Agent of S.T.A.L.K. in PraguebyFive_Eight©
Greetings, I wish everyone a scary Hallowe'en, All Saints' Day, El Día de los Muertos, All Hallows Eve, Dušičky, etc.
Have you ever eaten in a restaurant and the food on the next table looked so good you wish you'd ordered that instead? That's how I feel when reading one of manyeyedhydra's vampire tales: man, I'd sure like to try some succubus-in-a-Euro-trash-setting myself. So I asked permission and, amiable chap that he is, my friend Hydra said, "Go ahead on, Five!" I piled on the gratuitous sex & violence in AGENT OF S.T.A.L.K. IN PRAGUE; and dedicate this story to the many-eyed one.
Hope you ladies & gentlemen at Literotica enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it. And I'd be much obliged if you'd kindly vote a five for Five when you've finished this black comedy. Thanks in advance, everybody.
The Czech bouncer outside the entrance of the sex club glanced at the business card Mercer handed him.
"S.T.A.L.K.? Sounds like some kind of sick shit." He spoke English well, but almost spat the words. The curious look on his face bordered on contempt. "What the fuck does it stand for?"
"Supernatural Terminators And Lycanthrope Killers."
Uninterested, the tall and very broad bouncer gave the card back, "I'm glad it has nothing to do with celery. Pay the cover like everyone else or get the hell out."
"I'm here on an assignment and have no intention of paying you five hundred Korunas," Mercer said patiently. "Your boss called our S.T.A.L.K. offices in District 1 and requested an agent come out. That's me. Why not check with him before you have an embarrassing moment."
The bouncer's eyes widened as the meaning of the words became clear to him, his face twisted in a full-fledged sneer. "You're going to give me an embarrassing moment?" he snarled in disbelief. Over his shoulder he spoke to another guy just as big as he was: "Hey, Eduard! Come over here. This piece of shit thinks he can give me an embarrassing moment."
Nonchalant, Mercer rocked back and forth on his heels, both hands out of sight in the pockets of his black leather trenchcoat, waiting for Eduard to join them on the sidewalk in front of the sleazy cabaret. The lofty gloomy architecture of Prague, the golden city of a hundred spires, towered claustrophobically all around them. In the middle of the street a group of people in rubber head masks and dressed as zombies in celebration of the Czech Republic's Halloween, Dušičky, chose that moment to start dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" blasting out of a boom box. Still suffering jet lag from a recent transatlantic flight from the United States, Mercer acted patient through it all. But his patience had expired.
He taunted the bouncer that the first one had called out to. "By all means, come down and watch."
The man, another hulking specimen in a cheap tux, detached himself from the four strippers he chatted up in the doorway of the entrance. "Oh, I want to see this," he muttered. While he ambled to the sidewalk his eyes assessed Mercer, who was a head shorter than the first bouncer, and a big grin formed on his face. Mercer grinned too, so did the other guy. All three of them grinned, standing there. But the three men only grinned for a moment. Mercer deplored the gangsters operating the strip bars and sex houses as much as the prostitutes working in such places, but his job brought him into occasional contact with them. At least most of them spoke good English, communication was seldom a problem. He exhaled with disgust, knowing he'd have to resort to a different language.
A quick punch to the sternum and a knee to the scrotum sprawled the recalcitrant bouncer in a fetal position on the cobblestones. His mouth worked, opening and closing, except no words came out. The costumed revelers out in the street stopped performing their "Thriller" dance. The flock of half naked dancers clustered in the door started jabbering amongst themselves.
Mercer grabbed a fistful of tuxedo shirt and yanked Eduard toward him. "If you think that's embarrassing, Eddie, wait'll you check out what's in store for you."
Everyone understood the language of violence.
Trying to ease out of Mercer's grasp, Eduard said, "If you are here to see the boss, well, that is a different story. Of course, you do not have to pay the cover charge."
Mercer didn't let go of Eduard's shirtfront. "And where inside of this dump will I find your boss? Has he got an office?" "He does, but most likely you will find him out on the floor somewhere. He has on a tan suit."
Mercer suggested, "How about you have one of the strippers point him out to me, chum."
Eduard's eyes stayed locked on his as he instructed one of the chattering girls: "Izabela, help this gentleman here locate Kryštof inside."
One of the women, an aging bleached blonde with surgically augmented boobs, swayed over on eight-inch heels to where Mercer still held the motionless Eduard by the shirt. Mercer ignored the bimbo and asked him, "What's your friend's name? The one on the ground."
