Beyond the Veil #11 – Melissa

December 31, 2008 by  
Filed under culture, fiction

Beyond the Veil #11 - Melissa

Beyond the Veil

1

It was not the worst hangover Melissa had ever had, but it was bad enough. She was grateful her parents were out as she stumbled and retched her way through the morning. By the time they came home shortly before noon, she was recovered enough to pretend she hadn’t avoided alcohol poisoning by a bare margin.

After a shower she tried calling Luanne; the phone rang and rang without answer, Melissa eschewing leaving a message in favor of calling back repeatedly, knowing that if anything would be likely to wake her friend it would be the ringing of the phone.

But Luanne wasn’t answering. Finally, Melissa dug out her phone book and called the number for the McPherson house.

“Hi, it’s Lissa,” she told Luanne’s mother when the phone was answered. “Is Luanne there? She’s not answering her line.”

“No, she’s not here,” Luanne’s mother replied, somewhat stiffly. “I thought she might be with you. She was gone when I got up this morning.”

“Oh,” Melissa said. “No, she’s not here either. I guess I’ll catch up with her later.”

“I’ll tell her you called,” Luanne’s mother promised, only slightly less stiff.

“Thanks.” Melissa hung up, puzzled. Luanne hated getting up early, even when she wasn’t hung over. And she’d had more to drink at the party than Melissa herself; certainly she hadn’t gotten up and gone to do anything with the kind of hangover she had to be nursing.

She called the others; neither Bree, Gwen or Sierra had any idea where Luanne might be, either. Melissa found their reactions predictable. Bree was caustic, saying Luanne was probably still passed out in the yard; Sierra was moderately concerned, but pointed out that Luanne didn’t have to ask their permission to do anything; and Gwen was quiet for a long time, finally asking only what Bree and Sierra thought about it.

Frustrated, Melissa decided she wouldn’t let it ruin her day. She and Luanne had planned to go shopping, and maybe see a movie. Melissa went to the mall by herself, and while it was nice to try on clothes without Luanne pointing out how everything accentuated how full her hips were, shopping just wasn’t as fun by herself. She called home repeatedly to see if Luanne had called, but as afternoon wore on into evening and there was still no word from her friend, Melissa gave it up.

Going to a movie by herself would be embarrassing, so instead Melissa decided to stop in at Books and Brews to see if by chance Chris was there. Any night that Sally Fawkes was there, he would be, but Saturdays were Therese’s nights to read, when she bothered to show up, and so it was a gamble. But she didn’t have anything else to do, and she wasn’t about to sit home on a Saturday just because Luanne had blown her off.

Chris wasn’t around either. Melissa masked her dejection in espresso and a couple of magazines, sitting out in the garden and telling herself she needed to give herself more days of doing her own thing.

The immediate problem was that Melissa had planned the next two weeks around Luanne being home on summer break, catching up on the months apart. The five of them had been near inseparable through high school, and although they’d gone off to five different colleges they’d stayed close.

As Melissa headed home, she reluctantly accepted the fact that Luanne simply hadn’t changed, and was still as thoughtless as ever. No doubt she’d show up at brunch tomorrow at their favorite restaurant, acting as if she hadn’t blown her best friend off and mystified that Melissa was irritated about spending Saturday alone.

Bree picked her up Sunday morning at eleven, and Gwen and Sierra met them at the restaurant. Bree sniffed at the suggestion they wait for order for Luanne to show; an hour later, as they lingered over coffee, Melissa had to admit to them and herself that their fifth Musketeer wasn’t going to grace them with her presence for brunch, either.

“Her highness is probably shacked up with some one,” Bree sneered as they walked through the parking lot. “I’m not waiting around all day. If you want to sit home by the phone, be my guest, but we’re going to Amber’s party.”

“I’m not waiting around either,” Melissa answered. “I just wish she’d call.”

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Sierra said. “You know how she is, she gets an idea and runs with it without thinking about the rest of us.”

