"It was just nerves, I'm sorry I fucked up but please, can we just change the subject?"
"Mark, this isn't the first time, we're just concerned."
"Look Cate, I already told you. I don't know what happened. Last time I was drunk...this time," he sighs and lets his sentence trail off with a shrug.
Tony puts a hand on his shoulder, "Hey man, we're not out to get you. We just want to know that things are okay with you. You say tonight was nerves, that's fine. It was nerves. But Cate's got a point you know."
Mark nods solemnly, his spiked dark hair bobbing with the motion. "I just thought I saw something...someone in the audience. I got flustered and..."
"Alright guys, just let him be." Christian steps past them so he can hoist the case for his stand-up bass into the back of the van.
Cate gives their bald bass player a glare but he's oblivious to it or at least he pretends to be. She sighs and nods. "Okay. Consider it dropped."
"Thanks guys," Mark says, his gaze glued to the pavement.
"But," Cate starts with a pointed finger at Mark, "it can't happen anymore. Seriously. I'm here if you need to talk -- whatever it is, we'll help you."
"Come on guys, it'll be fun. We'll play for an hour and then, we can actually go through a few times. I've never been to one and I want to see what it's like!" Cate stamps a foot playfully, hoping to emphasize her words.
"I hate those things Cate," Christian says shaking his head. He looks sincere but Cate isn't sure and some of the other guys are eyeing him suspiciously.
"Really?" She scrunches up her nose. "Well, you just don't have to go in then. I mean, it's not like we'll be playing inside or anything."
"She's right," Liss chimes in. She tosses a long errant strand of hair over her shoulder and gives the group a serious look. "I know it's not the best gig ever but it's in the parking lot out front. You'll have a captive audience, so it's great exposure for you. The lines get stupidly long this close to the holiday."
"That's great, you two. But I still don't like them."
"Why not?" Mark taps a few low discordant keys and gives the group a grin.
"I just...look, I had a bad experience," Christian says in slow staccato bursts. "Can we please just leave it at that?"
Cate shrugs. "It doesn't stop us from playing outside. You don't have to go in if you don't want." Everyone nods in agreement. "See?"
"Any one else have a disagreement?" Liss glances around the room but the rest of the guys just shake their heads. "Great! I'll get the contract drawn up and settle the final time and date." She reaches down for her small briefcase and then adds, "Cate, should I call you...or your father when everything is settled?"
"Oh...uh," Cate frowns. "Just call me please."
"Alright," Liss' sharp heeled shoes clack on the basement's cement floor as she heads for the door. "Call me if you have any questions..." She shoots a pointed glance at Christian who is hanging his head staring down at the strings on his bass. When he doesn't look up, she shrugs and heads out with a wave at the rest of the group.
Cate jumps up and flails her arms around. "I'm so excited!" When she's done, she flops down into a nearby beanbag chair and stretches her legs out.
"Should we get back to practicing?" Ray asks.
Cate closes her eyes and leans her head back. "We should practice 'Grès', we haven't worked on that one for a while." She folds her arms behind her head and closes her eyes.
"Could do that one," Tony says. "Or we could you know...practice something that's actually on the album we're trying to sell."
"He's right. There's a reason we haven't been working on the new stuff."
"Oh hush Ray, you're just agreeing with Tony because," she sighs. "Well, you know." She lets one of her hands out from under her hand so she can wave a vague gesture at them. "I'm in a good mood, I want to do something new, something we haven't done fourteen-thousand times already."
"Fine," Mark jumps in. "We'll do 'Grès' but then we have to do two songs off the album before we're done today."
"I'm good with that." She hops up from the beanbag and strides towards the microphone. She stops at Christian's side, who is still looking forlornly at his upright. "Christian, it'll be okay. I'm sorry you had a bad experience." She gives him a pat on the shoulder.
He nods and runs a hand over his bald head as if to wipe away the unpleasant thoughts, whatever they might be. "It'll be fine. I'll be fine."
They practice for another hour that afternoon and by the following morning, Liss calls early in to give Cate the time and date of the gig at the Haunted House. It's called "Terror Tower" and Cate spends the rest of her morning Googling the place, the surrounding area, and a few of the other haunted houses on that block. The warehouse district downtown has a ton of old buildings that have been renovated in order so they can be used as Haunted Houses, but in all the years she's lived nearby, she's never been to one.
Mostly, they're expensive and she nor any of them really has ever had the extra twenty-five dollars to stand in line to get scared by costumed strangers. But the idea most certainly intrigues her and she spends pretty much the rest of the following weeks talking to any one that will listen about how excited she is. She learns some of the story of the Tower or the story that the haunted house is supposed to follow: the characters, the history of the story they tell and the supposed real life history of the site.
When performance day arrives, she makes sure to get there earlier than anyone else. In fact, many of the workers and actors are still arriving when she pulls her car into the parking lot. She spends a few minutes watching people go in and out of the back entrance, some of whom are already costumed. She hums to herself a few bars of "People are Strange" while she waits and eventually she sees Liss' sleek black Jaguar pull in nearby.
Liss doesn't say a word to her about being early and the two of them head into the building to find the manager. Roger, the manager, takes them back outside and introduces them to a couple of the workers who can help them get situated with space and power so the band can play. By that time, the guys have arrived and backed the van up near the entrance where the first stream of excited attendees are patiently waiting.
Cate gives Christian a soothing pat on the arm when he finally gets out of the van right before show time. "It's going to be fine. You'll play, you'll leave and you don't have to do anything you don't want to."
He nods but keeps silent.
When they start playing the line to enter "Terror Tower" is down the block and around the corner, out of sight. Liss sets up a small table with their t-shirts, copies of their CD, and a small tip jar. During their first song, they don't get much attention, people mostly seem to be annoyed by their presence more than anything else. Three songs into it, however, the lines moved enough there's a new crowd and they're much more receptive. People are asking others to hold their place so they can walk over and peruse the merch table.
Cate smiles at each person that leaves the line for a little moment to stand closer to the band. Sometimes, the person looks over the merch table and then heads back to the line but after the third song, a few people have left the line to stand in front of the band and actively listen to them play. It's dark outside, save for the few low lights marking the entrance for the Tower by the time they start their fifth song. The people that have stayed to watch them have opened their cell phones or flicked open lighters and are swaying like the fall breeze.
"We want to thank everyone for staying to listen," Cate says after their eighth, and almost last song. "Or for not throwing things at us for those of you still in line!" That gets her a few chuckles from both sets of listeners.
"We only have one song left," she adds, which grants her a few 'awws' from the crowd. "Thanks again for listenting. We're Tinamou!" She pumps her fist in the air and though they hadn't planned it, behind her Mark plays the first few chords to 'Grès'. Cate turns and gives him a knowing smile and when Christian hits his first bass note, the crowd goes silent.
It's fall, it's perfect autumn weather for the midwest and when the band comes together on 'Grès', it's like they're playing for themselves, back in the basement at Cate's house. A breeze flows through the parking lot and Cate cannot keep the smile off her face as the gooseflesh rises on her arms, legs and neck. Christian's fingers slip and there's a single 'off' note in the mix. It's harmless on the surface but if she didn't already have goosebumps from the breeze, she would now.
