Speed Dating at Liquid Pandemonium

Submitted into Contest #124 in response to: Write a story about a character in search of something or someone.... view prompt


Adventure Fiction Urban Fantasy

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

The underbelly of this city was frightening. I couldn’t shake the skin crawling itch of phantom insects as I stared out the passenger side window. It was as if the darkness was hungry, leaching away the streetlights feeble attempts at illumination, showing nothing but silhouettes in the shadows, and the glowing eyes of feral animals 

“Are you sure we are going to the right place, Lala?” I asked, reaching for her phone to check the GPS. It said we were on track and set to arrive at the abandoned building in less than ten minutes. Lala’s smiled at me, excitement written into her perfectly painted face, from the curve of her red lips, to the sparkle of her winged eyes, “Relax, Deedee, this place is super low key. Of course it’s going to be located in the last place anyone would look for it.

“It’s just…speed dating? Isn’t that a little…old fashioned?” I tugged nervously on the black lace choker around my neck. I wiggled in my seat trying to tug my skirt down, willing it to be longer, the cool air prickling my exposed skin.

Lala chattered excitedly, “I know, but I’m so tired of dating site duds. I want to find love… or at least a good lay. I can’t keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results right? Besides, with the level of exclusivity at this club, there’s bound to be some winners. What about you? What do you want?”

“I’m…not trying to get my expectations up.” 

Lala groaned, “No. Dahlia! Listen to me. You’re hot. You’re intelligent. You deserve better than that. Tell me the truth. What are you looking for tonight?” 

Lala’s confidence was so raw and natural, it was easy to catch a contact high, “I want… to be dazzled. I want someone to romance me. I want to look into someone’s eyes and see the stars, feel the chemistry. I want to look into their eyes and know they see me.” 

Lala smacked the steering wheel three times, “Yes, yes, yes! That’s what I’m talking about! Your soulmate could be in there waiting…”

I snorted, “Ha! I doubt that. Real life doesn’t work that way.”

Lala scowled, a tiny little line appearing between her brows, “Well not with that attitude! How do you expect to find magic if you don’t believe in it? You have to open your mind…and I have just the thing.” 

She put the car into park and pulled out a ziplock bag, “Nothing says magic like Magic Mushrooms!” 

My eyes widened and my mouth popped open. I was used to not having control when I was with Lala, but this might be going a little far…

“Oh please. Don’t look so scandalized. I promised you a good night, didn't I?” She opened the bag and popped a few into her mouth, washing it down with a swish of water. She held the bag out to me and I could feel her excitement like electricity. I accepted the mushrooms, following her lead and swallowing them down.

“Woohoo! Now it’s a party! Let’s go find some lovers!” 

Smack! Her palm came down playfully on my ass cheek as we climbed out of the car.

 “Lala!” I gasped. 

“What? That ass looked too fine.” She said with a naughty smile. Giggling and shaking my head, I linked arms with her as we walked into the dark alleyway to go find some soulmates. 

 Tucked into the side of a brick wall was a heavy iron door. Lala reached out a manicured hand and tugged on the doorknob. It didn’t budge. 

“Humph.” She crossed her arms with indignation. 

I rolled my eyes, “Stop being so dramatic, La.” I fisted my hand, chipped black fingernails curling into my palm and knocked. 

A slot slid open in the door, and a raspy voice spoke through, “Passssword?” 

Lala leaned in whispering, “Liquid pandemonium.” Everything went quiet and I held my breath.

Click, click, click! The sound of locks being undone on the other side of the door sent a flutter of thrill in my stomach. We’re actually doing this!

Creeeek… The door swung open. 

Lala and I gripped each other’s arms staring into the empty darkness. We looked at each other, and for the first time I could see unease reflecting back at me from Lala’s glossy brown eyes. Then she blinked it away, smiling, “Here we go!” And we stepped boldly through the doorway, into a long hallway, illuminated by a purple glow. Loud pulsing music came from the door at the end of the hallway, and the door behind us slammed shut with a click, locks falling back in place, startling me. I turned in a full circle looking for the person who had allowed us entrance, carefully studying the shadows, but they were empty. We were alone. Lala shrugged her shoulders and we continued forward, opening the second door…

We stood at the top of a grand staircase, bodies writhed to thumping music below us. Human eyes glowed red and flashed silver in the dark. I blinked, “Whoa. I think the mushrooms kicked in.” 

