The night pumps on well into the early morning hours before the crowds even begin to disperse. I cringe internally when I see Vladik signal me for the next performance. Not the flaming poi’s this time. No something much more sacrilegious. I duck under the bar and crouch down to go through the false fridge door on the back wall. Inside the crawl space I try desperately not to get covered in dust, but fail.
I make my way up the rickety staircase at the end of the hallway behind the bar. In the ceiling rafters of the club is the catwalk system for the lighting rigs and of course my next task. I meet the store man Gerry up on the catwalk and he smiles shyly at me in the darkness. I smile back at him kindly. Gerry has been at this club since its opening and he’s more of an institution than Vladik likes to admit.
I slip on my costume for the performance before holding my arms up towards Gerry. No one even looks up at our interaction, we move so quietly and efficiently. We’ve done this so many times before that it has become as routine as flying. I adjust the cables and double check the carabiners at my back. Not that I don’t trust Gerry, it’s just standard procedure. Kind of like the safety demonstrations that nobody pays attention to before their plane takes off.
Gerry helps me fit the final piece of the costume on before the lights in the club turn brightly towards me. Gerry dashes off to the end of the catwalk to hold the cables before slowly lowering me down over the crowd. I try not to visibly roll my eyes as I fall down in a graceful swoop over the club goers with my arms outstretched showering glitter down over them. My long silver gown flows elegantly down swirling like it caught the currents of the wind.
Yet the thing that catches everyone’s eye are the pair of white feathered wings attached to my back. I swing back and forth with Gerry guiding me safely over the crowd. I continue to shower them with confetti and glitter that is supposed to represent my grace releasing them from the Devil’s dungeon. The angelic salvation after a night of temptation and sin. The promise that this was all okay because they will be saved.
The spotlights on me are blinding and hot heating my skin to give it a sheen of sweat that glistens like the glitter my hands are dropping from the air. Despite the blinding lights I see the crowd milling beneath me on the dancefloor as they sway together. I also see them as soon as they arrive. I can almost feel their smug smiles in the dark as I fly around the club.
Even if I didn’t see them I would’ve known they were here. The warm sheen over my skin turned to ice almost instantly. The music starts to wind down as I’m hauled back up to the dark catwalk. The crowd cheers as the bar is inundated with people buying last rounds. I grab Gerry’s hand in the dark and he helps me back over the rail to stand on the catwalk.
I look up to thank him and find Vladik there instead. His face is slightly fallen and I know exactly what he’s about to tell me.
“They’re in the V.I.P room and asked that you to bring them their drinks.” He explains hesitantly as I start to take off the gown. He holds my hand to stop me. I look at him confused. “Wearing that.” He adds sheepishly. I look at him incredulous, glad for the darkness hiding my true feelings.
“Of course they do.” I quip unimpressed. I turn on my heel to walk away from Vladik and nearly run into Gerry who is trying to help me unhook the carabiners but keep the wings. I pat his hand appreciatively as he grabs the last one.
“You’d do well not to anger him further, McKenna.” Vladik’s voice warns quietly in the dark behind me. Gerry shoots me a sympathetic look before he runs away. I turn on Vladik letting my anger sizzle through my voice.
“You mean I shouldn’t speak to him the way I did last time?” I shoot.
“He’s the owner.”
“He owns this club Vladik.” I seethe. “Not me or my staff.” He at least has the grace to look chagrin.
“At least not yet.” He reminds me quietly. I want to lash out at him. The spineless bootlicker.
“You’re right I shouldn’t have said what I said or did what I did. But you should’ve.” I scold him before turning and walking away from him. I make it back down to the bar flying on a rage as I grab a tray. Ignoring the customers cat calls and jeers about my angel attire over the bar, I focus on making the drinks I need.
I slip my lighter into the top of my bra and wink reassuringly at Luka who looks completely distraught. I’ve refused to allow any of my staff deal with the owner of this club and his friends any longer. I do a quick head count of my staff before setting off and I pull up to a stop.
