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Posted on 7/7/13

My name. For crying out loud, my name is written right on my freaking nametag you drunken barstool jackwagon! I really needed to get another job, maybe one with a little more class where every two minutes somebody’s hand didn’t try to feel my ass and then that same person won’t try to crack one of the dumbest, most overused pickup lines on the face of the planet---of which just seemed even worse than it was physically possible to even be because they always got the punch lines wrong and acted like nothing ever happened!

“So darling, you never answered my question,” The red faced man chuckled groggily. And here it comes; I even turned my back so I could mouth his words exactly... “Is Heaven missing an angel because you hurt your head falling from Heaven?”

Disgusting. Not to mention the fact that he just mixed two separate pick-up lines and didn’t even realize it. I've heard that one about twenty-four times now, but I guess that was what I get for working in a bar. Minimum wage and tips were so not worth this aggravation! Still, I needed this job, so I tried my best to grin and handed his table another round of liquor that he and his drunk friends really didn’t need.

“Thank you for the compliment,” I said through gritted teeth.

“Hey, Seychelle!” My boss hollered, his thick creole accent turning my name into the word “seashell”. He topped off some woman’s drink even though her head was lying limply on the top of the table. His dark skin moving through the dimly lit bar in a pattern of ease that he’d grown accustomed to after doing this for so long---twenty some odd years I think it was? Even with both of his hands full and his movements never ceasing, my boss still managed to give me his signature shooing hand that ordered me to leave every night at the end of my shift. He called out to me with a white smile that broke past the ochre ambiance surrounding the bar, “Your shift is over chere, get outta here an’ go on home now!”

“Thank you Jesus!” I muttered, waving one final time in return to my boss. “I’ll see you tomorrow Mister Dubois!”

“Oh, I’m gonna need you to come in early tomorrow chere!” He called, “Mardi Gras starts bright and early and it be one of our busiest times of de’ year, you hearing me!?”

Damn that holiday! I thought about three things when I ever heard the word New Orleans and they were: Booze, Swamps, and Mardi Gras. When I started working the bar on Bourbon Street, I thought it might be a fun cultural experience that would simultaneously pay for my college bills. For an eighteen year old, working in a bar made you feel sort of empowered because it was something not many states in the US allowed, but last year when I hit my first Mardi Gras working day, any and all good notions about the job got flushed down the crap hole and I was lucky to make it back to my apartment in one piece!

“Of course! I’ll be there, you can count on it!” I shouted and then hung up my apron and swiftly escaped out into the night streets. The one good thing about Mardi Gras was all the tips I’d get tomorrow, and the bad part was the feeling of claustrophobia being packed in a tiny bar with barely enough room to take a step, let alone serve people food and drinks.

The nights before the big extravaganza were often the slightest bit quieter than the rest of the New Orleans nights, or so I noticed. Most of the music was played somberly and a good portion of the nightlife drinkers and the touring sightseers were resting up in order to party hard the next morning. Right now it was about one in the morning and other than a few people closing down their stores and kicking out stray and straggling customers, things were actually kind of quiet.

I lived in a little apartment about a block from here, and I just couldn’t wait to get home and sleep. My shoulder blades ached and my feet were sore, arms tired, and my head was pounding, but oh wait! I had a thesis due by this time tomorrow and I guess if I’d be working all day then I had better pull an all-nighter to get the blasted thing done. My hours were torture, but at least I was getting paid well and I’m not failing out of school. So long as I kept this up then who really needed sleep, right? Not this little waitress, no sir!

The winds picked up and the sky started to rumble, so I guess the weather wasn’t lying after all and there was a storm blowing in; just a small one mind you, and not enough to cancel Mardi Gras, but either way, I had better get home before it hits. I started my walk, and turned the corner. If I hadn’t been as confident in my abilities to kick someone’s ass or stomach horror movies, then this night street and walking home alone thing might have freaked me out. Sure, the streets did fog up and the misty moon creeped past the clouds every few seconds as thunder and lightning echoed the skies. This was movie making gold, a setting like this! Alas, a little rain and a bit of eerie walking never really hurt anybody and I could say wholeheartedly that I never got afraid when wandering back to my apartment.