"It's a hotel stay, only for the moment, it will carry me away." Cate sways as she sings and when she closes her eyes, it's like she can feel everyone listening to their song and it's hard to imagine a better feeling is possible.
When they're done, a few listeners hang around hoping to talk to them for a few minutes. Tony and Ray love signing autographs and they take the few CDs people bought and Liss hands them a silver marker so they can sign the CDs. The tip jar is nearly full and Mark helps sell a few t-shirts while a few people interrupt him to talk about the songs. Cate, as much as she loves a good audience like this one, has only one thing on her mind now. She nods at Liss who gives her a nod in return, and then she's off to the Tower.
She skips the line and heads right for the guy taking tickets at the door, "Is it okay for me to go in?"
He looks behind him at the couple that just entered and shrugs. "Yeah, now is good, looks like it's moving along." He waves her inside, she smiles and pats his arm in thanks as she passes him to get inside.
When the guys are done signing items, talking to people and packing their gear in the van, Ray, Tony and Mark make a bee-line for the Tower. Christian mumbles something about his bass and gets in the van.
"Alright, more for us!" Mark says to the van door as it slides shut.
Christian doesn't even watch them go, he just turns to the the case of his upright and gives it a unhappy thump with his fingers and shakes his head. He sits in silence for a few moments, occasionally thinking a few bars of the rhythm for one of the songs they've just played. Cate's particular about the songs they play but she's always open to suggestions on how different parts can be changed up. Their bass rhythms were simple in the beginning and he's enjoyed trying to find a way to make them more complex -- using free times like these to play through sections in his head.
He's tapping out a bass line to their song 'London Journal' when there's noise outside the van. It's dark and without the lights set up near their performance space, he can't see out the windows. There's a clunk, followed by a long scraping noise against the van and carefully, Christian reaches for the van door, pulling his other hand into a fist. The door slides open and he is met with the long sharp steel of a sword...no, not a sword, a scythe. He flails to the right, just in time to watch it land inside the van. He lets go of the door and quickly struggles to gain his balance again so he can reach out and pull the door closed.
The scythe's owner, a slim woman with long white hair, snatches the weapon back from the van and frowns. Her eyes are so dark that Christian cannot see the whites of them, and he hopes that it's just a trick of the light as she creeps closer to the door.
His hand slides against the handle and he yanks on the door to pull it closed. The woman catches the door with her free and and pushes it open against his weight. Christian pushes himself backwards trying his best to avoid placing his weight on any of the instrument cases. She catches his ankle and even though he must be easily twice her weight, she pulls him with one hand, towards the door. He kicks out and his free leg connects with her arm but it doesn't stop his momentum. She pulls him free of the van and out onto the hard gravel of the parking lot, his ass connects with the gravel and it feels like falling on glass.
"Oww! What the fuck lady?" He rolls onto his side as soon as she lets go of his leg. He can't move right away, so he does his best to position his legs to strike out at her again if she reaches for him.
"Quiet!" She leans into the van and swipes a hand against one of the instrument cases.
"You've got to fucking be kidding me!" When he can feel his ass again, he pushes himself into a standing position, though he has to use the van for leverage and balance. The woman doesn't make a move against him. "You can't take our instruments!"
The woman gives him a look that says she'll take them if she damn well pleases and turns back towards the van. He realizes that she looks like she's straight out of a place like the Terror Tower. She's not only carrying the scythe but she's also dressed in a dark brown cloak, the type with the deep hood that hangs to the middle of her back, and underneath there's a black dress or skirt he can't quite make out.
She could work here, he thinks. The thought frightens him almost as much as what she's already done to him. He looks around, for a weapon, for his band mates, for someone in line at the Tower -- anything that can help him get rid of the woman.
"Where is it?" She whips her head to look at him and her hair is so long that much of it tangles in her hood forcing her to spare a moment to pull it free.
Christian uses the moment she's distracted to use both of his hands to push her back. She stumbles once but catches her balance quickly and not only regains her place but pushes forward into his personal space.
"Where is it?" Her breath is cool on his skin and as she leans into him, he realizes that she's the same height as he is, rare for the majority of women he's met. Her scythe has another two inches on them both. It clinks, metal-on-metal as she pushes him back against the passenger door of the van.
He shakes his head, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"The medallion. Give it to me and you live."
His hands jitter as a wave of fear rolls through him. He opens his mouth but only stammers instead of answering her. He doesn't know anything about a medallion but isn't sure if telling her that is going to make any difference.
"P-p-please t-tell me this is a joke," he manages.
Her eyes widen and he feels a chill on his skin that raises the hair all over his body. A part of him is convinced that this is all a poor joke on the part of his band mates but the extreme reaction he's facing with his own body tells the rest of him it is indeed deadly serious. This woman and the cold steel hanging so near his head tell him whatever it is she's looking for, she'll find it no matter who she kills to get there.
"I will not ask again." A spark flies from her free hand and Christian can sense the electricity in the air. She raises her hand up and places it against the van right next to his head. The spark travels through the van, a low level current and he jumps when it connects with the parts of his body that are touching the van. His vision blurs when it zaps the back of his head.
"Ouch! God-fucking-damnit lady, I don't have your fucking medallion!"
The current stops and Christian closes his eyes to take a breath. A wind passes over him and when he opens his eyes, the woman is gone.
It takes him several minutes to convince himself that she's really gone but by the time he's certain she's not coming back, he sees Cate striding gleefully towards him. Her smile vanishes as she approaches and she jogs the last few steps towards him.
"Christian, are you okay? You look awful!"
"I feel awful." He runs a hand over the back of his smooth head to feel for any burn marks.
"What happened?" Cate's gaze has fallen to the van and a large scratch mark in the side of the door left where the scythe grazed it.
He shakes his head. "Honestly? I don't know." He tells her the story, though he's certain she thinks he's crazy when he finishes. Instead, she just nods and pulls him into a hug. She smells warm and clean and faintly of roses. When she pulls back, she smiles and gives him a small shove towards the van.
They leave the door open to wait for the other guys and when they come out he relays the whole story again. His brother, Ray, gives him a troubled look but doesn't say anything. Tony makes a crack about being scared by a girl. And Mark, he nods and looks thoughtfully at Cate.
"She sounds familiar..." Mark says.
Cate shrugs. "We can think about it later. For now, lets get home."
Cate twirls a pink envelope in her hand. She walks to the practice area and without a word, throws the envelope into Tony's lap. He's sitting in one of her brightly colored bean bags, earbuds in and nodding his head to whatever he's listening to.
The letter lands, with a small bounce off his knee, in between his crossed legs. "From 'Tracy'?" He asks as he yanks the earbuds out.
Cate shrugs but says, "Most likely."
"Should we wait for everyone?"
She shrugs again, "I'm not sure I even want to see another letter."
"It is getting proportionally weirder when compared to the number of shows we play." Tony picks up the envelope and turns it over in his hands several times. "You're giving them to Liss?"
