“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest. He stared down at the boy in the red zip-up jacket and shook his shaved head. “You can't bring that thing in here.”
The fifty or so teenagers in line outside the Pandemonium Club leaned forward to eavesdrop. It was a long wait to get into the all-ages club, especially on a Sunday, and not much generally happened in line. The bouncers were fierce and would come down instantly on anyone who looked like they were going to start trouble. Fourteen-year old Clary Fray, standing in line with her best friend, Simon, leaned forward along with everyone else, hoping for some excitement.
“Aw,come on.” The kid hoisted the thing up over his head. It looked like a wooden beam, pointed at one end. “It’s part of my costume.”
The bouncer raised an eyebrow. “Which is what?”
The boy grinned. He was normal-enough-looking, Clary thought, for Pandemonium. He had electric blue eyed hair that stuck up around his head like the tentacles of a startled octopus,but no elaborate facial tattoos or big metal bars through his ears or lips. “I'm a vampire hunter.” He pushed down on the wooden thing. It bent as easily as a blade of grass bending sideways. “It’s fake. Foam rubber. See?”
The boy’s wide eyes were way to bright a green, Clary noticed: the color of antifreeze, spring grass. Colored contact lenses, probably. The bouncer shrugged, abruptly bored. “Whatever. Go on in.”
The boy slid past him, quick as an eel. Clary eyed the tilt to his shoulders, the way he tossed his hair as he went. There was a word for him that could be used- insouciant.
“You thought he was interesting,” said Simon, sounding resigned. “Didnt you?”
Clary dug her elbow into his ribs, but didn't answer.
“So,” Simon said, “Pretty nice crowd tonight, eh?”
They were dancing, or what passed for it- alot of swaying back and forth with occasional lunges toward the floor as if one of them had dropped a contact lens- in a space between a group of teenage boys in metallic corsets and a young couple cooing affectionately to each other in Japanese, their colored hair extensions tangled together like vines. A boy with a lip piercing and a teddy bear backpack was handing out free tablets of herbal ecstasy, his parachute pants flapping in the breeze from the wind machine. Clary wasn’t paying much attention to their immediate surroundings- her eyes were on the blue-haired boy who’d talked his way into the club. He was prowlings through the crowd as if he were looking for something. There's something about the way he moved that reminded her of something…
“Still stalking pretty boy,” Simon went on, “huh? Well, I am enjoying myself without the need to hunt others. Do take notes.”
This seemed likely. Simon, as always, looked like he was born and raised in the club, in grey form fitting jeans, a green silk shirt, and the ever present rings on his pinkies. His nicely combed hair was dark brown to the tips, where they turned rose pink. He looked like he could seduce his way to right about anywhere. Too bad he was an awkward mess.
“Mmmm-hmmm.” Clary knew perfectly well that he came to Pandemonium with her only because she liked it, that he thought it was too chaotic. She wasn't even sure why it was that she liked it- the clothes, the music made it like a dream, someone else's life, not her annoying real life at all. But she was always too shy to actually talk to anyone but Simon.
The blue-haired boy was making his way off the dance floor. He looked a little lost, as if he hadn’t found whom he was looking for. Clary wondered what would happen if he were to start talking to her, asked for a bit of her time. Maybe he’d just stare at her. Or maybe he was shy like Simon and her too. In that case, she would like to talk to him, but-
The blue-haired boy straightened up suddenly, snapping to attention, like a hunting dog on point. Clary followed the line of his gaze, and saw the girl in the white dress.
Clary straightened up like a hunting dog as well. The girl was gorgeous, the kind of girl Clary would have liked to draw- and kiss. She was tall and ribbon-slim, with a long spill of black hair. Even at this distance Clary could see the red pendant around her throat. It pulsed under the lights of the dance floor like a seperate, disembodied heart.
“I feel,” Simon went on, “that this evening DJ Bat is doing a singularly exceptional job. Don’t you agree?”
Clary rolled her eyes and turned to stick her tongue out at him. Of course Simon would notice the DJ, he had considered Bat the only acceptable DJ in the club. He always made sure to talk up the DJ, or at least attempt to. Really, Simon was so mushy when it came to musicians.
“Nah,” Clary said, “look at pretty boy and his mark.”
Simon swirled around to spot where his best friends efforts lay. Her attention was on the girl in the white dress. Through the darkness, smoke, and artificial fog, her pale dress sone out like a beacon. No wonder the blue-haired boy was following her as if he were under a spell, too distracted to notice anything else around him- even the two dark shapes hard on his heels, weaving after him through the crowd.
Clary and Simon simultaneously stopped their not-quite-dancing and stared. She could make out that the shaped were male, tall and wearing black clothes. She couldn't have said how she knew that they were following the other boy, but she did. She could see it in the way they trailed him, their careful watchfulness, the slinking grace of their movements. A small flower of apprehension began to open inside her chest.
“Clary,” Simon hissed, “are you seeing this?”
The girl had reached the wall, and was opening a door marker NO ADMITTANCE. She beckoned the blue-haired boy after her, and they slipped through the door. It wasn't anything Clary hadn't seen before, a couple sneaking off to the dark shadows of the club to makeout- but that made it even weirder that they were being followed.
She raised herself up on tiptoe, trying to see over the crowd. The two guys had stopped at the door and seemed to be conferring with eachother.One of them was blond, and the other dark-haired. The blond one reached into his jacket and drew out something long and sharp that flashed under the strobing lights. A knife. “Simon!” Clary shouted, and seized his arm.
“I know, I know!” Simon looked alarmed. “I can see them too!”
“What do we do?” Clary practically shrieked it and pointed wildly, almost hitting a curvy black girl who was dancing nearby. The girl shot her an evil look. “Sorry- sorry!” Clary turned back to Simon only to discover he had moved along.
Clary squinted, spotting her friend through the moving bodies, flashing lights, and fog. Simon looked over the crowd for her and started trying to move back over to her. Suddenly his eyes widened, and he motioned to behind her. Clary turned just in time to see the blond boy slip through the NO ADMITTANCE door, his friend right on his heels.
She looked around; Simon was closer to her, but still trying to shove his place back. If she yelled now, no one would really pay any attention to her and someone might get hurt. Clary knew that she was too small, too short, and too weak to even attempt to move over to the NO ADMITTANCE door and figure out what was happening. Biting hard on her lower lip, Clary turned and started to wriggle through the crowd.
They were huddled together near the NO ADMITTANCE door, both breathing heavily. Simon had a hand wrapped securely around one of Clary’s wrists, although he wasn't really holding on to it.
“Do you think they are killing the girl?” Murmured Clary anxiously.
Simon was quick to quell her. “Nah. I think they are connected- somehow. They are killing pretty boy, maybe?” Clary breathed in and nodded, hoping so to herself.
The door opened and the the guys and girl slipped out. They were quick to strut away, with the blonde one chatting humorously to the girl about something. Before the trio melted into the blob of shaking bodies, the tallest, dark-haired boy turned his head to spare a look at them. His eyes widened as if he couldn't believe they were looking at him. His siblings molded to the crowd but he twisted to fully stand before Simon and Clary.
The dark-haired boy brought a lone finger to his lips in silence, and as the party continued on in the club and the city started to sing it’s music, a clock struck the hour.