Eduard licked at dry lips before answering. "And still on the ground. That's Alexandr. I have seen him in plenty of fights, he never loses. You are the first one I ever saw put him down."
Mercer let go of Eduard, but brushed disdainfully at the wrinkles he'd left in the fabric of his shirt with the back of a hand. Then he shoved Eduard aside, squatted down beside Alexandr and said, "Sorry to make such a bad first impression." He flipped his card in the man's face. "Call S.T.A.L.K. if you want to complain. Or if you think I tricked you and you want to take a second shot just give me a call, my mobile number's on the card too."
Alexandr wisely said nothing, he just shook his head and gave a meek wave of his hand to indicate everything was cool. Mercer stepped away from him, moved past Eduard toward the door with Izabela. The three other strippers got out of his way. He felt their eyes watching him as he passed them. Once inside Izabela giggled and took him by the arm. She mashed a tit as hard as a cinder block into his arm.
"If you pack a dick like you pack a punch I want one of your cards too," she enthused.
Mercer disengaged her arm without smiling, but he didn't give her a card. "Let's go find Kryštof, honey."
The three-story sex club loomed next door to a disco on a backstreet in Zizkov in District 3, the roughest neighborhood in Prague. A garish neon sign over the door advertised the dive as the 'Fun Palace' but the interior of the joint didn't look like any palace Mercer had ever seen. Izabela led him through a dim alcove with fake cobwebs and skeleton decorations on the walls. Inside streamers fluttered from the ceiling, the universal orange and black of Halloween. Dishes of holiday candy had been distributed everywhere. A horseshoe-shaped deck on the first floor overlooked a sunken area crammed with tables. Most had customers sitting at them, some in costume. Women, more often than men, wore masks or greasepaint on their faces in observance of Dušičky. A couple of hefty girls danced and stripped in a desultory fashion on two small circular stages positioned amid the tables on the floor. A younger, thinner girl with dishwater blonde hair did a bump-and-grind on the main stage nestled between each end of the horseshoe deck, a glassed-in DJ booth on one side. The dancer working the large rectangular stage appeared equally bored as the others.
Additional tables occupied the upper level; Mercer noted two separate bars to his left and right. Several doors, including the metal ones of a lift, lined the walls leading to restrooms and an obvious V.I.P. area, but others led to parts unknown. An ancient Def Leppard song thundered from the enormous speaker cabinets suspended overhead. Mercer surveyed the crowd for a man in a tan suit.
He asked Izabela, "Do you see Kryštof anywhere?"
She twisted her blonde head once from side to side. "Maybe upstairs? Probably."
"Let's go then."
Izabela marched over to the pair of steel doors, but Mercer indicated the stairs. He didn't want to be trapped should the lift decide to break down. She protested, "Stairs are hard to climb in high heels."
Without a word Mercer started up the stairs and she followed, clomping behind him like a horse. The second level didn't have a deck, just a small dance floor with softer music piped in, more intimate than Def Leppard. Dozens of couples clinging tightly to one another danced in the near darkness while others writhed on couches along the walls. A tangible effluvium of perspiration intermingled with sex in the air. Mercer strained to see a man in a suit who might be Kryštof.
"Kryštof's not here, he will be up top," Izabela informed him.
This time she went up the stairs ahead of him. In the harsh fluorescent light in the stairwell Mercer saw stretch marks on the buttocks exposed by Izabela's abbreviated skirt. The woman didn't have any knickers on. She smiled down at him and asked, "Is that a Dušičky costume or do you always dress like a priest?"
She referred to his black suit and shirt, buttoned to the neck without a tie, under the trenchcoat. Mercer saw no reason to be surly with her, she was only making conversation. "You don't see a cleric's collar, do you?"
"I do not know many priests who would wear black high top sneakers either."
Mercer doubted Izabela knew any clergymen, but said, "My niece bought these shoes for me when I visited Los Angeles last week. She called them Chuck's. They're quite comfortable for walking around airport concourses."
"Very stylish. Are you from America?"
"No. I live here."
"Do you live nearby, handsome?"
"In a flat in Vinohrady."
"That is in Prague 2," she commented, "Not too far from here. Perhaps later you can show me your flat?"
"The wife's waiting up for me," Mercer lied.