"Yes, but I don't know what good that does for us if this person turns out to be a huge creeper."
"What else would you do?"
"Find him or her. Maybe figure out who they are at a show. I don't know. Maybe nothing." Cate throws her hands into the air.
She badly wants to tell Tony about the time that she drove down to the address on the letters -- and that no one was there. Not a soul had been in that house in years and it was almost as creepy as the letters themselves. But, she knew that he'd tell Ray and that Ray would tell his brother and then it would all be down to why she hadn't told Mark. She wasn't even sure why she had done it. So, what was the point in trying to explain it.
"Has Liss done anything with them?"
"Not that I can tell. I don't know what she'd do anyway, other than keep them on hand. It's not like they're threatening."
Tony nods, "Well, now I want to see what's in this one."
"Be my guest," Cate waves a hand at him. "Everyone's almost here any how."
Tony shakes his head and dives into the envelope. It's greeting card shaped, but inside is a plain white sheet of paper folded in half and covered in writing and sketches. There's a small cartoon sketch of the band with the Tower in the background. Tracy, even drew their van off to one side of the haunted house.
"Seriously, if this chick isn't going to art school, she's wasting herself on us," Tony jokes.
All the writing is just lyrics to their songs, and a small message about how much "Tracy" enjoyed the show. It's similar in style, writing and art to all the other letters they've gotten from their anonymous fan for the last year. Since the first gig they ever did down at Penny Lane Bar.
"Huh," Tony says. "You would've thought with such a small place, she would've tried to come up to us."
"Or he," Cate says as she opens the door for Christian and Ray. At the same time Mark is clattering down the stairs into the basement.
"He? Did we get another letter?" Ray asks as he steps inside.
The RV clatters to a stop on the side of the highway. It's mid-afternoon and the tar on the road is melted enough to squish slightly as Tony steps out first. Mark looks back from the driver's seat and watches the rest of his band mates pile out behind Tony. He has to wait for a moment for traffic to clear before he can exit from the driver's side and walk around to join them own the highway's shoulder.
"Well, now what?" Mark asks when he reaches them.
"We'll call Liss and tell her we'll be late, first of all." Cate reaches into the front pocket of her jumper to pull out a cell phone.
"Then?" Ray pulls his phone out of his jeans pocket. "Should we try and get someone out here?"
Tony shrugs and then nods. "I guess we'll need a ride to wherever town is..."
Mark gestures down the highway they've just travelled. "There was a sign back there. I think it said that there's town about 3 miles, that way." He points the way they were headed before the RV stopped.
Cate steps away from the group to talk to Liss. Ever from a small distance they can hear Cate trying to calm their manager down. Liss got them the gig in Reno and they're due at the hotel in less than an hour and then at the club two hours after that. If they can get the RV fixed in the next half-hour, they might make it but only barely.
Mark shakes his head as Cate hangs up the phone . "Not to pleased huh?"
"She is pretty angry. Of course, we're not going to hear the end of it when she calms down."
"Maybe we should've let her make the arrangements," Christian says.
Cate gives him a look that says he needs to stop talking and Christian turns away. She knows about the crush he has on their manager, the whole band does...everyone but Liss of course. Thankfully, Cate thinks, everyone else is kind enough to leave Christian alone with his crush, and not to say anything about the RV Cate borrowed from her Dad for their trip.
Although, if they had listened to Liss and let the label pay for a bus, they all knew how much more money they would've ended up losing to pay for pretty much everything else. In the long run, provided the RV wasn't a complete loss, they'd still be out ahead by the time the whole trip was over.
"Okay, I think I found a place we can call to come take a look at the RV, maybe tow it into town." Tony says after hanging up his own phone.
"What not one of you strapping young lads knows how to look at a car -- not even if just to pretend you know what you're looking at?" Cate puts her hands on her hips and gives them all a disappointed look. She sighs dramatically, "Fine."
"So I'll call them," Tony asks with a waggle of the phone in his hand.
Cate nods, "Call them. See how long it's going to take to get someone out here."
Tony turns his back to the group and dials his phone. They can't hear his conversation but he's only gone a few minutes before he turns back to them. "Alright, someone will be here in ten or fifteen minutes." He shoves his phone back into his pocket and leaves his hands there, looking somewhat forlorn. "Now what?"
"Well," Christian begins, "If one or two of us stays with the RV, then the rest of us could go check in at the hotel?"
Mark nods. "Could do..."
"I can wait with the RV, it is my dad's, probably would be good if I was here," Cate says and then adds, "just in case."
"I can wait with you then," Mark says. "If that's okay."
Cate shrugs but doesn't answer. Both Tony and Ray share a look and then they both turn to look at Christian. He runs hand thoughtfully across his scalp and takes a moment looking back and forth between his brother and Tony, and Cate and Mark.
"Hard decision, bro?"
"Something like that," Christian answers. "It's the bass man, I don't want to leave it."
"I'm sure we'll be there before you know it," Cate says soothingly. "And nothing is going to happen to your precious bass while you're gone. We'll keep a close eye on it."
"Nah, I'll just stay here with you two. It's not like the two of them need me," he says with a gesture towards his brother and Tony. "Nor is it likely that you need more than a person or two to check into the hotel, especially if all the gear is here."
"You're welcome to be hot and bored here with us," Mark says. "That's for sure."
"I see how you are then." Ray chucks a fist at his taller and broader brother's shoulder. "We'll be just fine without you...all of you."
Tony gives him a playful looks, "Well you know...I think I might want to..."
"Don't you even think it. You're coming with me mister!"
They all laugh as Tony holds his hands up submissively. "Okay, okay. I didn't mean it."
Ray pushes Tony's hands down and grabs one as they turn away from the group. "Call us if you need us. We'll find a taxi or something..."
"Will do," Cate says. "Now get going you two." They smile and head away from the group, their shoes kicking up desert dust as they go.
Ray and Tony find a convenience station not too far down the road, from which they're able to get a lift into town, and to the hotel. They check in with ease, and while Ray tries to figure out where the repair shop is from the hotel so they can meet up with everyone once the RV is back to working order, Tony is on the phone to Cate.
"We're here, the hotel has all of our names down, and I got multiple keys so we can all get in and out whenever." Tony jumps when Ray comes up from behind and grabs him around the waist. "Look Cate..." There is Ray's warm breath on his neck as leans back into him. "Uh, we'll meet you at the repair shop." Another pause as Ray's hands slid under his shirt and wrap around his stomach. "Let us know when you get there."
He clicks the phone off and turns around, "That's not fair. I was on the phone."
"That was all part of the fun."
Back at the RV, Mark, Christian and Cate have pulled folding chairs out from the back and are waiting on the side of the road for the RV to be towed into town. It's dry and warm outside and each of them is nursing a bottle of water from the travel cooler. They've turned their chairs at an angle away from on coming traffic and are set up near the front of the RV hoping to keep the dust blown their way to a minimum. It doesn't help much.
Cate hangs up the phone after Tony's check-in and sighs. "They're at the hotel, though we won't be getting a rescue from them." She gives a wink and elbows Christian playfully in the side.
