The music seems to run away. Steve chases the beat down the stairs and into a hall lit by red strips running high in the corners. The lights fade leaving near darkness. Spotting a green glowing exit sign, he storms the hall hearing his footsteps growing louder until the clomping thunders in his ears. He reaches out and pushes on the release lever opening the door. The short hall spills into Club Necropolis. Somewhere within, Kandy holds his memories.
The thunderous beat, stomping feet, wiggle the wood floor in waves rattling dim lights on the wall. The blue-haired vocalist screams about love and pain while the band thrashes about working their instruments into furious fits. Before the stage, the human sea writhes into a torrent, arms waving glowing bracelets, bodies splashing together, bounding and waving in currents. Piercing through the heavy fog, red spotlights splash the crowd like a shower of blood.
Carried by the beat, Steve bounces and weaves into the dance. He tries to ignore the lovely young women pressing against him as he pushes against the current, fighting his way to the pedestal beside the band stage. Working his way around a stone column, he spots his shirt glowing purple radiating like a beacon in a dark sea splashing pink and green bracelets. Some eyes glow as well, special lenses burning red or green. Breathing in the perspiration, leather, and musty fog, he gazes above the bobbing heads searching for the only woman that knows him.
He spots Kandy on the pedestal, dancing close to another woman. Dressed in black lace, hips locked together, they move as one, wriggling like dark fire. Gazes locked, their faces taken by sensual bliss, they groove to Gothic rock.
Fighting the tide, Steve pushes into the crowd. He reaches out for Kandy, but the tide throws him back. Elbowing a man aside, he works his way closer. Arms smack against his head. Squishing between two men, he reaches out and touches the edge of the platform. Pulling himself to shore, a black cube rising from the sea, he gazes up at the women.
Turning in a circle, Kandy tosses her dark hair back and rests her chin on the blonde’s shoulder. Like gravity, gazes connect, and Steve peers deep into her orbs finding burning embers. Hell erupts, her face turning cruel. The predator’s eyes freeze him in place, sound fading into the background, the music a dull thunder, the floor shifting under the beat. Somewhere over the raging sea, the blue-haired vocalist howls about dancing with the dead.
Bending at the knees, Kandy slinks down wrapping her arms around the blonde, hands searching and grasping. She tugs at the blonde’s black skirt, lifting lace, exposing bare flesh. Howls erupt from the men gathered around the platform. They pump their fists in the air in celebration of the performance. In the background, the music rages into a frenzy. Squatting, Kandy grasps exposed thigh, her claws digging into flesh. Opening her mouth wide, saliva dripping from fangs, the predator attacks.
As the music rages into a scream, Kandy bites into the dancer’s upper thigh. Blood gushes out, red splattering cream, and a river races down leg onto black pumps. The blonde howls as the music climaxes, drums and cymbals exploding into a crash. Both hands grasping the blonde by the rear, Kandy lifts the woman up and slams her down on the platform, golden tresses cascade over the edge, head falling back, eyes smash shut, mouth opens wide. The scream pierces the music.
Frozen, he watches Kandy crouched over her victim. As he watches her bite tender flesh, heat flees his legs. Music fades. The crowd dissipates into cloudy vapor. Even the blonde victim, writhing in pain, fades into an apparition. Crawling closer, Kandy licks her lips, blood dripping form her tongue. Steve throws his hands up in defense and slams his eyes shut.
Opening his eyes, Steve finds the club dim and empty. Dust covers the floor. Towering speakers stand alone on the stage. The pedestal is empty, but he pictures Kandy licking her lips. Glancing around, he spots the only source of light: two spotlights on tripods bathing the floor between two stone columns on the far side of the dance floor where yellow cones stand scattered about. The crime scene.
He reaches into his shirt pocket snatching the notepad Detective Silver gave him. The first page contains the directions to the sanctuary. On the second page he adds a note about the owner of Club Necropolis, Yasmine. Glancing up, he spots the shimmer on the dark glass of the upstairs room. He jots down a note about Kandy dancing on the pedestal with the other woman, possibly hired dancers performing for guests.
Glancing around at the empty dance floor, he imagines the waving currents of bodies. Perspiration sticks to his forehead, the the scent of their sweat and clothes lingers in his nostrils. The ghosts are gone, and time has moved on.
“Memories,” he says. A shiver rushes down his spine. “The ghosts are memories.”
Striding across the dance floor, he looks around memorizing the layout. At the edge of light, near where he entered, tables stand within an alcove. Within the darkness, a mirror reflects the shapes of bottles lined on shelves. Stairs lead up to the balcony above the dance floor. Stopping near the first yellow marker, he studies the crime scene.
The floodlights reveal an unmistakable bloodstain on the wood dance floor near the edge meeting the asphalt walkway along the wall. On the near side of the marked area, dried splatter extends towards the yellow markers including an elongated splash stain beside the marker at his feet.
He circles the area, his tapping shoes disrupting the quiet, and a scuff crunching onto the asphalt. The walkway is wide enough for a crowd of guests to navigate, enjoy a beer between dances, but not large enough for an unconscious person to go unnoticed during an investigation. Steel stairs lead up to a short hallway where the black double doors stand in the gloom of the red exit sign. If the forensics team found him between their work and those doors, they would have had to nearly trip over him on the way in.
Leaning against the stone wall, he looks at the crime scene from the angle of the attacker. He pictures the assailant standing on the asphalt and the victim on the wood floor. Flipping the page, he makes a crude sketch of the blood stains in relation to the edge of the dance floor and nearby stone column. On the column, beneath a vertical rod of dark black light, bright yellow tape outlines a streak; castoff from a sideways blow. Finished with his sketch, he returns the notepad to his pocket and heads for the exit.
“If officers guarded the door, nobody could have stumbled in during the investigation.” His shoes clang on the steel steps. “They must have found me near the back. Near the other entrance.” He pushes on the release bar popping the door open.
Crimson skies hang over tall buildings. Glancing in both directions, he searches the street finding two parked cars and a handful of people going about their business.