And silence fell. I heard no more whispers. I was suddenly very aware of the muffled sounds of the club, the whirr and woosh of the ventilation, and my own heartbeat thudding in my ears.
“Hey, are you Felix? Your friends were looking for you.” Even though I had heard no more footsteps, the voice was right outside the door. “It’s ok, you’re not in any trouble if you come with me.” I held the broom like a quarterstaff, terrified, determined. The door knob slowly turned.
As soon as the door opened, I swung the broom. I blinked, and it was gone, wrenched from my hands, and I was pinned to the wall opposite the closet door.
“Sh, sh, sh. Just calm down, it’s ok. You’re safe.”
My heart only raced faster. “Let me go?” my voice squeaked.
My captor smiled sadly. “Sorry, I can’t do that. You snuck back here, and then,” he chuckled, “You attacked me with the broom. Now, of course I’m too strong and fast for you. You can’t escape, so you should just relax and come with me.”
Jason may respond; the rest of you maintain radio silence. You have them, then?
Yes, my lord.
Does they still resist?
My influence has no effect, but they is terrified.
Ah. Well, bring them to room one. I’ll be there shortly.
I struggled, trying to twist away. It was no use. I turned my head to bite at the hand holding my shoulder, but he only laughed, then spun me so he had me by the wrists, hands behind my back, and struggling further only hurt my shoulders. “You’ve got some fight in you, little one! Don’t worry: you’ll feel much calmer once my liege arrives.”
“Please let me go? I won’t cause any trouble. I just wanted to make sure my friends got home safely!”
“Oh, they will. They’re friends of ours, too, which is why they brought you here.” He was walking me down the hall. I stumbled; it was still too dark for me to see clearly. He set me gently back on my feet.
“Seriously, if you let us go, I won’t tell anyone! I’ll forget I was ever here –”
“Yes, you will.” He opened a door and brought me through. I heard it close behind us with a very final-sounding click. Then he let me go.
I blinked in confusion at that. Not wasting any time, I rushed for the door. He didn’t move to stop me. It was locked, of course.
Point me, Jason. I felt something very strange, like being booped in the thoughts. Then I stumbled away from the door as a dizzy wave of drowsiness crashed over my mind.
“Shhh, that’s right. Just let it wash over you.”
“Shhh, it’s ok. That’s my liege, beginning to calm you. Here, come with me over to this chair. You’ll want to be sitting down when he comes in.”
I couldn’t argue with that. Better to sit than to fall. And the chair was very comfortable. I felt like my whole body was sinking into it, and even after I couldn’t physically sink any further, I still felt myself falling down, and down, and down.
Jason laughed, a bitter sound. “Resister you are, Listener you may be, but no one shakes off his influence. Why don’t you just let go?”
I struggled to keep my eyes open. “Let me go,” I pleaded, weakly. He only laughed again.
I heard the door open again, then shut.
Standing before me was the most ordinary-looking man I had ever seen. He was dressed exactly as I might expect a club manager to be dressed: unobtrusive suit, fitting ok but not tailored. Slacks, jacket, shirt, and tie were all black, the better to blend in backstage. Medium-brown skin, medium-brown hair, average build, average height…but those eyes.
I found myself looking without really meaning to, and then I couldn’t look away. They were green, but a shade of green I had never seen on a human before, almost iridescent, shining. And right around the pupil, they had a ring of fiery orange. I stared, fascinated.
“That’s right,” he said. His voice was low, soft, and so kind. I found myself smiling softly up at him. “Good enby.” I shivered. Those words felt amazing. I found myself wanting to please him.
Then I blushed so hard I felt like my cheeks were on fire, and looked down and away, embarrassed. Jason gasped. I heard a “Meep!” escape my lips. The fear was back, hitting me like a bucket of cold water to the face, and I started trying to scurry out of the chair.
A strong hand on my shoulder stopped me. “No. Look at me.” His voice was stern, unmovable, but still somehow kind. This was the voice of a trusted authority, and I wanted to listen, even as I feared to. Again, I found my gaze drawn to his. “That’s right.” He pet my head, and I relaxed into his touch. I felt the fear starting to melt away. He smiled warmly at me. “That’s a good enby. So calm. So relaxed. Now, why don’t you tell me why you brought a stake into my club?”
“A what?!” Alarm zinged through me again. “I didn’t! I wouldn’t have! I like–” I managed to stop myself, and embarrassment broke the spell once again. I like vampires, I thought.
He chuckled. It was a rich, dark sound, and it sent a shiver of pleasure through me to hear it. “I can tell when you lie, you know. I can hear your heart beat, see you breathing – a thousand little tells in your body, your face. It seems you mean that. Now, be still.”
He tapped my forehead, and bliss flowed out from the spot. My eyes fluttered shut. “Mmm.” I sank into the chair again, body limp.
“That’s right.” He continued petting my head. “Jason, I want you to see if anyone suspicious has been through the coat check today. If not, question Rose in room two for me. I don’t want to punish the messenger, but her telling us about the stake is a little suspicious, in light of this adorable little enby before us.
I giggled. A distant part of me still felt afraid, but it was far away, out of reach, hiding in a corner of my mind. Another part was worried what was happening to Jen. Most of me was relaxing into his pets.
“Now, if you didn’t come to stab anyone with a stake, why did you come here tonight?”
That shocked me awake. “Just to enjoy the club, really! Jen and Fae brought me here, because Wednesday is my birthday, but they’re working Wednesday, and they dressed me like this, gave me these boots and…” Once again, I tried to scramble up and away.
“Shhhh, it’s ok.” A strong hand on my shoulder reminded me he would never let me escape the chair. “If, as you claim, you really just came here to enjoy the club, then you’re in no danger at all. I’ll simply look over your memories of this evening, make a few minor edits so you’re not leaving with any dangerous knowledge, and you’ll be free to go do as you intended. Now, just relax…”