The Nick Of Time
(and other Abrasions)
Tombs Of The Blonde Dead
Severe Tire Damage
Al Bruno III
It was dusk and anonymous servants moved though the Garden of Duchesses lighting the elegantly sculpted brasiers one by one. Security and celebrities each blinded to anything but their own agendas. Most paid little attention to the girls at the edge of the koi pond. All three girls were on the verge of twenty. Audra Dimico was the tallest, with long dark hair and darker eyes, there was a wild party going on all around her full of beautiful and famous faces but she watched the stage at the edge of the garden expectantly. Whenever a roadie wandered out to check an instrument or a microphone she let out a cheer. Judy Bauer had yellow hair and wore her skirt short and her shirt tied up in the middle; her lipstick was the color of blood and she sipped from a margarita. She had eyes for all the boys, all the pretty ones anyway. Lorelei Miller was shorter with hair she wore in a pixie cut and erratically dyed burgundy, her eyes were candy-green and full of suspicion. She was the only one that seemed to notice or care that this lavish party was taking place in a graveyard.
Not officially a graveyard but the Gurlich manor grounds had wide gardens larger than some city parks and nestled here and there among the erotic sculptures, zoo animals and tropical blooms were ten concrete mausoleums, each holding a Girly Magazine centerfold of the year - or Duchess as they were called.
“I can’t believe were really here.” Judy gushed, “Isn’t that Brad Pitt?”
Lorelei asked, “Who?”
A trio of girls passed by them, one of them flashed their breasts at a crowd of men who howled appreciatively. “He’s an actor,” Judy explained, “he was in Thelma And Louise.”
Lorelei was more interested in the fish nibbling at her toes, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You are such a dork sometimes.”
“All I know is this show better be worth it.”
“Don’t worry,” Audra was bubbling over, “Severe Tire Damage is an awesome band. I have bootlegs of all their albums.”
Actually Lorelei already knew that the only thing she was going to get out of this show was a migraine but she had done a tarot card reading on Audra recently and the results had been ominous; even more ominous than her usual readings.
A trio of bleached blondes staggered past, one of them exposed her breasts to a nearby group of men that howled with appreciation. Elsewhere other girls were laughing too loudly or dancing on rickety folding tables. Lorelei rolled her eyes and thought, Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of sluts.
Jason Magwier, her sometime lover and full-time disaster magnet, had tried to warn her away from visiting Gurlich Manor worrying that the plastic bacchanalia might be too much for her. He never gave her enough credit, sure he had rescued her a few times but how many times over the last year had she rescued him? Besides, when you grew up in the Unified Abbey of the Greater Eastern Council of Mystagogues you learned to have eyes in the back of your head.
“I think that guy over there is making eyes at me.” Judy leaned closer to her friends.
Audra craned her neck, “Where?”
“Don’t do that!”
“Then why did you tell me where he was?”
Lorelei snorted with disbelief, “The guy wearing a leather jacket and a tie?”
“Oh yeah,” Judy said, “He’s got a powerful need, you can see it in his eyes.”
“You sure he’s not just looking for the restroom?”
Judy laughed playfully, “Bitch.”
Lorelei’s voice was neutral, “Slut.”
A wave of applause and whistles rippled through the party-goers as the members of the band walked out onto the stage and played a few preemptive guitar licks.
“There they are!” Audra stood and ran for the stage, then doubled back and grabbed her shoes, “Come on!”
“We can hear and see everything from here,” Lorelei said. “Come on, stay here.”
“No way!” Audra turned to the other girl, “What about you?”
Judy was slipping on her high heels, “I have to go talk to somebody about performing the Great Rite.”
“Oh come on!” Lorelei made claws of her hands and shook them with exasperation, “The Great Rite? You know being a Wiccan is more than just not trimming your bush.”
“Later,” Judy backed away and waved jostling a bearded man in raggedy brown clothes. He made a grunting sound and headed deeper into the gardens. Judy mumbled an apology and turned to make eye contact with the object of her desire.
“What does she think-” Lorelei turned to Audra but her best friend was gone disappearing into the crowd forming around the stage. “Great.”
Lorelei hopped into her shoes and tried to follow her when she felt a presence pass through her. It was a fleeting thing but the malevolence of it was so strong it almost knocked her off her feet.
The fuck? She turned, trying to find it again with her other senses, the ones that could only be opened by the study of the most forbidden texts or the most terrible of experiences. Lorelei had gotten more than her share of both in her nineteen years but it was already gone.
“Oh no...” her whispered was drowned out by the harsh melody of Severe Tire Damage’s first song.
There were words for what she had sensed - a dark presence, a spiritual nightmare, a being from the realms of Nightmare of Death.
But the most common name given to these creatures was demon.
And Lorelei knew this was the kind of demon that never rose alone.