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A Particular Night in Venice pt. 4

by Brandon Hall 5 months ago in Fantasy
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A party and a wager

Delilah and Gabriella walk arm in arm. She leans in, finding comfort in the Mother of Lost Souls embrace. Some Lost Souls still live, some reside in spirit form. Many are children that met tragic ends. The Mother watches over them all.

Just because it is a beautiful place does not mean it lacks cruelty. When all are welcome, evil finds its way in. Bouncer is tasked to minimize this presence. He keeps track of who is here at any given time. Makes sure anyone disruptive is excused. Now let's be clear; the beach has massive tolerance for disruption, but there is a line not to be crossed. What a peculier phrase "any given time".

Time. What a strange illusion. It works differently here. The mist pokes holes in the so-called fabric. It is part of the magic here, but also an agent of chaos. More specifically Reverend is the agent of chaos. Reverend Mist has been the agitator and protector of the town since long before colonization, and countless timelines. His presence both signals and allows for the timeline to be disrupted. The Elders allow him his fun, but demand he does his job. We will get to what that job is in a bit. His compensation? He gets one night, when earned, as a reward. First, he must address whatever is out of place before things start to unravel. Last time was a bit too close for everyone's comfort. Somehow the Reverend also tends to blur the timelines of when he collects his reward. Advances are definitely drawn on the account early.

Reverend walks out front in full illustrious fashion. Like a drum major on homecoming night. Breathing deep the salty air as light rebounds off fashionable black spectacles.

The fog thickens and thins as they stroll the boardwalk but everything looks in time. Oblivious passers-by look through the motley crew, appearing from and disappearing into thick pillows of fog. The ones who can see them pay them no mind. Some walk around, some never fully emerge from the fog. The fashions of the people passing around seemed to vary in time. Some have hard plastic coolers and some have woven picnic baskets. Nobody looks too out of place. Nobody stops to acknowledge that they look from a different time. Bouncer likes that. Nobody paying too much mind to the oddities. Makes for a peaceful night. Nothing too noticeable...

Then the sound of hard rolling wheels can be heard and from the cottony mist emerges what looks like tiny wooden race cars. As fast as they appear they vanish into the haze and all four of them stop dead in their tracks. Everyone saw the leather helmets and clothing of wool and cotton.

Bouncer turns his thick neck locking his gaze directly into the reflective glasses hiding Reverend's surprised eyes. The eyes are hidden but the eyebrows betray shock. Reverend replies "I did not do that".

Bouncer takes a deep impatient breath, "it's going to be one of those nights."

Lady Gabriella closes the distance as quick as gracefulness permitted, and asks in a voice warm but serious, "this isn't you stirring trouble?"

"By the sword of the Goddess I swear" he replies peering over the black reflective discs. He knows the stakes. He knows she would know. He really did not do it.

The group turns onto a street lit with spherical electric lanterns simulating torch fire. Reverend notices the noise and automobiles littering the sides of the streets. "They really do love these garish carriages still I see".

Gabriella responds "at least they do not defecate everywhere. The beasts they rode stunk much worse".

Bouncer interjects "they still stink".

As they walk down the road away from the beach they come upon the bordello. A place out of time, but in the most enchanting way. An anomaly to those in this given time. An anomaly when it was created. A reminder to those who transcend. Home to the wayward and dispossessed. Crimson red and glimmers of golds and silver cover the walls. Wrought iron defends the grounds and windows. Gargoyles and stone defenders guard the land and rooftop perimeter. Globe lights shower the golden trim in light to dance with.

Several stairs lead to a front door fit for royalty. Framed in adornments and rusty pointed metal the door opens to a larger staircase perfectly in line with the path in. Blood red cherry wood steps covered in a running carpet. To those in time the staircase rises to the upstairs rooms. Most recently built as a bordello in the early 1900s it has been a ground for ritual since the spirit realm and physical realm have crossed. It is as consistent of an open door to all realms as exists in this plane of existence. And with that comes a bit of oddity. One example is that for those out of time, the staircase actually goes down. Down where you ask. Well follow me and see.

