Sample – Infection

InfectionSmall

It was dusk already, the sunset hidden by the tall, shadow-cloaked buildings in the old industrial district. A few old cars were parked along the curb, but most of the businesses that used the area for warehouses and manufacturing had dried up, leaving the commercial buildings vacant and crumbling.

Blake checked the note again, confirming for the fifth time the address was correct. With a sigh, she left the safety of her jeep, turning the collar of her raincoat up. Her low heels clicked on the pavement, echoing eerily in the seemingly-abandoned streets. She was all business in her gray slacks and white blouse, her hair down, loose as it swayed against her shoulders.

The front door of the building was once white, most of the paint peeled, leaving it a dull wooden gray. To the left of the door, just above eye level, a placard had been screwed into the dirty brick, covered by dust and grime. She could make out the single word inscribed there: Inferno.

She tried the door and found it opened easily under her hand, and she stepped into the darkness. She could hear the faint bass of industrial music thumping somewhere deeper inside as she wound through the labyrinthine hallways that must have been offices once upon a time. Her way was lit by a distant, flickering glow that reminded her of the flames waving on her tablet screen.

As the music grew louder, Blake could hear voices, or, more precisely, shrieking. She passed down another black-cornered hallway, thin chains hooked into the ceiling, a ventilation fan casting shadows on the walls. With every step, the ball of fear that nestled in her belly grew, and she shoved her hands in the pockets of her raincoat to keep them from shaking.

Finally, she reached the belly of the building, a vertiginous feeling sweeping through her as she passed through a doorway that glowed with red light. She looked down from a landing, metal steps winding down to the floor fifty feet below her, the music brash and loud, making her wince.

A DJ bobbed his head as he worked two turntables, the floor filled with writhing, bouncing bodies. The dancers looked Dante-esque in their dress, wrapped in leather and latex, tattoos of all colors and compositions revealed by the brief clothing. A bar opposite the DJ was lined with patrons of similar type, one young man bald save for chrome horns embedded in his skull, an open black trenchcoat revealing scars where his nipples had been. He grinned at a girl who looked barely eighteen, her dyed blonde hair twisted into spikes on her head, her eyebrow lined with silver hoops, a tattoo on her cheek giving the impression of flayed flesh.

Blake’s hand flew to her mouth, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, feeling as if she’d stepped into another, more depraved world. She stifled a cry when she looked past the crowded dance floor to the far end of the room. A wide staircase, columns on either side, stretched at a thin angle back into the building, to a point she could not discern. The geometry of the building seemed all wrong, the size of it hurting her head as she tried to reconcile the nondescript and seemingly smaller exterior.

She gripped the handrail of the metal steps and resolved to call the police. This was no place for her, no place for the sane, and certainly no place she would find her step-sister. She had turned when the music faded behind her, a whisper running like current between the dancers as they stood still and turned to the stairs. Blake followed their gazes and saw her, walking slowly down the stairs, hips tilted as she planted one nail-thin heel on the step below. Though it must have been two hundred feet away or more, Blake could swear she saw herself reflected in the black pools the woman called eyes.

She was the one from the website, Blake knew immediately, dark hair slicked back to shape her skull, a look of sinister mirth on her full, bright red lips. Her skin was corpse-pale, making the black of her eyes more striking. She wore a glistening black outfit, something skin-tight and flexible, but reflective. Her fingers were tipped with long, black nails, nearly as sharp as the heels of the shoes she wore, her alabaster feet decorated with matching black nails. All eyes, including Blake’s, were fixed on her, captivated by her otherwordly beauty.

When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she lifted her arms, and Blake saw the skintight outfit lift with her, cupping her full breasts, and she could see the outline of stiff nipples beneath. The room, filled with soft whispers before, fell completely silent. The rapt attention drew another sly grin from the pale woman at the foot of the stairs. Blake took an involuntary step back when her head lifted slightly, and their eyes met, no question of her being seen this time.

“Good evening, children,” she said, her voice low and husky, but with a lilting quality that wrapped around Blake’s brain and commanded attention. “I won’t stop the party for long. And don’t you all look so… delicious! I want you to say hello to our new arrival. Blake, why don’t you come down?”

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