tagNonHumanThe Midnight Auction

The Midnight Auction


Guy had passed the faded sign a hundred times. Probably more. "Auctions Every Friday at Midnight," it said. The sign was planted on the side of the road in front of a tumbledown building whose corrugated iron roof had once been painted white but was now a dirty, rust-mottled grey. The walls had that faded maroon look that barns get after half a century of neglect. He had never been inside the building and had never seen another living person in or around it, but the place had been there for as long as Guy had been commuting to and from Tipp City. Sometimes he wondered if it was just a hallucination he had every time he passed this particular barren stretch of highway.

Not tonight though. The auction building had lights blazing through every window and its parking lot was full to capacity. Dozens of vehicles had also been parked in the surrounding fields. It was like there was a fair in town. Guy looked down at the luminescent numbers of the clock on the dashboard and saw that it was 11:43. Almost midnight. And it was Friday. He looked at the dashboard clock again and saw the date: 10/30/10. The night before Halloween. Guy gave a little shiver. He always tried to forget about Halloween, but somehow it always crept up on him.

On a whim, he swerved his car and drove through one of the fields, flattening stalks of some non-descript plant that never seemed to change or grow. He parked between a yellow Volkswagen Bug and a jet black Mustang. Ahead of him was a row of cars that included an ancient and dented El Camino, a semi-truck and a sleek red sports car that Guy thought might be a Ferrari. There seemed to be quite a diverse group out here tonight. What exactly was it that this place auctioned. He had always assumed that it was just farm equipment, and maybe odds and ends belonging to people who had died.

For some reason, a low-grade nervousness began to eat at him as he approached the flaking double doors that marked the entrance to the auction building. He could hear a low buzz of voices coming from inside, and when he put his hand on the door handle he had to fight the urge to turn around and get back into his car. He was being stupid. It was just the time of year. Goddamned Halloween. When he opened them again he realized that he was clutching the door handle so hard that his hand hurt.

Guy took a deep breath, then another. He pulled on the door and it swung open without making a sound. It led into a long whitewashed corridor that was illuminated by dirty over-hanging fluorescent lights. He walked down the hallway, towards the doors that stood at the other end, unable to justify exactly why he was doing it. The sound of voices grew louder with every step he took and the closer they became, the more he wanted to turn around and bolt. A low-level panic was gathering in the pit of his stomach and crackling along his nerve-endings, and as far as he could tell there was no concrete reason for it. When he opened that door all he would find behind it would be a bunch of farmers trying to get the best deals on remaindered tractors.

That's what he had to keep telling himself in order to keep his legs propelling him forward. When his hand closed around the door handle, his palms were slick with sweat and every hair on his body felt as if it were standing on end. Every instinct in him was howling at him to get out and get out now. Guy took a breath, told himself to stop being such a scared little bitch, and pushed open the door.

Human beings had instincts for a reason. That was Guy's first thought upon entering the vast auditorium beyond the doors. His instincts had been trying to tell him that here was danger, and he hadn't listened. But how could he have been prepared for something like this? How could anyone be prepared for something like this?

The auditorium was packed with people, but the term "people" could only be applied here in the loosest of ways. Some of them did indeed look human, but the others were monsters; it was the only word Guy could think of to describe them. There were huge, scaly lizard-men, men and women with horns curling out of their temples and blazing red eyes, others even stranger. On his right was a shirtless man with iron gray skin and a pair of sinuous bat's wings protruding from his shoulder blades. To his left stood a group of beautiful women who all looked exactly the same and who all shone with the same preternatural blue light.

The moment Guy walked into the auditorium he felt dozens of pairs of eyes immediately fix upon him. He tried to shrink into himself, to become as uninteresting as possible, but in this crowd he stuck out. He wondered if he would even be able to turn around and go back through the door before something got him. He had just decided to take his chances when an amplified voice cut through the chatter of the crowd. "Ladies and Gentlemen, please make your way to your seats. The auction will begin in five minutes time." Guy found himself suddenly hemmed in on all sides by creatures moving towards the rows of folding chairs which had been set up in front of a small stage on the far side of the auditorium. He moved with them, caught like a fish in a powerful current, and found himself sitting down between a man who looked like he had been carved out of a granite boulder and a thin and very handsome, middle-aged woman with her blonde hair set in an elaborate bun. He was relieved to see that out of all the things here, she was one of the most normal. She could have been a school librarian. Then she turned her head and smiled at him and he could see that she had fangs.

