I didn't see how it was that nobody was running and screaming from the supernatural creatures killing the audience. It was like this was normal for Valentina's concerts. The fan that had run to catch Valentina's attention was utterly dead and pooled on the ground beneath the stage like a pop can tossed aside once empty. The bodyguard who'd drained the girl had moved on to others. It was like nobody cared. That was when I saw that there was a large man off to the other side of the stage staring straight at Valentina.
He was completely focused on the singer but not with the awe of a fan or even somebody who much cared for music. I could see that he was a harsh man with a sour mash whiskey-fueled attitude. Easily I could read his eyes and saw that they'd had seen too much, and fouled his mind so perfectly that he no longer was able to process anything properly. His thoughts drifted to me and showed me he was very dangerous when cornered and he often felt himself persecuted when nobody even really gave a flying fuck about him. He holed himself away nearly as well as a hermit while fueling his anger with alcohol, guns and tobacco. Every Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ATF agent within spitting distance of his home knew he was there. He was on watch lists that weren't well known as well as the ones that were. His current list of crimes weren't known yet, and still the ATF had him watched every moment of the day and night. I wondered how the hell he'd discovered this place.
More of his nature and thoughts filled my mind. He didn't go out much and stayed off the grid as much as possible, but he had that tendency to want to poke a stick into an active hornets' nest just because he could. He knew he was dangerous and reveled in that knowledge. It meant in his twisted thoughts that he was truly somebody. Naturally he worked a menial job for years, until he slipped and fell his way into a fortune back in the late 1980s when lawyers really did perform miracles and insurance companies paid up quickly when customers went sprawling in the produce aisles of major chain stores. screaming horrifically during the evening time when the store was filled with other customers. The paperwork cooked up between the lawyers naturally had ironclad nondisclosure lawyer type of bits and pieces written into the legal documents before committing to the transfer of monies. That meant the man had to keep his mouth shut about the who, what, where and when of his sudden wealth and the case surrounding his sudden lotto style spending habits.
Having never married much less bred, he didn't have to worry about a wife cleaning out his varied bank accounts (the ones actually inside such institutes as banks both on and off shore or the jars of gold coins buried in various spots around a few of his homes) or any kids killing him for instant inherited profit. His companionship was of the financial arrangement sorts involving medium class hookers and equally mediocre hotels and motels. He got what he paid for and there was never any pillow talk or cuddle time. Most folks would have found it a lonely and sad life but it was all the man knew and he thought it worked just fine for him.
He'd followed a working girl down to a club in downtown Detroit. She'd told him she was going to change his world. And now he was stuck in this weird place watching a slut singer named Valentina. The man was angry and somebody was going to pay. None of the supernatural creatures went near him. He was an island in the midst of carnage, lust and death. Somewhere he was very comfortable.
Just then Uncle Harry found my thoughts.
"Mon ami ... what are you doing? Esmeralda, can you even hear me?" Uncle Harry's words came from a distance, like either he or I were underneath water. Given I'd dropped into a pool of clear water from the prison salt mines and ended up in the warped concert where people were being killed, I guess it wasn't too far off.
I was still looking at the crowd and finally figured out it was made up of all the right sort of people ... who were being meat puppets for the shadowing other creatures. On closer examination it seemed that not all the predators were supernaturals. I noticed a few human-looking men and women taking advantage of the craziness and beating the other fans in the audience with their fists and kicking them rapidly with their Doc Martin-clad feet. I felt like Uncle Harry was following me but unable to help me. Seemed like this chaos was fun for all the participants, while there was a scent of some instinctive crazy behaviors behind the raw boost of power floating between the dead and nearly dead. The orchestrated pain and death was feeding more than just the main singer and the band. The drifting scent of death was an aphrodisiac for unseen supers. It was a buffet of death that was being gorged upon by creatures near the stage and others hidden in the curves and shadows of the place. Creepy factor off the charts for me, that was for sure.
The harsh man who didn't fit the audience and was still glaring at Valentina, spoke out loudly over the screaming crowds while looking somewhat lost, yet still ready to kill if someone gave offense, "That ain't right ... that ain't anywhere near right -- stuff like that sure ain't supposed to exist in the world. Children books is fine to have such nonsense -- somebody must'a slipped me one of those damn designer Hollywood drugs." He didn't seem to see me, but he was clear to me as were all the deranged people.
The itching whisper of Uncle Harry trying to get my attention distracted me and the harsh man was suddenly out of my line of sight.
Pushing through my distraction I mentally whispered back, "What, Uncle Harry?" I saw no need to attract any unwanted and possibly deadly attention. I was fairly sure I'd passed through a portal to another fold in the universe and hearing Uncle Harry's thoughts in mine gave me hope that I'd be able to get back to my known world. But first I had to avoid becoming bait, and I was pretty sure my popping around the concert area wouldn't go unnoticed. These folks weren't missing much, but at least they hadn't seemed to see me as potential prey.
