Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FOUR CORNERS

It's the year of our lord, 1962 to be precise; and I’m Evelyn Crump, a journalist for the city’s only decent rag out there. It's a little paper by the name of The London Times. Surely you've heard of it.
Oh? You have. Well, then I guess after hearing that much, you don’t really need much more information on the subject of me then, do you?
But this isn't a story about a reporter looking for the latest buzz. Although I wish that I had brought my camera with me. It would've been useful that night.
You see, every once in a blue moon; I’d get a night off. I relished these moments with a spiritual like significance, because I felt that every man or woman needed a night just to themselves. Whether it be a casual encounter with a total stranger, or a nice quiet evening alone. Of course, I wasn’t the kind of gal to sit at the house all by myself. At least, not tonight.
I had heard about a this nightclub from a few of my employees. They told me that even though strange things sometimes go on there, it’s got some of the best whiskey that a girl ever pursed up to her lips. It’s been a while since I had a good whiskey. My father always told me that it was a man’s drink, but I was never up for the daiquiris and margaritas that were expected of my gender. But I wasn't one of those dirty flower children either. I still had some class, despite all the debauchery of the age. America's revolution scarcely touched Britain, but it's drugs,sex and rock and roll did encroach upon a few of the delinquent youth around London's busy pub scene. But that's to be expected I'd think. These youth always seem to be up for a new sort of trend.
That night I took a left on First And Drowery, just a bit past the old pub where the officers drank once they were off duty, and continued through the alleys until I reached the door of the club. There was a doorman there and he was of course, dressed all in black. He had shoulders like a linebacker, and eyes that could stare death into the heart of any warrior. I felt that there was something awfully funny about this fellow, but I kept my cool.
Yet as I approached this odd man, he smiled at me with the sort of look that the devil himself would give to his sinners while they were experiencing the unimaginable horrors that lurked inside of the great black pits of Hell. He was certainly far from charming.
The doorman unbuckled the rope and let me in, as if there was a long line of club-goers waiting eagerly for a table and a stiff drink at the club. Except that there was no one out here, and there wasn’t going to be anyone else out here.
This was something that I just knew, I felt it - and I just couldn’t tell you how. But I really should've trusted my woman's intuition and ran away to never look back. 