Christian mimes blocking his ears, "I can't hear you."
"Oh no," she chuckles.
There's a rumbling sound and Mark jumps up from hischair expecting to see a tow truck pulling up. But, the road is empty and the rumbling noise continues. He whips around to look at Cate and Christian who have already risen from their own seats; both of them meet Mark with a confused look.
"I'm not the only one who hears that?" Both of the guys shake their heads. The rumbling gets louder and there's a small tremor in the ground beneath them.
Mark scrambles closer to Cate as a larger tremor passes through the earth. "Is this an earthquake?"
Cate shakes her head, a movement that immediately makes her feel ill. "I don't know."
Christian pushes Mark and Cate together and starts slowly walking the three of them further away from the RV. When they're far enough it won't be able to tip or roll and crush them, he pulls the three of them into a crouch in the scrub brush. The whole sky shakes and rumbles and the ground rolls beneath them for another minute.
In the hotel, Ray and Tony are wrapped together, arms and legs tangled together in a large hotel bed sheet. When the rumbling starts, they ignore it, and the hotel's emergency system doesn't kick in until after the rumbling stops. The building is steady, but the the floor jitters enough to shake the furniture and the hotel glasses near the sink scoot off onto the floor.
"Shit!" Tony hops off the bed when the glass shatters and then watches as Ray works to extricate himself from the blanket to which Tony is still clinging.
"It's alright, just some tremors, we'll likely feel a few more aftershocks," Ray says edging his way around some of the broken glass to join Tony. He wraps his arms around a warm, but tense Tony and tries to calm him with soothing noises.
As a second aftershock trembles through the building, there's a loud thump against the wall behind the bed Ray and Tony were on moments before. They both turn instinctively towards the noise in time to see a large hole ripped into the wall. A pale almost luminous hand punches though the wall another time and then proceeds to rip back panelling, insulation and wiring from between the two rooms.
Ray pulls Tony away from the bed towards the bathroom but there's the slam of a door behind them. Torn between the idea of tearing their eyes away from the growing hole in the wall over the bed or looking behind them to find out why the door closed on it's own, both of them freeze in place. A second pale hand joins the first and pushes the rest of the panelling, that hasn't already broken, into their side of the room.
A tall woman in a long dark dress slides easily through the hole and gracefully lands on the rumpled bed. Her hair is long and white and partially covered by the deep hood attached to her dress. Her dark eyes turn on Ray and Tony but quickly her gaze shifts to the rest of the room as if she's looking for something else.
"C-c-can w-we help y-ou?" Ray manages to say, pushing Tony behind him. He soon realizes his undressed state and uses his free hand to cover himself as best he can.
The woman snaps her gaze back to the two of them and for a moment it looks like she might say something. Instead, she snaps two fingers and through the hole in the wall, a long, sharp weapon gets handed through. There's a muffled question through the wall and the woman nods as she pulls the rest of the scythe's shaft through from the other room.
Tony hands the long end of the sheet around to Ray, placing a corner near his hand so it can easily be grabbed. Thankfully, Ray takes the corner and pulls what he can around his waist. It might not matter to the woman but it certainly makes him feel better as they stand around waiting for what she's going to do next.
She stalks forward a few steps, leaving several feet still between them. Tony whimpers and falls into the chair at the little office desk in the corner. The woman reaches into the folds of her dress and pulls out a small wad of cash. She points at the wall and then tosses it down onto the bed.
She starts to turn towards the door and then looks back at them, "Sorry for the... interruption."
Tony lets out a half-chuckle somewhere behind him, but Ray just watches as the woman opens the door to their room and strides out into the hallway. She pulls the door closed behind her and then everything is quiet again. After a few moments, Tony gets up and carefully picks his way around the broken glass to peek out into the hallway. When he pulls his head back into the room he looks at Ray and shrugs.
"She must've been booking it. She's gone."
"A woman that can do that," Ray says as he gestures to the wall, "I bet she moves pretty quick when she wants to."
After they have dressed and straightened the room as best they can, including picking up the largest bits of glass, and checking the bathroom for other random psychopaths, Ray suggests checking on their neighbors in the other room. It's been quiet in their neighbors room since the woman left and no amount of peering through the hole she left behind, turns anyone up.
"At least we can find out if they're okay."
Tony isn't happy about the idea, but agrees to walk to the next door down the hall with Ray. No one answers, even after they knock several times.
"Maybe they've left already. Like we should be doing," Tony says finally. "After all, we still have a gig tonight."
"Oh shit!" Ray agrees. "We've still got to meet them down at the shop."
They leave the cash with the manager, recounting a story of a drunken party in the room next to theirs. The hotel manager in the face of the cash, smiles and nods and lets them leave without another word.
"At least it wasn't the adjoining room that Cate and Mark will be in," Ray says as they head out the hotel's main entrance.
They're down the street and in range of the service station when Tony stops on the sidewalk and turns to Ray. "Hey, maybe this is a weird question..."
Ray nods before Tony can even get the whole sentence out, something they're all used to doing after so much time with Cate. "She did look familiar."
"Guys we got another one!"
Cate twirls the bright yellow envelope through the air, aiming for their practice space. All of the guys make moves to catch it, but only Christian is successful, being the closest to the edge of the carpet. Without even setting his cello aside, he snatches the envelope from the air just before it hits the floor.
"It's from her?"
"Or him, but yes. It looks like we have another fan letter from 'Tracy'," Cate makes air quotes around Tracy since it's been a long debated issue whether their letter-writing fan is male or female.
"Well, open it up!" Ray helps his brother lean the cello in it's stand so he has both hands free.
Christian tears into the envelope and when it's open, glitter starts drifting down from his hands. It explodes in further glitter showers as he wrestles the thick letter out completely. When he unfolds it, he has to shake it out so that it's actually readable beneath the glitter.
"That carpet will always and forever have glitter embedded in it now," Cate murmurs.
"It'll be fine," Mark says. Then to Christian, "So what's it say?"
"There's another little cartoon of us...hey Tony, she got the new band sticker you put on your kit." He holds the paper up to point out the front of Tony's drum kit in the drawing. "Got your hair right too, Bro."
Ray runs a hand through his hair. He'd only just had it cut before their last gig. "She's quick."
"Anything else," Cate asks, stepping around to look over Christian's arm.
He shrugs. "Just the same old message: she/he liked the show, thought we sounded good, wished we'd play some new stuff. Oh, and they're happy we've got a proper album out now."
"It's been out for a while, wonder if she...he..." Cate shrugs and continues, "...they just bought a new one at the show?"
"Maybe," Ray says. "Still, it's pretty creepy all the same."
Cate nods, "It was neat the first few times, but this is definitely overkill. I mean, what person includes that much glitter in a fan letter to a band?"
"For that matter, what sane person writes a fan letter after Every. Single. Show?" Tony asks. "It's far more enthusiastic than the last one, this one is David Bowie and the last one...it was just, I dunno...whatever a boring version of David Bowie would be."
Ray laughs, "That's just everyone else in the world Tone."
