She's Just Like The Weather
Sprinting down the dark corridor, her heavy bust almost causing even more trouble to her injured face, inky veins spread up the cracked walls and over the crusty debris blanketing the decomposing floorboards. An abyssal groan carried on an unnatural bluster as it whizzed through the hallways, nipping at her extremities and the loose fabric billowing in her wake. The stench of rotten flesh which followed somehow managed to force its way up her nose and past the blood already coagulating in her nostrils. A combination of the moss and mold which had taken over the patches of dark carpet left behind. The murky sludge that had dripped onto her boots caused the blonde to slip, slamming into crumbling plasterboard before she was able to turn the corner for herself. Grunting out the stale breath of the abandoned apartment block air upon impact, Alex glanced behind, her tangled hair whipping her damp, raw skin. Pulse thundering in her skull and adrenaline seemingly turning her muscles into iron, she leaped off the top of the stairs. Hitting the ground-floor landing running for her life, she bouldered into the rusted security door shoulder-first and staggered out into the overcast afternoon drizzle. Pelting across the alleyway as she checked behind to make sure she wasn't being followed, the bumper of a black muscle car slammed into her left thigh and knocked her down onto the flooded gravel.
Head of wild crimson hair poking out of the open driver's window, the driver beckoned her hand madly. "I'm sorry-get in!" She breathed a sigh of relief when the victim's head reared past the hood.
Dragging herself up and rubbing the assaulted spot, the blonde rushed a hobble around the passenger side and ripped open the door. "What the fuck was that?" She yelped as she threw herself inside, onto the red leather seat.
Without a thought, the driver spun out. "Sorry for not anticipating creepy-ass killers emerging from the shadows." Swallowing the choking lump stuck in her throat, the redhead snarked as she stomped the accelerator. "Like, actually appearing out of walls and the floor, from the shadows!"
"I meant you mowing me down like you were playing GTA."
"I swear to God-" The driver paused when she felt an itch on her temple coming from her passenger's stare. "-Gods- that this car has a life of its own, and I'm pretty sure the piece of shit hates me." She slammed her hands down on the steering wheel twice in quick succession and the engine spluttered a threat to stall at the attack. Eyes widening, Domino danced between whining and soothing hushes to the machine. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean it. Please don't stop here."
Of course, the car was no Christine or KITT. There was nothing supernatural about the vintage vehicle besides the fact Alex loved it more than 99.98% of people (Domino hoped she ranked higher than the temperamental car but often, she really did wonder). It was simply a rescued (lifted) black 1977 Aston Martin Vantage which the blonde had put more time, effort and love into than any living thing in her twenty-eight years of life. Domino had seen toilet paper more haunted than the vehicle in question, but the damn thing did not like to be driven by anybody but the woman beside her.
Pushing her blood and gloop-sopped locks off of her face, the blonde sunk into the comfort of her prized possession. "When we get past the bridge, swap over." Wiping the sanguine off of her lids with a baby wipe she had taken from the glove compartment in front of her, the older woman tried not to let any of the gunk on her lips enter her mouth. "I got Money-Shot'ed by exploding people."
"You don't hear that working a nine-to-five."
Snorting the clotted blood out of each nostril, Alex rolled her eyes. Tried to. "A nine'ta probably pays better at this point."
Domino's grip tightened on the wheel and she hit the gas. "Jules said Fairies." She couldn't get away from the scene of their latest mission, a place she hadn't liked even just looking at pictures via Google Maps, any faster if she tried. It wasn't the worst place they'd ever had to venture into in terms of visage, but there was something about the stale air thick with Crank, the scattered homeless person and the used needles on the floor, and the spiders. It was definitely the spiders.
The venue of their latest mission had been a set of abandoned bottom-bracket, low-income housing blocks situated on a large lot that had been forgotten since the late 1990's. The eye-sore had passed hands more than two dozen times in the last eight years alone due to one misfortune or another. There were five clustered three-storey blocks discernible only by placarded letters A-through-E on each of them. Surprisingly, they were still mostly intact apart from being repeatedly set alight and battered to all hell with doors hanging off the hinges and broken windows spewing out glass shards, and of course copious amounts of litter. Not content with that, they had been graffitied just to make sure they looked as bad as they smelt.
Even the junkies had stopped using E-Block as a doss-house a few years back due to the accidents and disappearances; especially after what other dopers and crack-fiends had said they saw - Lurkers, they called them - but they were off what little teeth still remained in their rotten gobs, so nobody stuck in the 'real world' believed it. It was the rambling of drug addicts and attention seekers. It was all tall-tales. Ghost stories. Nobody could resist listening to a good ghost story concerning a group of seven high schoolers messing about with a cocktail of booze, acid, printed out rituals they got from the internet, and the 'friend' who was just around so they had someone to bully. But that didn't mean anyone believed it. Devil-worshipping, they'd said. Inhuman faces from just past the bins ablaze for light and warmth in the winter months, wailing that no earth-bound person couldn't possibly make, gigantic visages passing in a blink and merging into the shadows. Almost as tall enough to reach the ceilings; eyes yellow and teeth row after row jagged and sharp. That's what the addicts, homeless, and tarts said.
