“Watch the Toreador barbie doll debase herself like the monkeysucking slut she is.”
Sunday evening, 6 March 2016
GM: Jade and Randy make a pit stop back at Flawless to suit up for the sewer trek. Alana has laid out her mistress’ boots, leather pants, and any other clothes and provisions she’s asked for.
The ghoul is also lying prone on the floor as she fondles herself, naked except for the collar and leash, the latter of which she’s placed under Jade’s boots.
“Maybe you’d like to… ohhhh… fill them, mistress…” she murmurs between ‘happy noises.’
Celia: “You didn’t get enough last night?” Jade smirks down at the ghoul. “After our trip, pet.”
Support: “Eugh,” Randy grumbles as he follows her. “All the tables in here and you lie on the floor? That’s how you get ants, ‘Lana. Pussy-hungry ants.”
GM: Alana gets to her knees and rubs her head against Jade’s legs, the collar’s bell chiming as she does. “Okay, mistress… I’ll keep myself wet…”
Celia: “There’s a good girl.” Jade rubs her head for a moment, then finishes dressing. She hopes Randy brought a pair of boots; she hasn’t been in the sewers down here before, but she’s heard things.
GM: Alana volunteers to dress Jade for her. “You shouldn’t have to do something so menial as that, mistress,” she purrs. “What’s a salon for, if not to pamper you?” She kneels low to the floor and slowly wags her rear back and forth as she laces up the Toreador’s boots.
Celia: “I said after. Don’t make me repeat myself again, Alana.”
GM: “I’m sorry, mistress, of course I won’t,” Alana apologizes. She finishes lacing the boots more quickly and without shaking her rear.
Celia: “See to our guest while I’m gone. Collect the useful parts.” Blood, hair. Jade doesn’t need to explain that to Alana. Once her boots are laced Jade leaves, crooking a finger at Randy so he falls in line behind her.
GM: “Yes, mistress,” nods Alana.
The other ghoul follows after her. They get into a plain, boring sedan and start driving to the address Alana gave them. It’s in a rattier part of the Quarter.
Celia: Having never been to the sewers before, Jade isn’t quite sure what she’s looking for. Certainly not a large, neon sign that says “rats enter here,” though wouldn’t that be helpful.
She sideeyes Randy as he drives through the streets of the French Quarter in the gray Hyundai Genesis. He had been the one to pick it out when she’d sent him to go shopping for her for something less conspicuous than the flashy thing he drove. It’s the kind of car that doesn’t draw a second look unless you know what you’re looking for, he’d said, then waxed poetic about horsepower while her eyes had glazed over. It’s cute, though, in a camouflage coupe kind of way.
“No talk of Cici while we’re down here,” she reminds him, checking the mirror to make sure her Jade face is all in order. He knows. She knows he knows. Still, just in case. “Just don’t talk. Don’t even think too hard. Quiet muscle.” There’s no reason this should be anything but pleasant.
If traipsing through the sewers can be described as pleasant. She should plug her nose now with something. Just reach up there and pull a flap of skin down to prevent anything from getting in. Or smooth over the sensory neurons.
GM: It’s in, almost predictably, a dark and foul-smelling alleyway.
There’s nothing there, besides some dumpsters overflowing with assorted garbage and filth. Just a manhole cover emblazoned with the words ‘Sewage & Water Board—Crescent Box—WATER METER—Ford Meter Co. Wabash Ind—New Orleans, LA’ with little stars and moons.
Low phlegmy chuckles echo from behind Jade like bursting zits.
“Looks like I lose a swig of juice. Didn’t figure the Toreador barbie would show.”
The voice makes Jade imagine what it would be like to have a load of pustules on the bottom of her foot that squelch and burst with each step.
“We had a betting pool going. But it’s okay.”
A sight emerges from the shadows.
It’s a dermatologist’s worst nightmare.
It’s a walking, one-man freak show. He’s dressed in little more than moldering rags, and his face is a blasted wasteland of every type of acne in Jade’s not-inconsiderable vocabulary. Every inch of the dark, leathery skin is ravaged by pustules, papules, whiteheads, blackheads, nodules, cysts, and residual scars. Some are big, some are little. Some are whole, some look freshly popped. Rancid-smelling white pus freely runs down flabby cheeks and a squashed nose like water from someone who’s just stepped out of the shower.
Gerald ‘Greasy’ Abellard smiles widely, revealing yellowed and crooked teeth. Several stringy hairs protrude from his mottled gray lips.
“I’m pretty sure I’m still gonna come out ahead tonight.”
He sticks a warty finger up his nose and loudly hacks to the side, expelling a rancid-smelling stream of darker gunk onto the ground.