“I know,” Melissa sighed. “Anyway, I’m sure she’ll call soon, I left enough messages.”

“You’re wasting your time,” Bree said. “And if all you’re going to do is talk about her then you might as well stay home. You’re boring the shit out of me.”

“Jeez, Bree,” Gwen muttered. “We’re all friends, you know.”

“Yeah, whatever. She done anything for anyone lately? The most she’s done for me was not getting sick in the car on the way home.” Bree was obviously serious about being done with discussing Luanne. “Now I need to get a new outfit for the party. Who’s coming?”

They all agreed new outfits were in order; Melissa resolved not to mention Luanne again for the rest of the day.

2

By Wednesday, Melissa had company in her worry.

The police were reluctant to dedicate much effort to her disappearance; she was legally an adult, and a check of her bedroom indicated that she’d taken some clothes and personal effects. It appeared, to the police, that she’d left on her own accord. At the parents’ insistence, they’d checked the house and yard for signs of other people, but there was nothing suspicious to be found.

Her friends could offer no explanation. Luanne would have said something to Melissa at least if she was going to skip out with a guy or something. None of them could see any sign in Luanne’s room that she’d been forced to leave, either, and so the mystery only deepened.

Amongst themselves, her friends agreed to do their own investigation; but there was no one to be suspicious of. Even the new guy, Chris, continued to show up at the coffee house, and seemed as baffled as anyone else that Luanne would just disappear.

“It sounded like she had plans for every day of break,” he said as the girls sipped coffees. “Why would she go on about it if she didn’t?”

“She did,” Melissa said. “That’s why it’s so confusing. This isn’t like her.”

“It kinda is,” Bree corrected. “I mean, come on, Lis, she’s not a freakin’ saint. She’s made plans with all of us and then ‘something else came up’.” She glanced at Sierra and Gwen, who nodded agreement. “She probably hooked up with an ex at the party.”

“We already talked to all of them,” Melissa replied. “And she wouldn’t make a three-day booty-call, and not even call me.”

“What if she left on her own, for a day or two,” Gwen suggested slowly, “and while she was gone something happened?”

“That’s what I’m saying,” Melissa said, fighting tears. “It’s like you guys don’t even care,” she said to Bree and Sierra.

“Oh, come on, Lissa,” Sierra said. “You know we do.”

“What are we supposed to do?” Bree asked, putting her mug down sharply. “I can’t put my life on hold because something bad happened to some one else.” She stood up at their surprised looks and nodded. “I’m sorry but I can’t. Luanne did a lot of stupid things and maybe one finally caught up with her, and if I’m the only one willing to say it then fine. Don’t you remember that Fourth we were going camping, and she hooked up with that married guy and went to Aspen instead, and we covered for her? And then the guy’s wife turned out to be psycho and came after them? If you guys want to waste your whole summer looking for her just so she can laugh in your faces when she strolls back from some other stupid fling, then be my guest. But I’m not.”

There was nothing to say to that. After a moment, Bree turned and walked out without another word.

“Well,” Chris said uncomfortably, clearing his throat.

“Sorry,” Melissa said to him.

“No apologies,” Chris replied. “People worry different ways. Maybe her way is anger.”

“Maybe,” Melissa agreed, relieved he wasn’t put off.

“We’ve tried everything else,” Sierra said, getting up as well. “I’m going to go upstairs.” Gwen joined her, but neither had much to say as they waited in line.

Melissa found herself in an odd position. Alone with Chris, as she’d hoped to be for so many months as she’d watched him over her homework or coffee, but unable to enjoy this small victory because of her worry for Luanne, which, as Bree insisted, was probably wasted anyway.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Chris said after a few moments of silence.

“I wish I could be,” Melissa sighed. “Thanks for the coffee, and for listening, though.”

“Any time,” Chris told her. “I was missing once. That turned out okay.”