Fucking junkies stirring up unnecessary trouble.
The trio which worked at Stag Appraisal and Dealership had been interested in the account but quickly found it a yarn by that point. Most people are set in their belief systems, or sure that they do not hold any stock in the divine or supernatural whatsoever, so it's not very fair to oust members of the general public out of the office when they believe there is only one devil. It happened, regardless; said middle-aged occultist and 'local historian' had been told to leave when she was adamant that "Satan himself, the one and only Dark Lord and True Ruler of Hell" (Her words) was taking refuge in the scabby block of flats in South Manchester, and then threw a cigarette case which had survived the Nazi's at Julian's head in an aggressive tizz. Of course...Because Satan had nowhere better to be...
However, the truth remains the same: 'Satan' is not the only ruler of the idea most people in the Western world have of Hell. He is one of seven 'Princes' of a domain meant for what all ye jolly ol' folks know as sinner's souls, and demons. And, although it's supposed to be a trade secret, several very dangerous other-worldly objects. Some pretty funny ones, too. The Son of Sam's frying pan is down there, along with Donald Trump's very first empty bottle of spray tan. Not quite sure of the sustainability of either at such temperatures. One can only contemplate the mysteries to keep sharp.
Domino's voice whittled away at the attention the blonde was exhorting into scrubbing her skin. "Did they look like fucking fairies to you?" She glanced at the woman beside her fighting to remove all of the blood and whatever the hell that black sludge was.
Understanding her company's anger, the passenger flung the nth of many wipes out of the window. "Good job with the cream." A lighter laugh-snort escaped her when the redhead swerved at the remark prompting embarrassment.
"It said cream in the book, so I brought cream." Agitated, the younger woman ground her teeth with a glare for the asphalt running quickly under the borrowed vehicle.
"I don't think there was such a thing as tinned whipped cream centuries ago," the blonde used the mirror in the over-head visor to wipe the last of the mess off of her face as she tried not to laugh at the obvious anger on her friend's face. "but it was really fuckin' funny to watch you spin round in circles while using them like a pair of fire hoses."
"Shut the fuck up." Sniffling her nose clear, the redhead kept her eyes on where she was going. "Not everyone has your durability and I don't see the appeal of being a critter's tasty treat for what could be a long and painful unnatural lifespan. Thank you." She dragged out her words, enunciating each one to make sure her company got the point of what she was saying.
"I get it." The older woman waved off the fumes coming from the driver. "I didn't manage to get what we came for though, which is the biggest issue." Deflating, the slightly shorter woman growled as she pulled her chin in towards her chest. "It wasn't there. I'll go back tomorrow."
"What do you mean, don't bother?" Brows furrowed, the blonde turned to her friend, her features twisted as if she'd just watched someone push her wheelchair-bound granny off a high cliff. "We have to reimburse £10,000 if we can't come through with the goods - £9,500 of which has already been spent on rent back-pay, living costs and-"
"-and your habits; I know."
Blankly staring at the redhead's pretty profile, Alex's nostrils flared. "It's work expenses."
"Just because you can drink a bar half-dry, doesn't mean you should." Turning onto the motorway, Domino didn't even need to look at the woman beside her to know that she was on the verge of a hissy fit. "And someone so shit at gambling shouldn't do it at all."
"I happen to be premium at cards."
"When you cheat."
"Cards are cheating."
"You won't be saying that when you get caught swindling high-profilers and they go Godfather on your ass."
"Maybe I should feed you your own advice." Leaning her elbow on the window frame, Alex prodded the air in front of them. "I think you're forgetting how many times I put food on the table with my 'bar appetizers'."
"It was all well and good when you were doing it in smaller towns but doing it in the city is going to get you caught."
"We need money to live, Dom."
"We could get other jobs."
"Monthly wage doesn't work for me." The blonde flapped her hand as she rolled her eyes and Domino scoffed at the cavalier attitude.
"I swear, I'm going to report you."
"To who?" She quirked her brow, counting off her fingers. "Jules? Human Rights? The police? Let's be real, you're still avoiding the Met Superintendent after banging him two months ago."
"I hate you."
"Thanks; I win this round."
"But that doesn't explain the face you've been wearing."
"Why are you lecturing me?"
"You know I'm all for a good time, but something feels different."
"How does that make any difference to the fact we're ten grand in debt?"
"Promise me you'll cut back?"
Scrunching her face, the blonde rolled her eyes and wobbled her head in irritation at the nagging. "Sure, whatever. Now show me a magic get-out-of-jail-free card."