Celia: Jade’s disgust at the sound of the voice is rivaled only by the sight of the thing himself. She doesn’t even think her clinical strength “Max” line would be enough to help these pustules. Water logged corpses look better than this guy. That time she’d been teased for chicken pox because she’d run out of concealer has nothing on this.
Her smile still manages to reach her eyes. She’s had bad skin. She gets it. Judge not and all that.
“Tell me your next wager and I can sway it in your favor, if you’d like.”
GM: “Whether I’ll be on the cover of People next year. I’m trying to take better care of my skin, you know, and I think it’s showing a lot of improvement,” the sewer rat leers.
“You do skincare and all other girly barbie shit, right? Got any tips for me?”
Celia: “Well the fact that it’s purging is a good sign.”
GM: “Oh, that’s good. Maybe I could try running a cheese grater over my face, and give you a big jar of everything that comes off? So you can give me a really personal skincare recommendation?”
Celia: “I have less invasive measures if you’d like to solicit my services.”
Support: Randy looks down at the manhole, studiously avoiding eye contact.
As in, his eyes. From making contact with any part of this thing.
Celia: “Though perhaps a scalpel.”
“I use them for dermaplaning, see, where you take the top layer of skin off.”
GM: “Oh, I’d love to solicit your services!” Gerald exclaims with a hacking guffaw that sounds like someone taking a freshly ripped-off, really runny wart and smooshing it between their fingers.
He then does exactly that and loudly sniffs the running fluids. He holds his damp finger right up to Jade’s nose.
“Hey! Does this tell you anything? I think it smells different!”
Celia: “Maybe the top few layers, here.”
GM: Gerald rubs his soaked fingers along the skin below Jade’s nose and above her lip, giving her a ‘milk mustache.’ It smells almost like dried cum admixed with fresh piss.
“Mmm! You can just bottle that!”
“How about a trade? I give you free perfume, you cut off the top parts of my face? The whole thing is the problem, so I guess it makes sense to just get rid of it all.”
Celia: Her lip curls.
“I could piss in a bottle and sell it online. I’m sure a sac-less skunk somewhere is looking for what you’ve got to offer. But if you want me to take off your face, I’m sure we can arrange something. Once I get deep enough you won’t even feel it.”
GM: Gerald clasps his hands over his heart in exaggerated hurt.
“Oh, you’re just killin’ me! I think I’m never gonna be on People at this rate!”
“Well, okay guys, guess she thinks I don’t have it in me. Maybe I can learn to code or something.”
A chorus of unseen guffaws answers the Nosferatu. They sound like squealing rats being squelched into roadkill.
The manhole cover suddenly lifts up. The putrid stench from beneath beckons.
“Now most licks we usually give a hard time,” says Greasy. “But for a Toreador barbie like yourself, who’s probably on her back at least as often as she’s staring into a mirror, and who provides such a valuable service to the world by turning more breathers into barbies just like her, I’m gonna give the exclusive, VIP treatment. Direct access to the clan’s warren in our finest accommodations, through our fastest, most exclusive, most luxuriant mode of transportation. Does that sound amenable, Miss Barbie Doll, ma’am?”
Celia: Jade is certain that, whatever their mode of transport, it isn’t as luxurious or as fast as Randy’s car. Or even her car, with all that hidden horsepower Randy had told her it possesses.
Nor does she ask Gerald if the reason he’s so mad about her spending time on her back is because his partners, few as they are, would rather be bent over in front of him so they don’t have to look at his face.
Instead she smiles at him, tells Randy to watch the car, and steps closer to the pustule ridden Nosferatu so she can take his arm in her hands. The smell is overwhelming up close; maybe this would be a good punishment for Randy. Maybe she should tell him, later, that he’ll be spending the night with these fine folk next time he does something to mildly irk her.
“Lead the way.”
The worst part is that it’s not as if the fact she doesn’t need to breathe is helpful. Any time she parts her lips to speak the olfactory neurons on the roof of her mouth transmit the smell to her brain.
There really is no way to win.
GM: But there are so many ways to lose.
There’s a dull clank as the manhole cover comes off. Jade can smell the rank stench of the sewers even from up here. It smells exactly like she would expect it to smell, but there’s a strong note like rotten egg.
Gerald cackles as he walks her up to the literal hole in the ground, then gestures grandly towards the maintenance ladder down.
The ghoul is left ignored.
If she gets eaten by an alligator she’s going to be so pissed.
She casts one final look at the safety of her car and ghoul, then steps toward the now open manhole cover. At least she doesn’t need to breathe, right? That’s the saving grace here.
Her lips flatten into a thin line as she descends into the darkness below.
GM: Gerald patiently waits for Jade to start climbing, then stomps his foot down over her fingers.
Celia: It’s enough to cause her to lose her grip. Surprise flashes across her face.
