Rat Chase - I
Being a demon might sound fun. The joy of torturing pedophiles, murderers and rapists might seem appealing to some. But at the end of the day, that was not the opinion of everyone. After a while Mona had begun to loathe the time she’d spent in hell. There were a finite amount of ways you could harm a human body until you were just repeating yourself, and the work became less about creativity and trying new things, and more about punching a clock. Yes even in hell, you had to clock in and out of work.
So when she had risen to the earth, after a cataclysmic event had transpired; which brought supernatural, mythological and just plain weird creatures, monsters and beasts; which collectively were labeled Vexens, to the planet. Mona could hardly complain, save for the unfortunate fact that she was slowly turning into an uncontrollable and borderline unstoppable force.
For a demon to remain on earth and enter human society. A few things had to be dealt with. One, a disguise, It would be terrifying for a human to see a demon in the flesh. I mean that’s the whole reason they were given such a hideous appearance to begin with. Two, a way for her to stop herself from losing control. And three, a world wide agreement for humans and vexens to coincide. Thankfully, all of those things had been taken care of in the years following her arrival.
It was a trivial time, those first few years in Bloodhaven; the city she had taken residence in. Even though there were near a billion vexenkind, humanity still vastly outnumbered them. It led to a rocky few years, as racial turmoil had begun to boil.
Aside from the ‘Easing in’ policy as Mona liked to call it, which gave all vexen kind the right to a disguise, potent elixirs and the ability to vote. The world had agreed to the creation of ‘The Order’ the leading authority and government for earth moving forward. It consisted of an even spread of vexens and humans, which helped create a firm grip on society.
The Order’s creation was seen as a godsend to most, allowing them to fully integrate with society. Because once everyone looked and acted human, save for a few minute factors, there was hardly any room for discrimination. Mona humbly remembers from time to time, when she’d been given her PI license and identification after years of unemployment and homelessness.
Sadly not all vexen were as fortunate, especially that of the hellspawn. To her knowledge the amount of demonkind left on planet earth was barely scratching three digits. A sad fact, as she’d heard many had been driven insane with the struggle of keeping their other form at bay. A fellow demon had once told her of a large number of demons, had fled to caves and hidden in lairs attempting to cope with the pure agony they were dealing with.
She needed to get this over with, and fast. Mona had begun to feel sweat cascade down her face, see her fingers begin to spasm and taste the metallic tang of her blood as her teeth began to grow. She was slowly beginning to transform. Soon horns would sprout from her scalp, her skin would be replaced with scales and her nails would start to blacken. She was starting to transform.
She leapt off her motorcycle and watched as it flipped over the gutter and slammed into the sidewalk. She landed about a metre from it. Apologised to an elderly lady who had been walking towards a supermarket nearby. And headed into ‘Rick and Noel’s’ a pawn shop hidden in one of the city’s many alleyways.
A man she assumed was either Rick or Noel; but later turned out to be Andy, stood behind the front desk. He was of short stature, had a bloated round stomach and a face that was close to a perfect circle. With his hands he clutched the pages of a superhero comic book that matched the shirt he was wearing.
She acknowledged the many nick nacks and antiques spread out across tables near the entryway, like a chalice with a vampire lord etched into it, or the statue of a stone gargoyle, and even a cauldron perfect for potion brewing. But she had little time to waste. She needed an elixir and she needed it now.
She almost vomited before speaking, but managed to hold back the build up of bile. ‘Elixir. You got any?’ Mona uttered.
Without looking up from his comic book, Andy asked her for the magic word.
She swore under her breath, promising to give him a magic word, just not the one he was hoping for and snatched the book from his grasp.
‘Hey! I was reading that.’ Andy exclaimed, finally bringing himself to stare at the demon in disguise.
Although the disguise was beginning to falter. A horn began to breach the surface of her scalp, her skin was beginning to harden and peel and her hair was starting to fall out.
‘Oh ****’ Andy swore, as he backed up against a desk behind him.
‘Elixir. Now.’ She growled.
Andy shrieked as her face began to contort, he ran into the backroom, screaming about a demon and a melting face and that’s like something he’d seen in one of his comic books.
It took a few moments, but not long after, Noel, one of the owners, walked out. In his hands he carried a canister. He placed it on the counter and pushed a big red button on the top. The canister rotated on the spot, growing thinner and thinner as a hidden chamber was revealed. Inside were over ten small bottles of clear liquid.
Mona wasted little time, she latched onto a bottle, tore off the cork that separated the liquid from the air and watched as it changed colours into a majestic royal blue. She finished the whole bottle with a single flick of the wrist and gulped down the contents.
She fell to the ground and began to convulse. She’d been too late, the transformation began to take effect. Noel raced around the counter. Dodging the whip like motion her tail made as it was sent towards him. She was beginning to fear the worst, until he poured a second vial of elixir down her throat, this one had a scarlet red appearance. She closed her eyes and counted to ten. Wondering if it would be the last thing she ever thought. And as ten reached her mind, she opened her eyes and stared around at the murky walls, unfinished ceiling; with sewage pipes clearly visible above her, and at the aging man who had perhaps saved her life. She smiled and giggled with delight. She’d live to solve another case.