"What brings you here?" she asked. She had a slight, Eastern European accent.

"Oh, just thought I'd see what the place had to offer," Guy said, trying to keep his tone airy. He forced himself not to stare at her fangs.

"I've never seen you at any of the other auctions."

"I've never been to one before," Guy said, quite truthfully.

"Well, you're in for a treat then. I've heard that tonight's is going to be especially good."

"Why's that?" He tried to ignore the granite man on his left, who was staring at Guy as if he had never seen anything quite like him before.

"Supposedly there are a lot of exotic items on the list of sale this year." She glanced down at the antique watch she had around her wrist and remarked. "Two minutes until Halloween."

"Do you do this every year?"

"Of course not. Only every half-century."

"But the sign says every Friday."

She laughed, and Guy couldn't help but notice how very red her lips and tongue were and how her fangs looked to be about two inches long. "The Emcee has a sense of humor. He could have picked anywhere in the world, but it had to be here because it would be ironic. And it's in the middle of nowhere; we're not likely to be interrupted all the way out here."

"Oh," Guy said.

"And to be honest, I think he was hoping to attract a few breathers. He likes to play with them."


"Mortals. The Living. Take your pick of terms." The woman turned in her seat a little so that she could stare at him, her eyes running him up and down, and then her scarlet lips curled into a wicked smile. "You're human aren't you?" Her voice was low, barely a murmur.

"I—I--" Guy stammered. His brain was shutting down. If any of these creatures found out he was human they would kill him, he was certain of it.

"Oh you are, aren't you!" she sounded delighted and he saw that she was beaming. "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone, but a lot of them have probably spotted you already."

"Are you going to kill me?" Guy asked, his entire body numb.

She laughed, "Of course not, silly boy. Everyone who attends the auction is protected by the truce. As long as it lasts, no one in this room may harm another."

"Does that include me?" Guy asked.

"You're here, aren't you?"

"I guess I am," he said, some of the panic leaving him now that he no longer felt sure he was going to be eaten alive in the next few minutes.

"What is your name, human?" the woman asked.

"Uh, it's Guy."

"Guy," she said, tasting the word. "You don't really look like a Guy to me, but who am I to say?"

"What's your name?"

There was a moment of chilly silence. "I do not give out my name as easily as you do."

Guy looked down, his face first flushing and then draining of blood. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you."

"You may call me Carmilla."

"Like the book?"

"Just as you say."

"So Carmilla, what--" But before he could continue, all the lights in the auditorium went out. They were plunged into darkness for a moment and then the little stage in front of them was suddenly blazing with light.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," a voice said. It seemed to come from all around them. "Welcome to the Midnight Auction." A man walked out onto the stage, dressed in a tuxedo the color of spilled blood on a dark night. He wore a black mask tied over his eyes but that didn't disguise that fact that those eyes were as far from human as it was possible to be. It looked as if the man had a fire blazing inside his skull and that his eyes were the windows looking in on it. They danced with golden flames, flickering with his every movement, devoid of pupil, iris, and white.

There was a scattering of applause from the audience and then silence descended. "You are in for a treat boys and ghouls." The Emcee said. "You've never seen wares like I've got to show you tonight."

The black velvet curtain behind the Emcee pulled slowly back to reveal the dark stage beyond. Then the lights began to fade up and Guy had to force himself not to gasp when he saw what was on the stage. An enormous cage stood behind the Emcee and in it was the biggest wolf he had ever seen. It was pure white and had silver-blue eyes that actually glowed in the lights shining upon it. The creature was snarling and growling deep in its throat and the sound permeated to even the back of the auditorium. It made the hairs on the back of Guy's neck stand up.

"Look at this beauty, Ladies and Gentlemen," The Emcee said, his voice low and caressing. "She was caught in the wilds of Siberia only a week ago and now she's here for you." He capered offstage, and when he returned a moment later he was holding a long metal rod. "Now," he said, and when he spoke the rod crackled and emitted a shower of blue sparks, "What do you say we see what she really looks like?" There was a chorus of encouraging noises from the audience and the man approached the cage. He stuck the prod in through the bars, jabbing it at the wolf. The creature gave a whining howl and then lunged at the bars, its jaws snapping. "She's a feisty one ladies and gentlemen," the Emcee called as the crowd chuckled. The wolf lunged again but this time she was repulsed by a burst of blue sparks from the prod. In the moment that the device touched her, she changed. For the briefest moment it was not a wolf that lunged and snarled at the Emcee, but a woman, a naked woman, pale and savagely beautiful with long white hair and piercing blue eyes.