GM: There’s a loud splash as her head goes under, along with the rest of her, and painfully cracks against the tunnel floor. Raw sewage water envelops her. In an instant, everything from her boots to her hair is completely soaked—including her surprised, still-gaping mouth. The taste of the swallowed sewage is unspeakable. Like piss and shit watered down with brackish water left to stand and ferment for days. Jade feels a semi-solid, potato-shaped object brush against her tongue, and realizes it is a free-floating turd.
All is fouled. All is made filthy.
From all around her, a chorus of phlegmy voices laugh and laugh and laugh like hyenas.
Celia: There is nothing pretty about the way she rises from the water.
No, not water.
It clings to her. It seeps into her pores, her hair follicles, her nail beds. It surrounds her. It’s inside of her.
So is the Beast. Snarling. It wants her to pounce. To tear the skin off these ugly little things that think to break her with their crude ways. That fail to break her with their ill-conceived tricks.
Don’t they know who she is?
Don’t they know better monsters than them have tried?
Celia went into the water, and Jade comes out. Slime and muck and piss drip down her face. Her hair is a wet tangle of knots that will need to be shaved if she ever wants the smell to come out. And for all that, not a lash is out of place. Not a nail is broken.
She rises. Makes herself smile, showing teeth, though her eyes remain cold. Flat.
She laughs, too. Low. Throaty. Forces it out around the pit in her stomach. She can still taste the shit, lingering on her tongue. Fetid. Putrid. Her eyes find Abellard’s.
“How long has Garbage Barbie been your fantasy?”
GM: Abellard doesn’t take the ladder. He just jumps down with a splash and gives her a literally shit-soaked grin. Jade can only imagine what the sewage is doing for his complexion.
“Long time, barbie, long time,” he snickers, patting her sewage-caked hair. “I’ve got lots of fantasies. Sometimes the FBI tries to arrest me for them.”
There’s a dull clunk as the manhole cover slides back into place.
Celia: The Nosferatu appearance isn’t a curse. It’s the result of living in actual shit.
“If you wanted me wet, Abellard, there are easier ways.”
GM: “I bet there are. Like this one. Hey, Malo! C’mere, boy!”
There’s a simian screech as a chimpanzee bursts out from the sewer water. Jade can smell the vitae running through the ghouled creature’s veins.
“Look, Malo! Look what came home! Yeah! It’s a slut! A barbie doll slut! Don’t you want to fuck the slut, Malo?”
The chimp screeches its agreement, bounds up to Jade, and throws its hairy arms around her. She can feel the huge bulge between the creature’s legs as it starts dry-humping her thigh.
“Good boy, Malo! Good boy! Get hard for the barbie!”
The chimp screeches again and humps faster.
Abellard leers at Jade.
“Give him a blowjob and we can take the shorter route to the warren.”
His leer widens.
“‘Course, if you’ve had enough… you could always go back topside. If barbie’s had too much.”
The chimp screeches and keeps humping her leg.
Celia: Chimps are bipedal creatures. Their cock and balls are in the same relative place as a human’s. They make the same movements. The humping. The thrusting. It’s easy enough to reach a hand down her leg and grab the thing by the balls.
Her nails are long. Sharp. Filed to a point, like Veronica had taught her.
She uses them now. She uses them as the excuse she needs to dig into the chimp and sculpt its flesh clear from its body. It’s a quick, ugly, messy thing. She digs. Gouges. Rips.
GM: Precise fleshcrafting jobs take time and effort, Jade well knows, but there’s nothing precise or artful about this.
The chimp lustful screeches reach a suddenly agonized pitch as its cock and balls messily come away with a spray of blood, splashing into the water like another free-floating turd. Gerald gawks.
Then the chimp beats the shit out of her.
It comes without any pause or warning. The emasculated animal just hurls itself at her in a mindless rage, howling, biting, grabbing, slamming. It seizes her in its hairy arms and smashes her face-first into the sewer wall, screeching like a demon. Jade holds back her raging Beast and throws punches the way Reggie taught her, targeting its weak spots. She knows just the one. The creature’s screech as she drives a booted foot into its ruined genitals is especially satisfying. Unfortunately, the ape kicks back too. It kicks her into the wall, stomps her to the floor, underwater, and keeps kicking and stomping long after any human should have stopped moving from the sewage flooded into their lungs. Apes are much stronger than humans, she dimly recalls from a Tulane science class, and a steady diet of Nosferatu vitae can only have made this one even stronger.
Abellard just stands and watches. He isn’t laughing anymore.
He holds up the creature’s severed cock.
“You’d better hope this can come back on, barbie.”
Celia: Her nose is the first thing to splatter. It hits the wall when the demon monkey grabs her and crunch, there goes her perfect face. Her orbital bones are next. They collapse inward when the thing slams her down, again and again and again. Her face is in ruins. Tattered. Destroyed.