“Where’s the new girl Stacy?” I ask one of the other bar tenders. He grimaces before pointing up in the direction of the V.I.P lounge that is my destination.
“McKenna.” I halt abruptly at Vladik’s command behind me. I turn and surprised to find the new bouncer standing next to him. Vladik clicks his fingers at him. “Go with her.” He instructs him and the poor guy just nods obediently having no idea what he’s getting himself into. I shake my head at them.
“No.” I challenge them. “Vladik, it’s his first night.” I plead. Vladik shakes his head.
“He was hired for a very specific reason McKenna and you will not interfere with his task.” Vladik commands angrily. He despises me challenging him in front of other staff members. I look apologetically at the bouncer who just seems to be staring right through me. I huff out in surrender.
“Let’s get this over with.” I direct the bouncer. We make our way quickly across the floor and I catch a scared look from Nina as she observes my direction from her cage. On the stairs to the lounge I find Stacey—our new waitress— and I pull her up. I turn and hand the tray of drinks to the bouncer then I grab both of Stacey’s arms in my hands. I look her directly in the eyes.
“I told you that the V.I.P room was off limits for service.” I scold her angrily and she looks at me like a deer in the headlights. She’s obviously shaken from her encounter and not much is sinking in at the moment. I direct her to pay attention.
“Understand this. If I so much as hear about you going in that room again, you’re fired. I won’t give you another chance.” I tell her seriously. She bites her lip and her eyes mist as she nods still shaking. I loosen my grip on her. “Did they hurt you?” I ask her a little kindlier. She shakes her head.
“Their eyes.” She squeaks. I nod as I let her go. I indicate my head in the direction of the bar.
“Go and get a shot of something to calm your nerves and go outside for a while. I’ll talk to you after your shift.” She scampers away quickly disappearing into the crowd as I take back my tray.
I don’t even glance at the bouncer. It’s better that he thinks I’m a bitch than someone he can depend on. Especially considering who he’s about to face. I don’t look at him over my shoulder as we reach the door but I feel him get closer to me. His chest can’t be more than a paperclip’s distance from my back. My skin starts to tingle at the closeness of his body and I shut down that train of thought immediately.
I take a breath and push open the door to the lounge. The three in here tonight all have women draped over them as usual. The men look like they could be brothers, dark expensive suits and pale skin. Piercing black eyes that are only made more malicious looking by the evil sneer they all seem to share. The owner of the club— Kane Malum— holds his hand up to command silence in the room as he stands.
He moves closer to me as I place the tray of drinks down on their table. He starts to circle me and I’m glad that the bouncer stayed back a little. Kane laughs a maniacal laugh as he reaches out behind me and strokes the fake wings on my back. I turn around like a shot and slap his hand away from me.
“What have I told you about handling me and my staff?” I demand indignantly. The others in the room hiss in allegiance of their master as I square myself off against him. I see the new bouncer make his way closer to Kane behind his shoulder. Kane stares at me seeming amused.
“What have I told you about making me wait so long for drink service?” He shoots back evenly ignoring his telling off about touching me. He continues to circle me like a predator stalking its prey. Yes, he’s an evil, sadistic shrewd minded prick. But there aren’t many people who don’t think similarly about their boss.
The owner of Diablo’s dungeon is dark and twisted in so many ways. He’s a daemon. As in minion of Lucifer himself. Actually Kane here is slightly higher up in the food chain than that and reports to Lucifer directly. His lackey’s in the lounge with him tonight are just minions though. While he may be powerful, he’s not all powerful. Knowing that the bully answers to someone else is a powerful weapon of knowledge.
Diablo’s dungeon is just like any other night club in the world to the outside eye. But to those in the know it is owned by a high ranking Daemon and staffed by those whose souls are bound for Hell. Everyone here has done something in their lives that has bought them a one-way ticket for an eternity in Hell after death.