I came from the city part of New Orleans, I grew up there and I thrived on the population and the activity. Down here, there was rustic culture and quaint bars, but it was tiny and surrounded by swamp. I’ve never actually been in a swamp, and I don’t plan on going any time soon; my family took vacations to Disney World and Chicago back in the day, we didn’t really celebrate Mardi Gras or hunting---pretty much anything that media dubbed for a Cajun chick like me apparently. It was sad, almost as sad as the fact the people up north think everyone in the south live in teepees and ride horses to school. Honestly! Where do people get this stuff?

A straight shot to my little apartments, and the winds knocked me forward a step as they pounded down the quarter. “I am so going to get rained on!” I muttered.

Suddenly I heard something shatter behind me; there was a little joint down the road and it looks like an old sign dangling from a corroded chain hooked to the porch had finally snapped and it sent the wooden block right into the window, shattering a massive hole right through the glass.

“That’s just great!” I moaned, looking around to notice that I was the only one to see this happen. I hustled over to the old shop and felt a cold chill coming out through the large gash in the glass window. “Cold?” I wondered, “So, maybe this place isn’t that abandoned after all? They left their AC running, so maybe I better tell them what happened to their window?” I mean, of course I better check on things, otherwise somebody might sue me for thinking I’d done damage to public property. They still might, but maybe if they woke up from the crash and heard my explanation then they might believe me. It was worth a shot?

No doorbell. I knocked, but I could barely hear my own fist over the whistling winds and the thunder. The door was unlocked, so I sort of just wandered inside, and hoped these weren’t the type that owned a shotgun. Things in here were pitch black and cold, but a few brief flashes of lightning lit the place right up, and I managed to find my way over to the window and stepped around the broken shards of glass in order to pick up the rickety old sign. The chunk of wood was faded, but there was some sort of symbol-like words written in chipped red paint along the top; back in the day this might have been some sort of voodoo witchdoctor type of store or something, but now I think it was just somebody’s home?

I looked back through the old house and shouted, “Hello? Is anyone there? The storm sort of broke your window! I just thought you should know…”

I could hear voices talking up the stairs, one of them sounded pretty old, so I’m guessing the little old couple that most likely lived here wouldn’t want to come all the way down the stairs to see the damage to their property. The thunder clashed once and I groaned in annoyance as the rain filled the streets. Now I have nothing better to do but help these old people keep their bottom floor from flooding. So much for that thesis paper...

“Did you hear something?” Adok wondered.

“It’s just the storms,” Bennet waved, “Now, Orrick explain to me why you think we can just waltz straight through the barrier and take over the Upperworld?”

“Because that’s where the faeries live, Bennet,” Falstaff cackled, “And ye who control the faeries may as well claim all of the downworlders!”

“Why the sudden interests in the other lowlife downworlders, master Orrick?” Adok wondered.

“As much as it pains me to admit, Bennet is right. Our reign as masters over the downworlders has become a joke long since forgotten. We used to be kings! Feared and unchallenged for a nearly a millennia. Now all we are is four rulers with no kingdom and no power!”

“I’m sorry,” Bennet snickered, “But, unlike the rest of you, I do not waste my time hiding in a coffin or buried under a rock! I have made my name known and feared throughout most of the known world.”

“But not the humans!” Orrick snapped coldly, “Not the faeries nor the underwater vermin that believe themselves to be untouchable! All you are master of Pryor, is a few packs of Lycans and a handful of enslaved errand boys! You are but a boastful, egocentric, and arrogant young fool! Do not think you have done any better than your brothers in this last century because the evidence will turn against you.”

“Your own apprentice sheds more fear to the humans than you have in the last 200 years!” Adok cackled.

“Now now,” Falstaff took a drink, “I remember when I first started out as a mobster who controlled a few souls,” he laughed, “Do not tease Bennet for being just the slightest bit big-headed.”

“I control this city’s worth of souls as my own personal minions, yet you do not hear me bragging, Pryor!” Adok scoffed.

“Whatever!” he pouted.

“The point!” Orrick thundered, “Is that we have been wiped out by the other forces! We, my brothers, we are all that remains of our kind, and if we are to succeed in our ploys, we must add more to our numbers! We need an army.”

