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The midnight club, p.4
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       The Midnight Club, p.4

           Christopher Pike
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  CHRISTOPHER PIKE had run off on him with another man and set him on the dark road into madness.

  "Yet he did end up talking to her because he had no one else to talk to. But he continued to move around the top of the tower, picking people off, one by one, in different sections of town. Below him he saw the police and ambulances scurrying toward each of his victims. They had no way of knowing where the bullets were coming from—so he thought. He told Linda how he had been unable to find work when he returned home, and how he had had to take drugs to kill the pain in his face, and how he had ended up becoming addicted to the drugs, and how he had started to steal to support his habit. Surprisingly, Linda was sympathetic to him."

  "No way!" Anya interrupted.

  "Fm not so predictable, am I?" Spence asked, grinning.

  "It's easy to be unpredictable when you're incoherent," Anya said.

  "All this fits together perfectly," Spence continued. "Let me finish. Eddie had killed maybe thirty people, or at least seriously injured that many, when Linda dropped her bombshell. She said that just before Eddie had gone off to war, he got her pregnant, and that she had the baby, a daughter. Eddie almost fell off the tower at the news. He wanted to know where the girl was, what her name was, why she hadn't told him about her when he came home. Linda only laughed at him. She said, 'Look at you! What kind of father would you have

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUB made?' Eddie—you have to grant him this much— could see her point.

  "But he still wanted to know about his daughter. He set his rifles down and pulled out his pistol and put it to Linda's temple. It had been easy for Linda to taunt him while he was preoccupied killing others, but having the muzzle pressed into her head scared her. Eddie said, Tell me or I'll finish you off right now.' So Linda told him about Janice. She was twenty years old, naturally, and was living in Paris. In fact, she had been asleep in the next room when Eddie broke into her house. That was one of the reasons Linda went so quietly with Eddie, so Janice wouldn't wake up and get killed.

  "Eddie was having one hell of a night. On the very day he chose to let the world know how much he hates he finds out he had a daughter. Linda explained that she told Janice her father had died in Vietnam a big hero. Eddie kept shaking his head in disbelief. He finally lowered his gun and said he had to see his daughter before they came for him. Linda said, 'Not until you throw all your guns away.'

  "Eddie didn't want to do that. He planned to have a big blow-out with the police before he left the planet. Also, he knew he wouldn't need Linda to find Janice since he had already been to Janice's house. But Linda laughed when he suggested that. 'Janice goes to work real early,' Linda said. 'She'll be gone by the time you get there. Only I can lead you to her.'


  "Eddie considered what she was saying. He realized he wouldn't be free long enough to wait for Janice to come home from her job. Suddenly, seeing his daughter interested him more than killing. He picked up his two rifles and pistol and threw them over the side. 'Let's go see her,' he told Linda.

  "All this time the two of them had been bleeding and they were both weak. Also, the French police were not as stupid as Eddie figured. They had decided that the assassin terrorizing Paris must be atop the Eiffel Tower. Just as Eddie and Linda prepared to leave, three police helicopters swept in. At the same time our happy couple spotted two dozen uniformed men coming up the tower stairs. The elevator is not the only way to the top. Seeing all this, Eddie pounded his hands on the railing. He had expected to be caught, but he hoped to take plenty of cops with him. Now he had nothing to shoot at them with.

  "But there was another gun on top of the tower, the very one that had injured them both. The dead security guard's weapon. Linda hadn't forgotten it. She went for it as Eddie pounded the rails, and now it was her turn to put a steel muzzle to his temple and say, *Do what I say or I'll waste you.' Linda could see the helicopters approaching. The police barked orders out of them and she waved to the guys. But of course their orders were in French and Linda couldn't understand them because her French was not very good. Eddie began to back away from her as she waved to the cops. Powerful


  beams of light swept the top of the tower and showed Linda brandishing a weapon and a bloody Eddie backing away from her, afraid. What could they think? They opened fire on Linda and literally blew her head oflf."

  "No!" Anya squealed. "Don't tell me Eddie got away?"

