Chapter 8 – Party Night
The line for the grand reopening of the Bermuda Triangle wrapped around the block. It was 6 p.m. and there was only one hour left before the doors opened. Since its destruction a month ago, the Bermuda Triangle was rebuilt into a much larger building, taking up half a city block, with two more floors added to the original single floor structure.
The guests waiting in line wore all manner of gowns, dresses, tuxedos, and masks. Even the bouncers wore masks. To tell them apart from the guests, the bouncers wore Persian Immortals masks, which added to their already imposing stature. Inside the nightclub, the cocktail waitresses, bartenders, DJs, and hostesses were all getting ready. Celia Lorenzo was nervous. This is her first night on the job, and the fact that it was the grand reopening just made things even more nerve wracking.
Celia was at the hostess stand getting her mask ready and looking over the map of the club. “You look nervous,” said a voice from behind her. Celia jumped and dropped her mask. She turned around and saw Cyril Alexandros standing there with Rosaline.
“I’m sorry,” Celia said, picking up her mask. “I’ve never worked such a big event before, or for someone so famous. I don’t want to mess things up.”
“You can relax,” Cyril said. “All you have to do is greet the guests and check their invitations. If anyone gives you trouble, you have Bonnie and Clyde there to back you up.” Cyril looked at the two bouncers by the door and they nodded in acknowledgement.
“Thank you, Mr. Alexandros. Uh, hi, Rosaline.”
“Celia,” Rosaline said, void of any emotion. “How’s the baby?”
“He’s fine. Thank you. My mom is watching him.”
Cyril looked back and forth between both women. “You two know each other?”
“You could say that,” Rosaline said. “We’re not what you would call friends.”
“Rosaline, I said I was sorry. What more do you want?”
“I’m not the one who you should be apologizing to.”
“Is there something I should know about,” Cyril asked.
“Nothing that would affect her work ethics. I hope.” Rosaline turned to walk away.
“Rosaline, what can I do to make you not hate me so much,” Celia pleaded.
“There is nothing you can do, Celia. Not after what you did to Luke. But if you want to try, you can start by apologizing to Hope when she gets here. I’ll see you upstairs, Cyril.”
“Esperanza is coming here?” Rosaline had already walked away before Celia could ask her question.
“Well, that was awkward,” Cyril said. “Listen, Celia, you just do your job and we’ll just put all of this behind us. This is a big night for all of us. We should enjoy it, right?”
“Good. Now relax. Don’t be so stressed. It’s a party. If someone asks you for a dance, go for it, you hear?”
Celia smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Alexandros.”
“No problem. Carry on.” Cyril patted Celia on the shoulder then went upstairs.
“I can’t believe you wore that stupid thing,” Stephanie said to Samael.
“They said that masks are a must, but didn’t specify what kind,” he said. “Plus, it was the only thing I could find in such short notice.”
Sergeant Stephanie Walker and Detective Samael Glass came to attend the ball to prevent any repeats of the disaster that happened one month ago, and in hopes of capturing Nightmare if he were to show up. Stephanie’s dress for the ball was long and purple with a slit exposing her left leg. She wore black heels and elbow-length gloves. Her mask was a black, Victorian era mask with silver embroidery that was tied around her long, curly, brown hair. Her light-colored skin glistened with tiny flecks of glitter. Samael wore a black tuxedo with a white shirt and purple tie and vest to match Stephanie. His coat had two tails that reached the back of his knees. His mask, however, was a pair of black glasses with a fake set of eyebrows, nose, and mustache.
Samael looked at Stephanie. “You look gorgeous,” he said, sheepishly. Samael combed his fingers through his short, brown hair; a habit he does when he is uncomfortable. He hates wearing tuxedos.
Stephanie smiled. “You look pretty good, yourself, Sam. But that mask ruins it.” She went up to Samael and started straightening up his tie. “Now stay focused. We’re here to work. A party this big is bound to attract either Banshee or Nightmare’s attention. And when it does, we’ll be ready.”
“What if they don’t show?”
“Someone is bound to show. Just stay sharp, Sam. That’s an order.”
“Yes, ma’am. One question, though.”
“Where do you keep your gun?” Stephanie just gave him a devious smile.