The rest of her is given the same treatment. One shoulder is ripped from its socket; her arm hangs, limp, at her side, useless to defend herself. The chimp takes full advantage. Sewer water fills her lungs. It makes her body heavy. She crawls away from the chimp when she can, through the filth.
Just like they want her to.
They want her brought low. Beaten. Submissive.
Ugly, just like them.
So she makes herself ugly. She makes the giggling coed’s blood work for her, but only so much. It starts deep inside, with the broken bones, the severed tendons, the muscles that have been twisted beyond human medical intervention. Her skeleton puts itself back together, a puppet pulled by the strings of a marionette. Joints click as they reattach. Her muscles bunch and curl. Her tendons, ligaments, fascia all stretch to adhere to their respective places, and with it they pull the ball of the humeral head back into the glenoid socket. Her clavicle rights itself, her scapula un-wings.
Her skin stays split. She is not beautiful. She is not pristine. She is not flawless. The gouges remain. The gashes are ugly, repugnant things. She is just another jade, shattered when it tried to play hard.
Jade cannot win this fight.
But Celia can, and Jade swallows her pride. She lets the girl come out so the lick can make it through to the other side. She halts at the feet of the monkey’s master, putting his legs between the two of them. Her shoulders stay hunched. Her grotesque face presses against the ghastly, wet pants of the Nosferatu.
She nods her head.
Yes, she can fix it.
GM: Abellard mockingly pats her head and rubs his flaccid crotch against Jade’s face.
“There’s a good slut! Boy, for a moment I thought you were gonna try something stupid like fighting us down here. That would’ve been pretty stupid, wouldn’t it, guys?”
Phlegmy guffaws answer the sewer rat.
Abellard makes a simian screech at Malo. The hooting monkey pauses in its tracks, but growls at Jade.
“We know all about the shit you get up to in your little dollhouse, barbie.”
He slaps the sewage-coated monkey dick into Jade’s hand.
“So that’s why I’m not trying to fix this myself. You also better hope antibiotics are enough to get Malo past whatever diseases he catches, given how this happens to be rather far from a sterile fucking environment. If I lose my podcast co-host we’ll have your dirty laundry spread out for the whole city to see.”
Celia: She could have run. Should have run. Gone back up the ladder, pushed at the manhole cover with her weak, useless arms. Been dragged back down and kicked around some more by the lot of them, raped by the monkey anyway.
She submitted. Her. It was an active choice, not a victory for them.
That’s what she tells herself.
Submit. Survive. That’s what she’s good at, isn’t it? Surviving. Reading the room. Knowing when she’s beaten, without letting them beat her.
It appeases the Beast and Beauty both.
She puts it out there, the impression that she has been cowed by the rats. It’s in the way she doesn’t flinch when Abellard rubs himself against her. The way she bites her tongue when they laugh. The calm, steady composure she keeps when he slaps the severed dick into her hand.
They know all about what she gets up to.
“Can you open the covering for my ghoul to join me?”
GM: The manhole comes off with another clunk.
Randy hits the tunnel floor with a yell and splash so like hers.
Support: Randy sputters in the filth, his cute chauffer’s uniform that he hadn’t thought was going to get dirty tonight absolutely ruined, his white gloves rendered immaculately disgusting.
He immediately retches, contributing to the sewage with his own half-churned waste.
Hopefully, not onto a Nosferatu.
GM: Phlegmy laughter goes up from all around him.
Support: After a few moments, he slowly slogs to his feet, shit-spattered and wretched.
“You called?” he says, voice tight, lips constricted to minimize…spillage.
Celia: Jade holds out a hand to him. She’s seated at the feet of the one who had appeared above, the same greasy piece of shit that he had seen stomp on her hands.
Her eyes warn him to keep his fucking mouth shut.
GM: She looks as ugly as any of the sewer rats, too.
Celia: Beaten, most likely. Bruised. Battered. Bloody.
Support: Randy takes in the scene, his face greenish.
They linger on his domitor’s shit-stained lips, her befouled everything, the broken lines of her body.
Then his eyes darken with anger.
He takes her hand.
The other clenches in a fist.
What might be a turd squelches beneath his grip.
Celia: She pulls him in. Her hand slides down his arm to his shaking fist. Her fingers work against his skin, a soft, soothing gesture. It’s message is clear: no anger. Not here.
She presses the detached chimp dick into his hand. Tells him to hold it. Her hands make quick work of the buttons on his chauffer pants, pulling them down to expose his backside.
Those nails of hers dig into the cheek of his ass, right where it crests against the back of his thighs. Muscle, skin, fascia. It all comes off when she pulls her hand away.
