3 comments

Urban Fantasy Mystery Suspense

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

Spit dribbled down Dorothea's chin as her stomach lurched again. Lila tightened her grip on Dorothea's brown hair as Dorothea's body flew forward, continuing to vomit into the off-white ceramic toilet bowl. Dorothea's skull pounded along to the music that pumped through every open crease and crack in the dingy bathroom.

The fluorescent green light coming from above washed over everything, making Dorothea's hazy mind feel even more disoriented. She sat up, resting back on her heels. In her rush to the bathroom to prevent puking on the floor, she hadn't noticed what color the bathroom lights were. "Green means that they're there," Emerson's voice echoed in her mind. Dorothea's stomach twisted and she went forward again. Lila groaned as Dorothea continued to heave out her internal organs and stomach acid. "Is this because of those pills Esme gave you?" Lila asked.

Dorothea shook her head as more vomit came up. While she had drunk too much, she had succeeded in her goal of ending up in the third-floor bathroom. All she needed now was to get rid of Lila and get on with the incantation. Dorothea grimaced as she pulled herself up from the toilet so that she could be eye-to-eye with Lila's crouching figure. Their dresses dazzled and glimmered off the fluorescent lights, the beaded and hanging jewels bumping against one another.

"Feel free to leave," Dorothea sighed.

Lila rolled her eyes, covered in a thick black eyeliner that gave her an alluring and feline look. Her eyes were red, tear tracks streaming down her face. Dorothea's nausea had interrupted a rather emotional moment between the two of them.

"Are you feeling better? We kind of have places to be," Lila murmured over the synth music that had begun in the background of their conversation. The floor pulsed as the crowd outside the bathroom all began to move and dance together. Dorothea nodded, and together they stood up and exited the stall.

Dorothea went over to the sinks, ignoring her disheveled appearance and how Lila hesitated at the door. Lila had places to be, but right here in this bathroom was the only place Dorothea had to be. Tonight would solidify Dorothea's belief in all the things that Emerson had been telling her. All the things that were stranger than fiction: angels, demons, gods, holy wars being waged right under everyone's noses. Yet things that made too much sense when she really thought about it.

"Dorothea," Lila said, stepping forward and grabbing her hand. Dorothea pulled away, looking at Lila. "One moment," Dorothea shrugged, "go find Em and Es, I'll be out soon. I just need to catch my breath."

Lila gave Dorothea a wary look, then turned around, her pink dress whipping as she did, and headed out the door. Dorothea waited a moment, making sure that Lila wouldn't come back to say all the unspoken words she'd been holding back.

Dorothea looked in the mirror, defocusing her eyes she let out a low murmur: "Fac me videre dolorem."

After a minute of nothing, Dorothea let out a curse, thinking that she'd been stupid to believe anything would happen. Maybe Emerson had told her she had to say it in a specific way? Maybe she'd mixed up the wording?

No, she thought, learning lines is my thing. That's what Emerson asked me to do this.

The lights above her flickered, and she looked up from the sink. Her face looked distorted, her reflection smiling back at her though her mouth hung open. The lights flickered one last time before her reflection went back to normal. She blinked. She probably shouldn't have taken those pills Esme offered earlier, but she knew she would ask for more later. They're going to make you hear and see things, Lila had warned when she'd seen Dorothea taking some from Esme.

The door to the bathroom opened, and two girls walked into the bathroom. The first, and taller one, had long black hair slicked away from her beautiful face. She had full bow lips that were covered in a thick layer of some pink gloss and skin so smooth she could have been made from a deep shade of marble. She wore a blue off-the-shoulder top that revealed the swell of her chest and the defined lines of her collarbones. She glanced at Dorothea as she turned the corner before looking up into the mirror.

The shorter of the two was wearing a red jewel dress that seemed like a combination of what her friend and Dorothea both wore. She had shoulder-length black curls that laid against her pink-toned skin. She had simple features, beautiful in her own right just like the girl who'd come into the bathroom with her.

Ethereal, Dorothea thought, they both were ethereal.

The taller girl turned around, pulling out a cigarette from what Dorothea considered to be mid-air. As she spun, Dorothea caught sight of a necklace that had not been there before. It was a lighter shade of blue than the necklace Emerson wore.

"Smoke?" the taller girl asked, her voice low and sultry.