The room is bright. The walls are lined with cashmere various tones of flowers and sunshine. The lights shine gold like the hour before sunset. There is laughter everywhere. People playing music and telling stories. Costumes of every kind and people performing to each other and for each other. Delilah's eyes get drawn to a humanoid shadow juggling tiny balls of fire. The balls cascade in the light like meteorites across a new moon sky making various patterns. The figure notices her and as he turns to face her begins juggling the fireballs in a heart shape. Delilah's face is overcome with giggling smiles.

"Well good evening Reverend Mist" a stout woman offers. Standing about chest high to the Reverend but someone appearing taller. "I do not recall inviting you to the party. Gabriella, my lady, I do not remember inviting Reverend to this party. Are you taking responsibility for this most troublesome individual this particular night?"

The Reverend shapes his mouth to begin a reply and the entire room freezes. The juggling balls hang in the air extinguished with smoke rising slowly enough to not cause trouble. The music notes hold on to their instruments, this is not the moment for anyone to make a noise but the Lady Gabriella...

"Yes Madame, for this particular night me and my associates are taking responsibility for the dear Reverend."

Norris, Delilah, and Bouncer all mouth the words "what the..." and then snap to smiles when Madame Reverie looks at them with due pity. She is wearing an elegant gown. Half ballroom dance and half demonic high priestess. Bouncer averts his eyes.

The music rises back into full swing, and the juggler's meteorites reignite as they fall to the floor sending the featureless person scrambling. Delilah rushes to help.

Reverend, under the impression he now had permission to speak, let a single note leap from his mouth towards Madame Reverie. She turned faster than light, held up an open hand, as she closed it Reverend's face mashed shut like a chubby babby getting their face squeezed by a playful mother. His ears the only thing still sticking out as the fabric hat falls to the floor, are invaded by Madame's voice.

"NO! I don't want want to hear a word out of you. Have your night, and go on, do not say a word to me or you will be a statue and I will let this whole place burn. We are understood and that is all."

His face stinks and is red for a moment but returns to its natural tone quick. Reverend sees Bouncer pick his hat up, then offer it to him while fighting back a smile. "Shut up" Reverend declares taking the hat with a dramatic grab. Reaffixing it to his head he says to the group gazing with wide eyes; "I guess I had that coming."

"Yeah you did!!" a deep resonant voice bellows from behind a bar fit for the gates of hell. Tall black pillars with snake sculptures spiraling looking to be in motion. A flaming chandelier hanging above. Thick forearms sticking out from rolled-up sleeves on a white collared shirt. A black vest pinned with a vibrant gold emblem the shape of a heart overlaying 2 oblate hemispheres representing a human brain. Tattoos cover much of the visible skin and a smile from a toothpaste ad rounds out the picture, that is, the Bartender. He continues "I thought she was going to feed you to Kracky."

Reverend approaches the bar and Bartender greets him with a sphere of contained smoke dancing in place. His regular indulgence. Reverend accepts and then gives a courteous bow. The bow is returned and the two old friends give each other a smile. "It has been a long time. She will warm back up to me someday." Reverend reassures himself. "I doubt that, but I see you have the band back together!!"

The group approaches the bar, joining Reverend as Bartender quickly lines the bar which each person's preferred indulgence.

Reverend sees concern on his friend's faces, "oh stop everyone, no long faces, everything is going to be perfectly fine."

"Wanna bet?" says the woman dealing cards behind a massive table with deep brown leather banks and lavish red felt.

Reverend smiles showing a mouthful of shiny white teeth. "As a matter of fact I do."

To be continued.


About the author

Brandon Hall

Love writing, hate editing. I love world building, exploring possible futures through the medium of story, and view writing as the ultimate opportunity to share meaningful experiences and write run on sentences.

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