Infected: Devil’s Night, Part 1
Yes! So, I got a mad posh to offer another free Infected story, this time taking place on Halloween. Only it became a longer one than I expected. So here’s part one of Devil’s Night.
Sometimes, Roan was genuinely horrified at how geeky he was. At least he wasn’t alone.
Panic was having a big Halloween party, and it fell on one of Dylan’s work nights, so of course he was going to do it up big. He wanted Roan there, and he knew he’d have to be in costume too.
He grumped about it, but the truth was, Halloween was probably the only holiday Roan genuinely liked. When he was a kid, he loved dressing up, and most of all he loved free candy. What kid didn’t?t He didn’t mind giving it out to kids now, and sometimes they really had fun costumes. But he had a reputation as a grumpy bastard, and by god, that wasn’t about to die on his watch.
Dylan, being Dylan (meaning gay and an artist, which was a potentially lethal combination), had grand plans for his costume and for Roan, but Roan was not easily swayed. Some of the ideas were grand, but wildly impractical, and he refused to wear a costume that was a pain to wear, or hindered his ability to move or see. Which cut down most of them. And he utterly refused to be Batman, for obvious reasons.
Dylan decided to do a riff on the Rene Magritte painting The Son of Man by buying a bowler type hat, and using wire to extend a fake, plastic green apple, so it would hang in front of his face, obscuring it. It took a bit of fiddling until he could get it where he could generally see, and could move it without harming the wire or the apple. It seemed like a lot of effort for a reference only a few would get, but it made Dyl happy, so Roan kept his mouth shut.
Roan got lucky. By sticking to the strict rules about his costume, they bought a green hoodie from the thrift shop, cut off the sleeves, and put some eye black around his eyes before sticking on a little green eye mask. Dyl had an old bow – he used to genuinely be an archer, after all – so he painted it and a quiver green, and suddenly Roan was the Green Arrow, or at least Arrow from the T.V. show. (Okay, okay, so they watched it. It was fun! And had lots of hot guys.) Maybe Arrow wasn’t a redhead, but as long as Roan kept the hood up, you’d never know. And the guy wasn’t Batman, so fair enough. It also gave them a little unusual couple’s together time, as Dyl taught him the proper way to hold a bow, nock an arrow, and pull the string back, which Roan didn’t know. It looked simple, but there was actually a lot to keep in mind. It was nice to know if things went all Hunger Games, Dyl would be fine.
Roan had objected to taking the sleeves off the hoodie, but Dyl said he was being “sexy Arrow”. Which seemed redundant. But he felt lucky to get away with such a basic costume, and let it go.
Roan felt he had prepared himself for a Panic Halloween party before he arrived. He was so, so wrong.
The physically assaultive music he was ready for. He was even ready for the garish gel lights and the neon ghosts. It was the sheer amount of tacky costumes that almost did him in.
Nearly everyone had a sexy costume of some stripe or another, showing off as much flesh as legally possible. It was like an indoor pride parade.
Had he ever seen so many Speedos in one place? Roan was trying to remember, and couldn’t. It didn’t help that the men seemed extra handsy tonight, and even though he was wearing more clothes than anyone in the place, he seemed to attract a lot of attention, with men complimenting him on his “guns” while touching his arm. Someone else grabbed his ass, which was enough to make him put the hood down. He had a feeling if they knew who they were getting handsy with, they’d refrain. After all, no one wanted to reel away with a bloody stump. This wasn’t a David Cronenberg film.
It did seem to help. Baring his weird red hair made a path in the crowd open for him, although Roan wondered how his tattoos weren’t a dead giveaway. Not everyone had a part of Krapp’s Last Tape tattooed on their forearm, not to mention the bleeding heart with the Paris ribbon.
At the bar, he saw that Dylan did indeed have the most original costume. Since everyone was shirtless, Luis and Ty took the easy way out and just added bow ties, making them look like male strippers. Dylan was the shirtless guy with the hat and an apple hovering in front of his face. Roan thought it was surreally charming.