It was finally time to open the doors. All the guests had their invitations, masks, and cameras ready. Celia let the guests in the club in an orderly manner. The nightclub was built to look as if it were caught in a distortion of time and space. Sculptures of obscure shapes, paintings of optical illusions, fog machines, along with strobe lights and lasers added to the theme of the nightclub’s name. The dance floor was a large piece of glass on top of a pool that writhed and pulsed different colors. The second floor was also made of glass that was held up by support beams and steel cables. Inside the floor was white smoke that gave the effect of walking on clouds. The second floor is where the duels will be held. The third floor was completely closed off to the public eye. That was the V.I.P. room, the prize for winning the duels.
Esperanza and James walked in the club. Celia did her best to hide behind her mask when she took their invitation. Esperanza didn’t notice her. She was lost in her thoughts, remembering the news about a massive highway chase last night that had caused thousands of dollars in damages and dozens of lives. Nightmare, she thought. Luke. I hope you’re not hurt.
Esperanza played with the silver butterfly necklace Lucian had given her a year ago. It matched her light grey dress that went down to her knees and grey heels, and her mask was shaped like a butterfly. It was black with splashes of purple and blue around the eyes. James came up to her in his grey tuxedo. He wore a lighter grey shirt under the coat with a blue vest and tie.
“Let’s go, Esperanza,” he said.
“Huh? Oh, right.”
“Something on your mind,” James asked as they headed over to the bar.
“Just trying to forget what happened the last time I came here.”
“Don’t worry. I’m here with you, now, and I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
Esperanza smiled and gave him a kiss. “Thanks, James.”
Eight o’clock rolled by. The bass of the music pulsed in everyone’s chest as they danced in rhythm, drank, and enjoyed themselves at the open buffet that was set up. Strobe lights flashed, lasers danced off mirrored surfaces, all as the tempo to the music increased.
Giant Johnson and Lucian arrived, both wearing their masks. Johnson wore black slacks with a red dress shirt with the top two buttons undone. He didn’t like wearing ties. His mask was an old carnival mask that only covered the eyes and had a long nose. Lucian wore a black tuxedo with a black shirt. He had a grey vest and matching tie. His coat was long, going down to his knees. His mask was something similar to the Phantom of the Opera; white, covering the left half of his face, but also covered both eyes instead of the one. It also had black around the eyes with black verticals lines going down them. It also had a horizontal line going across the cheek, starting where his mouth ends.
Johnson handed Celia his invitation. “Finally got a job, huh,” he asked her.
“How did you know it was me,” she asked, nervously taking off her mask.
“You can hide your face, Celia, but you can never hide from your past,” Johnson said bitterly.
Lucian walked toward the bar, ignoring them completely. He didn’t want Celia to realize who he was…yet.
“Who’s that,” Celia asked.
“My nephew,” Johnson said sticking to the story he and Lucian prepared before arriving at the club. “He’s from outta town. Don’t get any ideas about him, Celia. I don’t need you messing up another good person.” Johnson gave her a cold look, and then went to the bar.
“Great. Everyone who hates me is here.” Celia put her mask back on to hide the tears coming down her cheek and sobbed quietly.
At the bar, Lucian and Johnson watched everyone. They watched every move they made, every person they talked to; everything. “Notice anything,” Johnson asked.
Lucian continued to survey the club. The flashing lights and fog made it difficult to see. “No.” He took out his phone, dialed a number, and then put it away. “I’m gonna have a look around. You go ahead and enjoy yourself.”
“I can help, you know, if you told me exactly what is going on.”
“I told you already.”
“Yeah, yeah. Your friend got kidnapped and that the people involved have some connection to Alexandros. But there’s more to it than that, isn’t it?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that it isn’t just coincidence that one month ago this place was attacked by some terrorist group who were hunting down this Nightmare guy. Then you show up out of nowhere saying that a friend of yours had been taken by people who have connections with Cyril Alexandros, who happens to own this club. And then, the night before the grand reopening of said club, Nightmare gets chased down by the same terrorist group and some tank-thing that started here and ended at the harbor.”
“Gotta love the news,” Lucian said. “So what’s your point?”
“My point is if you’re going to be running around, jumping off rooftops, and saving the damsel in distress, Nightmare, you’re going to need help maintaining your cover. And you need an informant.”
Lucian sighed. “How long have you known?”