Support: She can see those eyes, those beautiful blue eyes, so unlike Em’s and yet somehow so similar in their adoration of her, as she does it. She sees them simmer on her placating gesture. Sees them cross, askew in confusion, as she presses—is that a dick? Is that that monkey’s dick? What the fuck—Malo’s chimphood into his hand. Sees them blink as she depantses him, bares him to the monsters.
And she sees his eyes go wide with pain as she rips his flesh from him bones.
The noises he makes are not words or even proper screams so much as they are squeals, full-throated noises of agony he bites his tongue to keep from opening and letting the shitwater down his gullet as he splashes backwards into the septic waste. Blood and shit and his own screams compete for flavor on his tongue.
She catches a glimpse of herself in those eyes of his as he thrashes. They find their way to her like faithful needles on a compass find their poles. There is confusion, and agony, and more than a little fear in Randy’s eyes, but the anger is gone.
It is replaced by concern.
He is worried about her.
Celia: She only takes a handful. That’s all a good dick is, anyway. A handful.
The blood hits her nose. His blood, so familiar to her. She’s glad for the dead girl in the wet room. Glad that she had given in to the baser urges of the Beast, that she’s not knocking them aside now to get to him and lick what gushes from him.
A snap of her fingers draws him near. She presses a hand against the wound she’d made, sealing it. The skin is lumpy, lopsided, the muscles and sinew and tissue all akimbo beneath that severed skin.
“Go,” she tells him, eyes darting upward toward that open manhole cover. Go. Get out.
Support: He whimpers, gasps.
And blinks at her.
GM: “Twue wuv!” exclaims Abellard, clasping his warty hands over his heart.
Celia: They’ll kill him.
One wrong move and they’ll kill him. This is their house, their rules. Why wouldn’t they want to take him away? Why wouldn’t they want to defile him, too, for his nice hair and his chiseled jaw?
A jaw she chiseled.
She scoffs at his words.
GM: “Okay though, since you want to.”
The sewer rat looks thoughtful.
“Pretty sure Malo’s gonna get sick from this, so we’ll just make things nice and even.”
He offers an ugly smile that would still be ugly even if he wasn’t.
“You can go ahead and just take a nice, long, drink, pretty boy.”
Celia: “He won’t get sick,” Jade says flatly. “There’s no reason to make the ghoul drink.”
GM: “Then there’s no harm in making yours,” Abellard leers. “Drink up, pretty boy! Glug glug glug!”
Support: He’s confused. He doesn’t know what the monster means. His mouth tastes like blood and shit, and—oh.
He eyes the sewage sloshing over him. Watches his babe negotiate for his life.
He’s already exposed to it, right? It’s like the five second rule. And he’s been in here way longer than five seconds.
What’s the worst that can happen, right? He’s a driver. He’s a winner.
He looks into the greasy, monkeyfucking, pus-faced Nos’s eyes, and he takes a sip.
The sip turns into a chug.
There are bubbles.
His face turns… not face-colored.
Celia: She grabs the moron by the back of the neck and lifts his head above the water.
She doesn’t say anything. She smacks him, hard, across the face.
GM: Guffaws echo from all around the pair.
“Whoo! Look at that stamina!” cackles Abellard.
“I bet ken doll here can just do you all night long, can’t he?”
Support: Oh, you have no idea, Randy deliriously thinks.
Moments before vomiting.
GM: The guffaws ring off the sewer walls.
Celia: The Nosferatu are being cruel, and petty, and mean.
Jade can be cruel, and petty, and mean too.
The extra flesh she had harvested from her ghoul is discarded. The extra big cock she had planned to make for the chimp is forgotten. These things will not know the difference.
None of them have even seen their dicks in years.
She puts the dick back on the monkey. She doesn’t make it bigger or longer or thicker. She doesn’t give it barbs or a second head or a bulbous tip. She just puts it back the way it was before. Attaches the insides, such as they are.
She ignores the ghoul and the rats while she sculpts.
GM: And just like that, Malo has a penis again. The chimp growls as she works, then hoots and beats its chest. Abellard slaps his palm in a high-five.
“Attaboy, Malo, attaboy! We’ll get you some more tail real soon!”
“I’d take you to the warren, normally, but at this point we’ve kinda had most of our fun already.”
“Watch the Toreador barbie doll debase herself like the monkeysucking slut she is and all that.”
“But, hey, you wanted to talk with Ramon.”
“Well, he’s right here. Been here the whole time.”
Celia: Of course he has. Jade fails to be surprised.
GM: Abellard cocks a hand to his ear.
“And since he’s such a gentleman,” the sewer rat leers, “he says you and him can talk right here. Or you can go clean up and he’ll meet you at your spa Malibu Dreamhouse in an hour.”