Melissa returned his shy smile with one of her own. “You probably didn’t have Luanne’s track record, though. Damn, if she didn’t act like this all the time people would have listened to me Saturday, you know? Even her mom thinks like Bree — I mean, I’m not going to pretend that she couldn’t have gone on off her own, but I’m not going to sit around, either, pretending that this is all okay, you know?”

“You can’t just write her off,” Chris said.

“No, I can’t. That’s a good way to put it. Everyone else is ready to just write her off.” Melissa sighed, wiped an eye, and finished her coffee. “Do you think Miz Fawkes will be able to help? Sierra says if anyone could find her, Sally can.”

Chris pondered a moment before answering, toying with a couple of sugar packets. “I don’t know,” he said finally.

“Do you believe in psychics? I mean, you’re here all the time.” Melissa smiled to show she wasn’t interrogating him, and he smiled back to show he knew she wasn’t.

“Oh, I do believe in psychic sight, and I’m sure Sally is as gifted as everyone says,” he replied. “I just don’t know if Luanne wants to be found, you know? I think that could be important. I mean, if the person you’re looking for, psychically, doesn’t want to be found, they could be right around the corner and maybe you wouldn’t be able to find them.”

“How do you figure?”

“Well,” Chris said, shifting in his chair, “It’s not like Sally, for example, is a bloodhound. She can’t sniff the air and pick up a scent of somebody that walked past a week ago. When she uses her gift, she’s trying to pick up on specific things. Like vibes, you know what I mean?” When Melissa nodded he continued. “You figure something’s happened to her, and she wants to come home, and that’s the sort of vibe a psychic would look for, Luanne’s distress. But if she’s not distressed, they could kind of slide right past her vibe without recognizing it, because it doesn’t ring out like they’re expecting.”

“I don’t follow,” Melissa said.

“Look at it this way,” Chris replied. “Luanne’s been all over this neighborhood, right? So her residual energy patterns are going to be all over. But if Sally, say, is looking for her, she’s going to kind of tune out those weak patterns and look for something stronger, because you don’t want to know where she wandered before she went missing, you want to know where she is now.”

“Oh, I see,” Melissa said, although she wasn’t entirely sure she did. “You know all about this stuff, huh?”

“No,” he answered with another shy smile. “Just enough to sound like an expert, I guess.”

Melissa laughed a little. “Well, you know way more than I do,” she told him. “Maybe you could tutor me.”

“Sure,” Chris answered easily. “You have to make your own flash-cards, though.”

“It’s a deal,” Melissa chuckled. Their talk moved onto other things, and as minutes slipped by, it seemed her worry for Luanne weakened. Surely Chris was onto something; surely her friend was indeed okay, off somewhere and not wanting to be found, which was why she hadn’t called. Luanne didn’t need anyone looking for her; Melissa needed to accept that her friend wasn’t much of a friend sometimes and get on with enjoying her summer vacation. Luanne would call or come home when she was ready. When Sierra and Gwen rejoined them an hour later, saying they’d waited as long as they could but the psychic was just too busy, Melissa wondered privately why Sierra was so worried; Luanne, wherever she was, was just fine.

3

That night, and the next, Melissa had the weirdest dreams.

Both started the same: at Books and Brews, talking with Chris as she had on Wednesday evening, only instead of psychic vibes they were talking about something else entirely, something important, something about him and her and what it meant. . . But even as she dreamed it, it seemed that she couldn’t recall what it was, as if the information bypassed her mind and settled in her bones and soul.

After that, she couldn’t remember anything at all upon waking, only certain that it was strange, and thrilling, a bit frightening but arousing as well.

Friday morning, she could recall one part clearly: just before Books and Brews faded into the strange fog, Chris had asked for a kiss and said, “Melissa, my sweet.”

Perhaps it was the odd dreams affecting her sleep, but she didn’t feel very well as she got up Friday morning. Not precisely sick; it didn’t feel like she was coming down with a summer cold or anything. She just felt tired, as if she hadn’t slept at all, and achy in head and body. She was also, she discovered, somewhat dizzy, stumbling to the bathroom on unsteady legs.

