The car slowly pulled up to a forlorn street. Papers fluttered against splintered sidewalks, brushing past abandoned store fronts with spiderweb cracks in the glass. The back-passenger doors opened, beckoning the two occupants outside with the sight ahead. Donavan and Yazmin stepped onto the street. In front of them a small cement staircase led down passed the sidewalk to a plain wood door. It was the best looking thing on the block. Donavan turned to the decrepit driver.
“What is this place?” He asked. The driver stared at him with cold dark eyes but didn’t respond. He sped off in the rusty hearse, leaving the two alone and confused.
“Well, nowhere else to go.” She shrugged and made a step towards the staircase. Suddenly, a sign neither of them seemed to notice flashed to life. ‘HELL’ in bold letters blinked a neon red, while an arrow above cascaded a similar color towards the stairs. The two looked at each other, hearts catching in their throats.
“We were sent here for a reason,” Donavan argued, trying to hide the shakiness in his voice. He climbed down to the door, with Yazmin following behind him, less confident. The teens stared at the large brass doorknob, marked with the star of Lucifer. Donavan twisted at it, a dull but stark burning sensation at his palm. He grimaced and forced the door open. The two were hit with blaring music and the strain of more neon red, glowing much brighter this time. The scene before them laid out less like a fiery pit of inferno and more reminiscent of a house party. At the bottom of more stairs kids their age talked and danced around a blood colored lit living room, booze and delicacies passed around like lifelines. A small stage sat in the corner. A girl in a black cocktail dress belts a scratchy rock song into an old microphone, accompanied by guitarists and a drummer. Her hair was a bright bundle of blue, contrasting with the hue around her. The band of misfits continued to play as she stepped off stage with the swing of her hips, walking towards the two once they reached the bottom
“Welcome.” The whole room was thunderous with sound, but she could be heard as clear as day. A tray with two bottles of beer and an abundance of candy and other sweets was shown before Donavan and Yazmin. The boy holding it, a young blonde with dark kohl around his eyes, winked at them, with a mischievous glint in his smile. Yazmin immediately went for a caramel square, only for Donavan to grab her wrist. He eyed the girl and the tray suspiciously. She smirked.
“Please, enjoy. We don’t bite here.” The kohl eyed boy nodded in agreement. The two hadn’t drank or eaten anything for a while. They were parched, and this was their only option. He grabbed a beer with her following and drinking it happily. He took a small, hesitant sip. It burned all the way down, much more potent than usual beer should be. This was straight up venom, but he already wanted another sip. And soon, he gulped down half. The blue haired girl snapped her fingers. A petite and busty brunette appeared at his side, clinging to Donovan’s arm. She held up a cigarette for him, which he took in his lips without a second thought.
‘The hell?’ he questioned to himself silently, a she lit it for him. He looked for Yazmin only to find her greedily pocketing candy, the kohl eyed boy at her side as well.
“Have fun you two,” the blue haired girl cooed, waving a flirty goodbye at them. She stepped back on stage. Donavan turned back to his friend once more only to find her already lost in the crowd. Another busty girl, a blonde this time, appeared on his other side, offering a strawberry. Loving the attention and feeling alcohol already creep into his system, he accepted, taking a bite.
The next minutes…or hours…damn it could even had been days. Donavan’s mind was lost to the haze of drum beats and cannabis smoke. He had planted himself onto the couch, the two girls still at his side, pampering him like he was some Adonis. Yazmin was nowhere to be found, or he couldn’t see her past the thick rimmed sunglasses he was wearing. He didn’t know how he got them, they were just on his face now. A familiar black dress and blueberry shade shifted into his vision, almost melting with the tinted lenses.
“Taking pleasure in everything I assume?” She chirped at him, clasping her hands together. He chuckled between being fed butterscotches and licorice. He sat up, sunglasses hanging off his nose as he looked up at her, a smirk on his face.
“It’s…different.” He gruffed, taking a new cigarette in his mouth, blowing out a ring of smoke. It was more than different. He wasn’t Donavan anymore. Something ate his mind, a sticky tar like shell forming around his soul. He was a husk, a beast, hearing no nagging voice when he partook in drugs, gluttony, womanizing, or other debaucheries.
“I hope you mean in a good way. I wouldn’t want any of my patrons to feel…left out.” She patted his knee and walked away. He smirked wider, letting out more puffs of smoke, flicking embers to the carpet. He sat back, gesturing for his girls to continue fawning over him.