“Either way, I’m out. Thanks for the fond memories. I’ll forever treasure that look of the Toreador barbie swallowing a turd.”
“And getting humped by Malo. Ell-oh-ell.”
There’s two splashes, and Malo and Abellard disappear beneath the sewer water.
Celia: There isn’t a single reason why it would behoove her to respond aloud to the rat’s words, except to soothe a bruised ego and wounded pride. She keeps her mouth shut. Then he’s gone, and she’s left with the promise that Ramon is there, somewhere, listening.
She can deal with him now. Or let him come to her. As he would have if she had just waited an extra two nights, instead of coming down here to try to deal with them direct.
An old, echoing voice sounds inside her mind. She cuts it off before it can finish that two syllable word.
“See you in an hour,” she says to no one, since this is all probably a joke too. Another fucking game, from people who are too small to do anything but scurry beneath the ground. Big, bad Nosferatu picking on the neonate. A whole pack of them, too.
She takes the ladder back to the surface. The smell follows her out, clinging to her hair and skin and clothing. She strips from the offending garments right there on the street, tossing them into the nearest trash bin.
Maybe some rats will line their nest with it.
Sunday night, 6 March 2016, PM
GM: It’s a short drive back to Flawless. Randy looks pretty queasy, still. Alana looks positively mortified to see her domitor in such a state. She barely glances at Randy. She starts an immediate Vichy shower, if Jade doesn’t want to use a Swiss one, and lathers her domitor’s body with soap and sweet-swelling gels, washes, and scents to expunge the sewer’s filth. She croons sympathetic words as her trained hands meticulously scrub, scrape, and massage. She lavishes the Toreador’s body with adulation as though it is a temple.
“Oh, mistress… I am so sorry… they’re petty, hateful, disgusting creatures, who can only be happy when they’re destroying beautiful things… they’re as ugly on the inside as they are on the outside…”
Celia: The ghoul’s words to little to quell the blow to her pride. What had Savoy once said? Something to the effect of a Kindred can forgive you for hurting them, but not for making them look foolish.
That’s what the trip to the sewers had been. Blunder after blunder after blunder. Blinded by rage and pride, and no matter which step she took to correct the problem it was, apparently, the wrong one.
No wonder no one else likes the rats.
And rats they are. Truly. Vile, plague-ridden vermin. She had felt some small amount of sympathy for the things, some misplaced sense of affection that she’d reserve for a particularly ugly dog. That is gone now, burned away by the events of this evening.
Alana’s words wash over her like the torrent of water from the Vichy shower above. Her hands rinse clean the physical body, the broken skin, but they do not touch her where it matters. Inside. Her bruised ego retains the blemish of disgrace. There is no amount of massage in the world that can give that back to her.
“See to Randy,” Jade tells the ghoul once she is clean. “Wash him. Get rid of the filth. Let him know I’m waiting.”
Even with the particularly long showers to rid them both of the remnants of the sewers there is still time before her guest arrives for her to see to her ghoul. She mixes solutions while she waits. Pours liquid from one bottle into another, swirls it around to homogenize, sets it back down.
Jade is not yet dressed when Randy joins her in her suite. There is a fresh set of clothing waiting for her to step into them, but the Toreador is naked. Her flesh has knit itself back together. It is the pristine body of a twenty-year-old that he sees, all supple skin and gentle swells. She is not smiling. Not with her lips, not with her eyes. She tells him to sit on the table and, once he does, she seats herself on his lap.
It is not him that she wants. Not this petulant, disobedient race car driver. He is a ghoul, a toy, nothing but a pet. She wants Roderick. Donovan. Savoy. Someone older, faster, wiser, stronger. She wants to rage and scream and cry to someone who will not mock her for her failure this evening. She wants, just once, to not pair the indignity of losing with the vicious mockery of her kind.
Such a person does not exist. She can’t let her guard down around others like her. That’s the punishment in being predators: every moment they are waiting for a sign of weakness so they can pounce and rip out the throats of their former friends.
Nor can she show weakness in front of her ghouls. She can’t give in to the burning sensation behind her eyes. She can’t ask him to hold her while she weeps bitter tears and let him tell her that yes, their actions were unjustified.
There is no comfort in this world of darkness.
So she perches on his lap because he is bigger than her, because his arms can encircle her easily, and to have him sit on hers would be both impractical and silly. And, perhaps, she takes some small measure of solace from the simple action. She is silent for a long moment.
When she finally speaks her voice is soft. Empty. Neither accusing nor reassuring. She is the teacher and he the student.
“Tell me your mistakes this evening.”
Support: Randy doesn’t look good. The shower could only do so much. His face is pale and peaked, and she can smell his sickness on him like the whiff of rot from meat.
Even sick, though, he’s entranced by her, tries to smile roguishly as she puts herself on his lap.
