I pull Mix's hoodie on over my dress and skate away from the building, looking for an alley. I duck inside and spin against the wall, sliding down to a squat. I find the card and call the red number. A human voice answers and asks for the password.

"Look, dick. I don't have a fucking password. I have to deliver a bag of god damn pills with fucking pentagrams on them and I have no idea where you are. So if you want your fucking party to have drugs, tell me where it is." What a fucking asshole.

The voice gives me an address. "...It's a-uh um liquor store," they stammer. I hear the discomfort in their voice and I realize how agressive I sounded. I remember the sound of my voice and it doesn't feel like my own.

I hang up and head back to the street to work out where the address is. It's not that far, maybe a 15 minute trip.

Smiley never told me a damn password. I'm so fucking sick of people who just don't bother to give me all the information. Do they think I can get into anywhere I want? Like, oh, the runner will figure it out... They probably don't even have that thought. They just forget fucking god damn key details like the price of admission, and private party passwords, and VIP tickets. Do they just think that I can just waltz up to security and be like, "Oh, I'm just a wee apple seller, here to sell my apples," and they just "understand" and let me in? What the fuck?

I reach a traffic light and look at the graphic. A naked woman sits on a throne surrounded by dogs. I'm so tired of having to go to these sleazy events. I wish I just had a regular CASH job that didn't depend on random strangers not being assholes. Maybe I can start making and selling skates at the Flea Market for CASH. Mix might be able to hook me up with a parts supplier...

There's the liqour store. The gates are pulled over the windows and door. There are a few people standing on the sidewalk smoking. They haven't noticed me yet.

I didn't realize how agitated I had become until I heard myself. Why do I never know I'm angry until after I've already let it out? I always considered myself pretty in control of my emotions. It wasn't even something I thought about until I saw how upset Lime would get at the smallest thing. That's when I realized that I'm usually calm. I'm usually the one waiting patiently for other people to have their emotions. It feels foreign to flip out like that. The sound of their voice...

One of the people turn to me and I manage to ask, "Delivery?"

They look at me and then look at each other.

I find the door and slam my hand against it a few times, rattling the metal grate. The LEDs on the ends of their cigarettes illuminate as they watch me. I smile at them, bearing as many of my teeth as possible. I hear some locks opening and the door swings open revealing a very tall person wearing head to toe black with a shining silver necklace.

"Password?" they ask quietly.

I take a deep breath and hold up the bag of pills. They apologize and hold up their handheld and a finger to tell me "please wait." There is a camera behind them mounted over the counter pointed at me. I pull my hood further past my face and wait. One of the people outside walks over and looks in over my shoulder. I try to step inside. The security guard pulls the door shut behind me.

"I'm just waiting on confirmation from below," they explain. The liquor store is crowded with bottles and the perimeter is lined with cooler cases filled with cans. I could use a drink. The last delivery of the day always takes forever. "Sorry, you are just a little early," they explain with a smile, revealing several silver teeth.

"I try to err on the side of early, just in case things go wrong," I start. "For example, the client not giving me the passcode- password to get in."

"They are real particular about the timing of things during these events, and, you see, our delivery last week was late," they explain.

"That's too bad," I say. Usually I would tell them that they can request me specifically but this place feels weird and I don't know if I want to be making regular deliveries to this place. Where the hell is downstairs anyway? I try to feel into the floor, deep down. It does feel like there is activity down there. Something growing. Are there spirits down there? Proabably just a private dance party and I'm just wound-up about that fucking password.

"She said it's okay," they say, folding up their handheld. They lead me behind the counter and pull a trap door open from the floor. There are proper stairs that lead down, which I guess is better than a ladder, at least. I hate climbing ladders in my skates.

"You don't have the CASH code, do you?" I ask, just in case.

"No, sorry, you'll have to take them straight to the boss."

"Lovely," I mumble and try to climb down the dark stairs as safely as I can. Underneath the store is a low-ceiling storage area filled with crates and shelves packed with bottles and cans. The security guard walks over to a metal door and enters a short code. They swing it open to reveal another set of stairs leading down. Inside, the stairs turn back and forth several times.

"You'll see the door at the end, just walk through the club to the back. There is a spiral stair up to the VIP lounge. She's up there." They leave the door open and head back up into the liquor store.


This is all just great.

I start down the stairs.

Why didn't I drag Lime with me? Now I'm going to die in some creepy liquor store dungeon alone. The whole business with the password was a ruse to make me think they were legit. That's why Smiley didn't give it to me. They didn't have it to give. I mean Smiley was clearly an experienced drug dealer, they wouldn't just miss details like that. The stairs are sticky. They probably thought this whole deal was real. Although, would someone bother to place such a large order if it were just to lure victims to their creepy dungeon? But they would be getting these pills for free... They should have placed a bigger order. But then why would they bother to make fliers?

I reach the end of the stairs and follow a short hallway to a heavy metal door.

Unless they are trapping multiple people down here. But I'm probably being paranoid.

I swing open the door.

A wall of sound slams me in the face. It's deep and bassy with a shrill drone passing back and forth over the beat. The room is dark and there are red lasers moving all around the mostly empty floor. There is a smattering of circular leather couches across the long room. I skate around each one, trying to make eye contact with the people sitting there. Everyone is wearing black hoods and appear to have their eyes closed. Are they sleeping? Meditating? At least I'm dressed appropriately. There is no bar, no stage. I reach the back of the room and find a staircase with a velvet rope across it. There is no one guarding it. I duck under it and head up and find a large balcony overlooking the main room. A long couch stretches along the back wall and it is filled with naked people covered in shiny red paint. The sparse lighting catches the shine on their knees and breasts and noses. They all stop talking and look at me. I wave.

"Someone place an order for delivery?" I ask. One of them peels themselves off the couch and walks over to me. They are barefoot.

"There are supposed to be 100 of them!" they state firmly. I guess this is The Boss? She looks identical to the other red bodies on the sofa.

"Uh... I didn't count them. But this is what they gave me," I explain, pulling the bag out, and handing it to her. She counts each pill and then smiles at me.

"Thank! You!" She barks over the music and reaches for my handheld.

She struggles to see the buttons of my handheld in the dim light of the room. Each button has its own display that shows randomly changing digits so that anyone watching could not gain the code by the button pattern. The displays on each button are not lighted, to deter cameras or anyone watching at any angle other than directly over the machine, making it very difficult to read in dim or flashing light. I reach over and switch on the backlight for the display on the top left 4 buttons so she only has to wait for the correct digits to appear and select them. It takes some time but she enters each of them and presents the handheld back to me. I can see red paint smeared on the buttons as I switch off the backlight.

My throat is burning and I feel incredibly thirsty. Lime had me leave my water jug at her apartment and this doesn't seem like the kind of place I should ask for a drink.

"Okay, cool. Have a great night!" I shout, waving like an idiot before descending down the stairs.

I zoom out of there as quickly as I can. Climbing up all the stairs in my skates leaves me out of breath and I am panting by the time I reach the liqour store. The security guard lets me out with a polite smile. "Thanks!" they wave at me from the door. I could have probably asked them for a can of water or beer. They seemed friendly enough. But I don't know, I feel like a jerk asking after yelling at them on the phone.

Back out on the street, the temperature is dropping. I pull my dirty socks over my knees and put my goggles and headphones on. The people outside are still there and stop talking to look at me. I check my messages. Lime is asking me where I am and when I'm going to get back to the club. It hasn't been long at all- why is she being so impatient?

©2018 by Zita