"Hey hey, 'Nito! It's been a minute. Come chat with me and the fellows!" Pierrette gave her usual fierce grin as she waved at the greasy-haired man in a rumpled suit as he tried to walk past herself and her friends. She certainly was difficult to ignore, with her violently bleached and dyed locks in a wild mane around her sharp features, and the extravagance of her hail. Seated at a metal table outside of an otherwise quiet cafe, the quartet of leather and denim clad young people were (to put it politely) out of place.
Benito Del Olmo's shoulders deflated a fraction of an inch with his inaudible sigh as he cocked his head to the side to give the clouds above a speculative look. If he was lucky, it would be another twenty minutes before it rained. Leaving the four to be soaked on their own would result in a chase, and he wasn't up to eluding all of them at once, and if they caught him outside of his car... Well. A few minutes of being pleasant would hopefully avoid all the worse results.
'Nito's briefcase was leaned against his leg as he drew out a ragged pack of cigarettes and peered into the opening skeptically. His tone was sarcastic and impatient as he answered, "The infamous Pierrette Hogan. It is an honor to be remembered."
Pier wrinkled her nose as she continued to smile, though the wirey boy sitting across from her glared at the phrasing. The large male to her left seemed to be lost in thought with a tiny coffee between his hands like he had forgotten it, and the other girl seemed superior until the skinny boy said, "Hey! You don't talk to Perilous that way!"
That pair would break off to have a couple's argument around the corner while Pierrette whipped out a lighter for her 'friend', "Jim-boy, this is the man I was trying to tell you about. He's a forensic accountant. The best in the city."
Benito wrinkled his nose as well, though his mouth maintained the dour line that was common for him. Even when the filtered end of the cigarette was inserted between his lips and he leaned down to take advantage of the lighter held aloft by the bony young woman, his expression did not change. He corrected her though, "In the country. There is one over seas that is said to be my superior, but how does one gauge such things? I am more thorough than he, though he might be swifter."
"Yeah yeah yeah. I get it. The point is, you figure things out by looking at where and how people spend money. You know if someone has a mom in a nursing home, or a mistress on the side--" Pierrette broke off there and nudged her bulky friend's ankle with her heavily booted foot to get his attention. "And if some thot is fucking someone else, and leaving her steady man to look like an idiot, 'Nito knows. Just by looking at the finances."
Jim lifted his head slowly enough that one could almost hear the creaking and grinding of the machinery of thought starting to work. His slumped shoulders, as broad as the table, started to firm and lift, muscles under fat stretching out the overworked t-shirt so the comment on the back could be read past the remaining wrinkles. The stereotypical rumble of a voice from the massive male required a moment to decipher "The finances?"
"The records. Income, receipts, things like that." Benito answered calmly, exhaling smoke with every word. Another inhale on the cancer stick came before he added, while extending a business card to drop on the table, "Then there is the matter of my fee. I charge enough to be sure you aren't engaging my services frivolously."
"He means recklessly. He wants to make sure you are serious."
"Never been more serious about a woman." Jim frowned in concern, then dumped the rest of his coffee down his throat as he lumbered out of his seat. The business card was held delicately in front of his sloping gut as he turned to walk off without ever thinking about the check.
Pierrette laughed without concern as she tilted her chair back and leaned her head against Benito's side. One arm snaked around his hip to dive into the opposite pocket, hunting out the pack of gum she knew he carried there. "For shame! Teasing a man with the vocabulary of a public education! What would your wife say?"
"She'd probably have suggested 'facetious', or 'puerile'. Hey!" 'Nito admitted, then protested when the young woman's hand wandered to his rear to snatch out his wallet from his back pocket. Instinct had his hand half way towards recovering it as she flipped the leather open with a rather wicked looking knife that was suddenly in her other hand.
"Calm down. I just want a bill for the bill. Call it a finder's fee, for sending you easy work." Perilous grinned up at Benito, but her eyes were coldly eager, waiting for him to make a move.