"There she is!" the Emcee called to the audience. "One of the last true shapeshifters left running wild! She's more wolf than woman, but I'm sure that could be remedied by the right trainer! Do I have any bids?" A man several rows in front of Guy raised one hand. The Emcee pointed at him. "Your bid sir?"

The man held up one hand into the air and displayed something in his palm. At first Guy thought he held a handful of glowing coals but then he saw that they were rubies, each nearly the size of a chicken egg and glowing in the beams of the spotlights overhead.

"Ah!" the Emcee cried, gesturing at the rubies. "Phoenix eggs! Impressive. Can anyone make me a better offer?" Guy looked again at the rubies and saw that they did indeed look remarkably like eggs. They weren't faceted, but smooth, and upon closer inspection, the light coming from them seemed to emanate from within.

Another man stood up. He was sitting on the end of the row in front of Guy. He had to be nearly seven feet tall and was dressed all in black leather. He had a thick leash held in one massive hand, at the other of end of which were tethered two enormous wolf-like dogs. He reached inside of his coat and produced a large glass bottle. The moment he pulled it out, the entire auditorium was illuminated by blue moonlight. It made the powerful spots seem like the feeble beams of pocket flashlights. The audience murmured, apparently impressed.

"Quicksilver!" the Emcee shouted. "Well, I'm afraid I like that offer better. Anyone think they can top this gentleman?" No one in the audience stirred. "Very well. Going once! Going twice! Sold to the gentleman with the dogs. You can collect your prize after the auction." The man in leather sat down and the Emcee made a gesture at the cage. It rolled off of the stage as if pulled by invisible ropes.

There was a scattering of applause and then the next item for sale was brought on. Guy had to fight not to stare open-mouthed as a girl in a silver sequined bikini marched onstage pulling a centaur at the end of a long leather lead rope. He had the body of a huge black stallion, but the torso and head of an incredibly muscular, dark-haired man. The bidding for the centaur was intense. At one point, Carmilla even put in a bid, pulling a curved golden dagger out of her purse and holding it in the air. Guy noticed that it had a peculiar pearly glow coming off of it and that the glow seemed to illuminate Carmilla alone. She was outbid almost at once, however, and did not seem to want to pursue the matter.

"Honestly," she whispered to Guy, "I've had centaurs before and they're not worth that much. I wish I'd had enough to bid on the werewolf though." She looked wistful.

The centaur was taken by a woman with crimson hair and a pair of curving black horns protruding from her temples. The next item for sale was a large iron cage full of what the Emcee told them were "Freshly caught pixies, all the way from Ireland!" The pixies were about six inches tall and had the forms of naked women. Each glowed with a rosy golden light and each had a pair of delicate golden dragonfly wings.

"How do the bids work?" Guy whispered to Carmilla, as he watched a tiny dwarf of a man a few rows in front of him start out the bidding on the pixies by offering up the biggest diamond Guy had ever seen.

"The bidder simply offers something they believe to be a worthy trade for the item on the stage. The Emcee determines who has made the best offer and gives that bidder the prize." Her eyes followed the bidding.

"Can you only bid objects?" He asked. "What about money?"

Carmilla snorted and turned away from the action for a moment to give him a disdainful look. "And what use have we for human money? It will just change in the next century. You can bid more than just objects. You can bid creatures." As she said this, she gestured to the dwarf-like man who had begun the bidding. He had pulled the occupant of the seat next to him to her feet and was displaying her to the Emcee. She was a girl with pale green skin the color of spring leaves, long emerald hair, and a pair of purple and gold butterfly wings sprouting from her back. She wore only a ragged slip that was made transparent by the light from the overhead spots. Guy could see every contour of her well-made body and he saw that her hands were bound behind her back with an iron chain.

