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Watcher

I watched her dying, but did nothing. I watched as she lay there, the last light of her eyes fading. I watched while she looked at me, her eyes wide with horror and disbelief. Her skin growing paler and colder. Hints of blue in the morning light. A sheen of sweat glinting in the dawn.

I watched her struggling to hold her last seconds of life. Dark shadows under her eyes. Heavy mascara streaked with tears. Flesh that had been so tantalisingly revealed now lay starkly bare. Knife marks red against the pale skin. Welts from the restraints, ugly and raw.

Her blood pooled beneath her. A crimson lake oozing from the small of her back. Already it covered the stone altar, creeping up past her shoulders and down to her knees. The full moon, still bright despite the encroaching day, reflected darkly in the redness. On one side of the stone, a dark rivulet had broken its banks and was trickling down to soak into the grass. The crimson blood mingling with the beads of crystal dew.

She coughed weakly, a tiny noise, barely audible. Her chest spasmed briefly. Slowly, painfully she twisted towards me. Her naked thighs brushing against each other as she moved. Her breasts pressing together. Her pale blue eyes, red with pain, looked into mine. Her lips, red and delicate, moved silently. She swallowed. I watched the muscles of her jawline moving under her skin. I watched her throat tense and release. Her eyes flicked away while she summoned the strength to speak her last words.

Her mouth opened, the soft pink lips parting. A tiny dark opening, no wider than my finger. Her tongue lightly touched against her teeth. Delicate red against immaculate white. Her small nose twitched slightly as she struggled to draw in breath. Her breasts lifted as she inhaled. The lines of her ribcage gliding under her skin. Her hips rocked as her weight shifted, the soft skin of her inner thighs stretching minutely.

I leant in to her. I could hear the soft clicks as her lips broke the seal of dry saliva. I felt the warmth of her blood as it pooled against my hand. Faintly, painfully, she breathed my name. She paused again, summoning her strength, then spoke her last words.

"He will never love you."

The last of her breath spilled out of her in one relieved sigh. Her eyes flickered and rolled backwards. Her body relaxed, sinking in to the stone. Her head dropped to the side, her black hair falling across her face to dip into the pool of blood.

I stood back and watched. For a few minutes, she still seemed alive. Merely sleeping. The grey light of dawn crept higher in the sky. The rays touched her still form. In the silvery light she looked calm, peaceful. Her hair cascading over her face. Her arm resting across her abdomen.

I breathed in the morning air, fresh and crisp. So far from the city, it felt cleansing. After a night of drink and drugs, sex and noise, the quiet stillness was refreshing. I could still see the last stars fading in the sky. I could hear the first birds.

It had been a long night, but now she was dead. A sacrifice to a higher purpose.

I watched her lying still and thought back to when I'd first seen her this evening. Ten hours ago. A lifetime.

The Club

Twelve hours earlier I watched her as she entered the club. It was ten in the evening, Saturday night. The decadent pleasures of the underground awaited her.

She entered alone, expecting to be met. Her first time in Purgatory, she stood at the top of the iron stairs, a shadow in the CO2 mists. Lasers flashed in time with the driving bass of the music, lighting the smoke with flashes of unnatural colour while the speakers drove the deafening pulses of sound through the air.

She was a vision in gothic. Hair dyed raven black stroked her head. Caressed her shoulder blades. Her young, delicate features were smooth as porcelain under the flawless white of foundation. The whites of her eyes shone with excitement, glistening and highlighted against the thick black lines of mascara and eye shadow that swept about them in elegant curves. Her lips, lovingly traced out in shades of blood. Parted in anticipation of the night ahead.

The door to the outside swung shut behind her, and she descended. The metallic clang of three-inch heels against the metalwork instantly drowned in the bedlam of synthesised noise. The creak of the PVC of knee-high boots inaudible, but felt in their delicate rubbing against her skin. With alternate steps, the ribbons of her velvet skirt rode up to reveal a flash of an unblemished thigh.

Her descent complete, Purgatory embraced her. Smoke enveloped her, a cacophony of drum machines and distorted guitars washed over her body. In front of her the club stretched out. Shrouded in shadow along the walls the denizens sat and stood, a hundred lost souls in leather and chain striking poses from the dreams of Dante. The polished black of leather and rubber shone in the unnatural light, metallic shards gleamed from a thousand piercings. Artificially pale faces turned impassively to regard her, eyes evaluating her, judging her.

Between the parallel walls lay the dance floor, where denizens writhed to the remorseless music. Faceless silhouettes in the smoke, arms twisting, torsos weaving. One figure would remain almost motionless, hands raised in prayer. Another would dip and move in stylised grace, marking a figure-eight with long exaggerated steps. Some could be seen mouthing the words, their voices lost in the din. Some danced to music that only they could hear.