Lala grinned at me, “Lucky! You’re such a lightweight, Dahlia, I’m so jealous. Let’s go get a drink!” 

We made our way to the bar, it was fashioned with amber colored oak wood. The barkeep had green skin and I smiled, enjoying the colorful light play of my drug trip. He was dressed with a bow tie and I listened as a woman ordered a drink called ‘Scarlet O.’ 

Suddenly, Lala squealed, gripping my arm hard, “That’s him. That’s the guy who told me about this place.” 

I looked around the crowd, trying to pinpoint who she was talking about when a slim man with pale hair approached us smiling, “You took my invitation.” 

Lala shrugged with casual indifference, “You hyped it up so much I expected something spectacular, but this just looks like a normal club to me.” 

The man chuckled, “Well, stick around. You might be surprised how the night turns out. Dance with me.” 

He held out his hand and Lala took it, looking back at me apologetically, “I’ll be back soon!” 

“Lala, wait! I don’t know anything about this place…” But Lala was already gone leaving me alone at the bar. 

I sighed, looking up to meet the barkeep's purple goblin eyes, he asked “What can I get you?”

“Uh… I’ll have a Scarlet O?” 

He looked me up and down, his wide face drawn with skepticism, “You sure?” 

“Yeah.” I nodded. He grunted, turning away to make my drink. The more I looked around the more apparent it became that I didn’t belong in this place. Every one walked with an aura of dignity and power, the whole atmosphere seemed to moan the word, ‘Money.’ 

Eyes flickered curiously at me, taking in my fishnet stockings and mini skirt. One of these things is not like the others, I hummed to myself, and I am it. 

The barkeep returned, placing a glass of swirling crimson wine in front of me. I took a drink and the viscous liquid filled my mouth with the salty taste of rust. I gagged, spitting it back into my cup. 

A velvet chuckle caressed my ears as a man with feathery black hair took a seat next to me, “That drink is not for everyone.” He said, his fingers curling around the steam, placing his lips over the black lipstick smudge I left of the glass and swallowing the drink in one swig. He ordered us some new drinks and the sweet burn of whisky was welcomed to wash away the flavor of iron. 

The man leaned in close to me, inhaling, “You smell delightful, pet…but you don’t belong here. Why did you come to this club?” 

“Oh, just for fun.” I tried to keep my tone cool, but heat flushed my cheeks at the man’s intimate comment on my smell. 

He looked at me so intensely I felt like he was looking into my soul, his pupils dilating in his black eyes, “Let’s not lie, pet. What are you doing here?” 

I leaned forward, falling into the gravity of his dark hypnotic eyes. A dizzying drunkenness loosened my lips, the silly truth spilling out, “I’m looking for my soulmate.”

The man laughed, and I caught sight of his pointed canine teeth glinting in the light, “A soulmate! That’s rather bold of you. I like that.”

“I have a pair of those.” I blurted out. 

He tilted his head puzzling, “A pair of what?” 

Flushed and embarrassed, the juvenile confession poured out of me, “Vampire teeth. I was heavy into the scene when I was younger.” 

Amusement sparkled in his eyes and he smiled, angling his teeth at me so I could get a better look at the elongated fangs, “Ah, a vampyre lover. You might find you are in good company then.” 

Before I could reply, the lights blacked out, plunging us all into darkness, into silence, followed by a loud whoosh. The candles flared to life, flames flickering all around us, casting a romantic glow. I gasped at the appearance of a long wooden banquet table set in the center of the room, decorated with bowls of roses. How did they get it in here so fast? I wondered. An elegant string quartet began playing, and a voice came over the speaker announcing it was time to begin the dating, “No biting, no fighting, no spellcasting, and no claiming a mate until the initial round is over.” 

