Paler than usual, Dick rushed into the room, looking for the band. There was a casual party going on; groupies, other musicians, and assorted music industry douchebags crowded around Dethklok. The robot eyed man grabbed a drink off of a tray and slammed it back. He needed to tell someone! Charles? Charles was a good choice! Charles would fix everything! The producer got a few steps before stopping shortly.
What exactly was he going to say?! And what the hell was Charles going to do about it? The CFO may have been a board certified badass, but this-!
A peal of laughter caught his attention. Murderface had a group of women clustering around him, hanging on his every word. That could only mean that it wasn’t Murderface, but the other guy; the ‘Civil War Officer’ who oozed charm and sophistication. Knubbler trusted the bastard about as far as he could throw him. Murderface was a dick most of the time, but he wasn’t a monster. He’d punch a guy out in a heartbeat, but he’d stand and take abuse from a woman. In Dick’s experience, most women had a pretty good idea of what men they actually had to be afraid of and what men they could give shit. And they weren’t scared of Murderface. The Other Guy . . . . even as he was charming groupies, sometimes they’d stop and hold their breath. Like they knew they were in danger.
Fuck that guy.
Looking around, the producer’s eyes fell on a familiar red haired figure. Will’s girlfriend, Dixie Dunlap.
Dixie Dunlap who knew about dancing shadows and things that made no sense. Dixie that made herself scarce when the Other Guy showed up. Dick headed to her side.
“I’m startin’ t’ think I was just a means t’ an end,” Dixie announced as soon as Dick arrived at her side. She took a ladylike slug of pink champagne.
“Oh great, you’re drunk,” Knubbler whined.
“This is mildly buzzed,” Dixie protested, taking another drink. “You’ll know when I’m drunk. Look at that asshole.”
She nodded at the perfectly groomed and dressed body of William Murderface.
“Oh, suddenly he’s got corporeal form and he don’t have time for me,” she sneered. “I shoulda left him slaved to his portrait.”
“There’s a thing in the courtyard!”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Dick could have slapped himself. What a stupid thing to say! How could anybody take you seriously with a statement like that? You couldn’t even narrow it down to animal, vegetable, or mineral? Would it be ridiculous to say ‘a monster?’ ‘A big black thing with glowing eyes?’ The only reasonable response to that was a sneer and ‘What kind of a thing?’
“What kind of a thing?” Dixie asked.
Okay, it was much different without the sneer. With the sneer it would have been ‘What are you, stupid?’ Without the sneer, it was ‘Can you describe the man that attacked you?’
“Come on, I’ll show you.” He grabbed her hand and dragged her out of the room.
The Guy in Murderface’s body watched them go. Dick didn’t see him looking, but he could feel the hair standing up on the back of his neck.
“There! There it is! Is it a fucking demon or something?” Dick hissed, crouching down behind the receptionist’s desk.
Dixie looked to where he was pointing. Her blue eyes widened and . . . . she smiled. She was smiling? The buxom redhead kicked off her shoes, hitched up her skirt and padded across the darkened lobby. Dick followed her after a moment. Smiling? Smiling wasn’t expected. But . . . for some strange reason he trusted Dixie. He followed the redhead as she crept out into the courtyard, sneaking up on the huge black figure like a bird watcher trying to get closer to a particularly interesting wren.
Closer to, the thing didn’t look any better. It must have been nine feet tall, with long, waving tendrils sprouting from the head. The limbs were impossibly long and thin. The knees hinged backwards like a . . . like a big chicken or something. It’s eyes were glowing white pits.
“I never thought I’d see one a’ these here!” Dixie hissed.
“What is it?”
“It’s a Walker.”
“Are they dangerous?”
“Oh no. They’re nature spirits. They’re just . . . well, they just are. Like inter-dimensional animals. Not good, not bad; just there. Still don’t know why it’s here. You usually find ‘em in old buildings that Nature’s reclaimin’. Baby doll, what are you doin’ here?”
The Walker . . . . looked lost. It wandered back and forth in the courtyard, like it didn’t know where it was. Like –
“Jermaine P – P whatever the fuck his last name is said they just imported the plants for the courtyard all the way from Hawaii,” Dick said, leaning over her shoulder.
“Hawaii? Lots a’ old sugar plantations an’ shit there, fallin’ into ruin. I didn’t know they could tag along like that.”
“I hope it finds a way out,” Dick said, surprising himself.
The creature paced back and forth, then abruptly faded away. Dick and Dixie relaxed slightly.
“I kind of hate the Other Guy,” Dick announced.
“I kind of hate him, too,” Dixie admitted.