The Caldera's Vice

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Summary

“We don’t hand out vices. We hand out an escape from pain.” -Silas MaCallister, drug kingpin In Hellhole, the sordid city situated into the volcanic basin of the Moloch Caldera, drug bootlegging reigns supreme. A red demon, Asher Glassberg, witnesses the murder of his parents in a gruesome in-home shooting, He finds himself caught up in Hellhole’s seedy drug underbelly seeking retribution for his parent’s murder. More drug related murders soon follow in Hellhole and black demon Milton Romero, a freshly hired drug mule, stumbles across a deadly strain. The witty Tengu detective, Renshu Karasu, looks into the murders with his keen eye for detail and hunger for solving puzzles. Will this new drug strain bring Hellhole to its knees? Find out in this gritty art deco Prohibition era noir of the demonic kind.

Genre:
Mystery / Scifi
Author:
Varden M Frias
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
52
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

Prologue

Hellhole shimmered at night.

Unlike its neighboring city, Mayville, Hellhole’s unique, gilded glint is its city lights catching the perpetual dust of the Moloch Caldera. Moloch, the jagged, mountainous volcanic basin from which Hellhole inhabitants can’t escape.

A frigid, late November breeze rolls through the city’s dusty streets. In an alleyway between a restaurant and a picture theater, stands a red demon with his back against the theater wall. Jazz leaks from the restaurant’s open window, a phantasm of the uproar from within. His teeth chatter, he glances at the street to his right, and flicks his wrist for the time. A small curse escapes his lips with a puff of crystalline air and he taps his foot.

Voices from the street make him jump out of his skin. When he turns, it’s only a white demon couple. The dame’s shoulders obscured into the plush mink boa roll with sultry giddiness and the he-demon in a pinstriped set of gray rags, topped off with a matching bogart.

The red demon dips into the shadows, frowning at the dame’s silvery laughter and hitching a breath when they pause for a smoke.

The she-demon’s horns cast their swirling shadow near the red demon’s feet and he inched deeper into the gloom. The man lights her cigarette, cradled in a crimson opera holder, and continue their romantic stroll. The red demon’s sigh of relief obfuscated by the jazz quickly broke into a gasp as a bulbous wheel well knicks a streetlamp to park. A decade old jalopy, Model T, plain and black. Two onyx demons emerge and stroll into the alleyway.

The red demon’s breathing quickened as they walked into the alleyway and looked at him. Unlike him, neither of them had horns poking out the top of their fedoras. The taller one, though not much taller than five feet, scanned the red demon with silver eyes.

“Do you have it?” the red chirps, shifty eyed and licking his lips.

Neither of them spoke. The larger onyx dig into his suit jacket pocket and tosses a hemp baggie. The red demon fumbles, catching it mid air. His shaking fingers undo the drawstrings and holds the baggie up to the light, peering in, only glancing once to the logo stamped onto the outside. A stereotypical demon caricature with the forked tail, carrying a pitchfork, and looking over his shoulder with a mischievous wink. A mustache curls over his grin.

From the baggie, the red demon pulls a clump of white powder.

“Fifty,” the onyx lights a cigarette.

Unveiled disgust twists the crimson features of the customer.

“Fifty?”

“I got a family to feed, cough up.”

The red demon scowled, but his eyes fall to the handle of the Colt wedged into the suspenders of the onyx demon on the left.

“We’re not going to have any problems, are we?” the first onyx demon said, smoke puffs from the cigarette stuck tight between his lips, bobbing with each syllable.

“No, no problems,” the red demon reaches into his pocket.

A loud guffaw bursts out of the window just above him, startling him and causing him to drop his wallet. Neither onyx moves but the larger one smirks. The red snatches the wallet and flips a few bills out with shaky fingers and hands it to the merchant.

The onyx demon counted and says “It’s all yours.”

They both tipped their hats and headed back to their car.

“Oh, and by the way,” the onyx demon said, only turning half of his body around.

The red demon clutches the bag, “What?”

“Only amateurs buy Tastees in a back alley.”

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