Trembling hands pass over her in crude and clumsy attempts at foreplay.
“M-mistakes?” he says. “You mean. The girl. I’m sorry. I didn’t know that would happen.”
He tries to kiss her. With lips that drank literal shit less than an hour ago.
Celia: Her head turns away. He gets her cheek instead. Her hands encircle his wrists, pulling them from her body, holding them steady, denying him what he wants.
“What else?” she asks.
“Or should I list them for you? Should I explain how turbulent the affair in the sewer was, and how, by not leaving when I told you to, you made it worse?”
Her voice is sharp.
“Do you think that I’m stupid, Randy? Do you think that you somehow know more than me about my kind? Do you think that by disobeying my direct command to leave you did any favors for either one of us? And then you drank the water. The filth. The disgusting, foul sewage.”
“There was a reason I told you to stay with the car. You know what I’m capable of doing? Getting myself out of messy situations. You know what takes away from that? Needing to bring someone else with me.”
GM: Thinking she’s stupid.
Well, that wouldn’t be a first from men in her life.
Support: “I didn’t want you to be alone,” he whispers. “With them.”
Celia: “And that’s admirable.” She shifts, releasing his wrist so she can run a hand through his wet hair. “It is. I know you’re concerned for me. But, Randy, I can’t watch both our backs at once, and by defiling you they defile me. By listening to them instead of me, you put them above me.”
“You see the problem?”
Support: “I’m sorry,” he says. “I, uh. I’m sorry I drank shit, babe.”
Celia: “Did you know what I had planned for you tonight? I promised you something earlier. Fun. Me. Us. In front of ’Lana, even, I know how much that would vex her and amuse you.”
“This is what you get instead. Five minutes of an angry, naked owner on your lap, and you don’t even get to touch her. And if you didn’t look like you were about to keel over—if I didn’t think that what I had planned to remind you of this lesson would hurt me more than it would you in the long run—you’d get that tonight too.”
“So now I’m telling you again, Randy, to get out. Go to the urgent care center. Tell them what you did tonight. Tell them your friends dared you to drink raw sewage and you did. Get yourself some antibiotics. Get your stomach pumped, if they need to do that too. Rinse your mouth with as much Listerine as it takes to finally feel clean again.”
“And then come back here, face the punishment for your actions this evening, and we’ll move on.”
Support: “I… I can still… go down on you. If you want.”
He’s so desperate to please. To romance. Even now.
Celia: She slides off of him. That lithe, toned dancer body is out of reach. That prize she had dangled in front of him hours ago is snatched away. No touching. No sex. No feeding. No Kiss.
The look she gives him now is full of pity.
Support: He whines.
But he goes.
At the hospital, he tells them he did it to impress a girl.
He’s a shit liar, anyways.
Sunday night, 6 March 2016, PM
GM: Alana hovers over her domitor and picks out fresh clothes for her. Fresh scents and perfumes, to feel pretty-smelling again. Fresh cosmetics for her face, to feel pretty-looking again. She volunteers to shave Jade’s head at the end of the evening, “To fully get out everything, when of course it’ll regrow over the day. You have such beautiful hair, mistress. Such rich, beautiful hair. It’d be my privilege to style and pamper an all-new head of it for you.”
She doesn’t press for sex. She knows it is better, right now, to simply wait. To be the patient, sympathetic voice.
Celia: Alana isn’t who Jade wants, either. But with Randy gone, with the others out of reach, it is who she has.
So she lets the ghoul do her thing. Lets her apply a fresh face of makeup, powders, perfumes. Lets her doll her up in clothing she will never touch again after this. Concedes to shaving her head this evening; she’d been thinking the same thing earlier.
Once she’s ready, she tells the ghoul to send him in when he arrives through the private entrance. The one her Kindred clients favor. It’s out of the limelight, out of view of the main street.
GM: He shows up. He doesn’t bother with a fake version of himself.
Ramon Acorda is tall, wide-shouldered and thick-muscled, with a build like a bull’s. His face is shaped like a rectangle, with a squashed nose, thick neck, and ear-to-ear mustache-less beard. His hands are large and calloused. They’re a working man’s hands.
For that matter, all of him is calloused. His face has the grayish look and texture of crack-riddled concrete, and his lumpish features are asymmetrical and off, like a crude hand tried carve his former face from that some block of concrete. Whiffs of a fine, dust-like residue periodically flake from his skin. He’s plainly dressed in a brown cloth jacket, worn-looking denim jeans, and heavy work boots.
“Mees Kalani,” he nods by way of greeting.
Celia: She isn’t sure what’s worse: the fact that up here they abide by the rules of civility, or that she could have gotten this same treatment and skipped the piss and shit shower if she’d have just waited. She had thought, by going to him, there would have been some measure of fair treatment.