The rest of them chuckle and then there's a long moment of silence as they pass the letter around between each of them. Cate is almost certain their mysterious stalker/fan is a teenage girl, because it seems like the likeliest fit. When each of them has looked it over, she folds it up and slips it inside what's left of the yellow envelope it came in.
"I'll get it to Liss tomorrow. For now, we should get back to practice." She sets the letter down on her bean bag and takes a seat in the nearby director's chair.
"I don't know what they'll get from those letters when the Police find us cut up into little bits," Mark says.
Tony pokes him with a drum stick, "No, I though we decided it was going to be frozen -- in a meat locker?"
"Oh yeah," Mark says with a nod.
"Creepy guys," Cate says stretching to reach a foot out to kick Mark in the thigh. "Let's just practice. I do not want to have to do multiple takes of the video next week just because we're screwing up our own stuff."
"How am I supposed to know?"
"You're the leader...it's your band...you like to take charge all the time, take your pick." Mark pushes a long piece of hair out of his face and stares at Cate.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know what I mean Cate, you have...ideas, very specific ideas about what will work best for us. So, make some decisions!"
"And if I'm wrong?"
"It has happened before," Mark smiles, "Do you remember the 70s costume idea you had?"
"Please don't remind me."
"My point is that we seem to have made it out relatively unscathed, despite the fashion horrors you subjected us to." He laughs. "So, pick a song that'll work and that's the one we will do."
She huffs and turns away from him in order to flop down into her bean bag chair, only it's gone. Some of the steam comes out of her when she has to take a moment to look for it and realizes it is nowhere to be found. For that matter, as she starts to look around the basement, she can tell that other stuff is missing too, that's enough to put her back in a bad mood. She whirls around for Mark and he's gone now too.
"Mark? Where are you?"
The room is dark and getting darker or is filling with shadows, a thick sort of darkness that's covering single objects...and people, one at a time. Christian and his upright go missing, then Tony, although his drums remain around a little longer, but it's not enough time for her to do anything; not that she knows what she would do. She thinks she hears Ray's voice but it's muffled and by the time she's turned around to look at him, he's gone too.
"Ray?" No response.
None of them hadn't wanted to get in between her and Mark when they argued so she was as far from the practice space as she could be, though the darkness didn't seem centralized there. That was just where the most things were and then were not. Cate spins around trying to keep her eyes on different objects around the basement but each time she turns she finds more things covered in darkness until finally, she's alone in a dark and formless void.
"Mark? Are you there? Anybody?"
Despite the darkness, despite the lack of what looked like any sort of surface, Cate felt like she was standing on something. Pacing and yelling would get her nowhere, so she kneeled down and when she comfortable enough that there was a solid...something under her, she sat down.
Somewhere, though he wasn't sure where, Mark walked a dark expanse. When Cate had disappeared, it felt like a piece of his heart had been yanked from him. He sunk to his knees and waited and called and screamed hoping that he would find himself back in the basement again. When nothing happened he stood, calmed himself down a bit and started walking. He didn't have a plan, it's hard to plan when you can't see, but it felt better than sitting and wallowing and hoping to him. It felt like he was doing something, even if it was nothing.
She wasn't sure it would work but while she sat, Cate thought she would try to reach the others. She never told them, though she thought some of them suspected, that she had some telepathic ability. Normally, she stayed out of their heads, it was hard work and it ruined the way she thought about things. Often, she knew things her friends were thinking without even trying, which both amused and frustrated both she and them. But, now, in the darkness or the void, whatever it was, she opened her mind and tried to reach out to someone else. She wasn't sure what she was doing, but she held a clear picture of Mark, who was not just her band mate but was also her oldest and closest friend, in her mind.
She pictured his long dark hair, so floppy that it was always getting in his face, his hazel eyes that turned dark when he was sad and the playful smirk that almost always dominated his face. With the idea of him secure in her mind she tired to look for him, to find a direction a place in the void that felt like him. She turned her head in different directions, trying to feel out which one would lead her to him.
After several long, quiet moments she thought she had gotten his attention. She could almost hear him asking for her, calling out her name.
She snaps her eyes open at the sound of her full name in a warbled woman's voice. It's muffled, like the void muffles the sound as it passes to her, but she hears it all the same.
There's a tall woman with shadows where her face should be. She's surrounded by a halo of long white hair that shines though there should be no light in this place. It takes Cate a moment to realize how disconcerting it really is to be surrounded by so much darkness and yet be able to see someone, something...anything, so clearly.
Still, Cate remembers her manners and hops to her feet. As she does so, she takes in the dark dress the woman is wearing, with a lighter colored cloak falling down behind her, half hidden by long pale hair.
"Do I know you?" Cate steps toward the woman. "You seem so familiar..."
The woman doesn't make a movement from what Cate can tell, but a long dark blade materializes in the woman's hand. She makes a tugging motion and Cate can see the blade is attached to a long wooden pole, and that's when she makes the connection.
"You're her...the one that attacked Christian!"
The woman remains motionless and does not respond. After a moment, Cate takes another step forward. Then another. When they're nearly face to face (or more face to chest, since Cate is a good head shorter than the woman) Cate reaches out a hand.
"Care to tell me what's going on?"
It's then that Cate can see some light, it's off to her side and she has to slowly turn, trying to keep her eyes on the woman and the source of light at the same time. But, there's light and it looks like a window, like the window in her basement and then, the basement starts to appear. It's like little pinpricks exploding all over the void, they tear at the darkness and the shadows until none of it is left and then her basement and her friends are back where they belong, save one thing. The woman remains.
"I need your help."
"Tell me what the fuck that was," Cate yells as soon a she can see her own basement clearly. The woman is still in front of her and Cate steps forward anger flushing her face.
The woman steps back and leans her weapon forward, putting it between herself and Cate. They boys all get seem to move at the same time, all headed away from their instruments to intercept Cate or the woman, they don't seem to know exactly is the larger threat at the moment. Ray reaches them first, having only pushed his guitar around to his back instead of wasting the time to unsling it. He reaches out a hand for each of them but stops short of actually putting a hand on the strange woman. Cate pushes against his hand, but she lets the momentum of it swing her to the side, and she turns away from the woman.
Mark is there to meet her and Cate takes a firm hold on both his arms. He can see the questions in her eyes, her ginger eyebrows knit together in frustration and confusion. He whispers, "Where did you go?"
"Where did I go?" Some of the anger melts and she has to shake her head before she can actually look and recognize him. "Didn't we all go? Didn't you disappear?" She lowers her voice with the last question, realizing how crazy it sounds now.
Mark shakes his head. "Something happened, she did something to us. But, Cate," he whispers as he softly places his hands on either side of her head. "Are you alright?"
"That woman," she says, trying to wriggle out of his hands, her eyes large and wild but focused on the pale woman. "She took me somewhere, it was dark and empty..."
"I am sorry." The woman says her voice soft and calm. "I needed to separate each of you, it was only for a moment."
Mark's arms fall to his sides as he turns to look at the woman. He recognizes that voice. "You're her. You're the woman from that night..."
