ClubAfter

It’s a long drive to Club After. It’s on the outskirts of End Point, the very edge of town. But it’s where everyone from 3Point High go to party. Some never leave.

Jessie Sees a Witch

(from prologue)

It was the night before Beth’s Club After party, and we were sitting around the bonfire Em and Max lit.  I didn’t know Max very well, and I didn’t plan to.  Beth just had him around for the party, like a shiny necklace to show off her boobs.

“I can’t believe you got Club After to reopen, just for you,” Max said, pulling off his shirt so he and Beth could sit on it.  He was a life-size version of those squat little dolls boys insist are called action figures.  About as smart, too. “Man, your family has pull.”

It wasn’t my family, it was me,” Beth said, eyeing his bumpy abs.  “And if you think my family has pull now, just wait ‘til after tomorrow.  As soon as I’m Seer I’m taking over 3Point.  Just watch.”

That was Beth, humble as always.

Club After closed its doors permanently a few weeks back. The building was condemned after Marina Echeveria was found dead on the premises after a show.  It had been a particularly loud punk concert, but even with all that we could still hear the thunder outside. It would shake the building when it came down, like a little earthquake.

That night had already been creepy, come to think about it. So creepy that walking out of the club and seeing Marina’s naked, bloodless body sprawled out on the muddy backlot almost made sense in a sick way. 

Em hadn’t been the same since that night though.  That was the night he’d met Aviva, the girl who immediately went from the love of his life to the most evil creature on earth after she dumped him for Colton.  Between that and the heaviness in the air all around 3Point since Marina was found, Em had become a bit morose.

“I still think it sucks, Beth.  You knew her,”  He said.

“So?  How does me knowing her have anything to do with my celebration?”

Beth was annoyed.  She hated being seen as anything less than divine perfection.  Besides, she’d bragged her whole life that she would throw the biggest party in Club After history as soon as she inherited the family business, and a little murder on the premises wasn’t going to stop her plans.  She’d made sure of it.

It was true though, that Beth had known the dead girl.   Marina interned at The Gothic Emporium her senior year of 3Point High, years ago.  Beth’s whole family had known Marina well, as they knew everyone that interned at their store.  Those internships were really nothing but a super long interview for a possible job there after graduation, everyone knew that.  Apparently Marina had not made the cut, because she’d gone on to mortuary school instead..

“So.  You’re throwing a party right where something killed Marina.  You’re cool with that.”

“Something?”  Max asked, a crooked little smile starting to form on his face.   He was a cynical little shit.

“You heard me.”

I didn’t like Em’s tone.  He sounded more than just annoyed, or even angryHe sounded worried.

“You guys do remember how Marina looked, right?  Her mouth?”

“Em…”  I started to say.

Because I did remember.  That’s why I wanted him to shut up already.  But he interrupted me before I could stop him.

“Her body had no blood left in it.  None.  So, yes, something did that to her.  Only a thing could do that.”  Em finally stopped talking.  He let it sink in.

Marina’s mouth had been blackened by the blood that had flowed from it to whatever took it out of her.  It lay frozen in a wide open, silent scream. 

“My party has been foretold,”  Beth said, after none of us defended her.  “Right down to the crime tape on the backlot.  I had no way of knowing what I was seeing when I envisioned it, and I have no responsibility for what happened.”  She threw Em an ugly look.  “I’m throwing my party.  It’s up to you if you want to come.”

The vibe was getting a bit intense, so I wandered off behind Em’s truck and took out some of the “healing herbs” I’d helped myself to at Beth’s earlier.  Then I climbed up onto the back and sat on the little cooler Em had in the corner.  Blocked from the bonfire, I could feel a slight chill in the air. 

To be honest, I didn’t really care if Beth wanted to throw her shindig at the rat infested, abandoned hell hole Club After had become since it boarded up its doors.  Marina was dead, so I doubt she cared much anymore either.