After a split second of consideration, the accountant waited for his wallet to be placed back in his grip, grinding his teeth at the sudden decrease in funds. "Easy work, hell. I'll end up arguing with him for three days until he sees that my findings are accurate."
"Then I'll make the legwork even easier for you. I know who she's spreading for, and where. Jim just doesn't buy it from me, but an answer that costs him something... he'll ta-- Hey, where are you...?!" Pier broke off when Benito suddenly snatched up his briefcase.
He didn't quite break out of walking, but it was a very fast walk. Scattered damp circles on the sidewalk showed that the rain had finished threatening and was making good on the promise to soak the city. After a few moments, with the young woman chasing him down the street, Benito found that he had to put his briefcase above his head to keep from getting too splashed. He was fumbling for his keys when Pierrette caught up.
“Hey, what’s the big idea? You won’t melt--” She bit off a couple of expletives as she observed his hand, where it had gotten wet. The feral snarl from the greasy-haired male snatched her gaze from the scales emerging on his fingers to the increase of the number and size of teeth studding his jaw.
“Melting. Isn’t. The. Problem.” He gasped out, then she plucked the keys out of his grip and opened the car for the rapidly changing person that she thought she knew.
When he dove into the dry space, Perilous was left standing on the sidewalk. She was soon soaked to the skin in her thin t-shirt and torn jeans as the rain abruptly went from a desultory drizzle to a ‘gully washer’. Her friends already knew she was a bit mad, but even the scrawny punk that liked her recoiled at the sight of her laughing joyously into the lightning torn sky.
This might be a stand alone piece, or the opening to a haunted house game, depending on feedback!
Please let me know if you wish to explore the mysteries!
Walking into the old, unloved, house was like stepping into a dream. The gray of dust and cobwebs evenly coated every surface, and muffled the steps of the intruder. A bowl of fruit had been spilled off the hall table, and while the soft skinned grapes had left behind only a stem, the oranges and apples still seemed intact until nudged by a careless foot. Then they popped like soap bubbles, collapsing into more dust after breathing the smell of summers past into the mote strewn air.
Gray and more gray greeted the eye, the further the house was penetrated. Teasing snippets of distant conversation could be heard, never near at hand, but always in a room within reach of running steps. Bedrooms with rumpled sheets, a study that vibrated in the bones, a bathroom with facilities dry and empty, then a library with unreadable books and an ominous feeling around a tangle of climbing roses that had overtaken all the windows.
Retreating from the thirsting plants meant stepping back into the dust choked air of the hallway, with the unmarked carpet of shed particles stretching in both directions. But how was it unmarred? Had the dust covered the footprints already? Impossible!
Panicked now. Scuffed the dust up deliberately to mark the library doors, then turned back to see it flat once more. Breathing was more difficult, with the dust in the air, even though it never left the carpet. A turn, the stairs, and perhaps the way out?
No, they lead to a huge room, a ballroom? The windows were cloudy with moisture, and little light streamed through. The floor was not exactly empty, though the space echoed with whispers of parties long past. In the middle, a bier with an open casket, flanked with bat-winged statues cloaked in shadow and holey cloth.
The voices were stronger there. One asked the other, understandable for the first time, "Is this the one?"
"Just a foolish intruder."
"If I could move, I'd--"
"We can't, so we wait. Wait for the day she wakes."
"Depart, little soul. Hurry, before the ants finish you too."
"Brother, we can't be heard..."
"Yet the rushing feeling! Perhaps we were heard this time."
The doors burst open with yet more dust, showing a dining room with food rotten on the plates and mold in the glasses. Beyond, the entrance hallway and a form laying stretched out in the disturbed, desiccated fruit.
At last! Here the dust was kicked up, scattered, flung by... the convulsing figure, with a face usually only seen in a mirror?
How then? How to wander like a ghost, haunting heartless halls, and return before death is certain? How to gather up the flesh and walk as a human again? Instinct was best, and tragedy averted, though memory was necessarily muddled by the act.
The house waits still. Waits for the one that will wake her, and release the brothers that stand vigil. Waits for more lives to be sacrificed, more pain, but most of all, to be loved again.