*

The club was dim, sans a few black lights and the fire that emanated from lit incense sticks. Nonetheless, there were an awful lot of people inside.
A man approached me. He was a very dapper looking gentlemen with a clean shave and short black hair. He looked like the sort of man who could be in a magazine, but just hadn’t been discovered yet.
"Get your coat for you, miss?" he asked, with another sadistic smile. For all that I knew, I was in Hell’s own nightclub.
"Yes, if you will..." I said, in a sort of trance-like state. I was mystified by his picturesque image.
"I’d be delighted." he replied, gently sliding off my coat and hanging it onto one of the many hooks that adorned the back wall.
"Now, follow me if you will." he said to me, holding my arm and walking me down to a table.
"Sit down here." he said, with a calm and gentle voice.
"Who are...?" I started to ask the man, but his next words had stolen the breath from my lips.
"I am Thomas Acksteroff." he said, curtly. "But most of our guests just call me, "Tommy."
I sat down in the booth, across the table from another young woman, who looked like she had seen far better days than I.
"Oh... Isn’t he just a dream?" the woman asked, with eyes that looked like they’d been hexed by some old witchdoctor.
"He’s certainly an odd fellow, I’ll tell you that." I replied.
"Have a whiskey?" she asked.
"Sure... how did you...?"
"Just drink it." she smiled. "It’s what you came for, isn’t it?"
"I don’t know." I said. "Originally it’s what I had my heart set on, but after meeting Tommy..."
"So, he has struck you then!" she laughed. "I’m Veronica, Veronica Harding." She offered her hand out to me.
"I’m sorry, but I’m not much a shaker of hands." I replied, smugly. I do enough of it at the office and on camera, so I’d rather not."
"Well, it’s just a common courtesy." she added.
"Too much courtesy for me." I replied.
"Well, fine then." she sighed, and withdrew her hand.
"All right, let's try something else then." she lightly scoffed. "What’s your name?"
"If you knew that I was here for the whiskey, then I’m sure that you already knew what my name must be as well, Miss Veronica." I replied.
"You’re just being stubborn." she said.
"I’m just being safe." I replied. "You see... In my line of work, it’s best that many people don’t discover who I am."
"You’re just a self-centered journalist and nothing more." Veronica scowled.
"Speaking of self-centered... Have you seen Tommy around?" I asked. "He said a few words to me, sat me down at this table, and then vanished off right into thin air. Why, the very nerve of that man!"
"He’s off on business now." she replied.
"At 2:30 in the morning?" I asked, confused.
"I know it’s odd, but it’s just something that our Tommy does. We don’t ask him about it, or we might get into trouble." she said quietly, staring down at her finished glass of whiskey.
"What kind of trouble?" I asked her, polishing off the last few drops that remained in my glass. The whiskey here was absolutely beyond words. I just wondered where in the hell it was made, since I couldn’t spot any bottles or barrels of the stuff anywhere in the building. As a matter of fact, I didn't see one drop of alcohol in this entire building. So where was it coming from?
"Just trouble." she said, sharply.
"Federal trouble?" I asked. "Is he some sort of FBI agent or something?"
"Just don’t worry about it." she nearly whispered, putting her finger to her lips in a shushing manner. "Drink your whiskey." she smiled.
Surely, I must have already been drugged or drunk; because once I turned to look at my glass, I realized that it was again full. Had I been drinking the whiskey at all?
I could’ve sworn that I drank it. I even remember the taste of the stuff as it burned down my throat. It tasted sort of like...
It was sort of like...
Well, it tasted like cookies. It tasted like sugar cookies, which was the oddest thing. It went down strong enough, but had the sweetest flavor that I’d ever tasted. Despite it's feminine coating, it also contained a bit of a kick from the devil’s own hoof! Who could have made something like this?
I’ve frequented many places throughout the world, during those times that I had been sent out to do special reports. I’ve been to Venice, Moscow, Dublin and even Barcelona... but none of their drinks could even compare to this.
It was literal perfect insanity how something with such a powerful tang could mix with such a euphoric sweetness, a flavor that quite reminded me of my grand-mum's homemade sugar cookies.
Without hesitation, I picked up my glass and begin to drink from the nectar that was this whiskey. It was almost as mysterious as Tommy was... As this entire nightclub was.
A finger tapped me on the shoulder.
"It’s time, Evelyn." Tommy said in a deeper voice than what I thought he’d possessed.
"It’s alright, Evelyn." Veronica said, sweetly. "We all have to go through it once."
Through it once? What in the bloody hell was she talking about?His grip on my arm turned from a soft and gentle pull, to a vice-like manhandling. "Come on now." he eagerly beckoned. "You’re holding up progress."
As he pulled me further from the table, I began to feel less safer in his company than I did when he had removed my coat. He was now pulling me with a ferocity unlike any that I would have ever expected from him. I began to kick and flail about, but it was to no avail.
"Let me go, you fucker!" I hollered.
"Now, now." Tommy said. "Let’s not be too hasty. Everyone who tastes the whiskey must go through this process. Fear not, because it is very short, and you shouldn’t feel a thing."
"Let me bloody go, you damned ingrate!" I hollered again, flailing about even more wildly this time.
"We’re almost there now, Miss Evelyn." he said, in a completely gentle manner. It’s as if he didn’t even realize that I was trying to get away from him and this horrible place.
"Through this door, now." he said, still in the same calming manner, which almost made me vomit.
