girl to move even closer to the stage.
Then a team of shapes came from the backstage area and started howling and screaming their hunger. The fading daylight was suddenly noticeable to me, but not the screaming groupies and audience busy shouting at Valentina, trying to get her attention. A flicker of light and suddenly the moon rolled out from behind the stage as if on cue, and the death dance truly started. The man that looked like Valentina faded out of sight while chaos began to roll out like a wave towards the audience. I stood to the side and simply watched.
I couldn't believe how fiends were feasting on 'fans' like it was their day job, while the moon shone brightly in the sky, illuminating all the lovely flesh-torn bits and pieces flying from them in a shadow-filled chiaroscuro night. The back drop behind where the singer was still hotly screaming her tune was a haunted house that merged into the stage, and I could see a bunch of buildings like carnie attractions pushing forward onto the massive stage. Joining the haunted house was the all-too-familiar sign for the Tunnel of Love.
I'd always thought when I first was aware of the supernatural world that carnivals were often full of supers of many shapes and sizes and later discovered it to be true. And such a 'ride' was often little more than a carnival spot set aside for rogue vampires who used the tunnel of 'love' as a feeding ground. This was quickly shaping up to the same sort of place.
The singer ignored the fans being slain and sang her song quite savagely. The feeling of enjoyment that had been flooding my senses was broken with the gushing blood coming from the neck of the pale girl. Valentina hadn't stopped singing while one of the body guards slaked his hunger on the girl. Her life was being taken and nobody seemed to care but me. There wasn't anything I could do but watch and wonder at this new hell. I felt the horror at the loss of life, but yet I didn't see any way to help.