Chinatown Chapter 6
The clock on the wall of my apartment, as old as it was, came off as a prank played at me. It was one of those cat-shaped ones, black and white, a pendulum-tail counting the seconds with eyes swaying the opposite way. At least it didn’t meow at every turn of the hour. I didn’t bother opening the pouch before I left the apartment. The cat showed 6:30, and I had an appointment to make. I think…
The ride down the elevator felt like it went on forever, as tired as I was, even after a cold shower. It was like I pulled an all-niter like I’ve done back in L.A.
Skinny, steely fingers wrapped around my arm, jolting me from my daydream, and I looked up to a pretty face with brown hair curled at her shoulders. Her hazel-orange eyes looked at me, concerned. That was when I noticed I had been standing right in front of the elevator, blocking anyone from going in or coming out. Apparently, the elevator sat in the lobby for a while.
“Getting off?” she said.
In the midst of trying to snap myself from my thoughts, my brain decided to go into Idiot Mode.
“What, no!” I said, pulling my arm from her grasp.
She cocked her head, the look the concern washed away and replaced with a fresh coat of annoyed.
“I mean, yes, I am. To the, here. Lobby.” I managed to utter an apology when I slid past her and out the door. I rubbed my eyes and smacked myself as I went to the antique store.
As soon as I got there, and back to the Umbra, there wasn’t a soul to be found on the roof. I stood on the edge of the the store’s roof, staring down at the spirits below. You can get a good feel for the state of the city by looking at the spirits they spawn. Spirits born of depression, malice, and hopelessness were common in big cities, even more so in other Chinatowns. These spirits were born of emotion brought on my the living expressing such things. Can’t blame them, I’d be that way, too, if I found myself here, stuck living in an overpopulated area with thousands of other Schmoes of whom all I have in common with can be easily found within racial profiles.
Even to the most seasoned Uratha, the spirit world can still be surprising. Turn the right corner in the Umbra, and you can find anything.
“Sweet!” said a voice from behind me. I turned and saw Chase with a proud-looking smile on his gave. “I like how the tables have turned here -with you there and me here, y’know. I almost didn’t think you got my message.”
“That was you with the sign?” I asked anyway, even though I already knew the answer. “How did you find me?”
“Heard the scuffle from the down the street, lots of people did. Kind of a good thing those guys nabbed you, it would be hard to explain someone falling that high up and surviving with no wounds to speak of within a day or two. I mean, if they hadn’t I probably would have pulled you to somewhere. Anyway, I hid and followed you guys to the island, which was not easy in the Umbra, man, seriously. With the sign, I knew it was a long shot, given the fact that you would have had no reason to look there, but I thought there was a chance. Besides, it’s kind of your job to look at everything, right? Hey, thanks for before, with that spirit, man. Fucker was playing me and I didn’t know it.”
Jesus H. Christ. “Alright, slow down.” I said as I stood up and stepped away from the ledge. “You’re acting like I’m the only Uratha you’ve seen around here.”
“Dude, I’m just stoked to see a new face. I know the stories say we’re mostly in the countryside and not so much in the city, you know. Anyway, you kind of are.”
What? “Come again?”
“Yeah, dude. That’s why I stood for hours holding up a sign, hoping you’d see it. You got thrown into a sea of shit with the City’s Vamps and I figured would probably want a rundown of this mess.”
“Start with them. Who are they?”
Once Chase got going, he often strayed and spoke little of the main points. He went on for several minutes, all the while with me ignoring half of what he was talking about, numerous tangents and tangents off tangents. I jotted down the important parts.
Vamp. Group – The Black Rose
The Black Rose also a Night Club just south of Chinatown
Leader(?) – Morgana Rose
Enforcer/Patsy – Troy, alias “Jekyll”
Unknown number of other vampires, somewhere within a dozen.
Not bad for recon work. This must have took a little while to get, considering how tough it can be to perceive through the gauntlet.