“Want our special of the night?” Dylan asked.
“What is it?”
“Transylvanian Go Go Juice. It’s vodka, Goldschlager, tonic, and Grenadine.”
“That sounds disgusting. Sure, I’ll try one.”
Dylan nodded, making his apple bob. “I knew you would.”
As Dylan made it, Roan had to ask, “Has anyone guessed your costume?”
“Two guys, one of whom was an art history major. Otherwise, no. Why do you have your hood down?”
“People didn’t recognize me. I now take it back that that’s the most implausible part of the show.”
Even though the apple mostly blocked his view, Roan could tell Dylan was smiling. “Most people are too scared of you to notice you’re cute. Obscure yourself just enough, and it’s obvious.”
“I think you’re biased.”
“Hey, is that a real bow?” A familiar voice asked.
Roan turned, and was treated to the Falcons trio – Scott, Grey, and Tank. And they were all wearing similar hockey jerseys with bloody smears on them, and similar dorky looking black framed glasses, mostly fixed with white sports tape. There were differences, though. Tank had a fake bloody scar on his cheek, Grey had blood smeared white sports tape wrapped around his knuckles, and Scott had a fake black eye, almost a livid purple. It was the glasses that gave this away. “Cute. You’re the Hanson brothers.”
Fiona waved from beside Tank. “Don’t forget me.” She was wearing a polyester smock with a picture of a pizza slice on it, and carried a pizza box. Her hair was mostly hidden by a baseball cap with the word “Pizza” embroidered on it in script.
“Oh, cool. You’re the pizza guy they called in jail.”
“See, I told you he’d get it.” Fiona said.
“Took me a minute,” Tank admitted.
“Bitchin’ Arrow, dude,” Fiona added. “But you know he’s not a redhead, right?”
“He doesn’t like shirts either,” Scott added.
Roan gestured to the roiling, horny crowd. “And you think I’d go shirtless here?”
“If you were in character you would,” Scott replied, with a teasing little smile. He probably just wanted to see him shirtless.
Dylan gave Roan his drink, and asked, “Do guys want tonight special, or do you just want the gayest drink on the menu?”
They hadn’t really noticed Dylan until that point. When they saw him there were some chuckles, and Fiona said, “You’re that painting.”
“Magritte,” Tank said. Tank knew Magritte? Well, sure, why not? He couldn’t stop being weird for a single second, and Roan was pretty sure he wouldn’t have him any other way.
“What’s the special?” Scott asked.
Dylan pointed to Roan as he took a sip of his very red drink. He winced at the clash of flavors, as well as the sting of very powerful alcohol. “Goddamn. How can this be too sweet, and yet still able to peel the paint off a boat?”
“Ooh, let’s get a round of that,” Grey said.
“I didn’t realize there would be theme outfits,” Holden said, joining the group. “I’d have stayed home if I knew.”
Holden was wearing low slung jeans, a tight white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket, and had blond highlights in his artfully messy brown hair. Roan had a feeling he knew what he was, but he felt compelled to confirm it. “And you are ..?”
Holden smiled, and held his arms out, as if it made things abundantly clear. The shirt was tight enough to show he was wearing a nipple ring. “I’m a male prostitute, of course.”
“Of course.” Yeah, that was Roan’s guess.
“You really don’t get into the spirit of things, do you?” Dylan asked, as he continued making drinks.
Holden shrugged, leaning against the bar. “I’ve played make believe every day for years. It loses its charm after a while.”
Holden looked at the Falcons, Fi, and Roan, and said, “Let me guess. You’re a hockey team, Roan’s the mascot, and Fi’s a pizza guy.”
Scott rolled his eyes, Fi shook her head, and Grey chuckled. Roan decided he wasn’t going to let Holden get away with that jackassery. “You know what that means, Scott. You’re gonna have to make him watch Slap Shot.”