“Drink?” Donovan looked up again. It was a man, gray haired and plump with soft wrinkles. He wore a dark suit with red embellishments, but it was awkward on him, hanging off in places. The man balanced a golden chalice on a tray. It shook slightly to match the tremor in his hands. Donavan peered at the man’s stern gaze in warm brown eyes. He was confused, as in a sea of teenagers this was the only person well over nineteen. But, with his new form not the one to decline a drink, shrugged and took the chalice. He shooed the bimbos off his arms, grabbing the cup. It was cold to the touch, a surprisingly welcomed difference to the humid atmosphere of dancing and huddled bodies. Donovan took a large drink, letting the honey yellow liquid run down his throat. It wasn’t like the sweeten and rich drinks he was receiving before. It was bitter, with a sharp cinnamon or spicy taste. It burned his nostrils, but his body wouldn’t let him stop.
When he finished drinking half, the cigarette fell from his lips. The room started spinning. His throat was on fire as the feeling of a screwdriver stabbing him in the brain hit all at once. The older man disappeared to the sound of wings flapping, leaving behind the tray and the loose-fitting clothes. Donavan shut his eyes tight trying to let the painful spell past. When he opened his eyes again, everything was wrong. The music that bumped through the walls was now off key and flat. A dark gray replaced the vibrant red. He looked around, panting heavily. The wild party was now a decaying room filled with…
What once were humans now eroding creatures grasping at clumps of dirt, not candy or liquor. Donavan looked down at his own hands, caked in rust and grime, pale to a chilling slate. He scrambled for the tray the chalice was perched on, looking at his reflection. Cracked bleeding scabs of corroded metal formed on his face. His cheeks and eyes were sunken in similar to a corpse. His dark hair now faded to a yellow straw and ghostly white, oily and frayed.
He had to leave, now, before he came a monster himself.
He had to grab Yazmin. He snatched the chalice, sloshing the liquid truth around inside it. The girls tried to snuggle up to him again, more scabbed and deformed than person anymore. Donavan shoved them off, almost tripping as he stood. He ran and stumbled between crumbling creatures finding Yazmin drinking sludge from a broken glass. She stood in a similar state to him, covered in soot and eroded pus marks. He grabbed her wrist.
“Yaz. Drink. Now.” He forced the chalice to her lips. She sputtered but drank the rest with no objection.
“Donnie what the f- “she suddenly grabbed a counter near her as she groaned, grabbing her head. A creature near the two noticed the chalice and screeched. Yazmin looked up again, the horror on her face confirming that the drink worked. Soon all the other monsters were screeching at them. The two fought the piercing noise and managed to push through the throng of decay and head to the stairs.
“Get them!” The blue haired girl bellowed, pointing a long claw at them, horns jutting from her forehead and eyes a black abyss. The two kicked and pushed at the groping monsters as they tugged and ripped at their clothes. They climbed the stairs as fast as their legs would allow, the corrosive beasts grabbing at anything they could wrap their mangled hands around. Yazmin managed to get to the top opening the door. Donavan tried to follow behind, but one monster gripped his ankle, pulling him down. He slipped slamming his arm and chin into the edge of the steps. He was dazed, vision fuzzy from the fall. More grabbed at his pant legs, sliding out of Yazmin’s reach. Thinking fast, she ran back downstairs to where Donavan was, slamming her heel into as many faces as she could. Rusty cracks split open on foreheads, sending green and red ooze sputtering out.
“Donnie!” She screamed, breaking through his cloudy head trauma. He managed to push off the remaining grips on his legs, climbing the stairs. Yazmin grabbed his shirt, pulling both of them onto the ground but on the other side of the door. Mangled hands clawed at them but would not, or could not, push past the frame. She kicked the door closed, sending of wave of deathly silence around them. The two were panting, gasping out air they didn’t realize they were holding. They were covered in scratch marks, bruises, and Donavan’s head and arm were still pulsating in pain. But as they looked at each other, the grime and soot and scabs were gone. Their skin was a healthy tone again. Yazmin coughed, raking a hand through her hair.
“You good?” she asked. He nodded, noticing the chalice still in his hands. He dropped it, letting the thing land on the street with a loud clank. It rolled slightly.
“You?” he asked.
“Good.” The two stood, Donavan needing some help. As he clutched his head the two struggled up the cement stairs. When both got back to the sidewalk they heard the rumble of an engine. A pastel pink Volkswagen sat in front of them, right where they were dropped off in the beginning. The front passenger window rolled down, revealing two women in white uniforms. The passenger looked down at a clipboard.
“Donavan Chester and Yazmin Gold?” she asked, reading their names off. The two nodded weakly.
“Sorry for the mix up. We’re here to pick you up.” She smiled at them. Yazmin looked at Donavan. He shrugged.
“Nowhere else to go,” he croaked, still aching everywhere. Helping him inside, the two piled into the back.
“Hope it wasn’t too bad down there,” The driver said. Yazmin looked at a damaged Donavan.
“Could’ve been worse,” She replied.
The car drove off.