She showered, toweled, and dressed without noticing the peculiar, shiny livid mark on the inside of her upper arm.

By lunchtime she was feeling better physically, although she still felt tired, and mentally she was even more unsettled, dejectedly shuffling through the empty house and missing Luanne.

She resolved to ask Sally Fawkes to look for Luanne, no matter how long she had to wait in line. Recalling what Chris had said about vibes, Melissa realized she would need something of Luanne’s to help the psychic find her even if she didn’t want to be found.

As soon as Mrs. McPherson got home from work, Melissa went over. She explained her intent to have the psychic help, and Luanne’s mother let her in to find something in Luanne’s room that would give a clear signal to Sally Fawkes.

Luanne’s prized ruby earrings were on the vanity, and once again the certainty that something horrible had happened to Luanne crashed over her like a foul wave. Most of her wardrobe was built around red so she could wear them as often as possible; Melissa could not believe she would willingly go off — especially with a guy — and not wear them, not even bring them with.

She found an earring box to put them into and returned to Mrs. McPherson. “We’ll find her,” Melissa promised, trying to keep her tears in check. “I’ll bring these back tomorrow.”

“We won’t be home,” Luanne’s mother said stonily. “We’re going to be out putting up flyers.”

“I’ll come help, then,” Melissa said. “It will be okay.” They hugged, and Melissa left, wishing she didn’t know that Mrs. McPherson wasn’t always sure she even wanted to know what had happened to her daughter, and wishing she herself wasn’t so certain that whatever had happened was bad.

She went straight to Books and Brews to wait for the psychic, although Sally Fawkes wasn’t due in for another hour. To her dismay, there were already three old ladies waiting upstairs, and as she sat down, another creaked up the stairs with greetings to the others.

Melissa decided to wait downstairs; the worst the psychic could do was make her wait in line. She sat where she could watch the door and as soon as Sally Fawkes pushed it open Melissa was on her feet and hurrying over.

“Mrs. Fawkes, I know you already have people waiting upstairs, but this is a real emergency and I really need your help.”

“What is it?” Sally said, putting a calming hand on Melissa’s shoulder.

“It’s Luanne,” Melissa said, near tears. “The cops won’t look for her, they said she’s an adult and can go where she wants. But I know she wouldn’t just take off without saying anything to me or calling or anything —”

“Slow down,” Sally said. “Let’s get a seat over there and start at the beginning, all right?”

Melissa let herself be led to a table and sat down, taking a moment to compose herself. After a few shaky breaths she was able to relate the details. “Last week Luanne got home for summer vacation, and we went out to a party, and then we dropped her off at home. The next morning when I called her, she didn’t answer, and her mom said she wasn’t there. No one’s seen her and she hasn’t called anybody, and the police looked around her room and said there was no sign anyone had forced her out. Her mom said it looked just as if she’d come in, gotten ready for bed like always, gotten into bed, and disappeared. We talk all the time, she wouldn’t just take off like this, not for so long.” Melissa lifted the velvet earring box. “These were her favorites, she wore them to the party, and probably right up until she went to bed. She wouldn’t have left without them, unless someone made her.”

Sally reached for the box, but paused before taking it. “I might not be able to help,” she cautioned.

“I have to try everything,” Melissa said. “Whether you can see something or not, I can’t just give up looking for her.”

“All right,” Sally responded, accepting the box and opening it slowly. Melissa watched, fascinated, but the psychic just looked at the earrings thoughtfully for some moments. Just when Melissa was starting to expect Sally to say she couldn’t help, the psychic lifted her free hand to her forehead and said, “I’m so drunk.”

“I’m sorry?” Melissa said, not certain she’d heard right.

