Trick or trap, p.1
Trick or Trap
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Trick or Trap
Published by Allan Regier
All Rights Reserved
© 2012 Allan B. Regier
Background cover photo by Neurovelho
Modified and licensed under GNU Free Documentation License
Cover design by A.B.R.
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Trick or Trap
About the Author
Trick or Trap
The ground shook. "Quake!" Someone yelled. Heads bobbed in assent, but no one was deterred, no one panicked, this was Los Angeles and no one was going to miss the Halloween Carnival, just getting underway.
No one dancing on the pulsating human heart stage missed a step, although a few of the dancers staggered a bit. Red veins and blue arteries strobed to a hip hop beat, as a witch’s cauldron of costumed partiers danced the voodoo polka, sparklers in hand.
And so it began. A four block long stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard filled with vampires and werewolves, bipedal aliens, superheroes, dancing bears, and cuddly pink bunnies. Bewigged Napoleon’s marched hand in hand with Roman emperors, and cyborgs walked with surfer dudes and gunslingers in g-strings. There were Little Red Riding Hoods and a drugged Little Bo Peep, chatting to imaginary sheep. And that was merely the beginning. Denizens of the Carnival sought originality. The preponderance of the costumes were expressive and nonrepresentational, signifying nothing about any fictional or existential reality, unless you count painted bare breasts – always a lovely sight. Some costumes were vaguely suggestive of a theme, and some were simply suggestive: mate bait. Others were outré couture, or just plain weird, but what the hell, it was Halloween, everything was allowed, and gawkers outnumbered costumed partiers by a nontrivial margin, anyway.
A secondary tremor widened a crack in the pavement, in a side alley, emitting a cloud of black smoke redolent of sulfur and stifling perfume. A gaggle of cackling witches rode out of the cloud on broomsticks, rollerblades skimmed across the pavement, shooting sparks.
"Awesome, dude. What powers your sticks?" A spectator inquired moments before the lead witch ran over him. The witches sped ahead, weaving in and out of the crowd of partiers like demented cyclists, in rush hour traffic.
Lilith herself followed the witches out of the cloud, leading a ragtag formation of lesser demons, Italian politicians consigned by Dante to the seven circles of hell, and tormented stars returning to old Hollywood haunts, or was that to haunt Hollywood, one or the other, chicken or egg.
Demons began attacking the crowd with bloody pitchforks. Spectators, believing they were participating in street theater, became willing victims of their mistaken beliefs. They refused to believe the pitchforks were anything but props and that the blood staining their t-shirts was their blood, really, and were dragged down the crack in the pavement, to hell, howling in painful participatory glee.
* * *
"Get the Bikini Girls, and go to Santa Monica Boulevard, pronto. Demons are tearing up the Carnival."
Pretty Caddy started laughing so hard she almost dropped her three thousand dollar camera. She flipped the mike of her cell phone in front of her mouth, still chortling. "Good one, A.B.R. But you got the date wrong. Today is Halloween, not April Fool’s Day."
"I’m not joking, Pretty Caddy. People are getting hurt. It’s only a matter of time before someone is killed, if they haven’t been already. Somebody’s got to stop it. Where are the Bikini Girls?"
"We’re at a bikini contest. They’re on stage."
"Get them off, this is urgent."
Cynthia Sand strutted across the stage. Her sculpted butt cheeks undulated on 5-inch stilettos like a catamaran in a typhoon, as she walked back to the line of contestants after completing her set. The crowd howled. "Shit!" Pretty Caddy swore. She’d missed Cynthia’s set; the video she was making was screwed. "Shit!" Pretty Caddy repeated, vexed to the max.
"Never mind, I’m on it."
Pretty Caddy ran around to the back of the stage, and up the stairs. Silverback saw her coming and blocked the stairs, preventing her from going onto the stage. Pretty Caddy knew him. Silverback worked security at a lot of the bikini contests. He was affable and invariably courteous and considerate, but fiercely protective of the bikini models. Any hot and horny primate trying to climb onto stage soon found himself practicing aerial acrobatics without wings or a safety net.
