Chapter Nine – This Place Is Dead

18 Jul

There wasn’t a bouncer outside the door. That should have told me that something was wrong. Even during the holidays, The Demon was usually fairly crowded and there were usually one or two fights under it’s garish faux medieval sign every week. But there was nothing under it tonight, just the rain and I.

I pushed the gnarled wooden doors open and stepped inside. Apart from the fact that everything smelled of cinnamon and there weren’t that many people there, it all seemed perfectly normal. Even a couple of the grizzled old regulars sitting at a table in the corner looked up and waved at me as I stepped through the door. As usual, the doors to the backroom were closed and I could just make out the faint hint of music behind them. Even in a crazy parallel universe, it was still rock night at The Demon. This was the best thing I’d seen all day.

Although I’d only discovered it a year ago, I went to rock night almost religiously. In a town like this, it was about the only place to listen to good music at two in the morning. Hell, I’d even managed to wangle a spot as the DJ a couple of times and got to chance to subject everyone to my favourite music for an hour or two. Even the DJ booth itself looked like something from the eighties with its huge CD decks and the occasional cassette tape lying around. And, from this gloriously old pulpit, I’d pumped out two hours of Nightwish, Garbage, The Birthday Massacre and Bella Morte to the dancing congregation below me. Yes, rock night really was the best thing I’d seen all day.

I reached into my bag for my membership card as I neared the backroom door. Even though it has probably expired a few days ago, I could probably still get in for half price if I flashed it at them quickly before I paid. Never underestimate the power of an official-looking card.

But, by the time I got to the door, I saw that there was no-one in front of it either. It was possible that they just hadn’t had time to set up the table or that they only charged during term times. There wasn’t anyone on the door last week, but I had to pay a quid to get in the week before. Still, something about it just didn’t seem quite right. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I guess I’d know it when I saw it.

First of all, there were a lot of goths. I mean, I was the only person in the whole room who wasn’t dressed in Victorian mourning clothes. Ok, the crowd was a bit more elaborate than usual – but it still wasn’t totally unheard of here. No, the thing which made me shiver was the music.

It was a slow instrumental piece and it took me a few seconds to work out exactly what it was. It was The Hearse Song. All it needed was someone to start singing about worms and I’d probably have run out of the room screaming silently. But, no-one was singing. In fact, no-one was even moving.

When I got closer, I saw why. They were all models, literally. Wooden models. I was the only living person in the entire room. I’m sure that this probably meant that I “wasn’t goth enough” or whatever. Without irony, I could safely say that this place was completely dead.

Still, as creepy as it was, I’d been paid to look for something and it made sense to search this place for whatever it was. So, I weaved through the crowd of mourning models until I reached the middle. There was a coffin with a gramophone next to it. The lid was perfectly polished apart from what looked like a few scratches in the middle of it. As I leant closer, I saw that someone had carved ‘open me’ on it with a key or a pair of compasses.

All of the models just stared blankly at it and, for half a second, I felt the cringing awkwardness which comes with interrupting an actual funeral. But I wasn’t interrupting anything. So I opened the coffin.

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