“A party,” Sally said. “I’m at the party. So much to drink. . .” The psychic blinked, then slowly shook her head. “I don’t know how she hasn’t passed out yet. I’m going to go forward from the ride, but it’s hard, she’s very out of it then.”

“Yeah, we were celebrating, you know,” Melissa muttered softly.

“Okay,” Sally said. She took the earrings out of the box and held them in her left hand, wrapping her right fingers loosely around and closing her eyes as she concentrated. “It’s like her mother said,” Sally told Melissa slowly as she replaced the earrings in the box. “It’s like Luanne went to bed and disappeared. She went to sleep, and started dreaming, and that’s where I lose her.”

“Lose her?” Melissa repeated, dread seizing her. “Does that mean she’s dead?”

“No,” Sally answered immediately. “She’s alive. I just. . . it’s like she’s still dreaming, I can’t find her.” She shrugged an apology. “I guess I’ve never tried to find some one while they were sleeping. I’m sorry.”

“But you’re sure she’s alive?” At the psychic’s nod Melissa added, “Can you tell if she’s okay? I mean, maybe she’s drugged or something?”

“I can’t tell,” Sally said. “It seems as if she isn’t in any distress right now, but she might be unconscious or otherwise unaware.”

“I understand,” Melissa said, taking the jewelry box back. She understood, but could no longer believe Luanne just didn’t want to be found. “Thank you, Mrs. Fawkes. We’ll keep looking.”

“Good luck,” Sally told her. “I’ll let you know if anything else comes to me.”

Melissa thanked her; the psychic patted her shoulder and then hurried upstairs. She got up to leave and saw Chris had come in; she went to his table instead.

“What’s wrong?” he asked at once.

“Luanne still hasn’t called or come back,” Melissa told him. “And I — when I got up today I just had the worst feeling. . .”

“This is terrible,” Chris said sympathetically. “I hate to see you like this, Melissa.” He touched her shoulder lightly. “Maybe there’s something I can do.”

She shrugged. “You’re sweet to want to help, but I don’t know what anyone can do. I don’t even know where to start looking. Mrs. Fawkes said she couldn’t find her, but she’s sure Luanne’s alive. . . I’m just as sure something has happened to her, though.”

“I thought that might be what you were up to when I came in,” he said. “Listen, why don’t we go check some places around here, and see what we find?”

“Really?” Melissa asked, and his light touch on her shoulder became a reassuring grip. “You’d spend your Friday night like that?”

“Sure,” Chris answered, easy as ever. “Friends help each other out.”

Melissa was so relieved she almost forgot about Luanne. Chris was her friend, and they’d have hours together while Melissa did more than simply fret about Luanne’s disappearance.

Outside, Chris suggested they start by checking places Luanne wouldn’t typically go; Melissa was uncertain at first, but his explanation garnered her agreement. If Luanne had met some one Melissa didn’t know, she may have gone to a restaurant or bar that her friends weren’t likely to think of as likely, a place familiar to whomever she might be with. Melissa got a picture of herself and Luanne out of her wallet, and kept it ready to show to everyone they spoke with.

As they walked along, however, Melissa felt her worry fading. It had to be Chris; he was so calm and capable, just being around him was soothing. By the time they reached the first place to check, Melissa almost forgot why they were even in that part of town.

Just inside the door, she paused. It was a bar, and a rather seedy one; some of the clientele glanced at them as they came in, and none of the gazes were particularly warm.

“I don’t know,” Melissa said softly to Chris.

“No, this is the place,” Chris answered, putting an arm around her shoulders. “There’s someone I’d like to introduce you to.”

“Oh, okay,” she said, smiling at him. He guided her to a booth toward the back, where a man and a woman sat facing one another.

“Well, well,” the man said, with a slight accent Melissa recognized as southern Florida; his gaze was no warmer than the others, but his smile was welcoming. “If it isn’t Chris March.”

“Hello,” Chris replied. “Melissa, this is Jack.”

“Hi, Jack,” Melissa said.