"You’re not allowed on stage," Silverback rumbled. “You’re not a contestant or judge.”
Not even the models’ managers, hairdressers, or photographers were allowed on stage, and Pretty Caddy did triple duty as all three.
"An emergency came up. I need to get the Bikini Girls off the stage."
"The boss man ain’t gonna like that."
"I wouldn’t do it if weren’t important. You know that."
"Guess so. I’ll try to give them the message. Wait here."
Silverback was 6'3'', weighed 280, and was built like an NFL lineman. When he said "Wait here," he meant: Wait her or you will need medical insurance. Pretty Caddy was 37-29-36, weighed 110, and was a former bikini model. She waited, and called a cab.
Silverback strolled behind the line of contestants and whispered something to the Bikini Girls. They turned their heads to face Pretty Caddy, saw her beckoning wave, and started walking toward her, looking aggrieved at having to desert the contest before prizes were awarded.
Pretty Caddy ran down the stairs so they would have to follow her. She didn’t want Silverback, or his boss, mad at her. The Bikini Girls entered most of the bikini contests when they were in Hell A, the city of fallen agents. The contests were good cover, helped build their profiles, and sometimes added sorely needed extra income.
"I got an emergency call. Grab your bags; a cab is on the way." Pretty Caddy said before the Bikini Girls could protest.
"Figures. Just when I had a shot at taking first prize from that old bitch, Brandi Morgan," complained Galaxy Light, the most statuesque of three bikini beauties, and the only true blonde.
"Forget it. It’s never gonna happen," said a laughing Bullet West. Nobody in this business used their real names.
"What do you mean by that? I’ve got a better bod than that old hag." Galaxy Light protested, showing off round, saline-widened breasts.
"Anybody can buy great boobs, but you can’t beat her decibels. This crowd eats out of her hand like trained puppies. She’s been the queen of the beach here since sand was invented." Brandi Morgan had been winning bikini contests for a decade, although she wasn’t yet thirty, if her bio was to be believed.
The inebriated crowd below the stand had erupted in a cacophony of immature primate mating calls, whistles, hoots, and college football cheers. Brandi Morgan, the last girl to present, walked toward the front of the stage, smiling and waving.
Pretty Caddy saw a cab pulling into the parking lot. "Forget her. We’ve got an emergency to deal with. Grab your bags; I’ll hold the cab."
The Bikini Girls dove into the contestants’ tent, grabbed their bags, and rushed to the cab.
"Santa Monica Boulevard, as close to Carnival as you can get," Pretty Caddy told the driver.
"This is L.A.; everything is halfway across town."
"What’s the emergency there?" Galaxy asked.
Pretty Caddy had been dreading that question. "Word is a pack of demons are terrorizing the Carnival. Our orders are to stomp 'em."
The Bikini Girls stared at her in disbelief. "Yeah, yeah, I know. I didn’t believe it at first, either. But something bad is going down. We’ll check it out. If there are no demons we can party at the Carnival. If there are, we stomp 'em."
"We’re crime fighters, not demon hunters," protested Cynthia Sand. Surveillance and photoreconnaissance were their specialties. Bloodthirsty gangs, cartels, and tongs rarely questioned the presence of bikini models on a photo shoot; they just stood around with their tongues hanging out like every other guy in the vicinity. The Bikini Girls worked the beaches in California, Florida, and the Carolina Coast. Their clients were bounty hunters, private security firms, and local police forces, although the latter generally preferred the same tactics the gangs used.
"Yeah; we’re crime fighters. Why didn’t they call Buf—" Bullet West’s amber eyes opened wide as Cynthia Sand clapped a hand over her mouth. "You can’t say that. Okay?" Cynthia was the quiet, cerebral one. She had been seen reading books and had a college degree, so when she spoke the other girls tended to pay attention, except, sometimes, for Bullet, who was young and wild. This time Bullet had no choice. She nodded in acquiescence, since she wasn’t packing a pistol.
