by Zoe Markham
Genre: YA Fantasy/Horror
Release Date: July 2017
Ben could feel the pulsing of the club’s bass in the air, as another Big Saturday Night loomed for the locals. He never understood why any of them would want to spend their time in a dark, overcrowded room filled with the same souls who cluttered up their front gates and front rooms all week long. They drank the same drinks and listened to the same music, took the same drugs and got into the same fights. The only difference was that at Dystopia they had to pay well over the odds for the privilege, in more ways than one. He knew he should be grateful. If they didn’t show up every Saturday night and consistently line Viktor’s pockets, life would be a whole lot more complicated. And if Ben hadn’t come up with a way to bleed even more cash out of the ones who stayed home, he’d be working nights out here a whole lot more. And that didn’t bear thinking about.
As he pushed back his hood, he caught sight of Dan looking decidedly unhappy on the door. Ben checked his watch and saw that he was only fifteen minutes late. It wasn’t even midnight yet; the real troublemakers would only just be starting to rise to the surface. There would still be police doing the rounds for an hour or so yet. Well not Police-police, the dress-up ones – Community Support Officers. They’d give the usual suspects a telling off and throw some empty threats in a stern tone if need be. They’d run for cover at the first sign of any real trouble though. And people wondered how things had ever got so bad around here . . .
Dan’s granite jaw was sporting an angry scowl beneath a light covering of snow. Before Ben even got one syllable into a greeting, he’d hooked his staff pass around Ben’s neck, pressed the ornamental walkie-talkie into his hand, spat his gum out at his feet, and turned to make his way inside. Must’ve been a long fifteen minutes, Ben thought to himself, looking around. There was no queue and no sign of any trouble, but nevertheless it looked like he wouldn’t have a chance to nip inside to see if there was anything he needed to catch up on. It had been almost a month since he was last here. Little ever changed, but there might be new faces to watch out for. Still, it wasn’t likely to be anything he couldn’t handle either way. Sighing and stretching indulgently on the spot, he planted his feet, ready to wait out his shift.
The staff pass that Dan had unceremoniously offloaded was generic, and pointlessly decorative. The regulars knew how the place was run, and the whole point of the club was to turn anyone who got through the door into a regular. They didn’t bother with photo ID. Dystopia was Swindon’s best known family-run night club. And it was invite-only on a Saturday night. Everyone with an invite recognised the staff, and knew never to mess with them. No one needed to see a pass anyway – the pallid skin, red-rimmed eyes and unmistakable attitude were easy identifiers. Every member of staff’s body-language, from bouncers to bartenders, screamed: “There is not a single thing you could ever do to hurt me.”
They were more than just staff, of course, but the punters never found that out until it was too late.
They were Clan, an ancient order of immortals hiding in plain sight. The select, foolish few who turned up without an invite to try their luck were soon shown the error of their ways, invariably in a manner they wouldn’t soon forget. That said, it was generally implied that as long as they had the entrance fee, they would be welcome the following night. It was something of a mixed message, but somehow it always seemed to get through.
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