“Have a seat,” Jack said, and the woman slid over to let Melissa sit down. He was dressed rather flamboyantly, in a dark red suit with a scarf so white it nearly glowed in the dim, smoky atmosphere. He wore a couple of rings on either hand, large gold pieces with huge stones of red and black; one of them, a ruby to shame Luanne’s earrings, was surrounded by diamonds large enough to adorn a score of engagement rings. In contrast, the woman was dressed in a dark suit jacket and top, hair pulled back in a ponytail, and no jewelry at all.

“What are you drinking, Jack?” Chris asked.

“The usual,” was the answer, and Chris went to the bar.

Melissa smiled, a little nervous. She took out the picture. “Um, I’m looking for a friend of mine,” she began.

“Oho,” Jack said, taking the photo and looking it over. “I didn’t think a kid like you would just wander in here.”

Melissa smiled nervously again, glancing at the woman next to her; the woman seemed oblivious, slowly stirring the ice in her drink with the little straw. She looked back at Jack; he had finished with the picture and handed it back.

“Haven’t seen her,” Jack said. “Do you think she came in here?”

“Not really,” Melissa answered as Chris returned with a waitress that set three drinks down on the table and left without a word. She looked up at Chris as he stood beside the table.

“I wasn’t sure what you’d want,” he told her. “It’s a wine spritzer.”

“Thanks,” she said. She’d never had one of those, it sounded very sophisticated. She took a sip and found it light and bubbly, almost like a soda.

“So you don’t think she’d come in here, but you’re leaving no stone unturned, is that it?” Jack said, placing the fresh drink beside the one he hadn’t quite finished.

“Yes. Chris suggested we check everywhere, just in case.” Melissa took another sip, wondering how much wine was in a spritzer, and if wine would give her hangovers like beer and the liquor she usually drank. If not, she may have just found her new drink; it certainly was tasty.

“Oho,” Jack said again, glancing sideways. “It was Chris’ idea, was it?”

“You know I like to help,” Chris replied. “And I couldn’t very well let her come in a place like this alone, now could I?”

“Not at all,” Jack agreed, lifting his drink. “You are a true gentleman.”

“And then some,” the woman muttered, almost too soft for Melissa to hear.

Melissa glanced at her, then looked at Chris; it almost seemed as if the woman was trying to hint Chris really was interested in her after all.

“You are very helpful,” Jack said to Chris, and suddenly Melissa knew they were talking about something else, somehow talking about her. She sipped while she thought, trying to figure out where the suspicion had come from and what it could mean. Too soon the glass was empty, and she still wasn’t certain what was going on.

“We should probably keep moving,” Melissa said abruptly, moving to get to her feet. The others gave her startled looks, and she realized belatedly that they’d been talking for some time and she’d interrupted quite rudely. The table shook as she bumped it, and she swayed on her feet when she gained them. How much wine had been in that spritzer?

“Whoops,” she heard Jack say, his voice dim and distant as if he was across the room instead of a few feet away.

“Where’s your car?” Chris’ voice was faint too, even though she could feel him holding her up and somewhat steady.

“Out back,” the woman said, a mile away and getting further. Melissa tried to cry out but her own voice seemed vanished altogether; white fog was crowding the edges of her vision, swirling across the middle, closing her in.

She sagged into unconsciousness before Chris had gotten her more than a few steps from the table. He scooped her up smoothly, following the woman to the rear door of the bar.

Jack paused by the bar as he sauntered after. “Too much,” he told the waitress, just a hint of reproach in his tone.

“Sorry, Mr. Jack. It’s that Chris — you know he gives me the creeps.”

“Now, now,” Jack replied dismissively. “Let’s not be silly.” He continued on his way, whistling merrily.

4

Melissa woke up slowly, groaning thickly as the greasy pounding in her head throbbed through the last shreds of blissful unconsciousness. She would never drink so much again — what a party, what a hangover. But it was summer vacation, and Luanne was home, and later they were going to go shopping and then see a movie. . .