She swallows her irritation. Like she swallowed that sewer water, and her anger at Randy. She is tired of the games. So young and already so jaded by the backwards politics that pass for Kindred society.
“Mister Acorda. Thank you for joining me. I presume your ghoul told you the gist of what I’m looking for?”
GM: “Si,” the Nosferatu responds. “Seecre’ roon. Undergroun’. Col’ storeege. Where do you wan’ te entrance?”
Celia: She gestures toward the table.
“Under there, if possible. Seamless. If not, another wall will do.”
GM: Ramon looks towards the table thoughtfully.
“How beeg you wan’ eet?”
Celia: “Large enough to move around in. Industrial cooler sized. Like a walk-in. I don’t know what’s under there, or if it will work with the foundation.”
“The table is on a hydraulic lift, if that helps.”
GM: Ramon considers it for a moment. “You probably know not many houses here hab basements. Te water table es witin a few fee’ of te surface for 6-9 months of te year, an’ abobe te surface for a few months depending on weather an’ elebation, si? Yust impractical. Gibe you water issues, guarantee. Eben powerful sump pump, humidity gibe you condensation. Possible issue for wha’ you wan’ to estore down tere.”
“Wha’ I can do es gib you someteeng, maybe four, five feet deep, an make rrt go under more tan one room, to geeve you space you wan’. Make eet a crawl-een, not walk-in. Tas your firs’ optieen.”
“Two, I yust gib you anoter roon, nex’ to tis one. Tall as you wan’ eet.”
“Tree, if you really wan’ ta freedge under here, ge’ a magia man. Tremere, Crone, Sancteefied prees’, whatever. Ask tem to cast el hechizo to keep te water a’ bay. I know a couple I can recommend. Obviously, tey not do tat for free. But tey do tat, I can beeld your freedge room, beeg an’ deep as you like.”
Celia: Jade considers the options. There are pros and cons to each, and she has no interest in the first. A crawl space is not what she wants. But neither does she want it above ground, or to have to bring in more people than what has already been demanded. Unless Pete…? She can’t imagine the detective casting spells for her to dismember bodies.
“What about a sub floor beneath the basement floor? Angled, so it sinks lower in the corners, pushes the water that way. Four pumps, one in each corner. Make the walls thick enough to block most of the moisture from the soil, and the sub floor for anything else that gets in. Would that work?”
GM: Ramon seems to think further.
“Could do tat. You a lady who know her way aroun’ houses.” He smiles faintly. “Te real question ees how long eet las’ you. 100-year, 500-year flood plans, mostly no’ an issue here een te Quarter. Katrina mostly deedn’ touch tis place, because it ober sea lebel. Tree fee’ ober. Howeber, you hab to understand te city ees seenkeeng. Pretty slow. Bu’ ebentually, te Quarter will be under sea lebel. Tas when your floodeeng problems ge’ serious. More serious. Eben eef tey build up de lebees, and de ceety doesn’ ge’ flooded again, you still below sea lebel. We seenkeeng ‘bou two eenches a year. So, call eet 30, 40 years by de time your basemen’ be under te water line.”
“So, I can make your sub-floor basemen’. I jus’ wouldn’ coun’ on eet lasteeng more tan a couple decades. Eef you fine weet tat, no problem. I beeld.”
Celia: “And the ‘magic word’ you mentioned earlier, can that be applied at a later date or it needs to be done before the construction begins?”
GM: “Later. But eet weell take a stronger ward, probably, once your basemen’ under te sea lebel. You should talk to a magia man to know for sure. I’m yus’ a handyman.”
Celia: She nods.
GM: Ramon quotes the figure. It’s a substantial markup on similar construction work, perhaps little surprise given the Kindred-exclusive nature—and the fact that Ramon promises he can finish faster than any kine contractor. Flawless can afford it, though budgets will be tight for a bit.
Alternatively, Ramon is willing to take payment in information (little surprise for his clan) or an owed favor.
Celia: She asks if Ramon has a particular piece of information in mind.
GM: He does not, beyond anything of general interest to Kindred society.
Celia: “I’ll be in touch,” Jade tells him. “Tomorrow or the evening after. Thank you for your time.” Because even if his clan humiliated her, it never hurts to be polite.
Nor does it hurt to offer the proverbial olive branch. Nothing but her pride, anyway, and what’s that in exchange for silence?
“Will you let your friend know that if his ape desires a more refined tool, I’d be happy to offer my services. He can come to me; there’s more material to work with up here.”
GM: “Si,” the Nosferatu answers. He will be in touch and let Abellard know.
That’s all one can sometimes do, Jade knows well. It’s a lesson she’s learned from her mortal and Kindred lives.
Just keep smiling like everything is fine.