The cab stops in front of a small run-down bar. It’s getting darker, and colder, but so far you haven’t grown claws. And you aren’t feeling a wild hunger for raw flesh. Still, you could do with a hamburger. You see one on the sidewalk sign. Your stomach rumbles.
Glitterface speaks, for the first time since she told the cab driver where to go. You sigh. You knew the peace wouldn’t last forever.
“Lus is the bartender here. She hears everything that goes on in this town. She’ll know if something’s up. Also, she makes the most awesome pollen punch you’ve ever had the pleasure of imbibing. Come on!”
Your stomach sinks. The hamburger sign is a lie. You can’t imagine this place having any food other than peanuts in ashtrays. It looks like a pool table, all green felt and wood edges and yellow lights hazy with smoke.
Smoke. You shiver, remembering the dream with the fire.
“Hey come on, don’t be scared. Lus doesn’t bite. I promise. She is a fairy though, so she might make your teeth chatter. But you know, if she does, you can just turn into a werewolf and tear her throat out or whatever. Although I’d rather you didn’t do that, ’cause I kind of like her and so I’d be upset. Like, if you killed her, we might have to become mortal enemies and then I’d flit through the forest on full moon nights, chasing you. And then we’d see who’d win, your sharp teeth or my wings and glitter and tricks. Oh, and my army of undead minions, ’cause I am a necrofairy and all. Which my army would probably include Lus, flitting around with her head hanging at a weird angle. And you don’t want that, do you? I mean, undead fairies don’t taste very good at all. I hear from my werewolf friends that they taste like rusted glitter and burned out husks of rainbows.”
You stare into the yellow light just inside the door of the bar. It just hangs there. Shining at you. It’s a bit dull and smoky, but still, it shines.
“Burned out husks of rainbows, huh? All right, I’m coming.”
You walk by the fire. You’re too far away to feel the warmth and you can only barely hear the crackling of the flames, but you can imagine. You have no trouble imagining it, the heat searing your skin, the fire roaring in your ears.
You try to think happy thoughts instead, like about pollen punch and making new friends and not ripping their throats out.
Then you hear a new sound, much louder and more intrusive than the fire. Loud squeaking noises punctuated with heavy thumps. You wonder if maybe there’s a secret basketball court hidden in the bar and the fairy team is practicing for their upcoming game against the werewolf team. Then you realize the sounds are coming from the right corner of the room.
You look. You see messy brown hair. A comfy worn hoodie. Jeans that you wish were tighter. Strong authoritative thumping of any little gnomes that dare to show their heads.
You wonder if Lus will tell you about him. If she doesn’t, then you might have to rip her throat out.
You follow Glitterface to the bar. She’s already talking to the bluey-purple fairy.
“Yo Lus, what up?”
“Not much. Slow night.”
You see the legendary Lus at the bar, pouring drinks. Apparently fairies come in many colors. You wonder if they all have tattoos, and what the rose tattoo means. Glitterface has a skull tattoo and she’s a necrofairy. You would think that Lus would have a bar or an alcoholic drink tattoo, but maybe bartending is a part time thing for her and really she grows roses. Do roses produce pollen? Maybe her pollen punch is rose-flavored. Or maybe behind the bar there’s a giant rose patch, and she throws the people who don’t pay their tabs into it, and the roses stab them to death with their thorns and then eat them, somehow, and turn them into the pollen that she uses to make the pollen punch.
Also you seem to be picking up habits of thought from Glitterface.
“So he’s still here?”
Glitterface is looking at the man playing Smack a Gnome. Your ears perk up.
“Yeah. He comes every night now. It’s kind of sad, really. He doesn’t talk or get any drinks. He just goes over there and smacks things.”
Oh. So he’s silent and troubled. And he likes to smack things. Hmm.
You slide into the seat next to Glitterface. Lus gives her a look like who is this random person you have brought with you to my bar this fine evening, and blood swirls in your cheeks. But you aren’t going to pass out again. You are going to stay here on this chair and you are going to learn who you are, and also who the guy whacking gnomes like they personally insulted his honor and the honor of his house and his family and his cows is, or the claws will come out and you will tear out everyone’s throat.