The rest of them turn from the pale-haired woman in order to look at Mark now. Even Ray lets his arms fall, figuring the tense moment between the woman and Cate is over. He crosses his arms over his chest and looks at Mark, then at his brother. "Christian? Are you alright?"
"It's her," Christian whispers. "From the Tower."
The woman watches them, lingering a moment on each face as though finally committing them to memory. Recognition triggers in all the men and the outburst from Cate is forgotten as they all turn to face the stranger directly. When they have all focused on her, she repeats her question to Cate.
"I need your help."
"My help?" Cate asks incredulous. "I'm the only one you haven't terrorized recently. But, you need my help. We don't even know you!"
The woman nods, pale hair bobbing loose from her cloak. "My name is Sorrow," she says attempting a half-smile.
"Well that's something," Cate says crossing her arms and looking around at the four guys.
Each of the boys has a glazed look of half-surprise and half-disbelief stuck on their faces. Cate chuckles and turns towards her bean bag chair. When she flops down into it calmly as any other day, Mark actually jumps at the noise.
"Sorrow. And what is it you do Sorrow? Or maybe, I should just ask what is it you are?"
Sorrow nods, a smile of amused approval on her lips. "Neither answer will please you. It would be better to explain why I came here...to you."
"Alright," Cate answers.
"I am, as I have said already, I am here because I need your help. And by 'your help' I mean specifically, you, Catherine Harvey." The woman turns away briefly taking a moment to lean her large weapon against the wall near the back door.
The guys seem to have regained some normality and each of them are looking for nearby seats from which they can keep an eye on Sorrow. Christian doesn't sit, instead, he finds a portion of wall near Cate's bean bag and leans against it. He grumbles when Sorrow uses Cate's full name, then tries to cover it with a lame attempt at a cough.
"I know you're probably some scary..." Cate waves a hand in a vague gesture "...thing, but please call me Cate. Using my full name is just an extra level of freaky I don't need right now."
The woman nods, "Cate." On her lips, the nickname sounds just as formal to Cate's ears.
"Never mind," Cate says with a sigh of disgust. "Just, you know, get to the point."
"As you wish," Sorrow says with another nod. "I believe you can help me find someone. Someone that is already looking for you...who has been for some time now. And, I think you already know where I can find them."
"Is that why you've been following us?" Mark has moved over into their practice area and is sitting on his stool, putting as much room and instruments between he and Sorrow as possible. He'd could only be further away if he'd sat at Tony's drum kit instead of his keyboard, hard to do with Tony already there instead. Every time she moves, a different part of him feels as though it's waking up. And he's pretty sure that he can smell her, even with all that space between them; she smells of winter, of clear dark nights and a shiver passes through him.
She shakes her head, her hair and cloak rustle, "I have not been following you. In fact, for a time, I thought you might be following me."
Cate and Christian simultaneously let out mixed sounds of derision and surprise. Ray and Tony exchange a questioning look and then Tony looks back to Sorrow and asks, "How would that have been possible?"
"There were a number of places I found you, where I did not make myself known."
"That doesn't sound creepy at all," Cate says.
"It is the truth. I have been searching for quite some time and each place my search took me, one of you," she scans each of their faces, dark eyes reflecting pinpricks of the florescent lighting, "was there." She raises her hand towards their practice area, " Then, I saw you perform at the Penny Lane Bar and realized I had seen each of you before, and that my quarry was following you."
"That's when you came after me," Mark says. "That's the night I have had such a hard time remembering. But, I remember you now. I can't believe..."
"Yes. I assumed one of you had to know, or that if I followed you, I would be able to complete my assignment as well. I don't apologize for it, though I wish now I had come here first."
Sorrow turns back to Cate, "I am not just tracking someone down for my health, of course."
Cate snickers, "Of course. And what are you going to do when you find them?"
"I have orders to bring them in to meet with my employer."
Shrugging Cate asks, "Being as we're a band, not bounty hunters, what do you need us for?"
"You," Sorrow points at Cate, her cloak falling back to reveal her pale arm, and the same black dress that Christian recognizes. "You can help me by giving me your sight."
"Right," Tony chuckles. "It's not like she's using it..."
Cate looks away from Sorrow and finds Mark's eyes on her already. They exchange a worried glance that silences Tony. "I'm not sure that's something I can give you," she says, eyes never leaving Mark's.
"You can," Sorrow answers. "I will return it, I promise."
Tony uses one of his drumsticks to reach out and poke Mark in the arm. After the fourth or fifth poke, Mark breaks eye contact with Cate and turns back to him with a harsh whisper, "what?"
Cate wrestles her way out of the bean bag and strides towards Sorrow. Their heights are evenly matched, but Cate does her best to look down on the frightening woman with the pale hair. She stops with only a few steps left between them.
"I don't even know what you are," a small twang of her parent's Glasgow accent coming through giving away the stress she's feeling. "Why would I believe you?" She puts her hands on her hips in her best intimidating gesture and stares at Sorrow.
"You don't have to believe me, though I think you must already. As for what I am, I think you know might have guessed the answer to that as well," she leans forward, bringing her face only inches from Cate's. The mass of her pale hair hangs forward an effective shade to hide her face from everyone else in the room. "I am a demon, Cate."
Her breath is like cold air, but the shiver it sends though Cate is warm and pleasant. And the honeyed sound of her name lingers in her ears and Cate closes her eyes reflexively trying to hold on to the sensation. When she opens her eyes again everything is slightly fuzzy, hazy at the edges and it's darker than she thinks it should be. Sorrow is gone and when she turns around to look at the guys, they're all staring at the space where Sorrow should be, mouths hanging open with surprise.
"Hey." Cate gives Mark's shoulder a quick tap as she walks around to stand in front of his keyboard. It's only been a few hours since the guys went home; nobody was really in the practicing mood after Sorrow disappeared. Her sight has already gotten worse since then and she has to take her steps slow and careful so she doesn't trip on anything.
"Hey yourself," he slowly marks a few keys with his fingers and then plays a simple chord.
She bends down to find a way to get on eye-level with him when it's obvious he's in one of his moods. She taps a key on her way down, one at the top of the scale and the noise is annoyingly high and tinny. He glares at her for a moment before reaching down to a piece of paper on the bench next to him and scratching something out.
He grunts noncommittally.
"Look, I get it. You're mad we didn't believe you."
A few more low keys get tapped and he looks back to the page as though she hasn't said anything. She sighs and starts to stand back up.
"Not 'we' Cate," he says. "You. I'm mad that you, of all people, didn't believe me. You...the person that "just knows" things...you should've believed."
"Yes." She nods.
"I wanted so badly to remember..."
"And we...I, acted like you were crazy. Like, it wasn't possible. Truth is Mark, I did believe you. I really did. I was just...scared. I'm still getting used to...you know."
He looks up at her, his eyebrows knit together in worry and frustration. "Scared? How do you think I felt?"
"I know. I said I was sorry. I'm sorry it took her actually showing up here, admitting she's been following us around..."
"It's okay," he whispers as he turns his gaze back to the keyboard again. "I really don't want to think about it anymore. Now that she's been here..."
