Demon Night

byMagicaPractica©

Jack nodded. "Vivienne, this is my friend Nickels, he's our local version of a police detective."

Vivienne saw Nickel's bushy gray eyebrows raise when Jack said her name and he looked at her then at Jack, who just shook his head once.

"Nice to meet you, Vivienne," Nickels said neutrally, enunciating far more carefully than he had a moment ago.

"We're looking for her kid sister," Jack explained.

"Oh yeah? How old?" Nickels asked.

"She's twenty," Vivienne supplied.

"Human?" Nickels asked.

"Witch," Jack amended.

Nickels nodded. "Well, we get quite a few who visit these days. But the club is mostly cleared out right now. There's only a dozen regulars still inside."

"What happened?" Vivienne asked quietly.

"Altercation between a human kid, named Joseph, and some people who work here."

Vivienne grabbed Jack's arm. "That's Tasha's boyfriend's name!"

"Is he inside?" Jack asked.

Nickels shook his head, the gray tufts of hair that stuck out from his head above each ear dancing. "Sent him to the hospital."

"General or Our Lady?" Jack asked.

"General. They've got the psych ward. He seemed a bit off, maybe high, maybe somethin' else."

Vivienne's grip tightened on Jack's arm and he reached up to pat her hand reassuringly. "Thanks, Nickels. Is he under arrest? Any chance we could talk to him?"

"Sure, sure. I'll radio the guard on duty and tell him to let you in. I don't know how much good it'll do ya, but you can give it a try. Let me know if you get anything useful outta him."

"Will do."

"I gotta get back inside. Don' be a stranger, okay?"

Jack smiled as Nickels walked back up the sidewalk to the entrance of the club.

"But Jack, we need to get in there and check it out! See if there's any sign of Tasha!"

Jack shook his head down at Vivienne. "They're not going to let us in there if it's an active crime scene right now. The only people in there are being questioned then released or taken in."

As he spoke, two women appeared in the doorway and turned down the sidewalk toward them. Both had light purple skin and long dark hair.

"Jacks!" one squealed and pelted the twenty feet to throw herself into his arms.

Jack hugged the young woman and then put her down. She pouted and then smiled up at him from underneath her eyelashes. She wore a too short black skirt and a barely there sheer black blouse over a red satin bra.

"Hey, Rox. How's it shakin?"

The woman placed her hands on her hips and actually waggled her ample bosom in Jack's direction. "Betta than evah!" She glanced over and seemed to finally take in Vivienne. She looked her up and down then sniffed. "Really, Jacks, slumming with a witch? I can show you a better time."

Vivienne's cheeks flushed. The woman was obviously a topless dancer but he was slumming by being seen with a witch? Vivienne was thunderstruck as Jack smiled affectionately at the woman. He looked a little too friendly with her. Vivienne folded her own arms and glowered. The young woman noticed and smirked back at her.

"Hey Rox, we're looking for her kid sister. You see any young witches in here tonight?"

The woman tossed her head, sending her dark hair cascading over her shoulder. "Maybe. There was a girl. Human, maybe, maybe witch. Came through about nine. Looked a little wild-eyed with a couple of toughs, headed into the back. They looked young and . . . under dressed for the club."

Finally the two girls walked on down the street and Jack turned to Vivienne. He sobered at her scowl and cleared his throat. "Ready to go check on Joseph?"

"Is that who you've been spending time with the past year?" Vivienne asked.

Jack smiled again. "Is that a little jealousy I detect?"

Realization hit her. "You were shaving . . . at night. You were getting ready to go out too, weren't you?"

Jack's smile faded and he swallowed. "Um, well, yeah."

Vivienne scowled. "Uh huh." She turned and started back toward the parking garage.

"Hey now, wait a second," Jack said behind her, quickly catching up to her fast pace. "First of all, you threw me out. Second, Roxie is a very nice girl who happens to dance for a living, she is not a prostitute. Third . . . well, it's none of your business, you threw me out, remember?"

Vivienne glanced over at him and kept walking. "You're absolutely correct, It is not any of my business who you spend your time with."

They went up the ramp of the parking garage to the second level, got the car and drove over to the hospital in silence except for the radio playing old 80s music from the human world, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

At the hospital, Jack parked and Vivienne was out of the car and headed for the entrance before he'd even gotten out of the car. "Hey! Wait up!" he called, jogging to catch up. "It's not safe for you to be darting around a dark parking lot at night."