Noel pulled her to her feet, now that her head had cleared she could take a closer look at the man. All her instincts told her this man was unlike most pawn shop owners. He wasn’t near as sleazy, or disgruntled like Andy. He seemed calm, relaxed even, but also seemed like he was more than capable of handling himself against unhappy customers who got a little too confrontational.
‘Noel Hodging’s, co-owner of Rick and Noel’s. I guess you’ve already met my employee Andy.’
He extended an arm out to her, and stared at her, careful not to reach her eyes. She grabbed his hand and they shook.
‘Call me Mona. You’re a real lifesaver, but your assistant’s a total *****.’
He smiled, as if he were expecting that reply.
‘Careful, he’s also my son.’ He said holding his gaze.
He pulled his hand away from her’s and back towards the counter.
‘Now was it just those two you wanted? Or would you prefer the whole set?’ He asked her.
When she’d finally composed herself, she joined him by the counter and examined the canister. There was enough space for ten elixirs, with two spaces empty she had eight left to use. That is if she purchased the full ten pack.
‘That depends, how much for it?’
Two fifty was cheap as hell for elixirs. A single bottle could sometimes set you back an hour’s pay. What was the deal with this one? Why was it so cheap?
‘As in two dollars and fifty cents?’
‘No, you idiot. As in two hundred and fifty.’
So it wasn’t cheap. It wasn’t out of her price range either. But that wasn’t going to stop her from getting a bargain.
‘Two hundred, and let’s say you throw in another for good measure.’
Noel snorted and shook his head. ‘You do remember that only moments ago you were going to die, until I saved you.’
He wasn’t wrong, without him, she would most definitely have lost any resemblance of “humanity”, which was a funny way to describe any vexen, and she couldn’t imagine Andy doing anything to help her.
‘Good point. Two twenty five. But I still want that other elixir included.’
Noel grimaced, but stood his ground, keeping his line of sight to right under her eyes.
‘Pfft, you demon-folk. Final offer. Two fifty and I’ll throw in one of those gargoyle statues that my wife made. Call it a parting gift.’
Mona took it into consideration. She had no idea what she’d do with a little statue of a gargoyle. But figured it was worth it anyway. She’d gotten more than what she would have, had she not bartered.
‘Done.’ She handed him the cash and picked a statue up from one of the tables. ‘You can tell your wife, she makes beautiful craftsmanship’. That was a lie, but she figured there was no harm in telling him otherwise.
‘That ***** is divorcing me, the only thing I’ll tell her when I get home today is to suck the pole between my legs.’
Mona was taken aback by his remark. But put on her best smile and honeyed up her voice. ‘I was wondering if while I’m here, you’d be happy to help me out with something.’
Noel looked disinterested in any further conversations. ‘Haven’t you wasted enough of my time today. I do have other customers to serve.’
Mona looked around. The place was empty. Completely and utterly void of customers. Aside from her of course. ‘Right, well I was just wondering If you’d seen this necklace at all.’ She threw a piece of paper down on the counter. ‘People have nicknamed it ‘The Rat and I’ve been tasked with recovering it.’
Noel looked intrigued by the necklace, almost enchanted. He grabbed the paper and stared at the photo. He must have seen something that Mona certainly didn’t, for what she saw as nothing more then a stupid necklace that would net her a good couple of hundred dollars. Noel saw it as something more breathtaking.
‘It’s beautiful. If you find it and wish to sell it bring it here. I’d love to study it.’
Mona slowly took the photo back and placed it folded up in her pocket. ‘I’m sure you would, but It’s not mine, so even if i wanted to sell it. It was not what I was paid to do. Now I assume you haven’t seen it.’
‘Not me, and Rick’s been on holiday or the last three months, so I doubt it was him. Perhaps Andy has…’
‘Nope’ Mona heard Andy shout from the backroom. He must have been eavesdropping on their conversation. Good thing she hadn’t said anything too cruel about the shop attendant.
‘Then no. Sorry. We have not. However.’ He paused, and looked up to the ceiling, to which there was still none. ‘I suppose I could perhaps give you a location of let’s say. Deals that are often called black.’
‘Dude I’m a demon, you don’t have to ***** out on saying the word blackmarket’.
The man shushed her and stared around the shop as if looking for cameras. ‘They’re always listening.’
It was time for her to leave. She handed him a piece of paper and a pen and waited as he jotted down the location. After picking up the canister filled with elixirs, she hurried outside, out the alleyway and back to her bike.
A small group of on-lookers had gathered around her motorcycle and she had to shoo them away to reach it. She carefully placed it upright and put the canister inside her saddlebag. She gave one last look around her. Spotting the strange expressions she was getting from the bystanders and leapt onto her motorcycle. She charged the engine and roared back onto the road.