  "He was arrested, sure, and held for questioning. But since he wasn't the one holding the gun when the cops showed up they figured Linda was the shooter. The fact that Eddie was wounded substantiated that theory. Also, the Colombian Linda had been hanging out with was a really bad character. They figured the two of them were a gang. They let Eddie go. He returned home to America with his daughter, Janice, who worshipped him because he was supposed to be a big war hero.

  "And they lived happily ever after?" Anya grumbled.

  Spence shrugged. "No one does that in real life."

  "Like your story was true to life," Anya snapped. But then she smiled. "I liked it. I liked Eddie. He was real sick, like some people I know in this place."

  "I thought the image of a crazy guy on top of the Eiffel Tower killing people—and no one knowing he was up there—was haunting," Ilonka said. Yet there were many things about the story she thought contrived, like the sudden insertion of the daughter. She suspected Spence had thrown her in as he went along. But she didn't say that because she never criticized the others' stories. She didn't want

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE them criticizing hers. Also, the beauty of a Spence story was its spontaneity. He was always slightly out of control.

  "I thought it was kind of violent," Sandra said.

  "What do you mean, kind of?" Spence asked, not offended. "It was extremely violent. I like violence. All of nature is violent. Animals are always killing one another."

  "We're not animals," Sandra said.

  "I am," Spence said.

  "I liked it a lot," Kevin said, "Pure mindless storytelling. It has its place. Who's next?"

  "Why don't you go next, Anya?" Ilonka suggested.

  "I think it's Sandra's turn," Anya said.

  Sandra blushed. "I'm in listening mode tonight."

  "Oh, start talking and something will come out," Spence said. "Talk about a terrorist attack. Talk about the return of the Black Plague."

  "If Sandra doesn't have a story, that's cool," Kevin said. "Anya, you go ahead. I want to go last, and I know Ilonka wants to go before me so that she's a hard act to follow.'*

  Anya nodded, a bit more relaxed. The drugs were making their way into her bloodstream. She took a sip of water and started.

  "This story is titled The Devil and Dana.' Dana lived in a small town in Washington called Wasteville, where everybody wasted their lives working and going to school. Dana was blond and delicious but she'd had a strict upbringing and felt

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUB that just about everything a girl could do to have fun was sinful. Both her mom and dad were so right wing they were like one-winged birds forever flapping in circles. But Dana had a nasty mind, which tormented her constantly. She wanted to go out with boys. She wanted sex, drugs, and rock *n' roll. She prayed to God to free her of these base desires, and at the same time she prayed for her desires to be fulfilled. What's God to do with that kind of prayer? The devil came to her instead.

  "He walked in just as she was kneeling at the foot of her bed before retiring for the night. You know the devil, he can be a pretty sexy guy when he wants to be, and this night he was dressed in Jimmy Dean's body, tight blue jeans, black leather jacket, and boots. His hair was greasy and he was smoking a cigarette. Dana just looked at him and blinked. She'd never had a vision before. 'Don't worry,' the devil told her. 'I don't bite.' He pointed to her bed. 'Can I sit down? I want to talk.'

  "Dana nodded and sat on the bed beside him. Sure, she wanted to know who he was, and he told her. 'I'm the devil,' he said. 'But don't worry, I
'm not as bad as people say.'

  "Dana didn't know if he was serious or not, but she didn't argue with him, mainly because she thought he was pretty cute. Dana was bom way after James Dean was dead and didn't realize she was talking to a clone of sorts. She just said, 'What brings you here?'

  "Well, the devil took a drag on his cigarette and

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE said he had come to make her an offer. * You want to be a party girl,' he said. 'And you want to be valedictorian. You're like two people in one body and it's not working out. I can help you with your problem. I can make another you, a perfect double. You can be in the two bodies at the same time. You can experience everything your double is experiencing, whether it's sex, drugs, or rock 'n' roll. You can do this even while you're in church praying.'

  " 'How can you make another me?' Dana asked.

