Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dark Redemption chapter 48: Dangerous Dreams

Beneath the gleaming skyscrapers and picturesque facade of the City of Redemption lies another city; a community of dark and ancient magic populated by creatures of the night. Dark Redemption is a shared-world novel based on an online role-playing game by James Crowther.

Reporter Cassandra True is beginning to discover some of the dark secrets of Redemption. She and her roommate Cecilie have encountered a ghost at the fashionable Club Cyba-Netsu, and have met the club's owner, a powerful vampire named Lady Kurayami. While Cassandra has escaped a terrifying ordeal in that clutches of a demeneted sorceress, Cecilie faces dangers of her own.

Cecilie turned over in bed and instantly regretted it. The harsh afternoon sun filtered through her amber windowshade in her room onto her face. She winced and covered her eyes. "Answer the damn phone, Sandy!" she shouted.

Cassandra didn't answer. That's right; she was still at work. Damn.

The phone kept ringing. Why didn't whoever it was just give up? Her bones ached; her head throbbed; she felt like death. She wanted to go back to sleep, but the damn damn phone wouldn't damn let her. Finally she pulled a blanket over her head and stumbled out of bed for the kitchen.

She was having such a pleasant dream too. Before the phone woke her, she was dreaming about the night before. She had gone back to the Club Cyba-Netsu. she had asked Cassandra to join her, but Sandy said she had an important interview with some old bag from the Redemption Culture Thingummy. Cecilie suspected that she was too scared to go. The encounter with the ghost the other night really squicked her. It sort of squicked Cecilie too, but she enjoyed a bit of excitement in life.

It was funny how the club had changed. Cecilie had been there several times, both alone and with friends, but since meeting the ghost everything seemed different; like there were all these dark and mysterious currents running just underneath the surface that she had never been aware of before. No, it wasn't the ghost, it was Kurayami. Meeting Miss Kurayami had opened her eyes and now Cecilie saw a whole new world; a world of the night.

Cecilie saw Miss Kurayami when she entered the Cyba-Netsu. She was drinking with a small knot of people, male and female, in a dark corner of the club. Some wore dark glasses; some seemed to be wearing blood-red contact lenses. All were devastatingly beautiful and possessed the same aura of mystery and cool. Kurayami motioned Cecilie over to their table.

She almost turned around and left right then and there. Something about Kurayami was so intimidating. She told herself she was being silly. After all, she wanted excitement, right?

Cecilie could not recall exactly how long she spent with Kurayami and her friends. Somehow, being accepted in this elite circle was intoxicating. Well, to be honest, the Sloe Screw Against the Wall she ordered probably had something to do with that too. She tried calling her hostess "Kurayami-san" the way the others did, except she got a bit befuddled and it came out "Kurayama-mama-sama". That triggered an unfortunate spasm of giggles, but Kurayami did not seem the least offended. She merely gave that serene smile, like a worldly Buddha.

"Were you hoping to meet any ghosts tonight?" Kurayami teased.

Cecile flushed. "I don't know. I guess I was looking for something dangerous."

The others chuckled and exchanged significant glances behind their dark glasses. One of them, a dark-haired male with a neatly-groomed soul patch, smiled and said, "Maybe you've found it." There was a challenge in his voice and that drew Cecilie's attention like a magnet.

"Oh really?" Cecile tried to keep her tone light. "Somehow I doubt Kurayami-san would permit anything really bad to happen to me."

"Of course not," Kurayami purred. "Nothing bad ever happens to any of my customers in my club. Unless of course they want it to."

For a moment Cecilie sobered. Something about that casual remark carried a distinct undertone of menace. Cecile became suddenly aware that she was alone in a group of strangers. But she became aware of something else, too. She did want it to happen to her, even though she was not sure what it was. Kurayami was not talking about sex or date rape or anything mundane like that; it was something else; and whatever it was, Cecilie wanted to experience it.

The guy with the soul patch--Phillipe, his name was--took her hand. "Come with me," he said. And she did. He led her to a dim, private corner in the back of the club and drew her body close to his. She felt his breath, cool against her neck; then his kiss. By the time it occurred to her she ought to be afraid, his teeth were already sinking into her welcoming flesh. By then it was too late.

She remembered little of the rest. They made love, of course; wild, savage, desperate love; but that came afterwards. What she remembered most was melting in his arms as he drew her soul into his.

The phone was still ringing. Cecilie groped her way to the telephone and picked up the receiver. "Unk? Hooizzit? ... Cassandra? She's not here. ... Huh?" She pulled the blanket from her face and brightened slightly. "Oh... Stephen. You're the wheelchair guy. ... Yeah, I'm sure you can come over. Lemme write a note for her."

Cecilie fumbled about the kitchen for a piece of paper and a pen. The best she could do was a grease pencil, so she scrawled a message with it on the refrigerator door. "Seven o'clock? Okay. I'll let her know."

She hung up the phone and stumbled back to bed. Sun would be setting soon; then it would be dark.

Then she could see Phillipe again.

NEXT:  Comparing Notes

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