Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned

Finish the Story: The Night Was Alive

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Join in for a lighthearted, no-pressure writing prompt. Leave your perfectionist at the door and follow a dangling story thread to see where it leads you.

I always post my story doodle in the comments, and I’d absolutely love to see yours as well if you feel comfortable sharing it!

The music drifted out of the club like a vibrating pulse. I could feel it in my bones. The night was alive with possibility. I could even imagine myself …

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  • The music drifted out of the club like a vibrating pulse. I could feel it in my bones. The night was alive with possibility. I could even imagine myself throwing caution to the wind and joining in on that neon heartbeat.

    Losing myself in it.

    But no. I turned away from the velvet ropes and line of scantily-clad youth and darted down an alley.

    I wasn’t here for that. Would never be here for that again with this face.

    My hand reached up to touch the thick ropes of scarring across the right side of my face, and I snatched it away.

    I was hideous. Ruined. Half-melted from that hedge-witch’s spell.

    It was supposed to make me beautiful. My hand clenched as a dark cat crossed the entrance to the alleyway.

    To think, I’d thought myself ugly before.

    Nose too long. Jaw too square. A mole under one eye.

    The only time I loved myself was when I was dancing. Lost in the beat, sweat pouring down my face, flashing lights strobing through my soul. I felt like I was a prism, that the light entered me and left me as a rainbow of movement and music and perfection.

    Inevitably, the music would stop and I would catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. When my partners offered to give me a ride home, I shrugged them off like a fool, certain they were pitying me.

    Now? Now I knew better. I hadn’t been ugly at all. Compared to the wretched thing I was now, I had been a goddess.

    If only I had thought so then. If only I hadn’t chased every infomercial promising youth and beauty. If only I had loved myself a little bit more.

    But the hedge-witch had promised beauty. Had promised that I would be beloved by all.

    A second cat knocked over a garbage can at the end of the alley.

    A third yowled briefly overhead, then leaped down from a rooftop onto a fire escape.

    I sat in the darkness and let the cats come to me.

    Beautiful? What did cats care for human beauty?

    The first cat brushed against my back, tail high. I didn’t move.

    Beloved? Surely, a cat’s love counted for something in this world.

    The fire escape filled slowly with furred bodies. Long hair and short. Striped and spotted and gray and white.

    The spell had worked, the hedge-witch claimed. He was no crone with bad teeth, stringy hair, and knobby fingers. Oh no, my hedge-witch had been smooth. Confident. Handsome.

    At least I hadn’t been taken in by some homeless woman. I had been bamboozled by an executive hedge-witch, with a suit and briefcase to go along with it.

    The fact that the spell had made me irresistible to cats rather than humans … that, he assured me, was entirely my own fault. I should have read the fine print on the document I’d signed.

    The full moon rose, spilling milky light into the alleyway where I sat, surrounded by an uncountable number of street cats.

    Silently, I pointed at an open window. The penthouse suite of the most expensive hotel in the city. Just around the corner from the most popular club in the city. Exactly where you’d expect to find the sort of executive hedge-witch who would sign deals with desperate young dancers.

    Almost as a unit, the cats stood and poured away from me, like a furry river flowing upwards, spiralling away from me and into the hotel room.

    They loved me, after all, and they were oh so hungry.

  • The music drifted out of the club like a vibrating pulse. I could feel it in my bones. The night was alive with possibility. I could even imagine the possibility of not going inside. I could imagine just walking away from all of this, pretending that I was free.

    I closed my eyes and let out a deep breath as I focused on the feel of the cool brick behind my head and against my mostly bare back.

    “Breathe,” I whispered to myself. I fought the siren’s call woven into the music, as I did most nights.

    There were nights though when I didn’t fight it, though. Those nights were always the worst, or the best, really just depending on how you looked at it.

    After this was done, once I’d done the job and had my life back, I wish I could say that I would never miss being someone else’s weapon.

    The deep rumbling growl of a demon engine caught my ears and my eyes flicked open, just a smidge.

    The ferrari pulling up to the front of the club was an Asmodeus, a black and shining chrome fusion of magic and tech. The metal frame of the car wasn’t held together by welds and screws, but with fiendish energy and the hellfire red gleamed through the cracks.

    Restrained chaos leashed to a purpose.

    Only the obscenely wealthy would have the kind of scratch needed to buy a vehicle like this, not to mention the sheer arrogant “this is my story” mentality needed to take a monster like this out onto the city streets.