As we walked inside of the room, he shut the door behind me.
"Listen!" I shouted. "I am of a respectable position and I can give you anything you want! Just name it and my company will give it to you!"
"Just please, let me go!" I screamed.
"I’m sorry Miss Evelyn, but I’m terribly afraid that I cannot do that. For, you’ve already seen too much and you’ve drunken our great elixir, as well."
"Elixir?" I was now even more confused than I had been before, when my glass was still full, even after I clearly remember drinking all of the whiskey that was in it... Or at least, what I thought was whiskey.
I remembered my co-workers telling me about this place, but surely they made it back in one piece...
Oh, bollocks. I should've taken a right from First and Drowery, not a left. This is the wrong alley, and the wrong nightclub to boot. Maybe I should've looked up at the sign.
Nevertheless, despite all of the occult tinkering in this age, no idiot could've served me a magical elixir. It's just not scientifically proper.
"That’s no magic elixir!" I shouted. "It’s just whiskey! You can’t play that card on me!"
"I admit that our elixir is quite bitter, but you might also find that it is quite sweet. Some say that it tastes like sugar cookies, of all things." he said, laughing.
"I want you to see all of the wonders that our elixir will bring to you. As a matter of fact you should be feeling them now." His smile turned into a devilish smirk.
"What... Do you mean!" I hollered at the top of my lungs. "What did you... You people do to me!?"
"Let’s not be so loud, Miss Evelyn." he said, opening a door in the wall, which I would have never seen had he not opened it.
"Just follow me, if you would." he held out his arm, almost welcoming me into this pitch black room. I had no choice but to go in. He’d probably have killed me anyway, had I escaped or not.
"That’s a good girl." he said heartily, rubbing his hands together.
"Whew. It’s always a bit cold in here. You’ll have to excuse it, but you will get used to it, soon enough." he smiled again. His smile was so handsomely devious. But it was also so bloody frightening at the same time.
I ran to the door, but the handle would not budge. He’d locked the door behind me, the stupid bastard!
"It’s also a bit darker than you would like too, I gather." he chuckled as he turned on the light switch.
Once the room was finally illuminated, I could see that there were hundreds of figures surrounding me. They looked like they could’ve been unused mannequins still wrapped in the tissue paper that they were shipped in from the factory.
"Take my hand, Miss Evelyn." he said, pulling my hand into his. Then, he kissed it. It felt like the tongue of some great serpent. Whatever this man was, he surely wasn’t human. Every fiber in my body told me to leave this place and to never turn back... But my mind knew better. For it knew that there was no escape from this horrid asylum that I had merely just waltzed into. If only I had paid more attention to directions!
As we edged closer to one of the figures, Tommy ripped off the tissue paper that covered it, like some sort of madman.
I stared at disbelief at the image, which scarcely now resembled the woman that I had been drinking whiskey with earlier.
"Veronica." he said, calmly.
I covered my mouth with my other hand, to silence my innate urge to scream at the nauseating figure that stood before me. This woman who had been Veronica was now a rotting corpse, bleeding from every orifice and breeding maggots from head to toe. Maggots seemed to cover her like a wardrobe of filth and foulness.
"If that’s Veronica, then why is she still...?"
"Oh, my dear Evelyn..." the man snickered. "Evelyn is still plenty alive. She has just been reborn into a new and ageless body that I have given to her. She will never grow old and she will never be lonely, for there will always be others. As long as there are people with urges and desires, there will always be more to join us here at the Four Corners."
"You mean four corners... as in the four elements, right?" I asked.
"Precisely, my dear." he said, matter-of-factly.
"I can never leave then, can I?" I asked, knowing full well of the answer. I was trapped in the meeting area of a cult who used the four elements to bind one's soul into a certain area. None of this made any scientific sense, but I knew that even if Tommy had opened wide the main door of the club, there was no way that I could've ever stepped foot outside. It was liked being barricaded in between several invisible walls. Damned magicians and their black magic!
"Of course. You have already drank the elixir. You will soon begin your metamorphosis. As a matter of fact, you are already about to die." he said, still in a sickeningly calm manner.
"I suppose that I have no choice then..." I sighed, fully accepting of my fate.
"Do what you must, then." I said. "I tire of this world’s monotony, anyway. When I must slave my life away for the good of a few men that I will never see, I think that it would be better to live forever in this place." I then shut my mouth, knowing that I would never need to open it again.
"I knew that you would see things my way." he replied. "I knew that you would see the truth. Now you shall die and reawaken once again as a new being. There are only gods here in Four Corners and you shall be one of them, Miss Evelyn."
"I love you." he added.
The last thing I saw was Tommy’s face, and then nothing more. 

*

"You simply must drink your whiskey, Miss Cormund!" I said to the blond haired woman who was sitting across the table from me.
"It’s the pride of Four Corners after all... and you’ll never taste anything else like it."
"It’s what you came for, right?"
...And the rain pattered against the walls of the building, still failing in it’s attempt to wash clean, the soiled windows of humanity.

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