"Emma, honey, where exactly are you?" His thoughts were getting louder as he seemed to find a way to focus on my thoughts.
"Dante's deathly dance party. The one he forgot to write about in his Divine Comedy," I mentally snipped back while searching for that scary man. Suddenly he was next to Valentina on the stage with a completely insane smile. His lips were stretched thinly as if the effort of smiling was foreign to him. In his hand was a rather nasty hunting knife and he pushed it into her side. She didn't seem to notice but continued to sing. Three of the bodyguards he'd physically dragged with him tried to bash the weapon out of his hand unsuccessfully. It was then Valentina seemed to notice the man. Without stopping her angry song, she grabbed the man's hand with the knife and casually snapped his wrist. I knew it was snapped because he dropped the blade and his hand flopped at a downward and in an unnatural angle that looked painful. Shock washed over his face as it took him nearly a full minute to absorb what she'd done. Then his head fell backwards and he screamed. The pain had to be nearly unbearable because the harsh man staggered away from Valentina and was then pulled off stage by the three bouncers.
The 'show' went on both on and off the stage and I found myself tumbling back towards the spot I'd arrived. The fog got thicker and suddenly I could sense that Uncle Harry was at the nape of my neck with his hands tugging me to him from my shoulders.
"I have you, Emma, I have you."
I swung towards the vampire with my mouth wide open. I felt like I'd been through the wringer, and Riley was looking a bit green. It was then I noticed the pool of water no longer was clear with a view to the bottom, but instead was a huge screen showing us the carnage happening at the concert I'd just been an unwilling witness to. Valentina was screeching and tearing off her clothing to reveal an emaciated frame and skin streaked with scars. It looked like the creature wasn't terrified of knives for a reason. She had the appearance of a cutter by choice, not torture. Her fans still living screamed out their love to her and she glowed as she drank it all in while singing out her lustful thoughts. An object rolled across the stage and stopped at the singer's feet. From our vantage point in the salt mine, I saw it was in fact the head of the man whose wrist she'd just snapped. It looked like his head had been literally torn from his body and his eyes no longer stared with any signs of life. He did look somewhat surprised.
The bad side of me mentally wondered how hard it would be to find his treasures now that he was dead. I was pretty sure he was from our world and I did have a visual of the hooker who'd tempted him down to the mine. Uncle Harry turned me from the scene and said, "Well, that was not pleasant."
Looking up at him, I said, "I didn't mean to go. It was like I was pulled."
Shaking me slightly, Uncle Harry said, "You were. That is one of the problems with this little mine. The pathways tempt creatures to cross over. At times it is simply a short hop and skip back but mostly it's a final journey."
Riley was staring past us watching whatever else was happening while I stared right into Uncle Harry's gaze and said softly, "Sorry."
"It's okay, Emma. We'll keep a closer watch on you." He looked momentarily solemn before smiling at me and said, "At least I have you back!"
Riley growled and we both automatically spun back to see what was making him upset. I saw the dead man's head being lobbed into the audience like a beach ball, and the fans that weren't dead tossing it around like a hot potato.
"Disrespectful shits." Was all Riley would say before turning away and walking back towards the corridors. I followed with Uncle Harry close by my side. Looking around, I slowly said, "It's different now."
Uncle Harry said, "What is, Emma?"
"This room has changed somehow. The stalagmites aren't precisely the same as they were a half hour ago," I offered. I was pretty sure it hadn't been much longer than that since I'd left.
"Emma, you've been gone two days." Riley said, which explained why he was still looking pissed off.
My gaze flew to Uncle Harry's and I asked, "Truly two days?"
"Yes, my dear. We weren't sure we'd ever get you back. Last night I began to hear your babbling in my thoughts and I began to push for you." He hadn't gone further than a few inches from my side since he'd pulled me back but now I understood why.
"Nothing came to find you?" I asked, unsure of how they knew to stay and why things didn't look quite the same.
"Some creatures tried, that's why it looks different in here." Riley then pointed to a pile of salt and I could see there was a shape beneath the crystals.
"Riley used a few of the local stalagmites to slay the creatures and then we buried them somewhat in a corner to avoid any other supernaturals trying to come in and find them. They didn't die easily and there was quite a bit of odor from them in the first day. We thought it best to keep our vigil for your return rather than moving." Uncle Harry said off-handedly, like it was something everyone would do for a friend.
Sighing I said, "Thanks, guys. Can we get out of here now?"
They both laughed and Riley said, "I sure hope so."
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