"Well I don't think anyone can top that Ladies and Gentleman!" the Emcee cried, a note of unmistakable greed in his voice as he turned his fiery eyes on the butterfly girl. "Sold to the gentleman with the faery."

"Where do the auction items come from?" Guy asked Carmilla as the cage of pixies was wheeled away by the girl in the silver bikini.

"Some are tribute to the Emcee. Some he buys from

hunters. Some are given in trade."

Guy stared at the Emcee, watching him joke with the audience, but not listening to his words. For some reason, out of all the creatures here, it was he of whom Guy was the most afraid. "Who is the Emcee?" he whispered as the audience laughed at a joke the man told.

"If you can't guess, then perhaps it's best I don't tell you." Carmilla said. "There are some things it is better for a breather not to know."

"What else can you bid?" Guy asked, fascinated by the process in spite of himself.

"Service." She looked at him pointedly. "Years of your life. Your soul."

"Your soul?" Guy repeated, but before Carmilla could say anything in response, the Emcee's voice boomed through the auditorium.

"Now ladies and gentleman, this is the moment you have all been waiting for!" He did a little twirling leap across the stage that brought him in front of a huge box shrouded in scarlet velvet. Guy had not even noticed them bringing it on. The Emcee gestured to it as he talked. "This is my featured item of the evening! Only once before have I had the pleasure of sampling merchandise such as this and let me tell you boys and ghouls, it certainly was a pleasure!" There were catcalls and excited murmurs from the audience. "Without further ado, I give you..." he reached behind him and whipped away the velvet shroud. "Melusine!"

The Emcee stood before a huge iron-barred cage, inside of which was a creature that floated some two feet off the ground. It was the most beautiful thing Guy had ever seen. It had long ash blonde hair and large silver eyes. Its body was lithe and graceful, shrouded in an ethereal white robe. He could not tell its gender; it was androgynous, the perfect mixture of masculine and feminine beauty. The creature turned its head and its wide silver eyes found Guy's. Out of all of the hundreds of people in that auditorium he knew that it was looking at him and only at him. Their gazes locked and he felt himself falling, drowning in those pale eyes. His cock began to stiffen and in a moment he was harder than he had ever been in his life. He wanted this creature more than he had ever wanted anything. He would give anything for it. Anything. Those eyes promised him paradise. The audience was whispering excitedly all around him and Carmilla was regarding the creature displayed upon the stage with undisguised awe.

"What is it?" Guy breathed, hardly aware of his lips moving.

"Moroaică!" Carmilla whispered, and would say nothing more.

"Now," The Emcee said, not having to raise his voice at all to be heard. "Who would like to start the bidding?" Things began happening too fast for Guy to follow. One person after another held up their hands and bid for the creature. Guy looked at it again. It was still staring at him, promising him pleasure beyond his wildest dreams should he be the one to win it. Guy raised a hand slowly into the air. He found himself shouting at the Emcee. "I bid my soul!"

From beside him Carmilla gasped. "No you stupid boy, it's not worth that much! Bid use of your soul, not the whole thing!"

"I bid three years use of my soul!" Guy said, and he had the strangest feeling that Carmilla was somehow speaking for him, using him like a puppet.

"For one night with the creature!" Eyes turned to him from all across the room and Guy felt himself wanting to sink low in his chair, but something kept him sitting upright. It was like he had lost all control of his own motor functions and his body was being steered by someone else. The eyes of the Emcee turned on him and then narrowed, the flames in them flashing bright for one brief moment.

"I see we have a breather here with us this evening Ladies and Gentleman," he said softly. Guy felt as if he was being ex-rayed by the man's flickering eyes.

"Can anyone top that offer? Three-years use of a human soul." He sounded almost delighted. "That is something I have not had for a very long time, and for only one night with Melusine. Going once," the Emcee called, his voice booming through the silent auditorium. "Going twice." Silence reigned and Guy found that he was holding his breath. "Sold," the Emcee shouted, sounding triumphant, "to the breather in the fourth row." After that, things were a blur for Guy. The clearest sensation was the intensity of his arousal. He felt as if he were on the verge of exploding at any moment. Just the thought of being near Melusine, of being able to touch it, to stare into its silver eyes was making him so horny that the merest touch would be enough to send him over the edge. The auction ended a little over half an hour later and Guy found himself rising from his seat and stumbling over to meet the Emcee in front of the stage.

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