“I found her outside the fairy house down by the cabin by the ocean. She was all fally down and stuff, and I took care of her, and I brought her here because maybe you might know what’s up with her. Oh, you better watch out. She’s a werewolf.”
Lus gives Glitterface another look. You think maybe you’re not the only one who thinks Glitterface is a bit of a loon.
Lus picks up a glass and slides it down to the bar to Glitterface. It looks more like liquid ice than pollen punch, but then you’ve never seen pollen punch or even heard of it until today, so who are you to judge?
Indeed, who are you to do anything? You have vague memories of being a savage monster thing and eating raw meat of some sort, which you still hope it wasn’t human meat or anything, or fairy meat, or anything sentient and two-legged. Well, unless it was maybe a tyrannosaurus rex, but you really seriously doubt that. And do dinosaurs count as sentient? How do you even know what dinosaurs are? You can’t remember anything before the beach this morning really but there seems to be a basic knowledge of life and the world in your mind. It’s just your personal life that’s a blank. You’re alone and untethered, but you weren’t always. You went to school. You had parents. You maybe had a boyfriend, even. You think you like the boys. You look over into the corner.
Yeah, you like the boys.
Lus may have given Glitterface a drink but she doesn’t seem too happy still. Angry fairies are kind of cute, really. You almost reach out to touch her wings to see if they feel like old paper, but you don’t because probably a badass bartender fairy wouldn’t like you being in her personal space.
“So you find a random unknown werewolf passing out in front of your fairy house and you bring her here to my bar? Where she could turn at any second and rip the throats out of all my customers? How do you know she’s not working for him?”
You feel the need to speak up at this and defend yourself.
“I’m not working for anyone. I just kind of woke up on the beach this morning. I do remember eating something, but I’m not sure what it was, and that was a long time ago so do you have any food here? That’s pretty much all I remember about anything, though. And I don’t think I’ll turn into a werewolf and rip anyone’s throats out now, or at least I don’t seem to be growing claws or anything. I’m not sure how it works, really. Also who is the guy in the corner whacking at things, please?”
Lus considers your plea for understanding and caloric intake and information on the hot guy standing in the corner whacking at things.
“Yeah, there’s not any fancy werewolf food here, like no bleeding steaks or nothing, but I might be able to find you a bowl of cereal or maybe brains, if you want. I keep the brains of all the people who tried to make trouble at my bar here in the refrigerator. The guy over in the corner lost his girlfriend a while ago. She was killed by a werewolf, who was working for this nasty witch dude. He likes to take his anger out on the smack a werewolf game, and I let him. And you had best not bother him, and if I find out you’re lying and you’re working for the witch, your brain’s gonna be in my refrigerator. All right?”
Wait, so those gnomes he’s smacking are werewolves? But they really looked like gnomes. Maybe they just told him that it was werewolves, and he believed them, because he wanted to. So maybe he’d believe you if you told him you weren’t a werewolf, totally, and you’d never kill anyone, but hey if he was single now anyway would he want to go out for a nice steak or something?
Your stomach growls.
“Hey Lus, chill. It’s cool. She’s nice and she honestly doesn’t remember anything and she’s not working for the witch. She didn’t even know she was a werewolf until I told her. I thought maybe you might have heard something, have some idea of who turned her. Maybe it was the witch, but if so something went wrong. I thought maybe we could get her on our side, you know?”
You hear a deep growl to your right. You didn’t even hear this new person sit down, but then you were thinking pretty hard about cute guys in hoodies and jeans who apparently like to smack down small plastic representations of werewolves, and how that little prejudice could crush all your hopes and dreams of getting into those jeans.
The new person has fangs. And claws. And that deep growl. She speaks, and her voice shakes your bones and makes an ancient ancestral part of your brain quiver and draw in into itself.
“Well, look what the drunk necrofairy dragged in. We’ve been looking for you, girl.”
“You’ve been looking for me?”
Across the bar, in his dark corner, the cute guy in the hoodie slams his mallet down on the poor little plastic werewolves.