  " 'I'm the devil,' the devil said. 'I can do anything I want.'

  " 'Are you really?' Dana asked. About this time she started to really notice him. She realized that no matter how much he puffed on his cigarette it didn't get any shorter.

  " 'My talking ain't going to convince you,' the devil said. 'But if you agree to my little bargain, and I make another you, you'll have to be a believer. What do you say?'

  "Now Dana became suspicious, because if he was the devil, why would he help her? 'What do you want in return?' she asked.

  "The devil smiled, which always had a wonderful effect on women. 'Nothing.'

  " 'Nothing? You don't want my soul?'

  "The devil waved his hand. 'No. I don't need to win souls. Thaf^s propaganda your priests and ministers feed you. Plenty of souls come to me without my doing a blessed thing. No, I'm here to make you an offer with no strings attached. The

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUB only thing I ask is that if you enter into this agreement, you have to stay in it for at least a year.'

  "Dana was interested. 'Can I extend having a double for another year if I want?'

  " 'Yes. At the end of one year, if you're satisfied, you can be triplets.'

  "His offer sounded good to Dana, She figured she'd go south to L.A., have all the fun she wanted, while her double hung around in Wasteville and did all the things her mom and dad wanted her to do. But there was one thing that bothered her.

  " 'Won't it get kind of confusing being in two bodies at the same time?' she asked.

  " 'You have two minds in your body right now. You'll get used to it.' He offered her his free hand, which was devoid of a single line. 'Do we have a deal, Dana?'

  " 'Don't you need a drop of my blood or something?'

  "'No. I have all the blood I need. A simple handshake will do.'

  "Dana shook his hand. The devil grinned and put his cigarette out on the floor, which annoyed Dana because she was tidy. Then he stood up and blew out his last lungful of smoke, and lo and behold, it became solid and molded itself into an exact replica of Dana. At that moment Dana felt as if she were in two places at once, which she was. The sensation was disorienting, but cool. Her double stared at her, and she stared at her duplicate because she was in both bodies at once. The devil

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE Stood between them and turaed from one to the other.

  " 'Now remember what I said,' he said. 'You've got to be two people for at least a year.'

  "'Why do you make that a condition?' both Danas asked at the same moment.

  "In response the devil smiled slyly and then vanished.

  "Now you might think the two Danas would have had plenty to talk about. But the truth is they didn't have a single thing to say because it would have been like talking to yourself. Yet they did have an argument right away. The double—we'll call her Dana Two—started to leave the house. She had the same idea Dana had had, to go down to L.A. for some heavy partying. The original Dana wanted her double to stay—she wanted to be the one to go to L.A. They fought about it for a few minutes, but then they realized it was an argument neither of them could win. And besides, it didn't matter because even though there were two of them, each could feel what the other felt exactly. So in the end the original Dana let Dana Two go. Dana worried that her parents might notice something odd about the devil's creation, but the truth was even she hadn't noticed any differences.

  "The next day Dana woke early, the same time as Dana Two. This was one thing she—or they— noticed right away. Both Danas had to wake up at the same time and go to bed at the same time because the other one would just keep the other up.

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUB It was a pain in the ass but Dana figured it was worth it, what with all the fun she was going to enjoy, vicariously, through the body of her double. At the time Dana Two awoke she was on a bus headed for L.A. Dana had given her double all the money she had—or, rather, her double had taken it. It was the same difference.

  "Dana went to school and had a dreadful day because the bus her double was riding was uncomfortable and the trip from Washington to L.A. was a long one. She spent the whole day wishing she could block out what her double was experiencing. But she figured things would pick up when her double got situated. Dana went to bed early that evening because her double was exhausted.

  "The next day was better. Dana Two was finally in L.A. and out on the beach, sunbathing in a skimpy bikini. Sitting in class, the original Dana could feel the warmth of the sun on her legs and chest and the grainy sand beneath her butt. I don't know if I mentioned this: Dana was eighteen years old and every schoolboy's dream. She was blond and blue-eyed and had breasts that could have been implants if they hadn't had such bounce to them. It didn't take Dana Two long to catch the eye of the lifeguard. They started talking, and just like that Dana TWo had her first date. The original Dana had never gone out with guys. Her parents wouldn't let her.