"Because I'm a witch?" she asked, spoiling for a fight.

"No, because it wouldn't be safe to be out alone in a dark parking lot in any world, particularly on Halloween. It gets some people wound up, just thinking about it, you know."

Her eyes roamed around the parking lot. It was rather dark and center of the city for her comfort level. There were very few people around at this time of night. One man, looking weary but decidedly normal save for his green skin, sat on a low wall off to her right a ways, smoking a cigarette.

Jack held the plate glass door for her and she ducked through with a grudging, "Thank you."

Inside, it was like any hospital waiting room in her world. Chairs sat around small waiting areas, separated by low walls, and plastic ferns sat on top of the walls, giving the illusion of privacy. There were offices farther down the hall and a tan metal desk to one side. It was rather cramped, to tell the truth.

Vivienne walked up to the desk. A man in scrubs with skin as dark blue as a midnight sky and gleaming dark hair looked up wearily. "How can I help you?"

Vivienne had the feeling it had been a long night for him already, though it was relatively quiet at the moment. "I'm looking for information on my sister's boyfriend, the police told me he was brought in tonight. He's human, and they thought he was stoned or something. He'd been in a fight?"

The man raised his eyebrows and looked past her at Jack, who pulled out his P.I. badge and flashed a rueful smile. "One of the cops sent us over, said he would have a word with the man guarding him and we could have a word with the kid, if he was sensible. He's a college kid, probably over here partying and had a little too much fun, if you know what I mean."

The man in scrubs nodded. "Let me see what I can find out. Have a seat."

Vivienne sighed impatiently but went over to the nearest grouping of chairs and had a seat. There were already a couple people sitting there, the female filling out forms on a clipboard and the man grimacing in pain, his hand wrapped in a blood stained towel, obviously the victim of some kind of home accident.

Jack sat down next to her. He looked around for a minute then bumped her knee with his. "Remind you of anything?" he asked.

She looked over at him. Yes, it did, but she didn't particularly want to acknowledge the times he had taken her to the hospital or elsewhere to retrieve her sister when she'd been doing drugs. He had been there every time, prepared to hold her hand, listen if she wanted to talk, draw her out when she was tense, and distract her when she couldn't handle it anymore or the news was too nerve wracking.

A man in light blue scrubs with glasses and a curly brown beard appeared in front of her. "Sir, Ma'am, if you'll follow me, I'll take you up to see the patient. You can't stay long as we're outside of normal visiting hours but since you're the only one who seems to know him, it might be helpful. We really haven't gotten anything sensible out of him yet."

Vivienne frowned and looked over at Jack as she got to her feet. "Is he conscious?"

"Yes, he's just not making much sense."

They followed the nurse up the hallway to a lift of some kind. The doors closed. The panel showed there were five floors in this building, Vivienne noted. She had noticed over the past couple of years as she spent time in hospitals, trying to retrieve her sister from the brink of addiction induced insanity, that they tended to have multiple towers and disconnected portions that had been added on to an original building." She was surprised that everything, even hospitals, were so similar to her own world. A moment later the doors opened and though she had sensed no movement, they were looking at a different wall.

They got out of the lift and the nurse turned right. They followed him along a hallway and turned left then saw a cop in a uniform sitting in a chair, reading a newspaper. He looked up as they approached.

Jack stepped forward with his I.D. again. "Officer Bement?"

The man stood up and scrutinized Jack's I.D. "Yes, sir, the detective said you'd be coming over. You can go in."

"Has he said anything?" Vivienne asked.

The cop shook his head. "I haven't gone in. No need, he's not going anywhere. I'm more here to keep anyone looking for revenge out. His wasn't the only blood spilled in that club tonight, from what I heard."

"Oh?" Jack asked.

"Yeah, he must have took a chunk out of the other guy, from what I heard."

They waited but, perhaps realizing he'd said more than he should, the cop just cleared his throat and sat back down.

Jack opened the door and they went into the room.

Vivienne walked over to the bed. It was definitely him. "Joseph," she said softly. He was lying flat out on the bed, sweating profusely. He seemed asleep but then he started to whine and his eyes flew open. They looked blood shot and crazed, his pupils dilated. It took a minute before he focused on her.