“How can there not be any other Uratha around?” I asked. “Cities around here packed full of people, and not one Pack around here?”
He shrugged. “Not sure. Maybe vampires muscled them out? Killed them off? Haven’t been able to find much.”
“How long have you lived here?”
“A few months, I guess. Never was good at keeping track of time.
“I think I have enough, Chase. I’ve burned up enough daylight as it is, need to start my shift.”
“No sweat, Frank. I’ll try to keep my eye on them.”
“Fine. Just keep yourself safe, alright? You know how dangerous these people are, so I don’t want you risking yourself. Ok?”
Chase shot me a half-salute. “Yeah, I know the drill, don’t you worry about me, boss.”
I stepped back sideways and walked back to the apartment. The thought of calling it “Home” felt weird, and I’m not sure if it will ever be called that.
The streets bustled with life, especially in the market part of town. Most were enjoying breakfast, others on their way out of town to work. Not much different compared to L.A. in a general sense, just grittier and not as flamboyant.
A ruckus in the distance, the sound of shouting drowning out another voice saying “please”. Down the way was this pawn shop, small but filled with many things on display. One of them, an old box television, shot out of the front window, shattering the glass. I peeked in to see a man at the shop’s counter, angrily screaming at the owner on the other side. The owner had his hands up ready to defend himself with whatever the man decided to throw next. Luckily, both hands were empty.
I swung the door open and propped it with my foot. “Police,” I said with my badge held up and my free hand pressed against my holstered.
“Thank God,” said the owner. “Officer, help me, this customer is dangerous, telling my I’m ripping him off!”
“Shut the fuck up!” Said the customer, pounding his fists on the glass counter.
It didn’t worry me that he was angry, as this was familiar territory during my patrol days. What worried me was his wiry-looking fellow’s pounding fists cracked the thick glass.
“I need you to calm down, sir,” I said. “Okay? I’m sure we can talk this out and get to the bottom of this.”
“I want my fucking money. Now!” He pounded his fists again, cracking the glass further. I picked up a soft pop among the pounding, sure that he just broke something in his hand, but his composure never wavered.
“Noooowww!” He turned to his left and stepped further inside, grabbing the closest thing; a thick, ceramic vase the size of a chair. I gripped the handle of my pistol while he lifted it with ease.
“Sir..! Put that down!” I said as he held the vase over his head. By this time my gun had already been drawn and was aimed right at him.
“Put it down!” I warned once more as he turned. I looked into his eyes as a light blue shine reflected in the light. He wasn’t going to stop and my Right Words Gift apparently wasn’t working.
I let off a shot as I tried to jump out of the way of the extremely heavy vase flying in my direction. With laser precision and the speed of a boulder, the damn thing smacked me dead center in the chest. It was like being hit with a wrecking ball as I felt the air leave my chest and myself leave the pawn shop entrance.
I probably landed in the middle of the road, luckily devoid of oncoming traffic. I found myself scrambling to a nearby parked car as soon as I stopped tumbling across the pavement. The crowd dispersed in all directions and through the screaming, I could still head the anger of the customer. And anger that went beyond rage into something uncontrollable. I pressed my back against the car, my chest pulsing with piercing pain that made it especially hard to breathe.
The sounds of angered heavy breathing got close as the man stepped out of the pawn shop, grabbing a chunk of the now broken ceramic roughly half the size of the original. When my vision cleared, I noticed a stream of red spurting out of his arm like a bag of oil that had just been punctured. And that shit ain’t normal.
Every visible vein in his body popped, his face red and the reflection in his eyes glowed brighter.
I found myself cornered once again, against someone that shouldn’t be gaining the upper hand. Though I’m still trying to suppress the Beast, it was so tempting to say “fuck it” and unleash on someone, regardless of how much Lunacy spreads around.
I clenched my fists, my right hand wrapped around a wooden grip. Then I realized I somehow still had my revolver. My attacker held up the broken ceramic weapon while I took aim.
Blam! Blam! Blam!