Izabela took the hint and left off issuing further invitations. When they reached the top of the stairs she stopped and spoke again. "That is Kryštof standing over there."
A man and woman stood in the middle of a hallway with doors on either side like a hotel corridor. A group of bouncers in tuxes gathered at the far end, talking among themselves. The sound of moaning and grunting came through the thin doors, punctuated with an occasional female cry of joy. Mercer perceived the odor of sex more heavily on this floor than he did on the one below.
"Prosim," Mercer thanked Izabela. "I'll introduce myself." He heard the heels of her shoes echoing in the stairway and, for a moment, wondered why she hadn't ridden the lift down. Then he strode over to Kryštof, a chap with oily hair in dire need of a barber. Like Mercer, Americans would write him off as Euro trash, a mid-level mobster in a shiny Italian suit. A cigarette bobbed between his lips as he spoke to a rail-thin slut in a red garment that left the upper halves of her breasts and the lower halves of her ass bare.
Kryštof surprised him with his good manners. When he saw Mercer standing there he cut his conversation short with the girl, extinguished his cigarette on the carpet under the heel of his loafer and stepped toward him, his hand extended to shake. "Good evening, my friend. Can I be of assistance?"
"Clive Mercer," he said as they shook hands. He handed him his business card.
After giving it a glance, Kryštof nodded. "I can tell you are an Englishman. An expat by chance?"
"Not at all. I just flew in this morning from spending last week with my niece in California, though I am attached to the Prague branch of S.T.A.L.K. Have been for almost a year, but I should be returning to Blighty before Christmas. I understand there's a little problem here tonight."
"A big fucking problem, my friend. I thank you for responding so quickly." Kryštof said to the girl in the red, "Lenka, would you go get Jakub for me? Tell him we'll be in the office. This way, Mercer, if you please."
Midway down the corridor Kryštof unlocked a heavy door inlaid with two thick padded vinyl panels, when he closed it behind Mercer the groans and grunts ceased to be audible. The room stunk from stale perfume, old smoke and recent pussy. A scratched metal desk faced a couch with stained cushions and armrests. Kryštof lit another cigarette and planted a hip on a corner of the desk, Mercer remained standing. A man knocked once and let himself into the office. Kryštof introduced Jakub, the security chief of the club, another big man, this one with a ponytail and clad in a shabby tux like the other bouncers.
"Jakub, this is the agent S.T.A.L.K. sent over: Clive Mercer. Is there any sign of the police?"
"Good. Is the body undisturbed?"
"I have let no one in the room. Nobody's touched it since I put the towels under him to keep the blood from seeping through the floor into the ceiling below."
"Good. Do any of the girls know what's going on?"
"Lenka knows something's wrong but she doesn't know what."
"I have cautioned Lenka to keep quiet."
"So did I, she'll keep her mouth shut." Jakub added, making a fist, "If she knows what's good for her."
Kryštof turned to Mercer. "As you might have guessed we have a corpse in one of our private rooms. Jakub and I will deal with the authorities when the time comes although we need you to deal with the problem immediately."
"Fill me in on the details."
Kryštof deferred to Jakub, who said, "Apparently one of our girls brought the guy up here. Now he's dead."
"Which girl?" asked Mercer.
"I am not sure."
"Don't you keep any record?"
"It is Dušičky, the club is busier than usual for a Monday night."
The rest of the world has different names and dates for Halloween. Prague recognized All Soul's Day on November second.
Mercer pointed out, "There must be a hundred and fifty to two hundred girls here tonight, surely you have some idea of who she is."
"The dead man was fooling around with several of the women here. My security team has narrowed them down to three."
"Are they still on the premises?" Mercer hoped they were.
"They're still here," replied Jakub with a hint of a sigh. "I have a man monitoring each one. Two of them are dancing with men on the second floor. One's onstage on the ground level as we speak. You want me to gather them together and bring them up here?"
"Let me take a look at the body first. Is the wound in the neck?"
"Well, one of the wounds is," Kryštof interjected. "That's the reason we called S.T.A.L.K. first and not the police."
How the 'Fun Palace' management reacted to the murder was not Mercer's concern. Sometime before daybreak he'd have to report the death even if the gangsters did not or risk S.T.A.L.K.'s licenses being revoked. Mercer didn't comment or make any judgments. Since his boss had already negotiated the fee with the club's management, and their credit card cleared, all he needed to do was go to work. "Let's see the deceased now."
