We all ate together when the food arrived. I thought it was important to all bond. I’d made sure to pick something Liam could eat for that very purpose. Kaleb and Kayla seemed to get along as they talked a bit about something I didn’t pay too much attention to. Her sister remained away from everyone until Liam went to sniff her.
I was slowly catching onto the difference to tell them apart. Kayla didn’t have bangs while Maika had them, Kayla had a small scar on her left brow that split the hair and one on the nose, Maika had a little more weight on her sister while Kayla was maybe an inch or so shorter although that could have been their choice of shoes.
In temperament, the two were nothing alike from what I could see. Maika was reserved, avoiding eye contact and staying in her corner. Kayla was much more assertive, already talking with Kaleb like they knew each other for a while. Maika seemed at a loss about what to do with Liam and really not comfortable. Seeing as nobody was stepping in, Natalie and Lance seemed to be having a conversation (Or rather Lance was talking to Natalie who spoke in grunts and nods) I went to her aid.
“It’s okay Maika, Liam is just curious, he’s really nice when you get to know him.”
I understood her feelings, Liam looked like something that had come straight out of your childhood nightmares, mixing reptiles, felines and canines into one scary looking thing. He also liked cuddling when you read him stories about fearless knights and princess and he may or may not have purred at one point.
“Are you doing well Liam?” I asked and he nodded. “Want to give me a hug?”
He hesitated for a moment before wrapping his large furred and scaled arms around me, squeezing and leaning on me rather hard with all that mass on him.
“See? He’s just a kid.”
“A kid?” She said seeming stunned.
“Yeah he’s about six years old. Give or take a few months.”
“He looks bigger…” She mumbled. “And he hits very hard when fighting…” She shuddered.
Liam signed something, I didn’t know the first thing about american sign language but with the context and his best attempt at sad puppy dog eyes, I figured it meant something along the line of “I’m sorry”
I made a note to get a book on sign language whenever I’d have have the chance. I had plenty to do in the next few days. I wanted to keep away from Coil, not knowing what kind of trial he’d subject me to. First I’d see Maxwell, see what he could show me about my ethereal allies. Then I’d ask to meet Alessa somewhere private and finally I’d go see Coil about the Boardwalk’s business and the Skulls.
I still didn’t have much of a plan to take over the place, but having allies would be a step in the right direction. When everyone but Kaleb was gone, I took the phone and called Maxwell. He answered and in the back I could hear the loud thumping of techno music, betraying his location.
“Couldn’t get enough of me could, you love?” He said, probably trying to bait me.
“Hello Maxwell.” I said neutrally.
“What can I do for such a nice young lady?”
“I need to talk to you about ghosts and bogeymen. I want to know what I can do to optimize mine.”
“Well then, come to the club, tonight. Bring your ghastly friends for the party. While you’re at it, wear something nice, we, and I by extension, have an image to maintain at the club. Maybe something with--”
I hung up on him. Not very polite but I wasn’t going to let him tease me. I must have been tense because Kaleb came to massage my shoulders. I let myself relax under the attention for a moment and he kisses my neck repeatedly.
“You know how to make me unwind.” I mewled.
“Well, I know how to make you feel a lot of things if last night was any indication.” He whispered in my ears.
I turned bright red and felt like I was about to melt. Instead I turned around and punched him in the arm.
He laughed and I kept hitting him, not really strongly, but enough to make him pay for his teasing. He grabbed my arms and brought them behind my back, I could have easily broke free but I let him shut me down with more neck kisses.
“I didn’t think you’d be this sensitive.” He told me.
“T’was my first time.” I said pouting. “Was terrifying.”
“Scary and nothing else?”
“It was kind of nice...” I caved in.
“That was all I wanted to know.” His arms were not wrapped around my neck, his chin resting on my shoulder.
“I probably should get going soon.”
“Want me to come with you?”
“I think I’ll manage alone. See you later?”
“Alright. Since you’re so dedicated to get to work I’ll see if I can find one of my friends.”