I hear the cruel hiss in my ear as Kane lets his tongue flick my ear. I shiver involuntarily as my skin crawls with disgust.
“You have your drinks. Now you’d do well to remember that my staff are strictly hands off.” I snap at him as I turn around to face him again. I don’t like having him behind me. He growls before he viciously snaps his teeth a hairs breadth from my cheek.
“You and your staff belong to me. What difference does a few mortal years make? I should just take what’s mine now.” He hisses at me as he grabs my hips forcefully sending me flying backwards against the wall. I barely have time to register the pain of the wings digging into my back and hips before he flings himself against me wrapping his fingers around my throat and squeezing tightly.
“I will so enjoy breaking your soul down over eternity fire dancer.” He threatens darkly. He keeps squeezing tighter and I see the new bouncer about to make a move from behind him. I look directly in his eyes pleading with him not to move. Kane catches my eye movement as I start to feel the capillaries in my eyes burst from the lack of oxygen getting to my bloodstream. He sneers out the corner of his mouth.
“She’s right boy. You’d be dead before you got a handle on me.” His eyes look back at me cruelly for a moment before he releases my throat a little and I take a sharp deep breath. “You should know better than to bite the hand that feeds you. If you were a little more grateful perhaps I would find ways for you to show your gratitude for eternity instead of the torture your little club staff will suffer.” He spits at me before throwing me to the floor.
The gown tears slightly as I land on my hands and knees gasping for air. I watch as his feet stand over me and I start to laugh softly as my lungs fill with enough air again.
“What’s so funny?” He barks. “Did you finally just realize that’s the position I’ll keep you in for most of eternity.” The others in the room laugh at his joke and I laugh a little harder keeping my head down and shaking my head at him before I look up at him from my position on all fours in front of him. I smile wickedly at him.
“You’re delusional if you think I’m for you.” I tell him confidently. “Didn’t he tell you? And I thought you two were so close.” I hesitate looking thoughtful. “I’m his new toy. Not yours.” I laugh at him again. He sends a swift boot into my gut sending me flying back rolling along the floor to the feet of someone else. Someone who is preparing to pounce in defense of me. I reach out and grab his ankle gently and the touch startles him and he looks down at me pleadingly.
I shake my head at him almost imperceptibly. “You and your dog get out.” Kane orders us and I just smile proudly at my knowledge of things he doesn’t know. He catches my smile and laughs wickedly himself trying to cover his embarrassment. “Oh you’re dead wrong if you think this is over. Eventually he’ll tire of you and throw you to the scrap heap. Where I’ll be waiting with a very imaginative plan for our time together.”
I reach the doorway before turning back over my shoulder to look at him and shrug. “What scraps a master leaves his dog doesn’t really concern me.” I shoot defiantly. I watch his face turn a new shade of purple that I haven’t seen before. I don’t get to enjoy it long before the bouncer takes my elbow and forces me out of the lounge. We move away from the V.I.P lounge at high speed back towards the bar.
I look up at the bouncer curiously. Normally the first time a damned soul actually comes face to face with a daemon they fall apart, but he kept his cool. His eyes drop to my lips and I feel a nervous flush before I taste the strange metallic liquid in my mouth. In the darkness of the club I carefully reach my finger tips to my lips and pull them away to examine the deep ruby colored blood that appears almost black in this light.
I see the new bouncer glare back towards the V.I.P room darkly as his fists ball at his sides. He still hasn’t said a word to me and I start to wonder if perhaps he doesn’t speak English. I pull a cocktail napkin from the bar and wipe the blood from my lips as I catch Justin’s gaze at the club entrance. I make the signal to close it up and send the signal for staff to slow down service.
The new bouncer just turns and walks away to join Justin by the door. I shrug slightly confused by him. The bar staff call last drinks and we’re flooded with the remaining club patrons. I quickly duck under the bar wall out the back to remove the stupid angel costume before I return to the bar to help pour the last drinks.