“Since last month. Esperanza wouldn’t shut up about how she was saved by a superhero and how he promised to protect her. It just sounded too much like you. No one else can sound that corny and still manage to pull it off.” Lucian gave Johnson a look. “Hey, I told you, I may be old, but I’m not stupid. She knows, too, Luke.”
“She needs you to tell her, though.”
Lucian’s phone beeped. He took it out and then said, “I have to get to work.”
“What am I supposed to do, then?”
“It’s a party, Johnson,” Lucian said as he walked away from the bar.
9 p.m. The music had changed from club beats to Victorian-style waltz. While everyone danced, Lucian hid in the shadows listening to something on his phone, which wasn’t a phone at all. In fact, it was a new version of his arm console designed to look like a smartphone. The number he had dialed earlier was a code to allow him to hack into the Bermuda Triangle’s audio and video surveillance systems. Filtering through the audio, Lucian heard a voice he recognized. His phone identified it as Stephanie Walker. He saw her on the dance floor with her partner.
After the song ended, Lucian walked up to them and asked, “Excuse me, but I was wondering if I can steal a dance from your lady friend here.”
Samael looked at Stephanie, who gave him the ok. “Fine,” Samael said. “Just one dance, though.”
“Scout’s honor,” Lucian said. “By the way, nice mask.”
The music had started up again before Samael could say anything. Lucian and Stephanie began their waltz, keeping perfect timing with the rhythm.
“You’re pretty light on your feet, Sergeant,” Lucian said. “Then again, you have to be if you were able to chase me down for a month.”
Stephanie had a look of confusion on her face, but her mask covered it. “Sorry, but do I know you? And how did you know I was a cop?”
“I told you that I was going to call in a favor for saving your life. Twice.”
Stephanie’s eyes bulged open when she realized who she was dancing with. “You’re…you’re—”
“Shh,” Lucian said. “Keep dancing. Just like you and your partner, I’m undercover, too.”
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t arrest you right now,” Stephanie whispered. “Do you know how much damage you caused, how many lives were lost, last night because of you?”
“I didn’t do that. I was ambushed by Banshee. They are the criminals; not me.”
“You’re still a vigilante, Nightmare.”
“Yeah, well, we all can’t be perfect, Sergeant.”
“What is it you want? You said Banshee ambushed you? So then they are behind this.”
“What do you know about them?”
“Just what I hear on the news. Terrorists that like to blow things up. Why? What do you know?”
The tempo of the music started to pick up and Lucian and Stephanie matched its speed flawlessly. “Can your partner be trusted?”
“I trust him with my life. The same can’t be said about you, however.”
“Fair enough. Listen, Walker, you need to stay out of this case. Stop following me around or you’ll end up getting killed.”
“I’m a cop, Nightmare. It comes with the territory.”
“Dammit, woman, listen to me! Banshee is led by people worse than terrorists. They have access to the same technology I use. Mere cops can’t handle them.”
“But you can? Typical. I will not back out of this, Nightmare. And I will bring you down. Banshee won’t stop me, and neither will you.”
Lucian sighed. “Alright. I tried to warn you, but your resolve won’t waiver. Good. You’re going to need that strength. And you said that your partner can be trusted?”
“Yes. What are you getting at?”
“Banshee has kidnapped a friend of mine and is trying to force her to make more weapons for them. Aside from their army of unknown numbers, they have two generals with weapons like mine, and possibly trying to recruit a third. Plus, they have a leader who may also possess similar weapons.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I told you, I’m not a criminal. And, if you’re going to be coming after me, be prepared to face off against Banshee. I want you to have a fighting chance against them.” The music had ended, and everyone stopped dancing and started clapping and cheering. Lucian pulled out a small communication device from his pocket and gave it to Stephanie. “This will let us stay in contact if you ever need me. Don’t bother trying to use it to find me. It won’t work, nor will dusting for fingerprints. I don’t have any.”
“Someone’s paranoid,” Stephanie said. “Do I at least get to see your face or know your name?”
A bell rang and everyone looked toward the stairs that led to the second floor. Cyril Alexandros stood at the top of the stairs with someone wearing a black hood and cloak. The figure wore a white skull mask and held a saber by its sheath.
“Stick around for the duels and you’ll find out,” Lucian said.