TDS V – Vampires and Aliens
Sunday 4th November, 2018
Ok, where to start, this has been one hell of a week. I mean, I thought it was going to be rough, Halloween always is, but this year was just plain ridiculous. Let’s jump back to Tuesday afternoon first though.
I had just gotten back from lunch to find the closed sign showing on the door. We are normally open until nine so that was odd but it was also part of our emergency procedure in the event of some unforeseen incident downstairs. To my surprise however, when I opened the door my entire staff was standing behind the counter looking at a customer.
He wore a black custom-tailored suit, as he turned his pale features were made even paler by the blood red shirt he wore open at the neck. He grinned a sharp smile at me then said “Jake, how good to see you’re still breathing.”
“Peter,” I replied with faux enthusiasm, “shocking to see you’re still not.”
“Oh, come now,” Peter sighed, “you can’t possibly be upset about that heiress from way back then.”
I scowled, “Strangely enough, I am, it was two years ago and I was dating her at the time.”
“And I warned you office romances never work out” he scoffed waving dismissively. “Besides she was weak, hardly worth another thought.”
“Hmmm, kind of how I feel about you Peter.” I retorted so I could witness his facade crack slightly as he scowled. He went to protest but I clapped my hands together and said “Well it has been truly horrid seeing you again Peter, you know where the door is and I suspect are even capable of figuring out how to open it. Have a nice day.”
“Really? Just going to throw me out on the street?” Peter chuckled, “Jake you’re better than that, what am I to do until night comes in a dreary little place like this.”
I reached over to the card stand and pulled out one of the local businesses we partnered with. I handed it to him, “There you go Peter, that should help brighten your complexion.”
Peter did not look amused as he read, “Ten dollars of a tanning bed session at Golden Buns Tanning Salon.” He glared at me, “You know, I’ve never liked your sense of humor.”
Before I could reply with an undoubtedly witty comeback Kidra whistled loudly on two fingers. “OK, I think that’s enough of that. Jake, why are you being a dick to this douchewazzle? And you, Peter Douchewazzle, who the hell do you think you are and what were you saying about partnering with the owner to co-own this place?” This one caught me by surprise and I raised an eyebrow at Peter.
“You heard her” Peter said adding insult to injury, “I have recently purchased a unique set of tools that the owner seemed very interested in. She offered me a thirty percent take in her business in exchange for full ownership of these tools. And to answer the rude madame’s inquiry, I am a Nosferatu.”
“What is a Nosferatu?” Kidra asked staring at Peter suspiciously.
“It’s a vampire” I clarified, though seeing the confusion remain on Kidra’s face I continued “It’s basically the cross between a zombie, a leech, and a bottle of cheap cologne.”
“I would have gone with hair gel” Renard chimed in helpfully.
“And leech is a little on the nose, I’d say they’re more a type of bloodsucking maggot.” Levia added.
While Kidra nodded thoughtfully as she tried to picture such a creature, Peter stood and glared menacingly at us all. “If you are all quite finished, I would like to inspect my investment before handing over such priceless instruments to your inexperienced hands.” He growled.
I sighed, “Yeah whatever helps get you out the door faster man. Levia, please show Mr. Blago…”
“I’ll ask you not to use that name!” snarled Peter, “You may address me as Dr. Peter Blaze.”
We all stared at him in disbelief before Renard kindly broke the silence by coughing ‘Lame’ into his fist. An act made all the more obvious by the fact that he technically had no lungs.
With that Peter stormed into the back room followed closely by Levia who happily gave him the details of everything from the light switches to odd shaped screws she was collecting.
Kidra and Renard turned and stared at me expectantly. “Well?” Kidra shrugged the question.
“Well what?” I shrugged back.
“Who’s the parasitic dingus you have a grudge with?” Renard clarified as Kidra nodded.
“Yeah… I don’t really owe either of you an explanation” I began, but raised a hand to pre-empt their protests. “What I will say is that he is a very old, very arrogant vampire. One whom the owner considers a valuable client and one I consider an incredibly dangerous threat.” I know this was kind of mean but I really didn’t feel the need to explain my weaker moments when I first took over the store. Needless to say, I now have very good reason to never date a co-worker.
“So, can we kill him?” Kidra asked, then at my unimpressed glare added, “for the greater benevolent good I mean.”