Are these really the protectors of the boundary of Heaven and Hell? Dorothea thought as she accepted the cigarette. Flick, flick, flick. Dorothea looked towards the shorter of the two girls, who produced a white lighter. Dorothea bent down, letting the sparks fly and create some warmth in the air-conditioned bathroom. The songs continued to play outside the bathroom; Dorothea's body rocked back and forth to the muffled beat.

"How did you find us?" The taller one asked.

Dorothea took a long drag as she tried to come up with a lie. They were the divine, she remembered feeling some embarrassment come over her, they would know if she were lying. A strange calm came over her, whatever they spoke about would never leave this bathroom.

"Do you speak?" The shorter one chuckled, pulling a black curl to twirl around her finger.

Dorothea let out the plume of smoke, saying, "I'm one of you."

"Is that right?" The taller girl chuckled. Dorothea put the cigarette between her lips before she reached down and hiked up the silk slip that laid underneath the beaded and jeweled bodice. She pulled the dress back revealing a tattoo along her thigh that was the seven-pointed shape with a spider in the center.

As the two girls looked at her tattoo, she hoped they wouldn't notice the ink lines that had been left behind from Maud's pen. Begging the girl to draw on the symbol had been worth its own battle, but eventually after batting her eyelashes at the blonde, Maud had given in.

Dorothea looked at her reflection in the mirror, the green light washing over her made it easier for her to pretend this all was a dream. Her ability to repress her memories would be the thing to save her, to save all of them according to Emerson.

The taller girl stepped back, "It's been a while since we've dealt with someone like you."

"Like me?" Dorothea asked.

"Those who try to be divine," the taller girl responded with hesitation, a sharp look in her eye taunting Dorothea in a way that felt more alluring than terrifying.

"It seems you've gotten the in though," the shorter girl passed the cigarette to the taller girl.

"It seems I do," Dorothea responded, watching as the shorter girl's eyes narrowed on her. The two side-by-side could have been cousins; they shared a similar straight-edged nose that turned up slightly at the bottom. Their thick fanned lashes that went over their cheeks as they blinked, which had only been maybe once or twice since they'd begun speaking to Dorothea.

"You've caught us," The taller one sighed, "ask."

"Will Esme ever pick me over Emerson?" Dorothea asked, unsure of what brazen confidence had taken over her body. Maybe it was the sheer knowledge that no matter what, the answer the two angels would give Dorothea could never leave these four walls.

The taller girl let out a plume of smoke, a sick smile twisting at her lips, "You don't want to waste your one moment with God on a question you already know the answer to. Do you?"

"God?" Dorothea asked, "You mean to tell me that you're God?"

"Emerson's told you about us, no?" the tall one asked. Dorothea could tell from the glances the girls were giving one another that they thought Dorothea was stupid. Two things could be true at that moment. The first could be that she was stupid, that these were just girls screwing with her or maybe even hallucinations. The second one seemed more realistic; Emerson had revealed to Dorothea a world of angels and demons earlier that week. Saint Electric's is the common ground, neutral territory. It's where the gate is located.

"She told me that this is where the gate is located," Dorothea said, lifting her chin, "and told me that there would be guards."

"Did you bring us something?" the shorter one tilted her head. Dorothea looked at the bathroom door; it was logically impossible that nobody had come into the bathroom.

Dorothea reached into her pocket, her stomach twisting as she felt nothing. Fuck, she thought, where was the coin? The shorter girl hopped off the sink, giving Dorothea a better look at her face under the green light. Her skin was almost translucent, something glowing underneath her skin. The veins glowed down her neck, spreading across her navel and collarbones.

Paralyzed, Dorothea watched as the girl reached her hands out which were glowing now as well and pulled Dorothea in for a kiss. It was soft and made her body feel warm. As the girl pulled away, Dorothea's stomach dropped.

Both girls were glowing, bronzed skin and eyes that were pure white. The next time she blinked they were gone; she was alone in the bathroom. Her eyes caught on the red pouring out at the corners of her mouth.

Dorothea gagged; something was stuck in her throat. She kept gagging, choking out until the object slid into her mouth. She proceeded to spit it out and look down in horror as the bronze coin she'd been looking for laid in her palm, slick with blood and stomach bile.

She grimaced, ignoring her mind's questions of how it had gotten there and more on where the girls had gone. Were they even real? Was the coin in her hand real? She paused, she looked up into the mirror.