They left the office and walked to the end of the hall where the group of bouncers loitered outside the last door on the right. Their hushed conversation died with the approach of Kryštof. He told one of them to remain outside and the rest to go about their duties. Kryštof preceded him into the little room with Jakub bringing up the rear, he drew the door closed. The place smelt of copper, among other things. Blood has a coppery smell. The few available lights inside the hazy cramped space had already been switched on, a dim bare bulb in the ceiling and a tiny table lamp with another low wattage bulb.
A man lay on the floor like he'd melted and didn't have a single bone in his body, naked but for his trousers around his ankles, the eyes wide open in the horrified face. Several white dish towels lay under his head, more beneath his hips. Mercer slid his pencil flash out of his shirt pocket and stooped down to raise the man's head. He turned it gently so he could view the underside of his neck. Two puncture marks leaked blood when he moved the body. He shined the beam of light on the wound while conducting his examination. Flashing the light down to the man's hips, he made a gruesome discovery. The poor bloke's penis was bitten off. Mercer didn't gasp or recoil in shock, he'd seen far worse.
Before he could shine the beam around the floor, Jakub said, "You won't find it, I've already looked. It's gone."
Mercer had seen enough. He told Kryštof and Jakub, "There isn't much blood on these towels, a coffee cup at the most."
"Is this the work of a vampire?" asked Kryštof.
"That's my best guess. Since we have a sex crime involving a mutilated man as victim I tend to think we're dealing with a succubus."
"Is that a vampire?" Kryštof wanted to know.
"A female vampire." Mercer rose to his feet and backed away from the dead man. "Succubi feed on male sexual energy and can drain the life out of a man. I'd say that's what happened to this chap since there's so little bleeding. She sucked him dry, literally. Jakub, has your team seen signs of blood on any of the three girls in question? Bloodspots on their clothes? Or their chests, hands and especially faces?"
"We keep the 'Palace' dark and intimate on purpose. For practical reasons. I can ask the men I have watching the three girls we suspect."
"Would you do that right now for me, please?"
Jakub mumbled a yes before he exited. Mercer glanced around the room, the sole furnishings a single bed with tangled sweat-stained sheets and pillows, a blue plastic lamp table, and a chair with articles of clothing heaped on it. He checked all the pockets of the clothes for identification. A label sewn inside the jacket read J.C. Penney, which Mercer knew to be an American department store.
While he watched Mercer rifling through the clothes, Kryštof said, "You won't find a wallet either, Jakub took it when we found the body."
"Where is it now?"
"Locked in my desk drawer."
"I want to see it when we get back to your office," Mercer said. On hands and knees he shined his flash under the bed. Nothing except condom wrappers and four used prophylactics. He wanted out of this dump, wished he'd never accepted the assignment, yet continued his grim search for any worthwhile clues. Scouting around, Mercer pondered the possibility of Kryštof concealing pertinent facts from him. He ventured idly, "By the way, do you know this fellow? Is he a regular here, an expat perhaps?"
"I've never seen him in the club before, neither has Jakub. We suspect he's a tourist. Prague is popular, especially during Dušičky."
Mercer said nothing, hauled himself to his feet and stowed his flash. "Have you ever had a problem like this before tonight, someone killed in the club under mysterious circumstances?"
Kryštof seemed wary of Mercer's inquiry and he'd expected him to be; the man was doubtless a gangster. After hesitating Kryštof answered, "There have been two other customers killed in here. In the last three years."
"With puncture wounds in the necks or minus their private parts?"
"Nothing at all like that, Mercer. Those were not unexplained deaths, they could be accounted for. Not something we would like the public to know, you understand."
Fair enough, thought Mercer. He admired Kryštof's candor. "Let's go back to your office. I'd like to check the contents of the man's wallet."
He'd left Kryštof an opportunity to say something about the wallet and the club manager volunteered, "He had an American driver's license from New Jersey. That's why Jakub and I think he's a vacationer."
"Was he carrying a passport with him?"
"Tourists usually leave them in the safe at their hotel," he said as he let them out of the room.
Back in his office Kryštof unlocked a drawer of the desk and passed a thick tri-fold wallet over to Mercer. The first thing he noticed was the empty bill compartment, only five credit cards and a driver's license bearing the name of Vincent Lomelli remained. Nothing there to help shed any light on the man's death. Mercer handed the billfold back to Kryštof.