Chicago by Night

Welcome to Hell

A glimpse into the abyss

Columbia College students, Li Li Omi and Tiffany "Reign" Bradford find themselves attending the class "Expressions in Media" together. Reign's early morning pot smoking and lack of coffee is starting to take its toll and she starts to doze off. The professor of the class, CM Burroughs, takes issue with Reign's lack of attention and chastizes her in front of the class and strongly recommending she get notes from a classmate before dismissing the assembly. In her embarrased haste to leave she bumps into Li Li in the doorway. Apologies are given and Li Li takes it upon herself to offer her notes to Reign. They decide to go sit down at a local restaurant for coffee and chat. A flyer in the wall catches Reign's eye. She can only read the words emboldened at the top from this distance. "Goth Dance Party", the words were like catnip to her. As Li Li mentions she doesn't do much outside of school, Reign takes the opportunity to repay the kindness her classmate showed and invites her to go out later for some dancing. Li Li agrees and the two part, Li Li heads home while Reign goes to check out the flyer more closely. She makes note of a late show the same night featuring a band she really enjoys, Baby Chorus, as well as the address and name of the the venue; The Succubus Club.

Later that night, Li Li picks Reign up several blocks from the latter's actual apartment. She's been cut off by her wealthy family and is secretly embarrassed of her housing conditions. The two make small talk on the short drive and find that they both come from wealthy backgrounds, though Li Li is both in the good graces of her parents and far more well-off. They find parking not far from the club and make their way into the dark and crowded cavern that is the front dance floor. A stage sits at the rear of the room with instruments ready to be picked up and played and upstairs, the room is encircled by balconies that contain numerous private booths. After getting drinks at the bar, Li Li suggests they go upstairs and find a booth. They walk up on of the lushly decorated stairwells on the side if the room and head down past several booths with the curtains drawn closed for privacy. Reign spies a booth that was more lax in closing the privacy curtain and catches a glimpse of a man leaning over to punch another guy right in the face. They hurry down the balcony and duck into an open booth, drawing the curtains before Reign launches into the story of what she saw. As she tells her tale, the pair hear someone being dragged past their booth. Reign peeks out to see the man who got punched being hauled off by two other large bald men, one of whom catches her gaze before she ducks back into the booth and spills the details on this new development. No sooner does she finish her story when the curtain is parted by one the skinheads who passed by earlier. His piercing blue eyes meet those of both girls as he introduces himself as Charlie and apologizes for any fright they may have had. He offers to but them both drinks for their trouble and asks if they're here to see Baby Chorus later. Reign replies that she is, she knows the star of the band, Kathy Glens, a lie told to impress the intimidating yet intriguing interloper. The skinhead seems impressed and says that he knows her as well and maybe they can all hang out together. She tries to back off a little bit before he notices a need to excuse himself and  that he hopes to see Reign, and Li Li of course, down on the floor later at the show before departing.

After talking about the handsome and charismatic stranger, the girls head down to the dance floor to enjoy the evening's playlist, a perfect mix of 80's goth and industrial. After a time the music fades away as the band begins to take the stage. They enter in darkness as the drums signal their arrival. The keyboards join in before the guitars find their place in the cacophony. A single spotlight hits the stage, illuminating Kathy Glens and her cello, which she begins to bow furiously. The crowd, Li Li and Reign included, are immediately taken with the performance, one which continues with sustained intensity throughout the hour long show. About 40 minutes in the girls are approached by Charlie who sneaks up on Reign and squeezes her shoulders. She wrests her way out of his grip, turned off by his behavior. He makes an attempt at small talk before catching a vibe and finding an excuse to head off into the crowd. After the band finishes and the dance music comes back up, the girls notice Charlie talking to Kathy by the bar and pointing at them. Reign realizes her lie is going to be exposed and immediately heads towards the exit but somehow the pair seem to catch up with the girls with ease. After Reign's untruth is revealed awkwardly the girls try to excuse themselves but Charlie and Kathy insist that the quartet find a booth and have a drink. Despite trying to leave just moments before, the girls find themselves agreeing and head up the balcony to a large, private booth.

After getting to know the girls a little, the conversation turns to more heady topics; chaos vs. order, structure vs. anarchy, freedom vs. society. The two strangers seem to have had this argument many times before. They turn to the strangely enthralled girls and ask for their help in settling this old dispute once and for all. The girls find themselves nodding in assent as tears begin to well up in their eyes. In an instant they are upon the near helpless women. Fangs begin to protrude out of Charlie's mouth before he sinks them into Reign's neck drinking deeply. Next to her, Li Li begins to cry as Kathy's canines pierce her lovely throat. Both girls grasp feebly for each other's hands, seeking comfort in what must be their final moments. Their fingers entwine as the blackness takes over, their heart and body growing cold. The light of their life is nearly extinguished when their bodies are jolted by an almost electric heat. They find themselves drawn back from the brink, becoming renewed with some unknown energy. Their eyes groggily open and with surprise, they find themselves slurping greedily at the wrists of their attackers, slashed open and spurting gouts of blood. At first the girls' thirst seems unquenchable but after a short time they feel the desire to drink lessen and they begin to calm somewhat. Both girls seem to comprehend what has taken place but have very different reactions to what has transpired. Reign seems well ready to follow this path, that it perhaps had been a secret dream of hers come true. Li Li on the other hand, expresses anger at her taking and demands answers of her attackers. Their concerns are waved off as Kathy and Charlie renew their argument. Will they choose structure Kathy wonders and explains the idea of a grand vampire society and the paths to hidden power that come along with it. Charlie takes the opposite tack and says that this is their chance to be truly free and powerful enough to live on their own terms, that society is slavery and that real power lies only in being unshackled by law, man's or kindred's. They give them a choice and ask them to ruminate upon it before releasing them into the night. The girls leave the club and Li LI, furious at the events of the night, leaves Reign behind and accuses her of knowing that this would happen. Reign, dejected, takes public transportation back home to Humboldt Park. After getting off the bus, she encounters three gangbangers who make kissy faces and taunt her. It turns out to be the wrong move when Reign immediately reaches up, grabs the main annoyance's head and twists hard. The snapping of his neck fills the night sky with a wet cracking noise and in an instant, she has her hands on the arm of one of the others and yanks it right out of the socket. The last man's eyes widen in horror and he turns to run. Reign leaps upon him and again, using her newfound strength, separates the man's head from his spine, killing him instantly. Unfortunately for her, a frightened neighbor has witnessed all that transpired and has called the police. They show up with unusual haste and begin canvassing the area. Reign does her best to keep off the streets and in the shadows as she makes her way back to her apartment. She runs into some luck when the searchers are called off by some other catastrophe and she slips back into her place and collapses, sleeping through the morning.

After arriving at home, Li Li finds herself being confronted by her mother, who demands to know if she's on drugs. Li Li assures her that's not the case and heads to her room. After sleeping the entire day she is confronted by her father who also demands to know if she's up to no good. Again she comforts her parents and tells them that nothing is wrong. They believe their daughter, who has always been a model student, and let the matter drop. Li Li heads back to her room to get dressed, sobbing all the while. What will her choice mean for her life here with her family? Why did this have to happen? A million more  questions swirl around in her mind as she heads out to her car. She decides to text Reign saying that she will come get her and to meet at the same spot. Taking a deep breath, she turns the key in the ignition and drives off to choose her fate.

 

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