“Alright. I hugged and kissed him. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
It was back to the Borderline for me. I’d taken a cab this time. The Bouncer recognized me from last time and pointed to the stairwell with his thumb. I walked in to more ear piercing techno music, people in fetish wear and a mix of shady scents. I didn’t waste any time, going right back to the back room. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone noticed the plush rabbit I was carrying. I didn’t knock seeing as nobody could possibly hear it.
I was expecting Maxwell do be doing something inappropriate, instead he and the boy from last time were in the mostly unlit room, sitting on cushions on the floor in front of a low table, cards spread before them.
“The Tower.” Maxwell declared, either not noticing me or not acknowledging me. “A sudden glimpse of truth, a brutal crash to reality and illusions being shattered.” He explained.
“Great, so you’ll finally show me the real deal?” His boyfriend I guesses, asked.
“Not yet, you’ll need more preparation.”
The other sighed and noticed me.
“Oh hi there.” He didn’t seem too happy to see me. He picked his stuff and left the room brusquely.
“Lauren. A Bunny was not quite what I had in mind, but the innocent goth looks work on you.”
“You told me to bring my Bogeyman, there it is.”
“That explains a lot. Can you let it loose for a moment?”
“I guess…” I said, I put the bunny down and spoke to it. “I will let you resume your normal shape if you agree to not move or attack anyone without my express consent.”
The Plush transformed into the spooky little girl, still holding her plush and knife.
“Interesting.” Maxwell declared. “Where did you get it?”
“It was teaming up with another bogeyman, the thing in the woods or something. I call her the Innocent.”
“Fitting, I’d wager she is based on the fear of children or something along those lines. Since you showed me yours, I’ll show you mine!” He said with a mischievous grin. “I present you ‘The lady in your nightmares’ and ‘The monster under the bed’
The two creatures appeared in front of me, it was very easy to tell which was which. The Monster under the bed was a large hulking furred headless monsters colored bright pastel colors, seeming like it’d been drawn with crayons by a child. The Lady was something straight out of sex repressed people’s nightmare, slender legs that seemed like they would never end reaching up to hips, her torso was the entire opposite of sexy, a large toothed vagina standing there. Her arms had been replaced with wings and she didn’t have a head, but she still had a long mane of voluptuous shiny hair that seemed to defy physics.
“Wow…” I said. “Nice to meet them? Let me guess, fear of sex and something about children’s fears.”
“Spot on. I have another, but that one is an abstract, it doesn’t have a physical form.” Maxwell said. “Now if you want to strengthen a bogeyman, you have to feed it, that means letting it hunt.”
“Not exactly the best thing to do…”
“It’s a problem, but you can sic it on your enemies so it’ll get stronger. With something such as ‘Go hunt X, come back within 24 hours or when he’s dead, whichever comes first. You will not give him chances or help him.”
“I guess I can work with that.”
He dismissed his bogeymen and I called the ghosts using my pocket knife to give them presence beyond that of mere echoes.
The two men had remained the same, no changes there. The woman, Mary-Elise her name was, was getting odder, the redness at the core of her being having grown beyond the mere streaks they’d been when I had first gotten her.
“The girl is going to be a problem, she’s contaminated.” He said.
“Well she’s angry, not that big a problem, makes her stronger.”
“Actually if it continues she’ll pop.”
“What do you mean pop?”
“You ever played pokemon?” He asked.
“Yeah…” I wasn’t sure how that was relevant.
“If it happens her Charmander will become a Charmeleon to explain it in a very nerdy way.”
“I get it now.”
“She’ll be a wraith, hard to control, psychotically evil and much stronger.”
“How do we do that?”
“Keep feeding her or have her confront the source of her anger.”
“The two other ghosts are her husband and his sex buddy.”
“That explains it. Are you thinking about doing it?”
“Maybe? I need everything I can get. What’s better, three ghosts or a wraith?”
“Then I guess I know what I’ll do.”
“Just not in my favorite club.”