The dark haired man put his hand on my back, his whisper tickling my ear as he walked by, “I look forward to our date, Dahlia.” 

As I collected my dating card the drunkenness cleared from my brain, and I wondered curiously how he had known my name. 

The first round began with a handsome burly man sitting across from me. He had broad muscled shoulders, his sleeves rolled up to show smooth ochre forearms. He was a warm man, colored with an earthy pallette of honey eyes and thick curly brown hair. Maybe I’ll meet my soulmate here after all, I thought to myself.

He reached across the table to shake my hand and his large gentle fingers engulfed mine, “I’m Ollie.” He said, and I watched his full lips curl over the letters. 

“Dahlia.” I replied, pulling my eyes up from his mouth. Ollie leaned in and for one hot moment I thought I was going to be kissed…but instead he sniffed me, like it was a perfectly normal thing to do.

“You aren’t wearing any perfume.” He said with a deep husky voice. 

“Excuse me?” I shifted in my seat, taken aback by the strangeness of the night. 

“It’s a relief. Most women here tonight are wearing it pretty thick. The chemicals hurt my nose, but you smell like baby lotion and…oranges. It’s nice.” 

“Thank you? So…tell me about yourself, Ollie?” I said quickly changing the subject.

He sat back in his chair getting comfortable, his long limbs splayed out comfortably, unafraid to take up space, “Well, my pack and I are very outdoorsy. Once a month we go up to the mountains and run wild, just us, the moon, and the trees. Do you like the outdoors?”

I smiled, “I like to climb trees. I know that’s silly for someone my age, but…once, when I was ten, I climbed all the way to the top of an oak tree in our backyard…and jumped.” I said with a laugh, “My parents love to tell that story.” 

Ollie laughed with me, “Why would you do that though?” 

“I guess I wanted to fly,” I shrugged, “it felt freeing…until I hit the ground. Broke my arm but…those few seconds? It was worth it.” 

Ollie smiled, “You’re a wild woman. Brave. I like that. Next time you want to jump, call me. I’ll catch you.” I imagined falling into his strong muscled arms and blushed.

The bell sounded. 

Somewhere in the crevice of my mind a song began to play…I shook the hallucination from my head.

Ollie ran a hand through his thick curly hair, “Looks like our time’s up. Maybe we can talk more later.” 

“Maybe.” I said, a smile playing on my lips.  

The next man was tall and slender, with long blond hair tied back and crisp blue eyes. 

“Evander.” He introduced himself and then sat silently, stirring his drink, his finger circling over the glass, amber liquid swirling, without ever touching it. Around and around, I watched hypnotized as the ice cubes clinked on their own... You’re on drugs, Dahlia. I shook my head and looked up to see his cold eyes staring at me.

“So…aren’t you going to comment on my smell?” I said, making an awkward attempt to break the silence. 

“What?” He asked, his expression baffled.

 “You are the first person tonight who didn’t smell me.” I explained.

 He looked around the room with condescension, “Oh yes there are a lot of animals here, aren’t there?” 

We lapsed back into silence.

“So, Miss Dahlia, what are you?” He asked in a sharp tone.

I raised my eyebrows, momentarily offended, “I’m sorry?” Then I realized what he was saying and laughed, “Oh you mean my pronouns! She/her, but I also accept they/them. Thank you for asking.” 

He clicked his tongue in disapproval. There was a shimmer in the air and with nimble fingers he plucked a black pen from it and began scribbling on his date chart, “What about your family? Where are they from?”

I sighed, eager for the bell to sound, “My adopted family is from Colorado.” 

“And your birth family?” 

“I don’t know. The police found me on the streets when I was seven.” 

He raised his eyebrows, “Seven! Then you must remember something about your birth family?”

I tugged on my choker, squirming under his scrutiny, “No, I just remember…this really bright white light, then being alone on a busy street-“ 

The bell sounded. Evander moved on with a promise to finish the conversation later. Not a chance, I replied in my head. 

