Chapter IV: The AsylumA seedy den of mortal debauchery...drugs, drink and despair. The air reeked with it.
Peering through the doorway, I could make out each individual, sweating, heaving in the strobe lighting. Dancing as if there lives depended on it. The floor was dirty, spilled drinks and garbage littering it. An empty stage made me wonder whether they ever had live events here. Maybe most bands decided to avoid the place, much like Mercurio. Well, this was where Therese was, so this is where I had to be. As I crossed the threshold, a sole form separated from the herd, swaying towards me seductively on heels so high they bordered on being stilts.
She's out of her mind. Perhaps playing along was the best course of action, at least until I knew a little more about her.
'Frightening isn't the word I'd use...exciting is more like it.'
I stared at her, my jaw dropping slightly. It felt like this conversation was a cliff I was desparately trying to keep hold of, tufts of grass coming out in my hands.
That didn't even make sense! 'Yeah...that's just what I was thinking. You got a name?'
Cease the prattle and get out of my way!
'Aren't you the tease. Got a name I can remember you by?'
I attempted to keep the sarcasm out of my voice.
'Soon can't come soon enough. Bye for now.'
Despite myself, I watched as she swayed off again, flicking her hair in a mindless way. So, this was 'built for bedrooms' Jeanette that Mercurio mentioned. I could see why he avoided this place.
I assumed that the lift would take me up to the office where Therese would be. I went to the barman for confirmation.
'Hi there. I've got a meeting with Therese, I was wondering if you could tell me where I could find her.'
I could tell that unless my answer was good, I wasn't going to be getting up there. A mischevious thought entered my mind, and I couldn't resist. Innocently, I gave my explanation.
'I wanted to see her about the bar job she was advertising. Can I go up to see her?'
Grinning to myself, I walked over to the elevator and hit the up button.
The second the door opened, I could hear the raging argument. One voice cold, one voice sweet and manipulative. The second was Jeanette, so the first could only be Therese.
Accusation and counter-accusation followed. Therese was a control-freak, never trusting Jeanette. Jeanette was irresponsible, and delighted in spoiling Therese's plans. The alteraction climaxed with Jeanette bursting into tears, her footsteps retreating, and the sound of a door slamming further down the corridor. Scooping up a ring I found on the floor, I waited a few seconds, then knocked.
'Enter', came the imperious response.
Their faces were so similar as to appear identical. Not only sisters then, but twin sisters.
The mortal part of that would have loved it, wouldn't it?
I dismissed the thought. Aside from their features, Therese couldn't have been more different from Jeanette. Commanding, formal, with an affected air of professional intelligence.
A survivor must adapt to his environment, wouldn't you say?
'I'm just glad she's gone', I responded, offering a hand. 'Therese Voerman?'
'Lacroix has sent me, concerning some business of his. However, to complete this assignment, I need to contact Bertram Tung. Unfortunately, he appears to be missing. I heard that you've put a price on his head.'
'Why the bad blood?'
'Would you be so kind as to announce the feud over?' I mused over this development. Even amongst those considered kindred, the Camarilla, it appeared there was no loyalty, no camraderie.
Makes things tougher for me...but it can also be exploited...
Internally, I raged. I didn't care about her fucking real estate woes. The longer this took, the longer I was in Lacroix's grip. Outwardly, I maintained my composure, as ever the polite professional.
'I'm sure we can come to some arrangement. Is there anything I can do in exchange for your assistance in this matter?'
I coughed, my attempt to hide a disbelieving laugh. By Therese's expression, my subterfuge had obviously failed.
'Forgive me. A spirit?'
What a freakshow. Mummies?
I pressed Therese. 'You will call off the feud?'
'Very well. I guess it's time for me to go ghostbusting.'
Sewers? Now you're pushing it...
'Anything to get the job done, Ms. Voerman.'
I murmured an empty pleasantry as I considered what to do next. As I turned on my heel, I nearly dropped the key I'd been given in shock.
The Asylum...how fitting.