A Pale, Cold Night

A Supernatural Fiction Short Story by Melissa R. Mendelson

A Pale, Cold Night

by Melissa R. Mendelson
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They said that it would be ten degrees tonight. They were wrong. It was more like minus ten, and that damn bar door kept swinging wide open. The drinks were frosty, but so were patrons’ breath. White mist painted the air before being sucked out into the icy, black void outside, and large, tattooed men huddled around small, wooden tables, trying to gather warmth without invading personal spaces. Nobody was going to invade my space for the corner was my friend, and the corner was my dagger.

“Another,” and Beatrice slammed a large, frosty beer down in front of me. “Long night?”

“Damn it, Beatrice. It’s fucking cold in here.”

“Well, I’m sorry, Dallas, but the heat keeps cutting out. You’re welcome to fix it,” and she started to walk away from me.

“Aren’t you cold, or is the fat keeping you warm?”

“Another comment like that, Dallas, and I’ll have your hide stripped. And I’ll have your bare ass body thrown out into the snow. You get me?”

I stared at the muscular heart with barbed wire on her bare right shoulder. Her large boobs were nearly hanging out of her open blouse. Her poor excuse for Daisy Duke shorts made me shudder, and I was sure that she was not wearing any underwear. I should have buried her. Instead, I met her stone cold gaze and gave a short nod.

“Good. Last drink, and then you’re out.”

I was tempted to make another snide comment. Instead, I watched her walk away, and the bar door opened again. I swear that the next person that opens that door will taste my boot, and the door opened again. I spun around to give them hell, and that’s when I saw her. And we all stared at her, and some of those large, tattooed men even shuddered at her entrance. It was amazing that such a little girl could make those big men quake, and then I realized that she was heading in my direction. But I was in no mood for the company.

“Keep walking,” I barked before downing half my drink.

“Water,” she yelled over to Beatrice before pulling up a chair to my table. “Mind if I sit?”

“Get lost, bitch,” but part of me wanted her to stay. I liked her voice. “I don’t want the company.”

“Rough night,” and she sat down almost beside me.

“My friend died.”

“I’m sorry,” but she didn’t sound sorry.

I leaned back in my chair and stared at this strange creature before me. She wasn’t dressed for this weather either. Instead, she wore faded, ripped blue jeans, black leather boots and a black t-shirt with one of those rejects from the CW, and his face looked worn as if he had seen too many demons. Her hair was long enough to cover the edges of her face, and her eyes…. I shuddered, thinking of the icy, black void outside. She reminded me of a cobra for some reason, but I would not be captured by her beauty. I would not play her game, but I would not meet her gaze again.

“Name’s Keeper,” but she did not hold out her hand. Instead, she wrapped her hands around the small glass of water that Beatrice placed down in front of her, and Beatrice paled at her brief touch. “Thanks,” and she downed the water. And I could have sworn that her tongue was black. “Another. Please.” She seemed amused at how fast Beatrice moved away from her. “How’d your friend die, Dallas?”

“Excuse me? How the hell do you know my name?”

“I know lots of things,” and she leaned close. And for a moment, her doll face flashed into a mash of dirt and worms. “So, how’d your friend die?”

“Wasn’t much of a friend, and I should be going.” I quickly finished my drink and pushed back my chair.

“So soon,” and again, I met that gaze. And my body went numb. “Stay for awhile before you go outside.”

“Why?”

“I miss the company,” and she didn’t even flinch when Beatrice dropped the glass of water next to her, avoiding her touch. The glass slipped and almost came crashing down to the floor, but she caught it. Then, she looked at me, and I couldn’t look away. “So, won’t you stay for awhile?”

“What are you,” and I watched her shrug in response. “I have to leave,” but my body was still numb. Only my heart thundered in my chest. “Why are you here?”

“I have to pick up a package.”

“Package? Here in this bar?” I looked around, wondering what it was. “Where is it,” and I turned toward her, avoiding her gaze.

“Cooling off,” she responded in a voice made of velvet, sweet suffocation.

“Don’t play with me.”

“I’m no cat,” she replied. “But I do have claws. Now, are you going to answer the damn question or not?”

“Do you know the answer?”

“I would like to hear you say it, Dallas.”

“You a cop?”

“Do I look like a cop,” and she leaned close again. Her skin had a sick glow to it, and I moved further back into my chair. And then I realized that I was warm, and her eyes sparked with amusement. “Are you a killer?”

“Watch it, lady,” I snapped, but I glanced down at my hands.

“No blood stains,” and again, her gaze folded over me, hollowing me out from the inside. “All evidence gone, and nobody’s going to miss him.” Now, she leaned back in her chair. “I wonder. Will anyone miss you?”

“You threatening me?” She didn’t answer. “I could snap your neck with my bare hands. Snap.”

“If only I wasn’t dead,” she replied, and my heart dropped in my chest. “Did you know that?”

“Let me go,” I said. “Just let me get out of here.”

“You never cared about anyone. Did you, Dallas? Not your parents or your sister or your girlfriend or your friend.”

“Stop it!” I didn’t mean to yell, but I did. I screamed like a little girl. “Knock it off.”

“You’ve been empty your whole damn life. Don’t you want to know why?”

“Get away from me,” and now I found the strength to jump out of my chair. All I had to do was run for the door, but she grabbed hold of my arm. Just my arm, and my knees caved. “Why? Why am I so empty,” I heard myself say, but why was I saying that?

“Because you have no soul, you poor bastard. Your time’s up,” and she let go of my arm. And where her hand had rested was now red, raw flesh as if her touch had burned right through me. “Go outside.”

“What’s outside?” I struggled to my feet, ignoring the stares from everyone around me including Beatrice. “What’s waiting for me out there?”

“Your ride,” and those words sliced through me. “Go on your own accord, or I’ll carry you.” Her eyes penetrated through me, and I felt nothing. No ice. No fire. Nothing like I never existed, and my feet turned on their own, heading for the door.

“Wait,” but my body would not respond. “Wait. I don’t want to go,” I cried, but my hands were reaching for the door. “I won’t kill anyone else. He was the last, the last one. I swear to Christ that I don’t want to go outside,” but the door was already open. And the icy, black void sucked me outside.

“Package delivered,” Keeper said, throwing a hundred-dollar bill onto the table. “Back to the road,” and everyone watched her slither toward the door. And as she disappeared outside, the arctic air invaded the bar once more.

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