  "Her parents were sitting watching TV beside Dana, a Disney film about furry animals trying to

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE survive a cruel winter, when the lifeguard took Dana Two back to his place for a drink. The lifeguard and Dana Two had already had dinner with wine. You can imagine how hard it was for the original Dana to maintain her composure while she was sitting with her parents. Especially when the lifeguard began to kiss Dana Two real long and real deep and touch her breasts. Dana asked her dad if she could be excused, but her dad shook his head. He was big on the family doing things together.

  "So Dana lost her virginity in the same room as her mom and dad, in a manner of speaking. Vd like to be able to say that she was able to keep from crying out when she had an orgasm for the first time, but I'd be lying. Dana let out a real whopper, as did her double, and Dana's mother was so shaken to see her beloved daughter in such a state that she insisted Papa rush Dana to the emergency room. Dana smiled all the way to the hospital, and the doctors could find nothing wrong with her except slightly elevated blood pressure.

  "Time went on and life was interesting for Dana. Because Dana Two was really going to town. She didn't stay with the lifeguard long. The guy had a fetish about never wearing a shirt, and when they went out anywhere nice they were always being stared at She teamed up next with a movie producer who let her stay at his place. This guy—his name was Chuck—had had success with a couple of low-budget movies, but he wasn't a big-time producer by any means. He was still struggling. He told

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUB Dana Two that he saw potential for her on the big screen, and she believed him. They both did. Then Chuck turaed Dana Two on to Hollywood's favorite low-calorie sweetener: cocaine. Dana Two had a nose for it—if not the brain cells—from the first sniff. She loved the stuff. She would get totally stoned in the middle of the day and the original Dana would sit in class, glassy-eyed, and doodle in her textbooks. Dana began to do pooriy in class, but she didn't care because she was going to be a movie star soon. She loved Chuck, too, kind of— he was a fun kind of guy. Sex with him, especially when loaded, was like dying and going to heaven. Secretly, Dana sometimes wondered why the devil didn't just change his name to God and make the whole worid a happy place. She felt nothing but gratitude to him.

bsp; "But that feeling didn't last because Dana's situation—both of them—changed real quick like. Dana Two came home one day and found Chuck in bed with another guy. He asked her to join them, but Dana Two had been brought up strict and there was only so far a giri could run from her roots. She left Chuck's house and didn't go back.

  "Now Dana Two had a problem, and that meant Dana had a problem. Dana Two didn't have any money to support her five-hundred-dollar-a-day coke habit. She began to go through withdrawal and so did Dana, which made it impossible for her to go to school, never mind get good grades. Dana's father was not happy with his daughter's behavior,

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE and he whipped her repeatedly, at the same time that Dana Two wandered the streets of L.A. looking for a place to sleep, food to eat, dri^ to snort. It was a miserable life for both girls.

  "A few months went by. I could go into more detail about how things steadily went downhill for both of them, but I don't think it's necessary. Sufl&ce it to say that Dana ended up expelled and permanently grounded, and Dana Two ended up homeless and abused. Then, finally, Dana had had enough. She wanted out of the bargain. She prayed to the devil to get rid of her double, but he didn't answer her prayer. Her double had to be aware of her praying and must have told the devil to stay away. Now this might seem a contradiction—that they should want different things. But it's not because, like the devil said, they were like two minds in one body. And in this sense Dana was no different from every teenager. She didn't want this because of that. This was good and that was bad. But that always preyed on her mind because everybody always wants what is forbidden.

  "Dana wasn't praying to the devil or God either now—she was disgusted with God. She thought what an idiot he must be because when he created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden he told them that they could have everything they wanted except fruit from the tree of knowledge. Dana thought what a stupid psychologist God must be because, of course, they would want what they couldn't have. Or else God did know what he was doing and was

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