"Fac me videre dolorem," Her lips uttered the words without thought. She waited for the incantation to take hold; she hoped it would reveal the girls to her again. But they did not come. Nothing is done without cause, Emerson had told Dorothea. Dorothea looked down at the coin, flipping it over in her palm. Esme had given it to her, saying that the gatekeepers would want a form of payment.

The door to the bathroom flew open, Lila stumbled in alongside Esme who looked worse than Dorothea had ever seen the girl before. Esme's grey eyes were barely visible, but as she took in Dorothea's bloodied face, Dorothea was able to see the red-riddled whites of Esme's eyes.

Lila stepped forward, pulling Dorothea's hand up so that she could inspect the coin.

"Where the fuck did you find that?" Lila asked, but then she proceeded to shake her head, "Never mind, what happened to you?"

"I saw them," Dorothea said, "the gatekeepers."

Lila blinked, "Dorothea, what?"

Over Lila's shoulder, Dorothea watched as Esme held a finger up to her lips, shaking her head. Dorothea didn't even respond before Esme was putting a hand on Lila's shoulder to spin her around. "Me and Dorothea will head home, seems like she's had enough, you find Emerson and get back whenever."

Lila looked at Dorothea and then back to Esme, "Why should I let her go with you?"

"Because we all live together," Esme sighed, giving Lila a slight clap on the shoulder before looking at Dorothea, "besides, I need to go home, I think I made a pass at the wrong girl, and I'm not trying to see if I'm correct or not."

Esme reached forward and pulled Dorothea forward; the coin fell from her hands in the process. Lila bent down to pick it up with a disgusted look. Dorothea tried to pull away from Esme only to find that the girl, despite her slight frame, possessed an amount of strength capable of dragging Dorothea straight out of the bathroom.

The world transformed, the muffled quality to the music fading away as the bass sent vibrations up Dorothea's legs. Multicolor lights shot everything, flashing alongside the song's beat. Dorothea could barely hear herself think, so instead of trying to, she looked over the iron railing next to her. Three floors below her, she watched as a mass of people danced together, grinding against one another in one big flow.

Esme grabbed Dorothea's face, yelling over the music "Are you okay?"

"I saw them," Dorothea said.

Esme smiled, “Good. That’s good.” Grabbing Dorothea’s hand once again Esme began pulling them down the third story walkway. The entire structure had an open center that looked up right towards the moon. Dorothea peaked over the railing to get a good look at it. Esme looked over her shoulder as Dorothea faltered in her pace.

“Dorothea, we have to go,” Esme said.

“What’s the rush?” Dorothea asked; without hesitating, Esme turned around and pulled Dorothea close so that her lips were pressed against the shell of Dorothea’s ear.

“The portal is closing soon,” Esme whispered, “if we’re lucky we can catch them again.”

“Again?” Dorothea asked, pulling back so that they were eye-to-eye, noses brushing against one another. Just the position Dorothea had to be in to get what she wanted from Esme. Though she would never admit it to Esme, the encounter with the angels had left her terrified and exhilarated at the same time.

Let the games begin, she thought.

May 19, 2023 22:07

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

3 comments

David Sweet
14:08 May 27, 2023

Interesting. The Latin phrase roughly translates as "show me the suffering" or "make me suffer" was that intentional or is my Google search just off from your original intention? Also, the abbreviations for the friends S (Esme) and M (Emerson): intentional or subconscious? Another type of suffering. Maybe I focused too much on the Latin phrase because it seemed to drive the story for me, and I couldn't help but wonder if this character thrived on suffering, was caught up in a feedback loop of suffering, would continue to suffer, or would m...

Reply

Alex Alaimo
14:48 May 27, 2023

Hey David! Thanks for taking some time to read my work and provide some feedback, I appreciate it greatly. The latin phrase in this is part of a large line of text. In the story the phrase is part of an incantation meant to reveal hidden things that were enchanted to be invisible. The larger phrase is "Quod oculi non vident, cor non dolet. fac me videre dolorem" which all together translates to 'What the eyes don't see, the heart doesn't grieve over. Make me see the pain.' If you enjoyed this make sure to check out my future stories as...

Reply

David Sweet
14:59 May 27, 2023

Cool. I just used Google and that was the rough translation. I had a feeling there was more to it. You more or less dropped the reader into the middle of the story (which I like). You can always go back and flashback later to fill in the gaps with a longer narrative, chapters, etc. Good luck. I'll have to drop back in and check out the stories.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.