"How are we supposed to fight demons?" Galaxy asked. "We’ve never done it."
"I don’t know," Pretty Caddy replied. "Silver? Holy water? Salt?"
"Salt’s for slugs," Bullet chimed in.
Pretty Caddy gave her the shut up stare. "Use your fruit phones. There must be something on the web."
"Mine’s an Android," Bullet asserted.
"It would be."
The Bikini Girls dug out their smartphones. Pretty Caddy’s cell phone was an ear clip, so it wouldn’t hinder her while she was shooting. She stared into the Halloween night. Nobody celebrates Halloween like Los Angeles. Fireworks were exploding over the city, inexhaustible kids were heading home with bulging treat bags and costumed figures prowled the streets, on their way to parties or public events, and the Carnival was the biggest event of all.
* * *
The taxi sat in traffic after the light turned green. "How come we’re not moving," Pretty Caddy asked the driver.
"There’s some kind of disturbance at the Parade, the streets are closed."
"What parade? I told you to take us to Carnival."
"Same thing. The official name for it is Carnival, but everybody calls it the Parade, with a capital P," Cynthia said, without looking up from her smartphone.
"How far are we from the Parade?" Pretty Caddy asked the driver.
Pretty Caddy tossed him a couple of bills. "Get out girls. We have to walk from here."
The sidewalks were as crowed as the roads, and the pedestrian traffic was one way: in the direction of the Parade. Evidently news of the disturbance had not yet disseminated or no one cared. To this crowd it would probably add to the excitement and draw ambulance chasers, Pretty Caddy thought sardonically. She felt a mood coming on.
"Now I believe up to half a million people go the Parade," Galaxy said, remembering something she’d read on her smartphone. "It’s going to be hard to find anything in this crowd."
"Demons stand out from the crowd." Pretty Caddy looked at all the outlandish costumes on the sidewalk. "Well, maybe not this crowd." Caddy hailed from Iowa.
"Did anybody find out how to kill demons? I can’t find anything," Bullet groused. Surfing the web was not her thing; she was an action girl.
"Nothing useful," Cynthia Sand reported.
"Not me," Galaxy Light echoed.
Bullet tossed her smartphone into her bag. "Great; I can see the headlines now: Bikini Girls fight demons with nothing but their wits and their tits."
"You create too many headlines," Pretty Caddy said in annoyance.
"It works for me," Bullet retorted.
"Enough banter. We need to do this. Galaxy, see if there is a Catholic Church around here. They might know something we can use."
"Can I go home and get my gun?" Bullet asked.
Pretty Paddy had to give her request serious consideration. Bullet’s marksmanship was legendary. In the Miss Teenage Wyoming contest the judges applauded her quick draw exhibition, and were impressed by the fact she used live ammo. After she put a bullet through every judge’s Stetson, without killing anyone, she was universally declared the winner and crowned before her smoking Colt was holstered.
The Wyoming State Police awarded her a full scholarship, and she graduated summa cum laude in marksmanship. She was the only graduate in the Academy’s history who could be put six shots in one bullet hole. All the state troopers referred to her as One Bullet. She liked the nickname, and adapted it for modeling when she traded her parka and snowmobile for a bikini on a southern beach.
"There isn’t time Bullet."
"There is a church a few blocks west of Santa Monica Boulevard," Galaxy reported.
"Good. You come with me. Cynthia, take Bullet with you and find out what’s going down in the Parade. Try to keep her out of trouble."
"Good luck with that," Bullet muttered. She felt a mood coming on, and when she got moody, people ran.
* * *
As Cynthia and Bullet got closer to Santa Monica Boulevard they began to encounter people moving against the flow of pedestrian traffic. At first it was a trickle but the numbers soon increased.
"Don’t go to the Parade. Some real freaks are ruining the party." A scantily dressed Elvira warned Cynthia and Bullet. "Yeah; real freaks!" Confirmed a girlfriend dressed in a sexy Chatty costume.