The dates went on with varying levels of success, my drug induced hallucinations adding extra spice. One man morphed his features and by the time the bell rang I was certain he was a different person then who I had started the conversation with. Through it all I didn’t see a single sign of Lala. It was just like her to force me to an event then ditch me-

“How’s the search going? Any sign of your soulmate yet?” The man from the bar sat down in front of me with a teasing smile. 

I looked into his black eyes and felt the room whirl. A slow intoxicated grin grew on my face. I looked down at my date chart pretending to check my notes, “Oh, you know, there are some promising candidates, but nothing certain yet.” Dahlia are you flirting? I smiled, feeling pleased with myself, “I didn’t get your name earlier?”  

“Damon. It is a pleasure to meet you, Dahlia.” He took my hand turning it palm up and gently kissed the fluttering pulse of my wrist with cool lips. I shivered, desire fizzing inside my body like champagne bubbles. 

“You really do smell too sweet to be a human.” He purred, the white tips of his fangs poking out from between his lips. 

“How long have you been into vampires?” I asked, wanting to know more about him before I gave in to lust.

“Centuries.” He said with a smile, “And you?” 

“Mostly in middle school, but all that darkness wasn’t for me. I prefer the sun. Still though, I’ve always felt more at home with oddities than normal.” I remembered the bat I had found with a broken wing when I was a kid, insisting to my parents that we save it.

He opened his mouth to say something, but at that moment I saw Lala stumble out of the bathroom, bracing the wall for support. Immediately, I rose from my seat, ignoring Damon as he called from behind me. 

Lala was pale, crimson blood dripping from a wound on her neck. I stared with wide eyes and demanded in a frightened voice, “Lala, what happened?” 

 “Deedee? Where…are we?” She asked, her eyes flickering disoriented around the room. Hallucinations of predatory eyes glowed in the dim light and my heart raced. This isn’t fun anymore. One of the nearby candles started to sparkle, sending prisms of color shining on us. I closed my eyes trying to shake off the drug trip so I could care for my friend, but somewhere in the universe, I could hear a faint singing. It sounded so familiar. A product of my altered state of mind and I strained to hear it better. 

“I remember…that song…” I whispered to myself. Where had I heard it before? A memory flickered through my mind. There was…a golden castle in the clouds. A voice telling me of a mission I had to do on earth. The song grew louder and the illusions of this mortal plane lifted from my eyes. All around me I could see atoms vibrating, pulsing. The energy of creation, I stared at my own hand seeing each divine molecule that created the whole, How could I have forgotten?

“Dahlia…you’re shining!” Lala said in a hushed wonderstruck voice. I felt each atom in my body buzzing, and I hummed with it, channeling that energy until I beamed like the sun. Around me monsters hissed and snarled, shielding themselves against my divine light. 

Wings burst free from my back, feathers as pure and white as snow. I jumped from the tree because I wanted to fly, I laughed, euphoria bubbling inside me. To think, I believed I belonged in a den of monsters… 

Somewhere in the crowd of dark creatures I heard a reverant whisper, “It’s an angel.”

December 16, 2021 03:25

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Jon Casper
11:29 Dec 24, 2021

Very cool concept, and great execution. The dialogue is wonderful. So are the descriptions. I love the drink name "Scarlet O" -- very clever. How perfect that they were tripping, so she didn't recognize all the actual weirdness. The twist that she's an angel is awesome. Really great work!


Alyissa M. Lore
01:52 Dec 25, 2021

Thank you for taking the time to read my story! I had a lot of fun writing this one and I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Thank you for your support and words of encouragement


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Sharon Harris
10:10 Dec 22, 2021

I really enjoyed your story and would love to know more about Dahlia! Your first paragraph is beautiful and the characters intriguing.


Alyissa M. Lore
20:06 Dec 22, 2021

Thank you! Your support means a lot to me and I’ve definitely been trying to decide where else I could take dahlia and maybe even some of the other characters. This was a fun story to write.


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Boutat Driss
12:01 Dec 17, 2021

amazing and wide imagination. Love it.


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