Cate nods again. "I'm sorry. If or when you're ready to talk about it, please come to me." She starts to walk away so he can be left alone with his music.
"Nothing left to talk about," he says to his keyboard. "Being with her was amazing. I should've remembered that."
She's almost out of the room when she hears, "Cate?"
Spinning back to Mark she asks, "Yeah?"
"Are you going to be okay? I mean, without your..." he shrugs and waves a hand in the air, confused.
"Yeah. I mean, I don't know what it is you do, but are you going to be okay without it?"
Cate chuckles and takes a step back into the room. "Thanks," she watches him for a moment and then adds, "I think I'll be okay. As long as we find whatever she's looking for quickly."
"This is the best venue ever," Ray says. He's has one hand up shading his eyes as he stares at the plane overhead.
"You would think that," Tony says trying to pull Ray back from the building's ledge. "But, please be careful where you step."
"Don't worry Ton', I know where the edge is." He extracts his arm from Tony's hand and then pats Tony's arm reassuringly. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."
"I know, Ray. I just...don't like heights."
They both pull back to where the rest of the group is setting up their makeshift stage. They're on the roof of a downtown hotel, preparing to do a live show from the roof. Liss and a small band of busy sound and camera men are bustling around them, setting up, moving cords and arranging equipment. And near one corner of the roof, Sorrow is perched on the window ledge of a small turret protruding from the roof. She watches the band as they set up, tune their instruments and prepare for their set.
Even with no way to contact Sorrow, she had still been downstairs waiting for them when Cate and Mark arrived. Though now Sorrow's eyes are light, almost humanly blue and while Cate's are still green, her vision is almost completely dark, light showing as pinpricks and she can sort of make out the outlines of her friends if she really concentrates. It's been frustrating, but she tries to stay positive that as soon as Sorrow finds whomever she's looking for, her sight will be restored -- both mentally and physically; it's been a rough week.
Liss strides into the band's space, "Are you all ready?" Everyone nods, making final adjustments to their clothes or instruments or both. "Great, okay." She takes a deep breath and looks the band over then adds, "You are going to be wonderful, I just know it."
"So, how exactly is this going to work?" Cate turns towards the sound of Liss' voice. It's been hard work not giving away anything to Liss but Mark's steadying hand is on her arm making sure she keeps her balance.
"Just the way we talked about. Tinamou performs," she gives Cate a smarmy look as if to say 'that's you guys', "and around the minute-thirty mark in the song, Jay over there will give the signal to the chopper." Liss points her pen towards the sky where the helicopter will soon hover over their heads. Cate nods understanding and Liss continues, "Once they land, we'll cut so they can get their chutes off and then will figure out where to pick it up from there okay?"
Though not everyone is paying as much attention, there are bobbing heads noting their understanding. As Liss walks away, Mark whispers, "You'll be fine." Cate nods but wobbles a bit as she steps towards Mark. "Just try not to wander too far from your mic stand."
Their director, Jay, makes a motion with his hand and after a moment his assistant yells out, "Quiet on set! Places!"
The guys huddle around Cate for a moment and they have a quick group hug before everyone moves into their designated place. The square area of roof that's been marked as their stage has been set up a little like the basement, complete with both the director's chair and beanbag chair that belong to Cate. Cords and wires in the space have been left on top of the rug they brought out and dusted off so that it looks messy, and just like home.
Jay's assistant whispers something in Jay's ear and it's only a few more seconds before Jay yells "Action!" and Christian strikes the first chord on his upright. Cate sings the opening words to "Myersiella" and when the first stanza is over, she steps back from the microphone and sways. She and Mark built time into this song, just for her. She listens to the deep chords on Christian's Bass and the matching harmony Mark plays on the keyboard and she just relaxes. She sways with the rhythm of it and her long hair trails behind her like a counterbalance. When it's time, she leans into the microphone to start the chorus and at the same time Jay raises his hand to give the sign to the chopper.
It's hard to hear at first but as the band plays, their music gets overwhelmed by the sound of a helicopter hanging directly above them. The sound fades away nearly as quickly as it arrived as the helicopter circles once and then flies away. A few seconds later, the first of many people lands on the roof to Mark's right. In quick succession, the rest of the group from the chopper lands softly around the band. Cate tries to watch but can only catch shadows as the parachutes drift down, and she takes her cue to stop singing when Mark stops playing. Jay gives the signal to cut when the last parachute softly hits the ground.
"Honest to goodness Flying Elvises!" Christian remarks to the group. His face is full of child-like wonder as he watches the Elvis impersonators around them remove their parachutes and the techs and assistants nearby pick them up and start packing the gear away.
"Wouldn't you think it was Elvii and not Elvises?" Cate grins and gives a sloppy punch to the air near his elbow.
They all shrug and keep an eye out, looking for anyone that doesn't seem to fit the part. After a minute passes, Mark wonders aloud, "How do you spot an impersonator imposter?"
That earns him a laugh from the other four, and Tony says, "Sounds like someone is thinking up lyrics to a new song." Another round of chuckles ensues.
It only takes another two minutes and Jay's assistant is calling for quiet on the set again. Jay gives direction on where to pick up the song again, and calls for the Elvises to join Cate in the chorus. They repeat the whole chorus several times until Jay is happy with the results.
They break a second time while the crew sets up a backdrop for another set of shots. As soon as everyone breaks, Sorrow strides over to the group and a chill breeze sweeps through the group.
When she has their undivided attention, she says, "I think it has to be now."
"Can you at least tell us if they're here? He, she...we don't know who we're looking for," Cate says. After a pause she adds, "Not that I could see them if they were here but, you know."
Sorrow sweeps a long thin hand through her hair in what seems like a decidedly human motion to Mark's eyes. He feels like she's looking right at him, and for just a split-second, it's like he can almost hear her in his head. When he thinks about it, he's not even sure what she said or if she said anything at all, but she was there. It's like that night at the bar all over again...whatever power she has, it rolls through him and when he comes back to himself, she's watching him intently.
Mark clears his throat uncomfortably. "What do we do?"
"She is here," Sorrow gives a pointed nod towards the space where Liss is working with the crew. "Not one of the impersonators..."
"She working on the set?" Mark asks. He regrets it immediately when he sees the disappointed look on Sorrow's face.
"I see her now." Sorrow doesn't move, but clear as if she held a picture in front of them, the image of a short young woman with blonde hair and killer black heels, is there; a woman with a clipboard and determination in her eyes.
"It's Liss?" Christian says with a slight wobble in his voice.
Sorrow's scythe appears as if from thin air and in less time than any of them can track, she has Liss by the neck. Liss screams for a brief moment and then the sound dies, caught in her throat as Sorrow's scythe presses down. Mark steers Cate and they all scramble towards Liss and Sorrow. When they can see Sorrow's face again, no semblance of humanity is left on it. Her eyes are dark again, colorless and featureless and her face is demonically contorted. Each of them instinctively takes a step backwards.
"It's Liss?" Cate asks with a hiss in her voice. "You couldn't figure that out on your own?" Her hands ball into fists and she fights her own instincts to regain a step in Sorrow's direction.
