“Hey. You called for a DJ?”
It wasn’t the hardest place to find. When night fell, the air grew cold and many lights blinked out around the city, but the Icarus Bar lit up like a birthday cake, pumping out enough sound to shatter a thousand priceless vases.
…or at least, that was how it used to be.
“Hm…” the burly girl at the door said, scratching her head. “Well, you fit the description, at least. What’s with the case?”
The wannabe DJ grunted, chewing away at their gum.
“What, you thought I’d come without gear? Last I heard, the old DJ packed up and left. Doesn’t leave me much to use.”
“Aye, that’s right…something about a nightmare? I didn’t hear much about it.”
The doorgirl gave the DJ another look over. She was pretty casually dressed, with a grey hoodie, black tracksuit bottoms, some white trainers and a pair of fancy multi-coloured headphones. She ran a hand through her dyed pink hair, winking to the doorgirl.
“So what’s it to be, babe? Gonna let me in or nah?”
“Yeah, yeah, you’re clear, I guess. Gimme a sec while I get this open.”
The DJ’s twinkling blue eyes scanned her surroundings as she waited. Icarus was a pretty popular place in certain circles, and the strange absorbent black metal of the walls might have had something to do with it. The windows were all tinted black, too, so while you could look out just fine, looking in was a wasted effort.
It was clean, too. The DJ nodded approvingly.
“Okay, you’re good to go,” the doorgirl announced, stepping away from the automatic doors. “Just keep your nose clean while you’re here, alright?”
“Like I’d be stupid enough to cross the Rose twins…see you ‘round, babe.”
The doorgirl mumbled something as the DJ passed through, but she wasn’t listening; all her attention was focused on the bar.
A once in a lifetime opportunity, she thought, popping out her gum and sticking it in a nearby bin. Or, if I do this right, a lifetime of riches and fame. No pressure.
When stepping out of the entrance, the first thing a visitor came upon was the main dance floor…at least, if you went through the normal way. To the far left, a well-equipped bar sat waiting, perfectly clean and already manned by a young balding gentleman. And finally, to the right, the DJ’s areas, a clear space with enough electricity to power a small town.
“Hey. You the DJ?”
The DJ nodded as she continued looking around. Up above, slick neon-lit walkways hinted at the posh seats of the upper-class. Word on the street was that a lot of less-than-legal deals went on up there, but it was also a favourite of rich loners who wished to watch the commoners from a safe perch.
The DJ gave a curt nod as she approached the bar.
“Yup, that’s me alright. Call me Pink.”
The bartender gave her an appraising look as he cleaned a crystalline glass.
“Pink? As in, ‘Pink Thunder’? Hm, heard about you. Welcome to Icarus, Pink.”
“Thanks for the welcome, even if it’s a little late,” Pink commented dryly. “Y’know, since the girl outside wasn’t exactly hospitable.”
“Who, Erika? Nah, don’t mind her. She’s just buying into those rumours too much.”
“That nightmare thing?”
The bartender nodded.
“Mmhm. You heard about it?”
“It wasn’t in the job description, so no. What’s going on?”
“Heh, says you and everyone else. The last DJ was having some weird nightmares, see, started complaining about it to the other staff. Pretty weird to get ‘em two weeks straight I’ll admit, but hey, everything unlikely’s gotta happen once, right?”
“Then what happened?”
“They snapped. Just trashed the place, up and left with their gear and disappeared into the night. ‘Course, that wasn’t the problem…or at least, not the one we have now.”
The bartender tapped their head.
“See, once the DJ left, some of the other staff started having nightmares, too. Apparently they’re the same ones.”
“Yeah, I didn’t believe it either. I bet it’ll clear up in a week or so, but until then, there’s been a load of job openings that people have straight up refused. They think this place is cursed.”
“And is it?”
The bartender spread his hands.
“Who knows? If it is, no one knows why. Besides, since you’re only working here one night, they shouldn’t get to you. It only affects people who stick around.”
“Hm. Well, thanks for the heads up, at least.”
“No problem. Gives me something to talk about when I run out of stuff to clean.”
The bartender nodded towards the DJ area.
“You’ll wanna set up soon, by the way. We don’t open for another half hour, but some of the top floor folks like to come in early. Not sure why, but hey, their cash is as good as anyone else’s, so who cares?”
“Aye, I’ll get on that, uh…?”
“No shit?” Pink asked, raising an eyebrow. “Unusual name you’ve got there.”
“It’s a nickname. Don’t mean no offense, Pink, but it’s bad practice ‘round here to tell people your real one. Not sure why, but there’s a lot of things people do in here that I don’t get.”
“Like racking up a massive tab?”
“No no,” the bartender said, smiling thinly. “I know exactly why people do that. I only wish I didn’t. Guess I’ll see around, huh?”
“Sure thing, Orion. I’ll drop by later for a drink.”
“Want me to save something for ya?”
“Nah, it’s fine, I’m not too…picky?”
Pink’s eyes scanned the top floor as she stopped, frowning.
Was that…? Nah, just my imagination, I guess.
Shaking her head, Pink shifted over to her station, trying and failing to shake off that bad feeling as she placed her case on the floor.
Damn it, Pink. This is your shot at something big, and you’re not about to be scared off by some weird shadows!
At least the case was working fine. With a sound akin to fireworks, cheering and gear-grinding all mixed into one, the black rectangle folded out and multiplied, shifting and whirring away until, eventually, Pink was looking at her familiar DJ set-up.
She stepped up to the mixer, giving the side a solid tap.
Alright guys, time to make it big time. ‘Cause, y’know, if we don’t…
She looked back up to the top floor, shivering as another shadow darted between a pillar.
I’m thinkin’ it’ll cost me a lot more than rep.