The pounding reached a plateau and remained steady, and Melissa timidly opened her eyes. Something was very wrong, but she was having a hard time thinking with the pain. The room was dark, much darker than her room usually was; something must have happened to the neighborhood’s power, maybe a thunderstorm had come along while she slept. . .

Melissa groaned softly and moved to rub her face, but her arms stopped short as something pulled against her wrists.

All at once she realized that the party had been the week before. Luanne was missing, and she had been looking for her. . . but she couldn’t remember what had happened, and she had no idea where she might be.

“Somebody!” she tried to yell, but her throat was dry and her head filled with spikes of pain. She started crying with raspy sobs, her imagination running wild in the absence of facts. The last thing she could remember clearly was leaving the café with Chris. . . had she been hit by a car as they crossed a street? Was she unable to move because she was badly injured? She might even be dead, her terrified imagination supplied, insisting she couldn’t move because her body was frozen in death and her spirit trapped inside forever —

When bright light flooded suddenly into the room, she shrieked in fright and pain.

“Well, well,” a familiar voice she didn’t recognize said. “Look who finally woke up.”

“Where am I?” Melissa whimpered, eyes shut tight against the blinding glare.

“Told you she’d say that first,” the voice said. “They always do. Now pay up.”

“Where am I?” she repeated tearfully. “What happened?”

“No time for all that,” the man told her, his voice closer. “Here’s the thing. You now are chattel. Chattel is living property, if you don’t know the word. And property doesn’t ask questions, it does as its owner wants of it and nothing else.” She felt a hand on her chin, turning her face up to the light, and she squeezed her eyes shut tighter. “See? She looks all right, doesn’t she?”

“Yeah, that’ll do,” another male voice said. “Still need a couple more for the full order, though. Any idea how long it’s gonna be?”

“Let’s not be greedy,” the first man admonished. “They don’t all drop in my lap like this one.” His hand fell away and Melissa started crying harder.

This had to be a nightmare, had to be. Any moment now she would awaken, safe in her own bed at home, and it would be just another strange and frightening dream.

She heard footsteps walking away, and dared to open her eyes a slit; but the man was still beside her, and bent down to look her eye-to-eye as he spoke.

“This is goodbye, Melissa,” he said. “You aren’t one of the lucky ones, you see? You get to be one of the statistics instead. You foolishly trusted someone you shouldn’t have. You accepted a drink from a relative stranger, and drank it all without a single thought to the possibility that it had been drugged. And now here you are, tied up in some Godforsaken basement on a rancid mattress, being sold into slavery. Well, actually, you were already sold into slavery, and now I’m selling you to a brothel. It’s in the Caribbean, so at least you’ll die in a tropical paradise.” He smiled and patted her cheek.

“Please,” she sobbed. “Please, no.”

“Oh yes indeed,” he said, straightening up and adjusting the lapels of his dark red suit jacket. “Don’t worry, Melissa dear, they’ll keep you so doped up you won’t care what your customers do to you. Ta-ta,” he added in mocking farewell.

He closed the door on her ragged weeping and accepted the envelope from the client.

“You’re something else, Jack.”

“As always, a pleasure doing business with the Goldon Bay Resort,” he replied mellowly, slipping the envelope into his jacket pocket. “We’ll be in touch.”

Jack hummed to himself as the client was shown out and he moved along the other cells, checking his stock. It had been a good week; his retrofitted yacht would be full to capacity when he sailed out on Sunday.

As he headed out of the basement he let the words free. “We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot, drink up, me hearties, yo ho, we kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot, drink up me hearties, yo ho. . .”

Beyond the Veil is a regularly appearing column featuring fiction, including occult, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. If you’d like to contribute a story, please contact admin@rendingtheveil.com and we’ll be happy to review your submission.

©2008 by C.A. Broz
Edited by Sheta Kaey

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