“Ooh yeah,” Scott agreed.
Holden shook his head. “No, no way. It’s bad enough I have to watch actual hockey occasionally. I’m not watching a movie about it.”
“Says you,” Scott replied.
Tank gave Holden a friendly slap on the back, but it still shoved him forward a little. “It’s funny. It’s not as painful as watching us play.”
“Speak for yourself,” Grey said.
“Who here has a Stanley Cup ring, hmm?” Tank chided, with a big, tooth bearing grin.
“And who scored on you last year?” Scott replied.
“That was a bad goal and you know it,” Tank replied, no longer smiling. “The ref let you get away with one ‘cause you were on home ice.”
“Tell yourself that, “Scott said, smiling in a sweet and deliberately irritating manner.
Roan felt his phone hum in his pocket, and while he had told himself to turn it off, he obviously forgot to before leaving the house. Roan pulled it out to see who it was, and wasn’t surprised to see it was Seb. The reason he wanted to silence his phone in the first place was due to the fact that holidays always brought out the worst in people. They got wasted, and shit happened. “Seb?” Dylan asked, putting hideous, blood colored drinks in front of Scott, Tank, Fiona, and Grey.
“Yeah. Damn it.”
“Want one?” Dylan asked Holden, gesturing to the poured drinks.
Holden frowned in disgust. “Ew, no. A G & T will be enough for me.”
“Gin?” Tank said. “That always tastes like a tree to me.”
“Well, you’ve sucked your share of trees, haven’t you?” Grey said. A joke that wasn’t quite a joke, but Scott snickered, and Tank gave Grey a sharp elbow in the arm.
Roan answered his phone, even though he knew he shouldn’t. “Sorry Seb, I’m all out of candy.”
“Cute. Where are you right now?”
That was never a good way to start a conversation. “The music doesn’t give it away? Panic.”
“Okay, you’re a few blocks away. That’s good.”
“A few blocks away from what?”
“I’m down on Howell. We have a report of at least four cats loose. I’m not sure if this was a planned action or what, but it’s hard to imagine this was a coincidence.”
Roan sighed. Again, holidays could bring out the absolute worst in people. “When’s the cat squad due?”
“About ten minutes, but I don’t know where they’re going first. One cat seemed to be headed towards the freeway, another ran off headed off towards Barron, and another two sprinted off towards Capital Hill.”
“Fantastic.” Towards them, in other words. “I’ll go see what I can do.” He slipped his phone back in his pocket, and said, “Loose cats. I’ll be back as soon as I handle this.”
“Need some help?” Holden asked.
That would normally be hilarious, because he was a civilian and what the hell was he going to do about a loose cat? But Holden being Holden, he might have some way to handle this. Hell, he might be armed. There were too many competing, overlapping scents in here to tell if he was carrying his gun or not. “No, I’ve got it. Be right back.”
“Be careful,” Dylan said. Roan couldn’t see around the apple from this angle, but he was sure Dyl was giving him a concerned frown.
“Always am,” Roan lied. With his hood down and his hair still visible, the crowd of cupids and cowboys and frighteningly realistic RuPauls and Chers parted for him easily, and almost no one copped a feel.
When he made it out into the cool night air, which stunk of exhaust, Roan was disappointed to see a line waiting to get in the club. Since everyone was out of groping range, he put up his hood and headed down the street. One wag waiting to get in yelled after him, “Don’t fail this city.”
If only he knew what he was about to do.
Roan ducked into the nearest alley, which usually wasn’t wise, but since he was the biggest monster out here, he felt relatively safe. There was no point in trying to track down the cats, as it would take too long, and the fact that there were two just added to the problems. So he concentrated on his general anger, focused it, and screamed out a challenging roar, that should make the cats run to him. Unless they were smart and started running in the opposite direction.
But considering how his luck ran, he figured they were very stupid indeed.
To Be Continued