"Bring it on!" Bullet pushed Cynthia ahead of her, not that Cynthia needed any urging. The warning was all the confirmation Cynthia needed. She wanted to make a difference. Wanted to fight people smuggling, prostitution slavery, child exploitation, and too rarely had an opportunity to do so. Most of their cases involved identifying beach level dealers, watching smugglers or the beach houses of known criminals, and locating parole jumpers and children kidnapped by parents who had lost custody battles. She didn’t know where to fit demons into her typology of evil but worried she would soon find out.
The crowded sidewalk merged into the crowded street party on Santa Monica Boulevard. It was still early in the night and the crowds had not yet peaked, more people were arriving all the time.
"This is crazy," Bullet said, seeing all the strange costumes. "Look, there is a guy dressed like a hot dog," she chortled. "Oh look, there is Princess Le—"
Cynthia clapped a hand over Bullet’s mouth before she could finish. "You can’t say that, all right?" Bullet nodded, eyes spitting vituperation. Cynthia removed her hand and Bullet stomped down the boulevard.
* * *
Entering the church Pretty Caddy and Galaxy Light saw a priest standing with his head bowed in front of an altar. Lives were at stake, they didn’t have time to waste and rushed down the center aisle determined to speak to the priest, even if it meant interrupting him. The priest crossed himself and turned around; his mouth dropped open and he gaped at Galaxy’s bikini.
Galaxy was from the stereotype-free state of Delaware. She was used to blank looks on peoples' faces when she said told them where she was from, but the look on the priest’s face bordered on a catatonic state. She knew she shouldn’t but couldn’t stop herself from waving a hand in front of his face. "Hello, anybody in there?"
Pretty Caddy gasped.
Consciousness flickered in the priest’s eyes. He muttered a prayer and crossed himself, and quickly repeated the ritual. Spiritually fortified, he found the power of speech and said: "This is a house of God. You should not come into my church dressed like that, my child."
"It’s an emerge
"I will hear your confession." The priest smiled to convey understanding and compassion; thinking: this out to be good. "Come with me, my child."
"Confession?" Galaxy recoiled as she remembered what it meant. "That’s not why we’re here."
The priest frowned, and Pretty Caddy could see that for once Galaxy's natural charm was failing her. It wasn't unusual to see men, kids, dogs, and cats following her down the street.
"We were working undercover when an emergency call came in," Pretty Caddy explained, feeling guilty about telling a white lie in a church. "Demons are terrorizing the Halloween Parade. We need to know how to fight them. Can you help us, Father?"
Disbelief and confusion waged a brief war on his face. "I’m not trained for exorcism."
"The report we heard just said that demons were terrorizing the Parade. We don’t have the details yet. The rest of my team is on the way to the scene. But I need to know how to fight demons," Pretty Caddy emphasized.
The priest blinked incredulously. "I don’t know what to tell you.... I suppose I could call the Bishop." The priest said it like he’d rather not.
Pretty Caddy could tell this was going nowhere. "We can use all the help we can get. Can you spare any holy water? I don’t know if it will work, but we have to try something."
The priest hesitated, growing suspicious.
"We won’t ask you for any wine, promise." Pretty Caddy said, guessing the reason for his reluctance.
"Water I can do," the priest said with obvious relief, and a sincere desire to get rid of them. "I’ll get you some."
* * *
Cynthia caught up to Bullet. Partners had to stick together. Bullet knew that, from her training with the Wyoming State Police. "Seen any demons?" Cynthia asked.
"No." Bullet had a Yellowstone temper, hot and spectacular, and all too regular, but she got over it quickly.
A rollerblading witch zipped out of the crowd and executed a U-turn in front of the barricades closing off Santa Monica Boulevard, bowling over an LAPD swat team in the process. The witch disappeared into the crowd with a zig and a zag and a riotous cackle, but not before turning a guy costumed as a bird in a wire cage, into a frog. "Ribbit."
"I’m not kissing that frog," Bullet insisted.
Trick or Trap by A.B.R. / Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on20 votes