“Unfortunately, I’m afraid we’ll just have to deal with this particular inconvenience for the meantime.” I said diplomatically.
“I know that tone” Renard said, “That’s how politicians and lawyers say ‘Ignore it until I can find a discreet way to kill this fool without being liable'”
I couldn’t keep a smile off my face so I turned away as I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but for safety reasons should such an opportunity present itself to you I expect you’ll keep me informed.”
They both nodded and we quickly went about our day as usual. Peter left quickly after his tour claiming he had an important meeting. I wished him well hoping to see him burst into flames as soon as the sun hit him. If it weren’t for his comically large umbrella, I would have seen just that.
After that the day continued as per what stands for normal in the shop, however it was like an ominous calm before a storm.
When I came into the shop on Wednesday I found a scroll on my desk. Not just a rolled-up piece of paper but an actual parchment scroll with a wax seal. I sighed and began unpacking my bag while I waited to open the store.
“What’s up boss?” Kidra said as she entered the store. Then stopped as she saw the scroll, “What the hell is that thing, it’s got the same magic seal most would put on a vault.”
“It’s from Peter” I said while writing down assigned tasks for the day.
“So why don’t we open it?” Kidra said as she reached for the scroll. I jumped from my seat and quickly grabbed her hand before she could touch it.
She ripped her hand back in confusion, “What’s the matter with you?” she spat.
“Whatever that thing says I can guarantee it will be packed full of curses and conditions for breaking that seal.” we both stared at the scroll for a moment before returning to our daily chores.
Levia came in shortly after and both Kidra and I had to practically tackle her to prevent her messing with the scroll. “Magic doesn’t affect me! I wanna read it!” she whined.
“I don’t care, you touch that thing and you’re fired!” I said somewhat harsher than I had meant to.
The morning passed without incident, it was only the three of us as Renard decided to not show up that morning and Tobby was off Tuesday and Wednesday this week while his family adjusted to his new life as a reaper of souls. We were only about half an hour from closing when Renard finally showed up. I chewed him out a bit for ditching most of the day and sent him to clean up the back room.
“Noooo!” Levia screamed and I ran back to see what had instigated her horror.
She was staring wide eyed at my desk where Renard stood frozen. The scroll open in his hand. “It’s blank?” he said showing us the parchment.
“No, it’s not you idiot!” Kidra yelled standing by the stairs to the basement having just run up them in the panic.
We stood for a moment in silence watching the parchment, for several minutes nothing happened. Then as soon as Renard went to set it on the desk it began glowing an eerie green colour. As soon as it did, every ruin and spell cast on the place glowed with it.
“Well that’s not good” Renard said as he gazed in awe at the walls and ceiling. When he turned back he realized we were all glaring at him. “Soooo…” he began, “that happened.”
Before we could berate him, the green light began to pulse and the shop vanished.
When our eyesight returned we found ourselves in a large metallic room.
“Oh…My…God!” Levia squealed, “This is platinum coated graphene plating!” she began rubbing her face up and down the walls.”
“Great, that idiot just got us locked up!” Kidra spat as she ran her hands over the walls looking for a seam.
“I did not!” Renard protested. I couldn’t help but notice he was in corporeal form.
I rubbed my chin as I examined the room. “Renard, I want you to try to pass through that wall” I instructed.
Renard stood and tried to turn insubstantial to no avail. He then pressed his hands to the wall, they simply pressed and nothing else. “What the heck? WHAT HAPPENED TO ME!”
Levia chuckled as she poked and prodded the wall with the various tools on her person. “You won’t be able to phase, and Kidra won’t be able to use her magic. The walls are too dense and the platinum coating acts to reflect and dampen all supernatural energies.”
“How do you know that?” Kidra scoffed.
“Because I’ve been studying alien technology since I was a kid. They rely on several types of energy but magic seems to react violently with those energies so they developed materials for protecting their equipment from it.” Levia continued examining the walls as she explained slowly making a tour of the room.
“So, we’re screwed?” Renard asked nervously.
“I doubt it, just give me a few minutes and I should be able to find the door.” Levia said.
“Well this blows,” Kidra pouted, “does anyone have some gum or something while we wait?”
Renard and I checked our pockets, he found nothing of course, while I pulled out a pack of gum. As I did however the scroll tumbled out with it. “What the?” I began before recognizing it.