Set high in the walls, exhibitionists danced in cages. Displaying themselves to the assembled masses. Advertising their wares. Some clutched the bars and thrashed, others clutched themselves and thrust. Deliberately revealing outfits concealed little to those who looked up through the iron lattice floor. Deliberately revealing outfits in those below concealed little to those who looked down.

Across the sea of dancers, no more than a shape, monstrous and forbidding at the end of the club stood the DJ. A dark priest behind an altar of turntables and mixing desks, leading the worshippers in their reverence to the Industrial gods.

I watched from the darkness as she stood searching for recognition, eyes excited, lips eager. The shine of her eyes, the immaculate boots, the perfection of her clothes all spoke of her innocence. From a single glance, an observant stranger could tell her age, her experience, and her desires. With a moment's thought, he could see her past and her future. If he wished, he could make himself part of it.

I stood and walked towards her.

"Hi. You're looking lost"

She smiled as she looked at me, glad to be acknowledged while not allowing herself to appear too grateful. A perfect balance of open yet detached. I placed a hand lightly against the small of her back, laying claim to her and guiding her into the darkness.

"Let me show you the sights. I'll point out some of the regulars."

I led her through the smoke and darkness, weaving through the shadows as they thrashed on the dance floor, stepping around bodies as they embraced in our path. As we walked and shapes became recognisable to me I identified them for her.

I saw Daniel, who always carried cigarettes and lighter though he didn't smoke. He sat alone, long brown hair spilling inelegantly down his head. Black jeans, nondescript black shirt, token studded strap incongruous about his neck. He looked at me hopefully as we passed, eyes lingering desperately upon her. I acknowledged him but didn't pause.

I saw Luke, a boy who'd been coming here for years but had only just turned eighteen. He was talking intently to a plump older woman I didn't recognise, arm braced against the wall behind her, containing her as he spoke his patter with an earnest face. She was looking back at him with jaded eyes, eyes that had seen his like before. She looked at his lightly curled blonde hair and twinkling good looks. As I watched I saw her decide. Luke was getting laid tonight. He saw us pass and nodded an acknowledgement before returning to the seduction ritual, unaware that he was now just reciting lines.

I saw Joshua, a man who'd been coming here as long as me, but rarely spoke to anyone, preferring to spend the night on the dance floor. He dressed functionally. Army-surplus combats over stout walking shoes. Lightweight shirt that could be removed and tied about his waist as the evening wore on. Already the sweat covered his face, accumulating in his short, neat hair. I once saw him during the day dressed in a grey office suit. An image of stark normality that contrasted with this writhing madman. He ignored us as we passed, seeing nothing outside his private world.

I saw Seth, as strange as he was clever, chattering like a lunatic to some woman who was looking desperately for an escape route. He was doing post-doctorate research into one of the darker branches of particle physics. He liked to experiment with unusual cocktails of legal and illegal drugs. He also dabbled in the occult. With his unkempt black hair, 48-hour beard and battered charity-shop clothes, he looked like a modern prophet. On a good day, he was charming and witty. On a bad day he could talk at you for hours without pause. Tonight he was on taurine and speed, which did not bode well. We passed without being seen.

I saw Beth dancing in a cage, toned thighs working under a leather skirt, breasts thrusting in time to the bass. Red highlights against immaculate blue-black hair stroked and framed her face. Knowing eyes flirted with an unseen audience as her crimson-tipped fingers hinted at the pleasures she concealed. She lived for the nightlife, thriving on the energy of the music and her own sexuality. She caught my eyes in a flash of the strobe and waved a greeting.

Through the denizens we walked towards the DJ at the end of the club. There between the speakers, surrounded by minions, sat Tyler. An Industrial Sultan amongst his harem. A dozen wannabes that longed to be him or fuck him, or both. He glanced at me as I approached, acknowledging me and dismissing me. He was about to look back to whichever underage nymphet was occupying his attention when he noticed I was with someone. He looked back, and became attentive. An audience granted, I approached.

"I'd like to introduce Tyler. He's been here from the start, and is our barometer for what's cool."

He barely glanced at me, eyes instead fixed upon her. She in turn was rapt, her coolly aloof air fraying under the intensity of his gaze. She held out a delicate hand, reverting to formalities in an effort to retain control.

"Call me Persia."

He stood. Her eyes held his gaze, her head tilting back as he loomed above her. Without breaking her gaze, he took her hand and kissed it. A curiously formal gesture, perhaps intended to mirror her own formality, to meet her on familiar ground. He had mastered the art of dressing as if he'd just thrown on whatever he'd found on the floor. Battered and frayed jeans hung loose about his hips, seemingly supported by his ageing army boots. I watched as, without moving his eyes, he drank her in, surveying every inch of her, examining and caressing her with his peripheral sight. I saw a hint of red touch her cheeks and breast.

"This must be your first time here." He said as with a gesture a space was cleared on the seat behind him. "Where are you from?" She began telling him about home while he led her to be seated. They sat together, the shadows closing around them, as a voice from the speakers demanded "What do you see? Something beautiful? Something free?"

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