“My children and I are with you brother,” Falstaff toasted, “Every step of the way!”

“You call them your children!?” Bennet almost laughed.

“I conquer,” Adok nodded, “My minions and slaves are treated as such and as Falstaff offered, mine are also in our favor, Master Orrick.”

Bennet sighed, “My apprentices and I will take up the flank. I have a few chips in the Lycan packs of London, I’m sure with a little “persuasion” they too will join your grand army, Orrick!”

“Enough of your sarcasm, Bennet,” he groaned. “So it is settled then,” Orrick stood, “Our plans can be set into motion in a fortnight, after the full moon fades for its longest period and the downworlders cannot use the enemy lycanthropes as guardians when we attack. After we reconquer the monsters, we lay out our plan of attack on the humans, and this era of peace will finally come to a long overdue end. The world, at last will return to its rightful home in our arms!”

“Fine,” Bennet smiled reluctantly, “But I still think you’re all a bunch of---“ Pryor froze; his head shot to the door as did the other three as their red eyes started to shake. In the doorway crouched a woman, a young, mortal woman, who starred with her wide green eyes and gasped when the four men looked her way.

“Y-your window was broken,” she started to breathe heavily, “I didn’t mean to interrupt your uh---m-meeting, I think I’ll just be going now---Sorry about that fellas.”

Her heart was beating so fast that it started to make the hungry growls of the four elder vampires hard to conceal. Through the silence, one voice rang out in a hearty hiss of gratification. “I didn’t realize we were ordering take-out!” Falstaff chuckled.

“Oh please---just don’t,” Bennet covered his eyes, “Don’t try to be funny Falstaff, it literally pains me inside.”

“This meddling mortal has heard too much, Orrick,” Adok hissed, “Why does she still live? Go and dispose of it so we can end our meeting properly, or should I?”

“You do not give the orders,” Orrick stated calmly, “In circumstance, I suggest that Falstaff may have the woman because I can see how eager he is to consume her.”

Bennet scoffed, “Yeah right, you’re just pissed at me and you want to teach Adok a lesson. But seeing as though Falstaff is about to snap his leash, I agree that he may kill her---but after swallowing half his weight in ale, I don’t know how much of her he will be able to digest.”

“She ran off,” Adok rolled his eyes.

Bennet stood eagerly and rubbed his hands together, “Better call it Orrick, I think Falstaff is about to burst…”

“Kill her, but make haste!” He waved in an annoyed sigh, “This meeting is adjourned until the New Moon.”

Pryor slapped Falstaff on the back and jeered, “Sick her boy!”

Falstaff gave him a look, but his undying hunger was too preoccupied to retaliate to that comment. He shot out of the room like a stray bullet and crashed about like a bull before slamming himself between the eavesdropping woman and the front door. All the while he smiled at her with the hunger of an army and she screamed once, only to turn and run in the other direction.

“Chasing you will only make your blood all the sweeter!” He cackled, and taunted in a thunderous roar of laughter, smashing any object that dare block his path… “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a little woman! Be she live, or be she dead, I'll grind her bones to make my bread!”

The girl turned through the small gap that led beneath the staircase to the wine cellar, all the while digging through her purse as she pulled out a weapon and shot once into Falstaff’s thick skin. The bullet bounced off of his chest like a pellet on gelatin and the woman’s heart beat faster as she took off down the dark hallway. His eyes beating like red taillights, Falstaff let out a booming laugh as his steps creaked through the narrow hallways and down the stairs; he gave her some slack in order to make the hunt all the more satisfying, and slowed his pace in order to provide her time to try and hide from him.

“Come out! Come out, you little morsel, you!” He sang happily, “It has been a few decades since old Falstaff has tasted the nectar of a beautiful woman such as yourself. I promise that it won’t hurt a bit my lady, not one bit!”

He inched around the corner, hearing her pounding heart and smelling the sweet blood in her veins as well as the traces of alcohol and smoke on her clothing. She could not hide from him, and while he did enjoy playing with her, this mortal was too delicious to remain alive much longer in the elder monster’s eyes. His massive hands closed around the rickety brass knob of the closet and he slowly turned the handle as the latch clicked and the woman’s breath cut short.

“There you are my sweet…”