I looked out towards Clara’s End, the new nickname for the old dirt road ever since the big accident.  Out closer to the main highway, at the beginning of Clara’s End sat Club After.  The shadow of it stood out against the dark sky. 

I couldn’t believe that after tomorrow the place would close forever.  But then again, I kind of couldn’t believe it lasted so long.  Club After had always been a place that begged for an ugly murder to happen in its shadows.  The crowd that hung out there, the music they played, the stuff they snorted in the bathrooms…  It was all for a darker sort of soul.

In other words, Club After was for people like us.

Like Beth.  Her whole family was into some dark shit, to hear her tell it.  They owned The Gothic Emporium, the big occult store downtown.  Beth and her whole family lived on the second floor of the building, had lived up there for generations.

The downstairs store sells everything, and I mean everything, as long as you know how to look for it.  Needless to say, I have been a faithful Gothic Emporium customer for years. 

I’d never been at the store when her family was getting ready to perform a big evil ceremony though.  The Morales were pulling out all the stops, clearly.  I kept seeing her little sister Sara run back and forth from the shelves to the back wrought iron gate carrying jars and jars of Demon Dandruff, and that stuff was typically sold by the teaspoon.

The ceremony was set to take place right after The Sun Festival, with just Beth, her family, and the goth crowd that always gathered around them.  Then, after she became the “Seer” or whatever, we would all meet up at her big forbidden After party.

Beth had gone on and on about the ceremony a bunch of times, but because I wasn’t going I’d mostly tuned her out.  Beth is fun and everything, but she’s also a diva.  Everything is always about how special she is, all the powers she’s supposed to inherit, how many people she’s banged, blah blah blah… It could all be a bit much.

Looking back though, I wish I’d paid more attention.

Through the smoke from the herbs I could see Beth and Max start to walk towards me.  Max had parked his douchy little convertible behind the truck.

“Em’s being a brat, so we’re taking off.  Wanna come with?”

I looked over at Em.  He was still sitting at the bonfire.  When he looked up our eyes met and he pointed to the cooler. 

“I’ll hang out and have another of these with Em, you guys go ahead,”  I said, as I reached in to grab the drinks.

Max walked off to start the car, but Beth lingered.

You don’t have a problem with the party tomorrow, do you Jess?”  she asked, as soon as Max was out of earshot.

The question sounded more like a threat.  It made me look up, into Beth’s eyes.

I’d known Beth my whole life, as long as I’d known Em and Colton.  We were all born and raised 3Pointers, like our families before us.

What looked back at me wasn’t Beth.

It was only for a second, but what I saw in those eyes was an empty hole. 

Nothing.  Just… nothing.

That emptiness scared me so badly I froze, in that useless way I always do when I’m scared-

-like when we’d all walked out of the concert and saw Marina’s corpse with its blackened mouth.  Everyone around me yelled, moved, started asking dumb questions.  Not me.  I’d just stood there with my mouth open, frozen in a silent scream just like the dead girl’s.

The sky brightened, and the spell was broken.  Beth winked and took off to Max’s car.  The moon, which had gone missing, must have reappeared behind the clouds somewhere, because the clouds were glowing.

As soon as Max’s car started, I convinced myself that maybe I’d just smoked too much herb.  That the moon sometimes leaves, and it’s none of my business where to.

The car took off, and as soon as it did Beth stood up on her seat, her inky black hair and baby doll dress swishing in the air behind her.  Beth had that soft, ultra-feminized goth girl thing going, all boobs and butt and round doll face.  She always played up the darker, occult part of the look, reading tea leaves and cards and people’s palms or whatever.  Before, I’d always thought all that stuff she was doing was just that.  A look.

As Beth rode off into the night though, I suddenly got the chills and froze again. With the desert night sky and the bright clouds as her backdrop, Beth’s shadow cackled into the wind, riding that convertible like a broom.

Beth Morales was a witch.  She really was.  A Seer, as she called it. 

I knew it.  It was… a premonition, even though I swear I don’t believe in that crap.  Well, I used to not believe it.

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