“What’s it say?” asked Kidra as she crossed the room to steal a piece of gum.
I unfurled the scroll, this time it had letters glowing in green written on the page.
I have a task of vital importance I need you to take care of, I need a pack of batteries from Berwyn mountain. Unfortunately, they are located in an area where my kind, those animated by magic, dare not tread. As a result, you are tasked in retrieving these power sources for me. Should any of you perish I will pay for any funeral costs while we look for a replacement. If you must sacrifice someone to save the rest, then the person who sacrifices Jake will receive not only his job but a handsome raise as well.
I hope at least one of you survives
Your new lord and master.
I sighed in frustration, “Now you see Renard, if you’re going to work at the shop I really need you to understand why we never open ancient scrolls that mysteriously show up in the shop.”
“Oh, come on!” Renard protested, “how often would something like that even happen anyway?”
“About every twenty-three days last time I checked the average.” at this even Levia stopped her probing and turned to look at me in disbelief. “Trust me, I wish I was joking. One of them took three of my staff back in march.” Their expressions lost their disbelief as they adopted ones of horror instead.
Kidra rubbed the back of her head nervously, “So, um, just out curiosity, how many staff have you gone through since you started?”
I pulled out a small black book from the inside pocket of my jacket and added them up quickly, “Since I started? One hundred and eighty-nine.”
“Okay, and you’ve worked there for how long?” Renard asked.
“Two and a half years” I nodded thoughtfully.
“I thought it was just under two years?” Kidra raised an eyebrow.
“No that’s just how long I’ve been a manager.” I clarified.
With a new look of shock Renard hesitantly asked, “How many of those staff were under you and how many were actually fired?”
I checked my book again, “Seventy-three were under my watch, and unfortunately only twelve left the job in a normal fashion if that’s what you’re getting at.”
“Wait?” Kidra said, “that means sixty-one people were either killed or worse while working for you.”
I shrugged, “It’s a tough industry, a lot of people don’t survive working for the owner very long.”
“Wait,” Renard interrupted, “that means one hundred and sixteen left in your first six months? How many managers were before you?”
“Yeah,” I said, “it was a really hectic work environment when I started, if I remember correctly there was a total of three other managers I worked with before I got promoted.”
They sat slack jawed on the floor just staring at me, I wasn’t entirely sure why and therefore was very grateful when Levia yelled, “I’ve found it!” We all made our way over to where she was sitting, she had a flat blade wedged in the wall as she carefully pushed down. The blade twisted up slightly with a click, then a panel slid open on the wall with the outline of a hand at its center.
“Um, is it supposed to do that?” Renard asked.
Levia shrugged as she placed the knife back in it’s hiding spot behind her left calf “Beats me, I’ve never seen technology like this up close before. It seems to be based on a magnetic locking system of some sort.” She placed her hand in the outline only for it to turn red send a jolt of electricity through her. After it subsided she giggled, “Oooh, that tickled, but you guys should be careful, that will probably kill you.”
“Pfft,” scoffed Renard, “like that scares me.” he shoved his hand on the pad, it turned red again and the shock blasted him across the room. He was already dead, but the shock seemed to have knocked him out somehow.
“My turn,” Kidra said as she placed her hand on the panel. “Come on!” she taunted, “Kill me so I can show you what real power looks like.” The panel did nothing for a moment before turning red, instead of a shock however, a dart shot out from one of the walls and imbedded in her neck. “Ouch what the…heck…did…you…” she stumbled back as her whole body froze her in place. Levia and I were about to see if she was still alive when a pale violet glow enveloped her and she gasped.
“Kidra are you okay?” Levia said as she held her friend upright.
“I guess,” Kidra whined, then looked at me and said “looks like you’re our last chance for that panel boss.”
I gulped slightly and placed my hand on the panel and waited for the inevitable red light that would stop my heart. Instead it turned a steady blue colour, I heard a were of some foreign mechanism within the wall as a door opened to my left.
Inside was a collection of strange objects some looked like tools, others were glowing the same blue as the panel. “I guess those are the batteries?” I suggested. I took my hand back to collect them and as I did another door opened behind us with a set of stairs leading up.
“You think it’s a trap Jake?” Kidra asked.
I shrugged, “Probably, but not like there is much choice. Levia, pack all this up and let’s go. Kid help me with Renard.”