Sorrow actually hisses, mouth open wide with several sharp fangs glinting in the sunlight. While she's distracted, Liss uses that moment to wiggle free, kicking Sorrow in the shin with a heel before moving out of immediate reach.
"Liss?" Christian takes a step towards the small blonde woman. "What's happening? Are you Tracy--" his voice cracks, "Is it true?"
The air whistles as Sorrow's scythe slices through the air nearby, she tries to hook Liss around the waist. Liss bounds backwards in a leap that carries her not only out of the way of the scythe, but also up onto a nearby turret's window ledge. She spares a glance for Christian then smiles and shrugs.
Everything goes quiet around them and then the roof disappears. It's darker wherever they are but they can make out the forms of Sorrow and Liss. There's a clattering sound and the scythe skitters across the ground in front of Mark's feet.
"Shit!" He whispers with alarm and looks at Cate. "What do we do? Do we help?"
"I don't know!"
There's a scream and Liss raises her hands and then sweeps them in front of her. An odd light trails behind her movements and when it fades, Sorrow lets out a scream as she's pushed backwards through the air. Her cloak is ripped from her and billows through the air, coming to a slow soft landing her her feet. She jumps to her feet but not before Liss makes another gesture with her hands, and this time the light carries forward a strange symbol in the space between her and Sorrow. Sorrow raises her shoulders and then with a visible force of strength lowers them, her hands straining towards the floor.
There's a crackling sound followed by another noise that sounds like grinding cement. In the space between Liss and Sorrow, bones appear from the floor. Sorrow raises her hands and with the movement, Liss is dragged to the ground by shadowed and bony hands. She cries out and reaches for the group as she falls, "Help me!"
Cate reaches for Christian's hand as he steps forward. "Wait!" She takes a few tentative steps in front of him and strains to get a decent look at the floor. There's a small light coming through an area, now covered in bones and dark shadows.
"Guys, I think I've found something," she whispers.
Liss struggles on the floor to extract herself from the grasp of the shadows but as she struggles, she's moving closer and closer towards the demon. Sorrow flicks a wrist and her scythe hovers in the air near enough for her to reach out and grab it. Ray whimpers, a clear memory of the broken hotel wall in his mind. There's a pale purple light from the ground as Liss finally manages to get back to her feet, and then off them completely and hovers above the ground several inches. She crashes into Sorrow a moment later before the taller woman can get the scythe between them.
Cate takes another step forward and reaches a tentative arm down to the floor where the light is. She makes a movement to sweep a long leg bone out of her way but her hand slides through the air, the bone disappearing completely. Her fingers touch the cold, rough stone of the floor and she feels around for anything solid, her hand passing through the cone of pale light.
The boys hover over her, staring down at the ground as searches for the light source. Finally, her fingers strike a chilly and smooth object, metal she thinks. She grabs it, and it feels no bigger than a quarter, but as her hand covers it, the light dims.
"What is it?" Tony asks as they all watch Cate raise a glowing hand up from the shadows.
She stands and slowly turns her hand over, so they can all get a look at the object. When she opens her fingers, there's a small gold medallion on her palm. It's thicker and less well-formed than a quarter but about the same size. They exchange a look between them and then stare back down at the medallion and it's small but constant light.
"I think I know," Christian whispers. "She asked about a medallion!"
"Who did?" Cate asks.
He looks up and inclines his head in the direction of the two supernatural women across the room from them. "Sorrow. The first night I saw her, at the haunted house."
"She asked you about a medallion?" Ray asks, though his voice has a small quiver to it.
Christian nods and stands a little straighter to watch Liss and Sorrow. "She thought I had it and she wanted it back. I didn't think anything about it when we met her again..." His train of thought trails off as Sorrow slams into the ground after being tossed by Liss.
Sorrow takes her time trying to get up from the ground and as Liss leans over her to land a punch. Sorrow uses her feet to grab Liss' and then rolls to the side bringing Liss to the ground. They can hear a mumbled sound as Sorrow says something and two long dark wounds appear on Liss' face, one below each of her eyes. Shadows of long fingers wrap around Liss' wrists, pinning her to ground. Sorrow keeps pressure near Liss' feet, but slowly brings herself up to a standing position. Then, the shadows creep over Liss' feet and legs and Sorrow turns towards the group.
"Thank you." Her face looks somewhat normal again, her eyes are dark and her hair sweeps neatly behind her as if the shadows could style it for her. She reaches out a pale hand out towards Cate, "I see you've found it for me."
Cate nods and slowly turns her hand over Sorrow's dropping the medallion in the demon woman's palm. "Christian said you were looking for a medallion when you found him."
Sorrow nods, "It's why I was looking for that one," she sweeps a hand back towards Liss' struggling form. "My task was to return both she and it," she lifts up her palm, "back with me."
Christian takes a few steps out from the group and towards Sorrow, "What's going to happen to her?"
"She'll be put back where she belongs," Sorrow says. "Though an investigation will be launched to discover how she escaped."
Sorrow nods, then turns and nods again to Cate directly. "Thank you for everything, Cate. I pray we never need meet again."
Cate shivers as the breeze from Sorrow's lips, as her name is said, passes over her. She nods hurriedly and after moment, as she thinks to ask where they are, or how they'll get back, they're back on the hotel roof in the midday sun. The set crew is still working and Cate's father, Franklin, is chatting with their director. Liss is nowhere to be seen.
"Dad?" Cate asks, forgetting Sorrow momentarily and stepping forward to greet her father.
There's a few moments of confusion as they try to get back to their places and get back into the right mind-space needed to finish shooting their music video. Sorrow watches over them for a few minutes and tries to slip quietly away when it seems they've forgotten her altogether.
"Sorrow?" Mark asks, approaching slowly. "You...I...I'm not sure what to say."
"Then nothing needs to be said."
"But, I remember now. I remember that night, the one in the bar when you came to me. You...I thought you were the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen."
"And now?" A small smile tugs at the corners of her mouth.
"I still do." He takes a few more hesitant steps forward. "I know, you're probably not into...I don't know," he stares down at his hands and wrings them a few times, "dating? or anything. I don't know how it works with demons..."
She chuckles, "It's true, we do not date the same way you humans do."
He nods, "Okay. But, do you think...sometime...maybe...I would like to see you again." He gets the rest out quickly and then takes a deep breath.
She sweeps forward covering the last distance between them, until he can feel every inch of of his skin raised to gooseflesh by her chill. She leans in and places a small, chaste kiss on his cheek.
"I am very sorry to have used you that way. I shouldn't have done it." She takes a step back and watches him.
Mark has to take several more deep breath before he can nod and say, "That's okay. Can I ask you something then?"
"Is Sorrow really your name?"
"Partially," she smiles again and this time, the cool air around her warms and her face looks drawn and tired. "Where I am from, I am known by a longer version, Sorrow is much easier."
"Will you tell me what it is?"
"Sorrow and Grief Defeated in Lover's Tears."
His eyes grow wide for a moment, and he turns the phrase over and over in his mind. "Wow."
"You can see why I call myself Sorrow instead."