"Viv! Oh, God, Viv, they've got her!" he said hoarsely.

"Who? Who's got her?" She put a hand out to touch his arm, and realized he was strapped down. She grimaced. Sadly, she understood it was probably for his own good. He looked totally looped and when someone was in that state they would do things they never would under other circumstances. She realized she didn't know Joseph very well but she had never seen him drunk, let alone drugged up.

"I don't know!" He started to cry in frustration, twisting on the bed. He was wearing a standard hospital gown and a blanket was tucked in around him. "We have to find her!"

"Okay, okay, just relax. That's why Jack and I are here. We're going to find her. But first, you have to tell us whatever you can remember." Vivienne stroked his arm now, trying to soothe him. He was breathing too hard. She went into the bathroom and found a washcloth. She wet it down and rung it out then went back to wipe his forehead and the rest of his face. It seemed to calm him a bit.

"Why did you come over here?" Vivienne asked. The door opened behind her and she glanced back but the doctor who had slipped into the room just stepped to the side and listened. She looked back down at Joseph.

"Tash said her friend, Stephie, was in trouble, running with the wrong crowd . . . . they were going to get high on some drug we'd never heard of! She said we had to stop her. People had come over chasing it and never come back. So we followed her, thinking we could maybe even grab her and port her back before anything happened."

"But it didn't work?"

Joseph started twisting again. "No, they took her and grabbed Tash too. Big, hairy evil monsters with red eyes and long snouts, like werewolves. I tried to stop them but one of them hit me with something and threw me against the wall."

"Did you hear any names?" Jack asked.

"Shazaam, Shazaam!" Joseph crowed as if he couldn't help himself. He started thrashing around and the doctor stepped forward and hit a button on the console. Joseph's eyes rolled back and he went limp.

"I'm sorry," the doctor said, "but when that happens they have to be sedated or it just gets worse. I've given your young friend here a sedative to slow down how fast his body is metabolizing it. That should help it clear out without doing any damage. He's clearly hallucinating, as evidenced by people with hairy snouts, so it's impossible to say how much of what he says is true."

"Do you know what the drug is or what it does?" Jack asked.

The doctor frowned. "It gives them some kind of high. It seems to be affecting demons much more strongly than witches though why that would be, I can't say. Your friend here is only half demon or it wouldn't be affecting him so mildly."

"Wait a second, doc. This . . . " Jack gestured to Joseph lying on the bed. "This is mild?"

The doctor nodded grimly. "And we know that those who use it seem to lose their ability to do magic."

Vivienne felt a shiver run up her spine. "Stealing magic?"

"Perhaps," the doctor admitted. "Demons and witch's do share common ancestry and their innate ability to do magic is passed down through the blood, which becomes more concentrated in some people than others, though we still don't understand exactly how that mechanism works. Is it encoded in the DNA or is there some other explanation?" He shook his head. "But, somehow, this drug is blocking the users ability to do magic."

"Wait, what did you say?" Vivienne asked. "Common ancestry?"

The doctor looked at Jack. "Is this her first time over?"

Jack nodded his head.

The doctor sighed. "What do they teach them over there?" He turned to Vivienne. "Witches were sent to Earth as a sort of penal colony because they could blend in so well with the humans. They were only allowed to communicate with the demon home world on Halloween, through summoning, and the portal was only allowed to open on Halloween until the trade restrictions were lifted. Of course, demons kept close tabs on those they sent over, which gave us the added benefit of adopting the best technology of that world. You may have noticed how similarly our worlds have advanced."

"That's crazy," Vivienne snorted, looking at Jack.

He shrugged. "It's true."

Vivienne felt like her brain hit a wall, she couldn't wrap her mind around it. She raised a hand. "Look, this is beside the point right now. Is the loss of magic permanent?"

"As far as we have seen, but this is a new drug on the streets. Will the magic come back in a few years? Like a depleted resource that rebuilds? Impossible to say."

"Thanks, doc," Jack said. He turned to Vivienne. "I think we'd better get going."

Vivienne's sense of duty warred within her. She was desperate to find Tasha, especially after what she had just heard. What if she lost her magic? Or her life? But . . . "What about Joseph?" Vivienne asked, looking over at the inert form on the bed. She felt responsible for him.