Flicking the blinker, the redhead grinned as she pulled onto a turn-off and rolled down a narrow dirt road. Pulling the handbrake up once settled on the edge of an unused quarry, Domino took the keys from the ignition. "No need." Opening her door and getting out, the taller woman shut the door behind her. Walking around the front of the vehicle which was overly polished just last night, the redhead rested her rear against the bonnet. Reaching her two fingers inside her inner jacket pocket, she plucked out a pendant. "I got the stone when one of them ran out the back. He must have been a lackey. I only hit him once before he fell."
Mumbling to herself as she glowered at nothing in particular, Alex gnashed her teeth and thrashed out of the vehicle. "You're having fun planting people today, aren't you? Did you have your Weetabix this morning?" Meeting her partner outside, the blonde glared at the redhead. Huffing out a breath, the blonde snipped. "You could have told me sooner."
"Sooner than what?"
Alex hacked out a scoff with a side-wards glower. "Sooner than me almost getting my arse handed to me." Taking a packet of cigarettes from her pocket, the blonde was met by a crushed carton of black gloop. Scarred, pale hand constricting the ruined packet and chest inflating slowly with vehement breath, Alex tried with all her might not to erupt. Clenching her jaw, she walked around the front of the car and slid into the driver's seat.
"I did try to call you." Taking serious note of the rage starting to build on her friend's face, and the fact she wasn't wearing her gloves, the redhead rushed to the passenger side, took the back-up packet from the recess in the dashboard and chucked it onto the driver's lap.
Reaching into her pocket, the blonde checked her phone - which was also slick with gunk - to see the twelve missed calls on her screen, nine of which from another number. Catching another notification from the same contact which had been blasting her, she lit a cigarette not covered in any foreign substance, but dry as Hell from being left in the car for who knew how long. Returned to the natural order of things, the blonde sucked in a well-deserved lungful of smoke as she leaned back into the firm leather seat. Putting the window down with the hand holding her vice, she read the latest message with the other. 'Pick up a package in my name,' she read, followed by a specific set of co-ordinates she wished she wasn't familiar with.
Alex cracked her neck to the left and expelled a heavy breath. "We've got more work to do."
Rolling her shoulders, Domino slid further down the seat with a groan. "What now?"
Chucking her phone into her friend's lap just as she shut the door, Alex mumbled with the twist of the keys. "Package-" she said as she put her hand behind the passenger headrest and tensed to look behind whilst reversing. "-but it doesn't feel right."
Humming in agreement, Domino shoved the cell in her inner breast pocket while the driver lined up with the muddy ramp. "It does seem cold. He didn't even ask if we're still alive after all that fussing earlier."
"Let's just get what he asked for."
"We're not going straight back?"
"He told us to pick up the package, so that's what we're doing."
"I don't like it."
"Neither do I..." Licking her lips and then grimacing at the taste still stuck to her skin, the blonde swerved backward and around onto the main road. Dodging a fellow driver, she hit the gas and sped around a red Peugeot going way too slow for her liking. "But he can look after himself."
Domino gave her an incredulous look at the statement. "Are you sure about that?"
Julian Darby was 5'4 on a good day and cute in the same way you'd look back on a kind manager or awkward tutor. His round features and middle-class accent easily charmed and his knowledge bank was second to one - barring that one eccentric old fart across the pond - and he was an agreeable sort despite his insistence for dressing two decades above his age bracket. Both Domino and Alex had seen him become flustered when trying to deal with troublesome customers who were nothing but human. Mean, but still human all the same. Julian Darby was a scholar, an antique dealer, a single middle-aged man who had been known to spend his Saturday evenings watching rom-coms while eating microwave roast dinners alone. He was not the confrontational type by any means, no matter how much he griped and nagged like a bitter old school nurse.
"Fa'fuck'sake..." Nudging the shift to the highest gear and hitting the accelerator, Alex glared at the speeding tarmac as she went more than double the limit down the barely used road. "Let's just get this over with and hurry back." She said evenly, her thoughts about the upcoming location taking up more room in her head than she'd like even on one of her better days. "I don't want to have to clean up any more blood this week."
Domino snuck a glance at the driver as she drank from her ice tea bottle. "His, or whoever may be there with him, because either way, it's only Monday."
"And I've had enough already."
Domino had known the woman beside her longer than she had known anybody else. She was the one and only person who had been her friend from the beginning but regardless of all the time they had spent together, she had never seen the blonde wear a face quite like the one she was wearing right now. "Please tell me you didn't drop your gloves back there."
"They're in my pocket."
"Don't you think you better put them back on?"
"Is it making you nervous?"
Domino gave a serious look to the woman holding a smirk. "Don't joke about. You know what'll happen if you-"
"-Yeah, I know." Sucking in stale tobacco smoke, Alex rustled through her pockets as her vice wiggled between her lips. Sliding her hands into the snug black leather that made it just past her wrist, she nodded upwards. "Better?"
"I'm just trying to make sure you don't do something you'll end up regretting in the long run."
"I think we're way past that point already."
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