Neither woman argued as we made our way up the stairs and out into what looked like an abandoned military complex. A few lights were on somehow but it looked abandoned. There were cobwebs everywhere, several consoles were smashed but looked like they were from the seventies.
“Well this doesn’t look good.” Kidra said as she pointed her free hand towards a pile of rags in the far comer from us. As I looked more closely I realized that there were bones poking out of the clothes in places.
I rubbed my eyes with one hand, “Oh no not again.”
“You’ve seen this before?” Levia asked.
“Back when I first started, we had to go do a cleanup job for the government. It was the first time I saw an alien.” I sighed.
“Pfft, aliens aren’t real” snapped Kidra.
“They are too!” Levia huffed.
“Don’t open any more doors, this is definitely a trap.” I said. I reached into my jacket and pulled out a small vial of dark mist. I had Kidra help me lay Renard down and then proceeded to wave the vial under his nose.
He slowly became insubstantial again as he sat bolt upright. “What? Where am I? What happened?”
“We were in an alien space ship and now we’re in a military facility while aliens hunt us.” Levia summarized.
“Who, how long was I out?” he groaned.
“About four minutes and there aren’t any aliens hunting us.” Kidra corrected prematurely. As soon as she finished a scurrying sound came from one of the adjacent hallways.
“Jake! We need to get out of here, not all aliens are friendly.” Levia said, “Especially if they use security like the stuff we saw on that ship.”
“I’m well aware,” I said as I looked at my watch, “that’s why I arranged a pickup. Levia, when it’s time to go make sure you are the first one through, understand?”
“No but I’ll do my best,” she said as her eyes danced back and forth from the various entrances.
“What are you planning Jake?” Kidra folded her arms as she stood next to Renard.
Suddenly a blade sliced through the air next to Renard, missing him by the width of a hair. It began to descend as its bisected space itself into a wall of shadow. From its depths stepped forth a harvester of souls, a wielder of shadows, and our newest hire.
“Prepare to be judged by…Oh hey everyone, how’s it going?” Tobby said as he realized who he was looking at.
“Levia, move!” I yelled, she dove into the shadows and I locked arms shoulder to shoulder as we tackled Tobby back through his portal. Renard dove after us just in time for the hole close and for us to get a glimpse of a small grey skinned being come running towards the darkness with malevolent intent in its dark oval eyes.
It was hard to tell what happened next as the world we had jumped into was nothing but whispers and darkness. Next thing we know we’re plummeting to the floor of the shop as Tobby exits from a different hole in the wall.
“What the heck is wrong with you people?” He yells, “This thing is not a toy, I could have accidently ripped the soul from one of you when I opened that portal.”
I stood and brushed off my suit, “Sorry Tobby, it was an unexpected emergency thanks to our new co-owner Peter.” He raised a dark eyebrow in question, “It’s a long story, still since you’re here, and no one died, I think it’s time we ordered some pizza and celebrated.”
“It wasn’t that big a deal” Tobby shrugged. Levia had already begun unloading and inventorying the many treasures collected from our forced expedition.
I took my tie off and began dialling the number for the pizza parlour, “To you it may seem like no big deal but to me it is a very big deal.” I grinned.
“Why?” Kidra asked, “I know I’ve only been here a month but in that time, we’ve dodged death a dozen times already, no offence kiddo.” she said to Tobby who simply shrugged it off.
“True,” I admitted, “but this is the first Halloween in which all my staff is still alive.”
“Say what now?” Renard and Tobby asked in unison.
“It’s a rough day usually,” I shrugged, “but that’s why this year is special. For the first time I don’t have to spend November first looking through resumes and organizing the burial of coworkers.”
The pizza arrived shortly after midnight, officially putting us in the clear for another year. But as I write this, I must admit this year has raised more questions than ever before? Why did we all survive so easily this year? Why did that door open for me? And what are those alien tools for? I hope that I should have the answers by this time next year. Only time will tell however.
Thank you for reading this bizarre collection of half-adventures into the tedious day to day of supernatural technical experts at the Damned Shop.
If you want to take a guess I’m curious to hear what people think.
Who is Jake really?
Why has he survived so long?
What are the tools for?
All these questions can be answered if there is enough interest from the readers. Let me know what you think and feel free to theorize about what will happen next.
Hope you had a great Halloween!