"There's nothing we can do for him until the drug is out of his system and the cops decide whether to hold or release him."

Vivienne nodded. Jack was right, of course, though she didn't like leaving Joseph without someone to keep an eye on him.

They thanked the doctor and headed out. Walking down the hall, Jack typed in a message and hit send then stabbed the call button for the elevator with his thumb. "How well do you know this kid?"

"He's been seeing Tasha for the last six months. I've never seen him drunk, let alone high. I would have said he was an okay kid but then . . . " She looked over at Jack. The implication was clear. They had been in a relationship for a year before she found out he was a demon, and he hadn't been the one to tell her.

He grimaced. "Listen, maybe I should have..."

"Warned me?" she asked.

He scowled. "Prepared you," he corrected, stepping into the elevator.

She followed, frowning. She had held on to her righteous anger for a while but it had warred with her guilt over the way she had acted. Now, seeing him here, with his family, helping her, again . . . did it really matter that he was a demon? She honestly didn't even know anymore. "I wanted to call you but..."

"But what?"

"I thought you'd have forgotten about me, would want to, after what happened," she said, her eyes glued to the floor.

"Never," he said quietly. The door closed and he stepped in close to her.

Her head snapped up and she met his eyes.

He reached up and stroked a strand of hair back from her face. "I never knew I could be haunted by someone who was still alive."

It was like an electric jolt to her system. She felt breathless. "You have got to stop doing that."

"What?"

"Saying things that make me want to kiss you."

He grinned suddenly and she marveled at how achingly familiar it was, and yet it had been so long since she had seen that beautiful smile. She felt like something was squeezing her heart. They leaned in toward each other but then the elevator came to a stop and his phone buzzed.

Vivienne turned toward the opening door as Jack answered his phone. "Hello, Marty."

Vivienne found herself staring into the dark barrel of a handgun.

A large hand reached into the elevator and batted the phone away from Jack's ear.

"You two is comin' with us."

"What, are you two dressed up as the Blues Brothers for Halloween?" Jack asked.

The two goons could have been right out of some fifties mob movie, enforcers dressed in black suits with sunglasses, even in the dim environs of the lower levels of the hospital.

The smaller of the two men curled his lips back in something halfway between a sneer and a mocking laugh. "Aren't you the funny one, Jack? Yeah, we know who you are. Now, come along quietly and we won't hurt anybody." Jack and Vivienne glanced at each other. "Make it difficult and our friends in the car will make sure a whole lot of people in this hospital really need to be here."

Vivienne and Jack were directed to walk in front of their new friends. The smaller of the men followed them with the gun under an overcoat while the larger man ducked into the elevator and grabbed Jack's phone from the floor then followed them. Vivienne silently lamented the fact that Jack hadn't let her grab any of her stuff before he spirited her off to the demon realm. She wasn't much good at doing magic without some kind of focusing tool or spell components.

They were ushered out of the hospital unceremoniously and into a waiting sedan with very dark windows. It wasn't until they were in the car that Vivienne realized there was no one else. The two men sat in front, behind a partition.

"Don't try nothin' funny," the bigger man said through an intercom. "The doors only open from the outside and the windows is shatter proof."

Jack had climbed in behind Vivienne and they naturally sat close to each other, touching. The warmth of his leg gave Vivienne some measure of comfort. Jack took Vivienne's hand.

"I'm sorry about this," he said.

She looked at him in the dark interior of the car. "This isn't your fault."

"I'm afraid one of my contacts sold us out."

She remembered the message he had sent. "Ah, I see."

"Don't worry. I'll get us out of this, somehow. The good news is there's a possibility we're being taken to where Tasha is being held," he murmured.

Right. That was good, in a way, though it would have been better if they'd gotten inside without these guys knowing they were there. At least we're not blindfolded or stuffed in the trunk. Though the fact that the men in front seemed singularly unconcerned with them knowing where they were going was worrisome. As if they wouldn't have the opportunity to lead any authorities back there.

She stared out at dark city streets as they passed through the commercial district of the city and the houses looked less and less well kept. Weeds grew tall in many front yards, boards covered windows and porches sagged. Vivienne suspected that if it were daytime she would see even more signs of decay, like faded and peeling paint.

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byMagicaPractica© 5 comments/ 8827 views/ 14 favorites

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