    Hellfire was unstable, inherently so. Infused with the power of the Morningstar himself at the dawn of creation they said. It was a phenomenal power source, but chaotic. It didn’t take very kindly to being leashed.

    The door swung up and open and an elf stepped out. Dressed in a sharp Armani suit that could probably pay the rent on my tiny loft apartment for the next decade, he glowed in the lambent light of the club’s entrance, standing apart from the already prestigious guests waiting in line to get in.

    He tugged at the bottom of his vest, straightening his black diamond cufflinks in an almost prissy motion as he eyed the lineup at the left of the club.

    The more trashy women near the back of the line screamed and begged, promising anything, willing to degrade themselves for a chance to be chosen and make their way into Paradise.

    I eyed them with contempt.

    Not because of their desire to sample the delights of the club, but because they were stupid. Elven lords, especially ones powerful and rich enough to drive a car like that, didn’t want willing flesh. Make it too easy and you lose their interest.

    No, the smart ones knew better than to say a word.

    There was a trio near the entrance, obviously three girlfriends on a night out who looked like they’d graced the club before. They knew what people like him looked for.

    As if on cue, as his gaze swept over them, they straightened. Backs tight and shoulders wide, they met his gaze through their lashes. Challenging instead of inviting. Daring him instead of begging.

    Yeah, they knew what they were about.

    The elf lord’s gaze locked on them and I saw a trace of a sardonic smile crease his face. He knew what the game was The deliberateness in their manners showed him that they’d been coached on his tastes, but what of it?

    Unwilling conquests or challenges to be overcome, he would get more out of the likes of these than the screaming groupies near the back of the line.

    A slight tilt of his head and the trio took his invitation, prowling out of the line and up to his side. He introduced himself to them and bowed slightly, bringing their hands up in turn to lay a kiss on the backs.

    They tried to hide it, but I saw them shiver one by one, saw their pupils dilate huge and wide in the crimson and gold light of the entrance to Paradise.

    A flicker of will shifted my sight into the magical spectrum and I could see the pale blue bands wreathing up their arms, climbing up and down their spines to the nerve clusters where they’d have the strongest effect.

    I doubt they knew it yet, but they were caught up in his web. It was subtle, but a lot of elven magic usually was. What surprised me was the lack of power normally associated with such a quick result. I figured it’d take longer to charm them, unless he was willing to push a lot of power into the matrix of the spell, but he’d managed it with barely a whisper.

    I’d clearly underestimated my target.

    The ladies swung into step at his sides and the quartet made their way up the stairs to the entrance of Paradise where two war demons played the part of bouncers.

    They were dressed in identical form fitting black suits and they looked vanilla human, but with my gaze still tuned to the magical spectrum, I wasn’t fooled. Crimson energy swirled around them, their aura’s powerful and solid.

    I shook my head at the impossibility of the task. On top of everything else, fallen angels as bouncers? That meant I’d have to keep the hit quiet, subtle. That ruled out the use of my Eternity Blade or the Void magic that I had to command.

    The whisper of wings and a low chuckle made the skin at the back of my neck try to creep off my body, but I viciously pushed the reaction away. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing that he could still get to me.

    “Well, pet?” His voice was smoother than silk and could erode the reticence of a cloistered nun at a hundred paces. “It’s not too late to surrender with grace. Life with me in Paradise isn’t all bad, you know.”

    “You’re the lord of hell,” I said. “You can call it Paradise all you want, you won’t fool me. I know what it really is.”

    “As you wish, pet,” he chuckled again. The sound of his laugh slithered down my spine like hot melted chocolate, not the cheap stuff, but the expensive creamy kind, and tightened all kinds of things low in my stomach. “Just remember, if you feel that you’re in over your head, all you need to do is call my name.”

    The soft brush of silken lips against the back of my neck and the barest flutter of wings and he was gone.

    I clamped down on my body, forcing myself to breathe deeply to dispel the effects of his touch.

    When I felt like I had a semblance of control, I took one last deep breath, checked the hang of the knives in their various sheathes around my body. Elfbane steel was hard to find, but for the right price, you could find anything in this city.

    One mistake. One mistake and my whole world had come crashing down.

    One job and I could reset the board, take it all back to zero.

    Of course, if I failed, I’d be in a worse position than I was now, but you don’t get ahead without taking risks.

    One job and I’d have my life back.

    One job to regain my soul.

    My mother had always told me to never make a deal with the devil.

    I wish like hell that I’d listened to her.

Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned