Gotta love this from title down to scream. Plus, who knew there was more than just MooseJaws for Canadian Horror...
The weather was unbearably hot. Smoking, steaming, bra-dripping hot. Mia lay on top of her bed with a fan blowing air on her body. Moderate relief.
It was Canada Day and the firecrackers were ringing and lighting up the sky outside her window even though it was almost midnight. Mia had foregone any celebrations this year. She couldn’t imagine facing 43-degree weather, plus bugs for hours just to watch different colours light up the sky. Whoop dee doo.
That’s not all she couldn’t face. Her boyfriend dumped her a week ago. The married boyfriend who was going to leave his wife for her. She’d hung in for five years… letting her late twenties and early thirties pass her by. Her friends told her she was being dumb. And she was. Another cliché. Another woman who thought they actually had something real. His wife wasn’t kind to him. They were married in name only. Yadda yadda yadda. Ya right.
She didn’t need to see the ‘I told you so’ expressions on her friends’ faces. Or hear the saccharine empathy. It was all too nauseating. Her self-loathing was suffocating her. She’d always been able to catch the eyes of men with her long curly black hair and Kardashian curves, but the years were catching up to her. A few less construction workers were whistling at her. Less eyes turning at the local bars. So, she lay here wallowing in her sweat. Alone. Wondering if she could actually melt into a congealed lump on her bedspread. That would be the way to go. Mia missing. Slime ball found.
Feeling her eyelids succumb to slime state Mia fell asleep.
Until she was woken up by someone playing loud Death Metal. Her alarm clock read 3:00am in digital red. Who was having a Canada Day party this late? And who even listened to Death Metal anymore? Wasn’t that an 80’s thing?
She could hear the lead vocalist growling out “Give me a quuuuuuuuuuuuu. Give me a yoooooooou. Give me an eeeeeeeye . Give me an ellllllllllllllllll. And an elllllllllll. And a sssssssssss.”
Being a fan of both country and western music, but not much else, she had no idea what band was playing. The lead singer sounded like Glenn Danzig from the Misfits after inhaling live flame. Here came the chorus again.
“Give me a quuuuuuuuuuuuu. Give me a yoooooooou. Give me an eeeeeeeye . Give me an ellllllllllllllllll. And an elllllllllll. And a sssssssssss.”
Give me Quills? What an odd song lyric. This was ridiculous, how was she supposed to sleep? And didn’t her neighbours go away camping this weekend so who was home blaring music? The properties in this neighbourhood weren’t that close together, and she was sure the retired octogenarians on the other side of her weren’t rocking out.
Mia unstuck her body from the sheets and crawled to the end of the bed to shut off the fan. It was stationed in front of the window to pull in the cool air. (What cool air?) She wanted to hear where the music was coming from. Turning off the fan she listened closely… and heard nothing.
How odd. Did they just turn the music off? She couldn’t hear anything. No talking, no laughing. No music. Nothing. Mia was stumped. She turned the fan back on and slithered back up to her pillows. She tried to find a dry spot. Laying there, she heard it again.
“Give me a quuuuuuuu…..”
Holy crap. Was it coming from the fan? Mia quickly moved down to the fan and turned it off. No singer. She turned it on.
“Give me a youuuuuuuu”
Good god. Her fan was singing Death Metal at her. Spelling the word Quills. If possible, she started to sweat more and felt her heart racing. She decided this was something she didn’t want to ponder too deeply in the middle of the night. It was far too hot to turn the fan off, so she let the raspy voice lull her back to sleep.
In the morning, Mia woke up and listened to her fan. It was just a fan. Making a whiiiiirr sound.
Mia worked as fourth grade teacher at a public school in Richmond Hill and had the next two months off. Yaaaay. Her class had been full of nasty little girls being as mean to each other as only 8-year-olds could be. She had to deal with so many tears, she feels like she absorbed any misery her Kleenex missed. These two months would be a perfect time to recuperate. From the pre-teen drama and her own drama. But Quills. Why Quills?
Time to consult Google. The first and most obvious hit was that super creepy movie in 2000 about the Marquis de Sade. Mia remembered watching it and feeling like she lost any innocence she had left. The sadism and masochism, the blood, and all the other bodily fluids that sick man played with. Yuck. Next was an on-line writing course for young students. Then she saw a listing for a bookstore near her. Just in Aurora, not a twenty-minute walk away. Maybe this was the Quills her fan was moaning about?
Coincidence? She had nothing else doing that day, so she swept her brown curly hair into a messy bun, threw on some jean shorts, a red I AM CANADIAN t-shirt and started hiking to Quills “the bookstore”. The Greater Toronto area was still under a heat warning, so it felt like walking through soup. In April snow was still coating the ground, so she reminded herself to enjoy not being frozen to death and let the exercise perk her up.
It was a small shop with windows obscured by books piled up haphazardly on the sills. The front door was covered with pamphlets, post-its and advertisements for local events. Concert listings for bands with charming names like Death, Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel. Everything looked like it had been there for 20 years except for the shiny black sign “Quills” above the door. Mia pushed the door in and a set of bells announced her arrival.
Inside books were jammed on shelves, piled on the floor and stacked on tables everywhere. Most of the books appeared to be used, and that peculiar musty smell from damp paper was in the air. Science fiction, horror, and teen trilogies seemed to rule the genres. She saw lots of Isaac Asimov anthologies, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Twilight series books in her first perusal of the stacks.
“Ummm. Can I help you?” A nasally voice asked.
Mia looked around and sees a man with pock-marked cheeks and hair sticking straight up on his head behind the register. The counter had so many books on it she hadn’t even seen him when she came in.
“Just looking,” Mia said.
“What do you need? I can make recommendations, I just got some James Patterson books in, some Suzanne Collins if you like the Hunger Games,” he emerged from his book barricade and Mia saw he was tall and painfully thin. His Adams apple protruded and bobbed as he spoke.
“Why Quills? How did you come up with the name for this place?” She asked while running her hands along the spines of the books on the closest shelf.
“It used to be Pete’s Place, my older brother’s store. But he lived life on-the-edge. Live by the sword, die by the sword they say. Ha. So, I took it over. But my name’s not Pete and I didn’t think Irwin’s Place sounded that great, ha-ha. My favorite movie is Quills, and books used to be written with Quills, so Quills it became,” Irwin said as his nervous giggle trailed off.
“What happened to your brother?” Mia asked, hoping her sweat wasn’t sticking her t-shirt to her boobs in a grossly sexy way. She could see Irwin talking more to her chest than her face.
“He was murdered a few months ago. A robbery gone wrong they say. But this place makes no money, so it never made sense to me. Ha-ha. Pete ran with a rough crowd, so I told the cops to check out his party buds, but they couldn’t figure out who killed him. Wish we had cameras, he was killed right here. But no money, no cameras. Ha-ha,” Irwin’s twitchy laugh getting worse the more he talked. His eyes were now travelling the whole length of her body.
“Well I am so sorry for your loss,” Mia said as she turned to leave the store.
There was no air conditioning and just one big ground fan stirring the pages of the books lucky enough to be in front of it. She was hot, uncomfortable, and horrified. The owner of this store was recently murdered? And she was sent here by her fan? She obviously needed to book a therapy session or ten.
She walked out into the even warmer street and was about to walk home when WHAM. A cyclist got creamed at the intersection. The truck turning left didn’t see the man peddling across the road. Blood spray everywhere, and cars honked and screeched to a stop. The violence of the moment electrified the air. Mia felt adrenaline rush through her system. Her nipples got hard and a warm tingling started in her shorts. Instead of joining the chaos of bystanders rushing to assist, she turned and went back into the store.
Irwin was back behind his book wall.
“What was that? Was someone hit at that terrible intersection again? Happens all the time,” he said no giggle in his voice now.
“Yes. Is there a place we can go?” Mia said, pushing out the boobs she was trying to hide before.
“What?” Irwin gaped at her in confusion, actually bringing his eyes up to her face.
“A place we can be alone.” Mia gave him a slow wink.
Rather than answer he rushed to the front door and flipped the sign to “Closed”.
“Umm, haha, right back here,” he said, his voice going up a few octaves and cracking in excitement.
Irwin led her into a back-storage room, and as soon as he closed the door, Mia took off her shorts and t-shirt.
“Okay, Mr. Hot Bookstore owner, show me what you’re hiding under those shorts.” Mia cringed at her own bad dialogue. Lord, she was going to have to get some better seduction lines.
Irwin almost tripped himself trying to get out of his clothes. Mia’s pretty sure this scenario has never happened to him before.
Then she rode him. She used him. The thought of that blood, of the carnage outside, she can’t believe how excited it made her. She bossed him around. It’s was the most amazing fifteen minutes ever. Random sex with a distinctly unhot dude? Completely out of character for her. When they’re done, they’re both coated in a sticky sweat. Mia threw her clothes on and went back into the main book store area without even looking at Irwin. She stood in front of the big fan and let the cool air blow down her shirt.
Irwin followed her, pulling his t-shirt on backwards. “Uh, that was great. Can I get your number?”
“Don’t talk. Don’t ruin it,” Mia said as she pulled her shirt and bra out to let more air from the store fan cool her skin. Irwin went back behind the counter but peeked out at her from behind the entire Twilight series by Stephanie Myers.
Then she heard it. Glenn Danzig but darker.
“Give me an rrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Give me an eeeeeeeeeeee. Give me a beeeeeeee. Give me an eeeeeeeee. Give me an ellllllllll.”
Mia leant into the fan and heard it again. The faint growly voice singing out letters.
“Rebel,” she whispered to herself. She doesn’t have to Google this one. Rebel is the hottest nightclub in Toronto and it’s right down by the lake. Without a backwards glance at goggle-eyed Irwin she walked out of Quills and headed back home. The poor cyclist was just getting loaded into an ambulance, but Mia wasn’t interested anymore. She’s planning her outfit for tonight. Time to go dancing.
Normally Mia’s wardrobe is conservative. Knee length skirts. Modest necklines. But she felt like a new Mia. The kind of Mia who rocks a twenty-year-old geek’s world and takes what she wants. This kind of lady wears a tight black dress. Short. Low neckline. She dug through her closet until she found some dusty dresses from her university days. Yes. She found one suitably sexy for a night at Rebel. With a bit of Spanx, this dress could still turn some heads.
She contemplated calling one of her friends to come with her, but they might not know what to make of this new Mia. She doesn’t want to lose this bold adventure-y feeling she has inside. They’ll think she’s on aself-destructive rebound kick. (Is she?) She’s no longer the scorned woman left by her married lover. She’s a lady who’s gone absolutely bat-shit crazy listening to messages sent to her by floor fans. She’s getting turned on by bloody accidents and having sex with strangers. Later she’ll call a therapist. Sign up for maybe fifteen sessions.
At around 9:00pm she left her bungalow and drove down to Toronto’s Harbourfront. Finding rock-star parking on Polson Street, she strutted into Rebel’s cavernous converted warehouse. Psychedelic strobe lights illuminated the dance floor and bodies gyrated to music spun by DJ Deadmau5.
Not sure what she was looking for and seeing no available fans ready to give instructions, Mia headed up to the mezzanine. After buying a watered-down gin and tonic for $8.50. (Good lord this place is expensive!) She sat down on a couch near a group of flashy club goers.
“So, there’s lots of Blue Dolphin here, but how do I get myself some Purple Pete?” an Italian guy in a custom suit asked a blonde woman in a sequined tea towel on the couch behind her.
“It used to be you could only get Purple Pete from this place in Aurora. A hole in the wall bookstore called Pete’s Place. But it was the best ecstasy on the market. Rumor has it he made it right on premises. But now Damon is holding some,” the blonde said while wiggling on her seat trying to make sure the tea towel kept her strategic parts covered.
“Is Damon here tonight?” asked the Italian guy looking around and gulping at his Heineken
“Damon is always here,” the blonde answered and nodded in the direction of a tall man wearing jeans and a sport jacket leaning on the mezzanine railing. The second floor of the club had a low glass wall encircling it so guests could lean over and stare at the writhing bodies below.
Mia watched as Italian guy walked over and spent a few minutes talking to Damon. The transaction was over quickly, and the couch behind her emptied out to go down to the dance floor. The second floor was basically deserted. Mia tossed her hair over one eye, hiked up her skirt and walked over to Damon.
“Purple Pete please,” she said in her sexiest voice.
“Thirty bucks a pill,” Damon said and ran his predatory eyes up and down Mia’s body. “This stuff makes you want to party. I’d wouldn’t mind partying alone with you later.”
Mia flicked out her tongue at him and sidled closer. (She’s rusty, so she’s hoping tongue flicking is sexy.)
“Lean back and maybe we can do some partying now. It’s dark and there’s no one up here” she purred while rotating her hips in a suggestive way and doing another tongue flick.
Damon put his hands on his hips and leaned back on the railing as Mia knelt down in front of him.
“Oh ya, consider your first pill comped.” Damon said as he zipped down his pants.
Rather than drop to her knees, Mia tucked one shoulder forward, thrust up on her legs, and heaved him over the railing.
If Damon screamed on the way down to the dance floor, she couldn’t hear it. Mia’s blood pumped quickly through her veins and a delightful shot of serotonin lit up her brain. Wow. What a rush. Forget Purple Pete, she’d take the Red Damon please. Red bloody Damon she thought with joy. Looking around, no one seemed to have noticed anything on the mezzanine. She walked quickly towards the bathrooms and back stairs away from the main floor overlook. What was going on with her? She felt like she did after riding Irwin. Powerful. Sated. Aroused. No amount of therapy was going to save her now.
As she climbed down the back stairs, the music stopped and the regular lights came back on. She could hear the shocked gasps and screams coming from the dance floor. She walked back towards the front of the club and joined the crowd around the sprawled man.
God, it was like art, the way the blood was splattered around his body.
“What happened?” she asked a couple beside her, making sure no saw that he was pushed.
The girl sobbed, “a guy fell over the wall and he’s dead!”
Her date said, “this is going to ruin the party tonight.”
Mia thanked them and headed rapidly for the door. She’s got to get out before they decide to shut the place down and have cops interview everyone. A few other clubbers had the same idea and they all walked out of the front door together in the chaos and confusion.
Driving home, Mia held onto the tingly unfamiliar feeling in her stomach. She felt free, happy, corrupt and like a totally new person. Did she just avenge Pete’s death? Was he the voice in her fan? That was pretty crazy to contemplate but strange things happened everyday.
When she got home she ripped off her black dress and hopped naked into bed. Even though the night is cooler, she makes sure her fan is going full tilt. And she listens……
Angelique Fawns is a horror and speculative fiction writer whose day job involves watching lots of TV creating on-air commercials for Corus Entertainment in Toronto. She lives on a farm north of the city and tries to find time for fiction when not taking care of her husband, daughter, six horses, fainting goats, free range chickens and guard llama. You can find her work in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, The Gateway Review, Postscript, The Spadina Literary Review, and Flying Ketchup’s Anthology “Tales from the Dream Zone”.